The Sharkoon X-Tatic SP is a headset system which allows you to have crisp stereo sound, as loud as you want it, without waking up anyone also living in your house/dorm room/apartment. The X-Tatic SP is a wired solution, so you don’t have to worry about any sort of wireless interference, but you will have to worry about someone tripping over the cord if you happen to be using it with a console. There are other higher-end (read: much more expensive) Sharkoon headsets out there, but we’re just going to stick to the X-Tatic SP for this review.
Packaging: I have to preface this by saying that I’m not a huge lover of packaging. As long as the product is covered in some way, and it’s not impossible to remove it from said packaging, I usually view it as successful. Having said that, I can tell you that the packaging on the X-Tatic SP got the job done. There was nothing flashy, but it gave you a nice view of the headset, and I didn’t need a jackhammer to break any seals. Additionally, you could see that the product is being geared toward console players because it proudly bears the “compatible with…” stickers right on the front.
Installation: Before I get into the installation, let me give you a quick break-down of what the X-Tatic SP does. It’s basically a splitter which intercepts the audio from your game console of choice, and gives you the option of either hearing the sound only through your current audio set-up, hearing it only through the headset, or a combination or both. It accomplishes this task by having you install a tap cable at the end of the L/R audio cables coming out of your console so you can feed the audio to your new headset at electrically the same point as sound is fed to your current tuner/TV. In my case, this resulted in there being a trip made to the back of my goodie cabinet (that’s what I call it, don’t judge me). Second, you have to plug the USB cable into your console (for the PS3, any one of the USB ports will work — for the Xbox 360, you’ll want to use the USB port in the back). If all you want is to be able to hear the game you’re playing, you’re all done at this point. If you want to be able to talk trash to your opponents, you’ll have to plug the mic into the left headphone, and select it from your PS3 accessories menu. If you have an Xbox 360, you’ll have to plug in an additional cable from the X-Tatic SP volume control switch to the Xbox 360 controller.
Usability: Once the unit is all cabled and ready, using it is as simple as selecting PS3, Xbox, or PC on the volume control switch, and you’re ready to go. There are separate dials for speaker volume, and microphone volume, and you’re also given a mute button, which is really a must nowadays. One downside is that the volume dials are exactly the same size, so you might have to break your eyes away from your screen if you need to make an adjustment to make sure you’re adjusting the right thing. Initially, the headset may seem big, but it’s extremely comfortable, and you forget it’s there after a few minutes.
Audio Quality: This is really where the X-Tatic SP shines. When I initially used the headset, I would have sworn I was getting 5.1 surround sound rather than the regular stereo that it provides. The bass level was ridiculously good, and I started hearing things in games that I had never heard before. Rustling bushes, wind blowing, quiet footsteps…it was like I was playing Red Dead for the first time. I may have looked like an old-school DJ, but the level of immersion the X-Tatic SP gave me was amazing.
The Demitrius Determination: For what it is, the X-Tatic SP is an amazing headset with unbeatable audio quality for your dollar. The downside comes with the wires which really started to drive me crazy after a while. If my cat wasn’t playing with them, someone was tripping over them. This may not be as big of a concern if the user is living in a dorm or a smaller apartment, but my couch is far enough away from my TV that it stretched the cord to it’s limit when I was playing — definitely something to keep in mind if you’re planning to buy these. If you’re a dorm-dweller, or if you have babies you don’t want to wake, I can’t recommend these high enough. However, if your TV is further than 9 feet from your couch, I’d have to recommend finding a wireless solution.