Review: Tritton AX 180 Headset
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii, Mac
Website: Tritton Ax 180
I’m not going to lie to you; I was really excited to get my hands on the Tritton AX 180. As a college student living in a crowded apartment near one of the largest universities in the nation, I’ve come to understand that silence is golden. At two o’clock in the morning, I don’t want to hear my neighbors listening to Miley Cyrus… I plan to offer them the same common courtesy when it comes to my video games. That’s where Tritton Technologies comes in– over the years, the company has come out with some amazing new gaming headsets for all of the current-gen consoles. The AX 180 is a budget stereo gaming headset for the PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii that are exclusively available at Best Buy.
My first impression of the AX 180s was that they are really solid, especially considering the affordable price tag. Setup was simple enough: the headphones use a special connector to plug straight into your console’s RCA audio output cables and USB connector. Another special cable connects the volume control module to your Xbox controller’s headset jack. On the PS3, this extra cable is not needed. When playing, game audio can be controlled independently of voice audio. My friends report that the microphone quality was indistinguishable from my normal 360 headset. Thankfully, the AX 180 proved to be relatively comfortable, even after eight straight hours of gaming. The padded earcups do begin to get a little hot after a while, and you may find yourself having to adjust things every now and again. However, they feel fine in the long run.
As far as audio is concerned, the AX 180 is fair. If you currently run a high quality surround sound setup, then you may feel a little boxed in when you put on a pair of stereo headphones. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the AX 180 isn’t exactly aimed at hardcore gamers. That distinction is reserved for the mid-market AX 720 or the top-of-the-line AX Pro. The stereo sound in the AX 180 make it hard to identify where certain sounds are coming from in first person shooters like Halo and Modern Warfare 2. This was to be expected… you get what you pay for, after all. While the game audio quality is acceptable for a stereo headset, the addition of voice communication adds an uncomfortable background “whine” that can get a little annoying over time. It’s not loud, but it’s definitely there. On the 360, occasional crackling of the voice audio also manages to slip through every now and again– it seems to be associated with the wired connection to the controller.
The AX 180 headset has quite a few good qualities, but there are some potential problem spots that can make certain gamers second-guess whether they should pick up a pair. Perhaps the biggest issue is the mess of wires you have to deal with every time you want to play a game. Multiple console owners will have to unplug and reconnect their component cables every time they want to swap the headset from one system to another. I suppose this could be mitigated with some sort of RCA source switcher. Gamers using digital output audio signals may find that they have to change certain settings every time the connect or disconnect the headset. It depends on the type of setup and cables that you use. My guess is that gamers with large home theater setups or multiple consoles will want to explore other options besides the AX 180.
The Final Say: If you feel like you’re on the fence about whether or not to buy an over-the-ear gaming headset, the Tritton AX 180 would be a good place to start. With a normal Xbox or bluetooth headset, one ear is typically blocked from clearly hearing game audio. That’s not the case with the AX 180; everything comes through unimpeded. Overall, the Tritton AX 180 is a good product at an affordable price. If you have a spouse or roommate who values silence, then this headset is a great solution for you.