Turtle Beach upped the ante against rival Astro Gaming in 2012 after securing the same Major League Gaming endorsement that the latter has enjoyed for some time. That announcement was quickly followed up by the announcement of several new headsets — one of which is its Ear Force XP400. Featuring fully wireless gaming and more premium features, Turtle Beach’s XP400 attempts to stake its claim on the $220-ish gaming headset market. Here’s a closer look at the features of this new addition to the Ear Force family.
Sounds good: The Ear Force XP400 features a nice, clean sound profile with excellent treble and a healthy level of bass that isn’t overpowering. Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound kicks sound quality up a notch and proves extra useful in games where discerning the direction of audio sources such as footsteps is a key part of gameplay. Add equalizer presets plus six surround sound settings that adjust the positioning of front and rear sound sources and the XP400 does a solid job in the audio department. The XP400 also has a limiter that allows you to turn up sound for ambient audio but limits the volume for explosions so you don’t wreck your eardrums. It has separate controls for game volume and chat as well. One great addition that improves sound quality is the XP400's use of 2.4/5GHz dual-band Wi-Fi technology. This helps address potential interference from wireless networks, phones and other devices by allowing the headset to automatically switch between both bands.
Wireless: The Ear Force XP400 provides a completely wireless connection for gamers who value freedom of movement. The XP400 transmitter itself uses a wired connection to the game console but the headset syncs with the device sans wires. This is helpful if you have, say, a large TV mounted on the wall and need to sit back further or need to take a quick kitchen break but want to keep chatting with your friends.
Light weight: Although the XP400 looks bulky, the headset is actually quite light. The ear cups are large enough to cover your entire ear for extra comfort during extended gaming sessions. The earpieces also rotate for easier storage and the mic is detachable, making it easier to pack the device as well.
Versatile: Unlike the more Xbox 360-focused Astro A30 we reviewed on this site, the Ear Force XP400 also works with the PS3 right off the bat without needing extra accessories. Xbox chat is done via a wireless transmitter that clips below the controller while PS3 chat can be configured via the PS3 settings. Another neat feature is that you could use the XP400 to link with your smartphone via Bluetooth and answer calls via the headset.
Rechargeable: The Ear Force XP400 has a built in rechargeable battery so you don’t have to fiddle with replacing batteries all the time. It can also be plugged while in use to recharge its juice. Battery life is between 10 to 15 hours depending on your settings.
Loose fit: Although light, the fit for the XP400 isn’t as snug as the Astro A30 gaming headset or full-size headphones such as the V-Moda Crossfade.
Transmitter is XP400 only: Unlike the Astro MixAmp, the Turtle Beach transmitter only works with the Ear Force XP400. This means you can’t plug in your own headphones if you happen to own a premium set of cans.
Set up can be tricky: Syncing and pairing the transmitter with the headset can be tricky, especially for those who aren’t as tech inclined. Both should be paired right off the bat but mine weren’t and it took several tries to sync them. The blinking cues may be confusing for some as well.
Regular headphone use: The A30 can be easily connected to a portable music player thanks to its included 3.5mm jack. In contrast, the XP400 can not be directly connected to a portable player and basically requires connecting your player with the transmitter.
No 7.1 surround sound: Unlike some of its competitors, the Ear Force XP400 is limited to 5.1 Surround Sound.
Despite its niggles, the XP400 is an excellent gaming headset. It’s obviously tough not to compare it with offerings from rival Astro. Having used both, I’ve noticed that there are things one does better than the other and vice-versa so everything boils down to which features you prize more. Bottom line, the XP400 is a good, solid gaming headset that gets the job done.
For more about headsets, make sure to check out our Headphones & Speakers hub.