Testing | Setup and Gaming, Music, and Movies on the Pro+
One of Tritton's selling points over the venerable AX Pro is that they've streamlined the setup. Despite the daunting number of cables and connectors in the box, they've done a good job at making setup very simple. First, plug in the decoder box to AC power, then connect the optical cable to your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 (using the included adapter), and you're almost set. From there, you connect the microphone input using the USB cable for PS3 or the Xbox Live cable to the in-line controller for the Xbox 360. Finally, connect the headset to the decoder box, and you're set. With a press of the power button, you'll see something like the image below.
The headset comes alive with the Tritton logo glowing nicely, the in-line controller glowing, and lights showing you what your current audio settings are on the decoder box. The Tritton logo is very well-diffused and not too bright, which would be very distracting in dimly-lit LANs and competitions. You'll notice on the in-line controller that there are different colors on each channel, which indicates the volume level of each one. You can adjust the volume in small increments, and they'll change from red to blue to green as you reduce the volume, to give you a rough indication of what your settings are. If you use the master volume to increase or decrease the volume all the way, they'll all return to the same level. I'm not sure how they'd do it, but it would be great to have a way to adjust the volume up so that quieter channels don't become louder once a certain channel reaches max volume to maintain your settings.
Our primary concerns when gaming was directional accuracy and, of course, sound quality. First, since the flagship feature of the Pro+ is being the only true 5.1 headset in the console gaming arena (PC gamers have had a number of 5.1 offerings for some time, and we've used many to use as a basis of comparison). To adequately test the directional fidelity of the Pro Plus, we focused on FPS games. Since most of my experience with 5.1 headsets has been on the computer, I also played some familiar games like Battlefield 3 on the PC using the Pro+ (without the ability to use the microphone, even though it correctly registered as a communication device) by connecting to my motherboard's optical output. I played many different games, and the ultimate test being a 1v1 with some buddies where I would hide and see how accurately I could hear them coming.
Long story short, these do a great job providing directional awareness of even cluttered combat arenas. For the best results, I fine-tuned the time delay and the individual channel volumes, but I was able to hide and anticipate when an enemy would be coming around corners (don't flame me for camping, I was just testing!) and it does provide a competitive advantage in smaller games. The Pro+ is every bit as good as some of the better true 5.1 surround gaming headsets we've used for years on the PC, which I was pleased to discover. So far, so good.
Most of your favorite games will really take on a new level of immersiveness and the Pro+ provides a very good depth and volume to the sound that makes it sound as though you're in the game rather than the game being blasted into your ears. Games with superb sound engines, like Battlefield 3, really give the game a whole new feel that will really captivate you until you grow used to it. Many early adopters have complained about a low volume issue, and although these didn't go particularly loud, they were more than loud enough for our tastes, but we're not sure what we're comparing to, so we may have experienced the same thing without knowing it. We expect it's already been fixed, or will be fixed very soon by MadCatz. Overall, the sound is very good, as all channels have relatively large drivers. The subwoofer is crisp and provides very clean bass, although I wouldn't mind if that channel was a bit more pronounced to accentuate the blasts found on a battlefield or the blast of a near-miss tank shell. However, from a competitive standpoint, you don't want the bass overshadowing the sounds of your enemies' gunfire and/or footsteps, in which case you'd value crisp bass reproduction over dominating volume.
The microphone can make or break a headset for those looking for quick, clear, effective communication. Again, to be brief, the microphone comes across very clean and crisp. The large microphone head does a good job at capturing your voice, and not a whole lot else. My voice was heard on the other end crisp and clear, and there isn't much left to desire, so another thumbs up.
Movies are simply fantastic with the Pro+. For dorm rooms or if you want to watch a movie without disturbing anyone else, these are the perfect solution. You get the benefits of a full surround sound system, plenty of cable to kick back and relax on the couch, and all of the audio beauty delivered by Dolby Digital processing. The opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, my benchmark for surround sound systems, comes to life with booming explosions, bullets zipping around your head, shouts in the distance, and the Pro Plus makes this a joy without scaring your roommates or neighbors.
The Pro+ does a pretty good job of listening to music, but it's certainly the weak spot compared to gaming and movies. The Dobly Digital effects fall mute when listening to music, and since the drivers are each tuned for their own purposes, only the center channel will play for proper 2-channel listening, and with the 5.1 emulation with PLIIx, the results are a little muddled and a bit out of its element. It's not bad, but it's not particularly great, either. I don't really count this against the Pro+ much though, since this is probably last on its list when it comes to design importance.
The Kunai was fantastic for comfort, and the Pro+ one-ups it again. The circumaural fit feels great and allows for a voluminous fit around your ears. The earpads are comfortable and distribute the pressure very evenly without being too squishy. The result is that you forget they're on your head after awhile, and they'll comfortably rest on your head for as long as you're likely to play. Tritton's website says they're redisgned for "extreme comfort," and they are extremely comfortable. The fit also helps the immersive sound, as it creates a small cavity for the sound to really develop before bouncing into your ear canal. The headband gives firm pressure, but it's not so stiff where it feels forced, and the headband size adjusts in small increments with a "click" heard with each notch, so you'll be able to find a way for it to fit your noggin.