When it was revealed that the Wii U wouldn’t offer a digital optical output, the audiophile in me died a little. As you know, we’ve been hard at work for almost six months building an ever-growing database of gaming headsets. I figured that I’d be relegated to a wired solution that would tether me to my console or TV, draping feet of cord across my floor in what can only be considered a doggie (and kiddie) obstacle course. Thankfully, Turtle Beach will be coming to the rescue with two options that connect to the system’s screen-imbued GamePad.

Both products sport a four-pole connector (the same kind of 3.5mm connection found on most smartphones) that allows both game audio and chat with minimal cabling. First up is the NLa (similar in design to the company’s Xbox 360-compatible XLa). This is an amplified headset with in-line controls and microphone. The earcups isolate noise, which is something that drives home the off-screen/on-GamePad play experience that many Wii U titles will support. The NLa will come in the same white as the basic sku and the black of the Pro bundle (you know, the one you should get).

The other model is the N11, with similar aesthetics to the P11 for the PS3 and Z11 for the PC. 50mm drivers and comfortable padding on the ears will make this something that anyone looking to go online with the Wii U will want to pay attention to. Of course, these will only work when you’re playing with the GamePad. If you’re using the system in “Wii mode” or are playing with a Wii remote, you’re out of luck.

It’s a good step forward, and Turtle Beach is doing their best with the system’s limitations (a dangerous word when speaking of a product not even on the market yet). For anyone looking to play online when Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 arrives (or the other multiplayer titles on the way), a good headset is going to be important. The interesting thing to note is that the Wii U must pass full game audio wirelessly to the GamePad in order to get sound simply by plugging into the peripheral. There is hope that somewhere down the line that Nintendo will allow Turtle Beach (or another manufacturer) access to pull the sound for a headset in the same way.

 

The NLa will retail for $34.95 and the N11 will be available at the MSRP of $49.95. Both are slated for arrival in Q4 2012.