Review: GameCom X40 Stereo Gaming Headset for Xbox 360
If you’re like me, you like to game at all hours of the night. And if you’re also like me, you often have to compromise between enjoying the game in its full glory, and waking the house with your surround sound explosions at 1 in the morning. If you’re gaming online, you need an Xbox Live microphone, so you ultimately sacrifice on game sounds to get your gaming on. Fortunately, Plantronics has you covered with their latest headset offerings. We’ll be focusing on the GameCom X40 headset, which is their wired Xbox 360 gaming headset.
It states on the box that these headphones were made by gamers, for gamers, and it seems they’ve covered every angle here. The headset itself includes a closed-ear design to allow for full immersion in your game while shutting out outside noise nicely. The headphones are also nicely cushioned, allowing for long gaming sessions without feeling pressure on your ears or head. The headphones include a microphone for chatting that can tuck into the headband when it’s not being used. The cords include four plugins: a short plug for the mic to your controller, and 3 longer cords that plug into the USB port, and the RCA audio cables (Red and White plugins). The RCA audio cables have a passthrough, which allows you to use the headphones while still having them connected to your audio source (if you use the RCA audio cables for audio), so you don’t have to swap cables for when you game with or without headphones. The cables are also of ample length; I was able to game in my usual position without having to worry about yanking my Xbox 360 off the shelf, so unless you’re gaming from the next room over, you should be fine.
There are volume controls for both game audio and microphone audio on the headset itself, and a microphone mute switch is also on the headset (microphone audio controls are on the left headset, game volume is on the right). The sound is crisp and clear for both game and chat audio, and the volume can be cranked up quite a bit. I was actually able to hear things in Modern Warfare 2 that I hadn’t heard before, which led me to spinning around at ghosts a few times as I thought I was hearing an approaching enemy. The headphones certainly fulfill the need for gaming silently while fully enjoying the experience, and I will be able to enjoy full volume gaming no matter what the hour. People I was playing with reported no problems with the microphone, stating that I came in loud and clear.
There aren’t many issues to speak of with these headphones, but they’re worth mentioning. The volume controls are nice and safe on the headphones, but I did find myself scrambling and clawing at the back of my head trying to turn down the chat volume at one point in the game when an idiot starting screaming full force into the mic, and it took both my hands off of the controller to do so. Obviously you could get used to where the volume dial is over time, but it’s still a considerable distance from the controller, so it will always leave you vulnerable to adjust your volume while playing. Having the volume/mute on the wire to the controller may have made it easier to adjust on the fly and see whether your mic was muted or not. A USB passthrough would have been nice so the headphones don’t eat up a much needed USB port on the 360, but USB port expanders are cheap enough to come by. The headphones are a little heavy, not so much that your head will squish into your shoulders, but there’s some heft that both makes them seem stable, and also makes them feel bulky (you won’t win style points while wearing these). The only other gripe I have is not even a fair one for these headphones as much as it is a suggestion to look into the wireless ones: the wires running between you and the Xbox does make you feel a bit tethered. Again, you have ample cord length, but it’s different when it’s your head attached to the Xbox rather than just your controller. With a toddler in the house, these headphones will be difficult to use while she’s running around, but if you are using these with no one else around, you should have no issues.
vttym’s take: These headphones fit the bill perfectly for solving a major gamer problem: playing games at full volume at a time when you should be playing on mute, and still be able to chat to the people you’re playing with. The headphones will immerse you fully into you game, and the microphone will ensure that you can still tell your buddies where the sniper is hitting you from. The cords length is just right and, for a wired headset, are excellent for what they do, however if you have the cash, I’d recommend the wireless version (X95) strongly. The headphones work amazingly, and I can’t recommend these enough for any gamer out there. If you have an Xbox 360, get these now. You won’t believe what you’ll hear in the games you thought you knew.
And now you’ll have an excuse for why you couldn’t hear your wife while playing, and still come away as being considerate!