If you want to be rocked by airstrikes, trash talk opponents or just hear the footsteps of an enemy sneaking up for a melee kill, nothing can boost your online gaming experience like a quality headset. Designed exclusively for the Xbox 360, the Tritton Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Headset has stereo sound that brings the battlefield into the living room. It's also the only way to get "truly" wireless chat on the 360, no Bluetooth dongle required.
Tritton's parent company Mad Catz won the exclusive rights to develop a headset for the 360 that's free from a mic cord tethering it to a controller or Bluetooth receiver. The Warhead headset is truly wireless, easy to sync, and ships with a combination docking station and battery charger that makes this stylish set of surround sound cans into a complete audio package. There are also two high-capacity batteries to swap between, so you'll never be without a charge when the flak starts flying.
The Warhead's stellar interface and luxurious extras all seem to be "buttering" the consumer up in preparation for the stiff asking price of $300. It's among the heftiest price tags on the market, but is the Warhead immersive enough to be the go-to headset of Xbox gamers looking to really spoil themselves? We're glad you asked!
With its sleek dark finish, the Warhead was surely designed with the matte black look of the Xbox 360 S in mind. The interior of the earphones is Tritton's signature bright orange, which makes for an eye catching combination.
Compared with other surround sound headsets, the Warhead is none too heavy. Its ear pieces are padded with imitation leather, and are designed to pivot slightly for a more comfortable fit. The headset's adjustable sizing is marked with numbered increments, so as to keep the size right where you like it.
The buttons on the headset are laid out practically, with the power and sync buttons hidden on the interior of the earpieces so users won't accidentally bump them. More frequently used switches like game and mic volume are placed on the left and right earpieces, which makes them easy to keep separate. There's also a big button for cycling through equalizer modes.
The Warhead's microphone is removable, you just snap it into the left earphone. It has its own on and off switch, so it's simple to mute yourself when you want to say something your team doesn't need to hear. There's even a red light to tell you when you're muted. The mic can rotate a full 360 degrees, making it easy to move out of the way when not in use, or you can just pull it right off to give your team the silent treatment.
As an Xbox 360 exclusive device, setup with the Warhead is beautifully simple. The headset and accompanying base station click together with ease. The base station serves as a receiver, to get it going you just plug in its AC adapter and connect it to your Xbox via optical port (or through an included adapter if you're using an older model console. Also, RCA cables are included for connecting directly to older televisions). Once that's done, connecting the headset works just like syncing a controller, just hit sync on the console and sync on the headset and you're ready to experience 7.1 sound.
With Dolby 7.1 surround sound and 50mm drivers, the Warhead produces wide and powerful audio. There are three equalizer presets, Games, Movies and Music, to help you get the most out of the headset's mixing capabilities. They're easily cycled through with a button on the right earpiece, and different colored LEDs on the base station denote each setting. Lighting up green, red and blue, they're easy to identify all the way from the couch.
To describe the Warhead's audio quality in broad terms, it's something of a Jack of all trades. Each preset performed admirably, proving the Warhead to be versatile enough for gaming, watching a DVD or Netflix or blasting your favorite album. The 7.1 mix especially shown through, providing an immersive gaming and movie watching experience, and complex, layered sound for music. It has all the booming bass you need for a nuclear detonation or a classic hip hop track. However, while it's capable of thundering, enveloping sound, it sometimes lacked fidelity. There were moments where dialog felt dampened, distant or not all that clear. We'd be tempted to forgive this, since the Warhead's wireless signal is so strong, but at $300 it's hard not to expect better.
The Warhead proved itself capable enough in the audio department. Its mix presets help it achieve a wide range of uses, something any user would want at such a high price point. While serious audiophiles won't find it good enough for music and movie watching, for the average user who wants to have a surround sound gaming experience, have an action movie rattle their dental work, or just stay up late watching Netflix without annoying their spouse or roommates will get their money's worth.
While mic quality over Xbox Live is generally dependent on your internet connection, the Warhead provides excellent pick up and voice fidelity. It also did a good job of keeping out background noise, such as breathing.
