Sound Produced: 7.1
Primary Systems: Xbox 360
Connection Method: Digital Optical
Here it is. This is the groundbreaking headset that every Xbox 360 owner has been waiting for. No cables. No bluetooth pucks. A complete wireless solution that seamlessly connects to the Xbox 360 for game audio and chat. There’s just one little problem: the price. At $299.99, the Warhead 7.1 is one of the most expensive options in the RipTen Gaming Headset Buyer’s Guide. If money is no object, and you’re ok with purchasing something that only works with one system (and isn’t necessarily future-proof), this is a convenient, well-designed, comfortable solution.
What’s in the Box?
- Battery x2
- Base Station with Charger and Headset Stand
- RCA Adapter
- Optical Cable
- Digital Audio Adapter
- AC Adapter
Aesthetics and Durability
After coming off of back-to-back reviews of the Tritton AX Pro+ and 720+, the Warhead 7.1 presented a significant contrast. It’s not just that the Warhead is a glossy black as opposed to the white of the other two models. It’s not just that the earlier two units were wired and this is fully, completely and absolutely wireless. It’s that the entire form factor is different.
Where the AX Pro+ and 720+ offer a boxy look, the Warhead blends slight curves and sharp angles to create a sleek impression. The headband is thin, with no overstuffed padding (something I will most certainly address under the “Comfort” heading), and the earcups have a deeper appearance with a contrast between the leatherette-covered padding and orange fabric on the interior (the only color splash on the entire unit). The equalizer, input toggle, upper adjustment points and Tritton logos on the exterior are the only chrome accents, with the Tritton name on the microphone and lower end of the adjustment points in white.
Unlike the AX Pro+ and 720+, the adjustments are nice and firm, holding their shape between uses. The rotation is in the perfect middle ground, easily allowing the headset to rest flat against the shoulders easily. The headset is surprisingly light, but still feels sturdy nonetheless.
Ease of Setup and Use
When hooking up the Warhead 7.1 for the first time, I had a moment of panic, thinking I had misplaced a USB cable. Most gaming headsets require one. Imagine my relief when I double checked the back of the base station and found only two ports: one of the AC adapter and one for the digital optical cable (or analog RCA cable, if you must). Those are the only two you’ll need. Period.
Once one of the two batteries was charged and safely installed in the right earcup, it was a simple matter to turn on the Xbox 360, press the sync button the headset and the console, and watch the correct quadrant light up on the base station. The headset and base station come pre-paired from the factory, though it is an easy process to re-align them if necessary. If you’ve got multiple controllers enabled, you can use the Connect button (three wavy lines, Dr. Venkman) to cycle through.
The headset features two buttons/toggles where my thumbs naturally rest on the back of the headset when grasping the earcups. The left side handles chat volume and turning Selective Voice Monitoring (so you can hear your own voice in the audio mix and not wake up the whole house). The right is for game audio and muting.
The design sounds great, until you realize that there are buttons where your thumbs naturally rest when you put on and remove the headset. On multiple occasions, I accidentally pressed one or both buttons without realizing it. This is only a problem in that I also had issues with the sound refusing to un-mute. This resulted in the need to reboot my Xbox and toggling my TV on and off (when it was directly connected for DVR watching). In retrospect, perhaps pulling the digital optical cable and reseating it might have done the trick. Regardless, it’s a step that I shouldn’t have needed to endure.
The microphone offers easy access to the mute button near the earcup. A red LED light signifies when you’re safe to ask your mom politely for some chocolate milk. The mic itself is sturdy and an upgrade from the one used on the AX Pro+ and 720+.
Sound Quality and Performance
The Warhead 7.1 performed well when tested under a variety of settings with both movies and games. Switching among the three equalizer presets (game, movie and music) is a simple affair handled with the press of one button. Unsurprisingly, this model sports 50mm drivers (as do most Tritton products).
What I did notice is that even with the 5.8Ghz frequency, there was a slight hiss underneath everything. It was certainly less noticeable when the volume was up and I was in the thick of the game, but it was always there. I tried repositioning the base unit and changing the EQ settings, but nothing seemed to abolish it. If you have sensitive ears, there is a good chance you’ll hear it, even through the thick soundscapes offered by most games. It was certainly more noticeable during the quieter moments of movies and television shows.
If you aren’t as attuned to background noise, you will likely be quite happy with the audio quality. The basses are nice and substantial, and there is minimal distortion, especially given the larger size of the drivers. The surround sound processing does a great job with directional positioning, and the closed architecture of the design helps create a full soundscape.
The microphone offers better SVM and pickup than that found on the 720+ and AX Pro+. It is a bit more substantial without sacrificing flexibility. The audio quality for chat is quite good.
I want to tell you that the Warhead 7.1 is an unequivocal success, especially given the groundbreaking nature of third party wireless chat on the Xbox 360. Unfortunately, despite the well-designed and padded earcups and overall lightness of the product, one thing sticks out. The headband simply does not have enough padding. There is approximately three inches of padding covered in a rubbery material. It isn’t over stuffed, nor does it come to the edge.
This leaves hard plastic pieces in contact with the top of the head. While I was able to get the headset in a position that felt comfortable, it required a bit of adjusting each and every time I put it on. In the wrong position, the headset felt like it was digging in. I noted a lack of headband padding in a number of the other Tritton reviews, and it’s an area that would make an enormous difference. I’ve been very happy with so much of what’s on offer, but comfort is a big concern, especially with this kind of investment.
Again, Tritton has gone out of their way in the name of convenience. The digital audio adapter for original format Xbox 360s, the RCA cable and, especially, a second battery that can charge in the base station, are hallmarks of a company that cares about its customers. Of course, the Warhead 7.1 stands out as the first and only third-party gaming headset to feature completely wireless chat without even the need for a dongle. The price tag is high, but if convenience and true wireless configuration matter, it’s worth looking at.
None. Everything you need is in the box.
The Warhead 7.1 is not inexpensive. In fact, it is tied with the Astro A50 as the most expensive product in our guide. If you only game on Xbox 360, this is worth investigating. My only concern is the unknown of the next generation. If Microsoft changes their wireless protocol, there is a good chance that Tritton’s groundbreaking product won’t function for chat. If you’ve got the money to spend and want a good product now (the future be damned), you might find what you’re looking for with the Warhead 7.1.
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