If you’re an Xbox owner like me then you’ve probably warmed up to the idea of high definition. At first maybe the 720p’s and 1080i’s were scary, the 5.1’s unnecessary, and you had a perfectly fine CRT from 1994. Sooner or later though, a game came along that demanded HD. Whether it was the tumors you developed sitting three inches away from the TV trying to read the text in Dead Rising, or the desire to get the most out of Gears of War’s vibrant grey and brown color palette, your eyes demanded HD lovin’ and proceeded to sodomize your wallet.
Everything is better in HD except porn, unless razor burns are a turn on for you. It’s only logical then, that everything is better in 5.1 surround sound too. But again if you’re like me you’re either stuck in a shared apartment or your parent’s house, and while shuddering your house down to its very foundation because of an awesome explosion will put hair on your balls, other people around you may be less appreciative.
Back when 5.1 Headphones first came about, they were over $500. They probably also sucked. Xbox 360 owners should be familiar with the benefits of cutting edge technology. You get to spend excessive amounts of money to be the first kid on the block with a plastic box full of circuits and metal, and all it does is make a fancy red light pattern and sputter a bit. Unfortunately, years of new designs and advancements don’t always change things.
Enter the AX360 5.1 Surround Sound Headphones by Tritton. Enter, trip and fall, and go running back to mom. Maybe they’ll come back in 3-5 business days…
That sums up my introduction to these headphones. Well, they actually did make it to my noggin, and offered some thrilling surround sound. Unfortunately, after a few minutes it occured to me that something was amiss. While I was experiencing thundering explosions in front of me and rich sound effects, anything going on behind me sounded like it was being broadcast over HAM radio. It turns out the designers of the AX360s took the concept of having a 5.1 system on your head quite literally. Every speaker is accounted for, shrunk down to bite-size, and jammed into each earpiece. Unfortunately, it sounded like the rear channels came from a thrift store.
Armed with my experience on Xbox customer service I prepared myself for a battle against automated voices and John Smith from India. Luckily, it turns out Tritton is a small company with small company values, at least that’s the impression I got – they bend over backwards for their customers. In the end, I had two working pairs of headphones for the price of one, so I’m not really complaining.
After using them for a few weeks I can say that they work quite well. You do have to tinker with all the volume controls, and sometimes this can be on a game to game basis. After a particularly bumpin’ round of Rez I switched to Virtua Fighter 5 and nearly had my ears blown out by cheesy dialogue. There are also a lot of wires, but I’m assuming they wouldn’t pack the punch they do without all those wires. The bass is usually really impressive, and it’s complemented by an awesome but mild vibration.
The 360 part of the AX360s doesn’t mean they won’t work elsewhere. Tritton packs enough cables to hook them up to just about anything. The main advantage of these over a standard home theater pair is that they double as an Xbox Live headset.
Overall I’m a bit hesitant to recommend the AX360s. They’re an excellent pair of headphones, but I imagine better sets will come out down the line. If you have the means to set up a normal home theater, I suggest doing that, but if you don’t mind a bit of tinkering and you need to keep things quiet, they’re certainly not a bad choice.