Best of all, the Warhead separates game audio and your teammates' transmissions into two different audio channels, allowing you to tweak their respective volumes with two different toggles. This way you can still keep explosions nice and loud without having other gamers yelling in your ears.
The Warhead's base station does triple duty as wireless receiver, dock and battery charger. It really ties the whole package together, giving you somewhere safe to keep your pricey headset when it's not in use. It takes a little manipulating to get the Warhead to rest in the stand properly, but it's an otherwise convenient, cool looking way to display your headset.
The base station features indicator lights for different types of sound: Dolby Headhphone, Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx and standard Digital. This way you can tell exactly what type of stereo sound is being transmitted to your ears. There's also an Equalizer Mode Indicator, which tells you if you're on Music, Movie or Game mode. Finally, there's a Ring of Light indicator, which uses a four quadrant read-out just like an Xbox controller, telling you which player the headset is paired with. This will come in handy if you ever sync more than one headset to the base station, which the Warhead system supports.
Charging a battery with the base station is very easy, just remove the magnetic face plate and pop the battery in. An indicator light will tell you the status of the battery's charge; red means it still needs time, greens tells you it's done.
The Warhead's battery life and easy charging system make it so you'll never need to worry about having enough juice to game with. The unit comes with two batteries, so you can always have one charging while the other powers your headset. Since the battery life is rated by Tritton for a minimum of 12 hours, a drained battery will always have ample time to charge back up while its partner takes over.
Tritton's 12 hour battery life claim is well-founded; it's even a tad modest. We enjoyed about fifteen hours of gaming and movie watching before running out of power. Recharging a battery takes quite a while, but it's a non-issue since the system comes with a spare to swap in. They're even two different colors so you can remember which is ready and which needs to be charged.
Wireless range and signal quality
Broadcasting at 5.8GHz, well above the frequency of your average router or Xbox 360 controller, the Warhead is free from the interference and hiccups that mar lesser wireless headsets. Best of all, it does it with no mic cable or dongle sticking out of your controller.
Tritton rates the Warhead for 33ft/10m of radio frequency operating range, and once again the manufacturer's estimate holds true. Only a mansion fit for Bruce Wayne would have a living room big enough to flout the Warhead's wireless range. We never suffered any interference from other devices, either. Standard household electronics, cell phones and other wireless gaming peripherals did not produce any noticeable issues. Nothing gave the signal any trouble, short of putting a wall between the headset and the base station.
With its sleek design, 5.8GHz frequency and exclusive Xbox 360 compatibility, the Tritton Warhead 7.1 Wireless Surround Headset is for a gamer who wants a wireless audio solution he'll rarely need to think about. Short of turning the Warhead on and choosing an equalizer setting, this is a headset you'll never need to fool with. It delivers a great surround sound mix without annoying static or interference from other devices, and the two high capacity batteries ensure that you're always ready to play.
You can find a 360 headset with crisper audio than the Warhead, but you'd be hard pressed to find one with a wider mix, or a more reliable wireless connection. Having no receiver or cord plugged into the controller is a real luxury, but it's one you'll be paying well for. More frugal gamers or serious audio enthusiasts won't like parting with $300 for this setup that can't really do it all. While it provides localized audio that's especially great for gaming, the lack of fidelity in certain quieter moments prevents it from being a true home theatre alternative.
Ultimately, it comes down to price. The occasional moment of muddy audio would be acceptable, given the strength of the Warhead's wireless signal, but at $300 it's hard to be forgiving. It's also annoying that such an expensive headset would be tied to a single device. If it had more versatile applications, like gaming on the PC or watching Blu-Rays on the PS3, it would be a better value. Still, it plays so nicely with the Xbox 360 we can almost forgive it for being a single console headset.
All in all, the Tritton Warhead is for gamers who will pay for wireless reliability at the cost of versatility and true audio fidelity. It's a great way to experience Gears of War 3 with friends online, just don't expect it to be the centerpiece of your home theatre setup.