Headset aficionados Tritton and Ubisoft have got together to bring us gamers some new accessories for the tactical shooter Ghost Recon Future Soldier. In this review I will be looking at the Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 Surround Headset that is compatible for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console. This headset promises to: provide everything you need to get connected to your console, have immersive 3D directional audio, deep bass and crisp highs and a selectable voice monitoring (SVM) system. So with all that to get excited about, let’s jump in and go ears-on.
Out of the box comes a deluge of cables, manuals, replaceable headrail and ear pads, a stand, the headset itself and its decoder box. All these things are a little overwhelming at first, but after a little digging through the manual you’ll soon pick out the various bits and pieces that is required to get you going.
You will need only two cables to connect the Decoder Box to either your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 console. For both platforms, a bundled digital optical cable is required to connect the Decoder Box to your console’s Optical Out port, and it is this cable that will provide the box with the necessary multi channel audio signal. Thanks to the unit being powered by the supplied USB cable, there are no unsightly power adapters to clutter your cable space.
The Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 Surround Headset from Tritton
The Dolby Digital Headset Decoder Box is the workhorse that sits between the headset and the console, and takes the multichannel audio signal from the console and passes it on to the headset’s audio drivers. The unit is a nicely designed shiny black box and fashions a few blue LED lights along the front face of the unit. These various status lights inform you of the different audio signals that are being passed through to the unit, as well as the different Dolby equaliser modes that are currently active. On the front-left is the power button, which also has a digital jog dial around it to adjust the main volume.
On the opposite side is the headset’s connection socket. This proprietary socket is not your standard 3.5mm socket. This is likely due to the additional cabling required to not only power the headset but also drive the many audio channels to it, than the thin stereo channel cable we are all familiar with.
The Tritton 7.1 Surround Headset is a wired headset, yet it is also a powered one. Connecting the headset to the Decoder Box is the only way to get power as well as audio to the headset. Doing so is as simple as plugging in one end of the generous 3 metre long braided lead into the Decoder Box and the other end into the In-Line Controller unit that is permanently attached to the headset, and adds an additional 60 cm length of cable.
All the remaining controls for this headset is found on this In-Line Controller. From the In-Line Controller you can adjust the same master volume as the one on the Decoder Box, by rocking a leaver back and forth, while depressing this leaver inwards will mute all the audio to the headset. An sliding switch sits on a main face of the controller to mute your microphone’s input from the headset, and over on the other side is the Xbox Live connection cable socket that connects, via a supplied lead, to your Xbox controller.
The Decoder Box (above left) and In-Line Controller (below right)
Alongside the Xbox Live socket is the Voice Communication Volume and SVM Control. This volume behaves in a similar to many other headsets, in that the lever will adjust the level of voice chat audio that can be heard. Depressing the same voice volume lever will turn SVM on or off. With Selectable Voice Monitoring switched on you are able to hear your own voice as you speak into the microphone, which some gamers may prefer to use to hear themselves over the in-game audio, and to be assured that what is being said is being picked up and heard. For me though, I’ve always found this too distracting and I’ve had to have this option turned off most of the time.
The detachable microphone boom plugs directly into the bottom of the left earcup by a 3.5 mm jack, which is ideal if you wish to use the headset just for listening purposes. Sadly this boom cannot be stowed away once it’s plugged in, so if you will not be using the microphone, then it is best to remove the boom entirely, as it can stick out and get in the way when not in use.
The Decoder Box, In-Line Controller and headset itself is branded with Ghost Recon Future Soldier livery. The headset is more clearly branded than the others, with the game’s skull-like logo branded on each earcup face. When the headset is powered, both earcups light up from the white LEDs that are inside each earcup – turning your ears into a beacon of light. For me, these light-up earmuffs felt a little unnecessary and a bit over the top. If you were at a LAN party wearing these cans you would definitely stand out from the crowd, and certainly attract a few flying moths and insects along the way!
GRFS branded headrail (left) and LED illuminated earcups (right)
The 7.1 surround sound is delivered through a set of 40 mm drivers in each over-the-ear earcup. The headset comes with prefitted Pleather padded cushions, which are very comfortable during long use. Another pair of softer Velour cushions are also provided if you prefer a more softer texture around your ears. The weight is surprisingly light for a large headset of this kind, and with its adjustable headband and swivel earcups it is very comfortable, even after a few hours gaming.
Being a powered headset, there is a noticeable hum when the headset is on and is connected to an audio source. This slight noise makes itself known when there are any quiet periods in games or when navigating the console’s dashboard. This is immediately drowned out when any sound is pumped through the audio drivers, but it can be a little distracting during quiet periods of a cutscene in a game or movie. Once the headset’s sound is heard you will soon ignore this small niggle though, as the quality that this headset gives out is very impressive. Given the small 40 mm drivers inside, the bass response feels like you have a subwoofer the size of a washing machine next to your ears. If I were to nitpick I would have preferred a little higher treble to make the overall sound perfect, but overall this headset should certainly impress most, if not all gamers.
You would have to be a serious Ghost Recon Future Soldier fan to justify spending the £159.99 asking price for the headset and except this amount of branding wrapped around it. The LED illuminated earcups may turn certain people off too. However, underneath this branded exterior is a quality high-end headset that will give your ears a home theatre-like experience. The power and quality of its audio drivers are able to literally shake your ears, thanks to its deep bass response, and it has the build quality that you can expect from Tritton that will have you playing in comfort for hours. Whether you are playing games, listening to music or watching movies, the Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 Surround Headset is thoroughly worth your consideration should your ears, and mostly your wallet, allow.