It is hard to believe, but not everyone wants to listen as you pump sound from video games through your home theater system. That is why there are gaming headsets to begin with – they provide a microphone, but can also provide very sensitive audio … or blast your face off with mega-sound! I use basic Apple or Sony earbuds most of the time, which are adequate but don’t begin to emulate the home theater experience – which is why there are ‘portable sound-systems like the Sharkoon X-Tatic SR. Let’s take a look!
Sharkoon headsets are sophisticated in design and technology – with the X-Tatic SR you gain a state-of-the-art stereo headset with Dolby Headphone Technology giving you the crucial sound advantage for epic gaming sessions on your PlayStation® 3, Xbox® 360, PC, & tablet PCs. Experience a whole new world of crushing explosions, screaming commands, and powerful game sound output with the in-line amplifier master volume control and microphone mute function.
Dolby® Headphone for multi-platform gaming Xbox® 360, PS3™, PC, Tablet PCs
Supports Dolby® Digital 5.1, Dolby® Pro Logic® II and Dolby® Headphone
USB-powered, no additional power adaptor needed
Supports Xbox® Live & PlayStation® 3 chat function
Flexible, detachable microphone
In-line amplifier with volume controller and microphone mute
Separate volume adjustment for voice communication
Supports a second headset via 3.5 mm jack for excellent sound
Let me get the bottom line right out there – these things sound amazing. Whether used as basic over-the-ear headphones, hooked into a USB port for powered audio and microphone capabilities, or fully wired for Dolby sound, these thing never failed to deliver top-notch sound. They are amongst the best sounding headphones I have ever touched, and since I got them they have been in constant rotation between my computer, my younger son’s music production system and my older son’s XBOX360.
Hooking up the Sharkoon requires a different cabling solution depending upon what you are trying to do and the hardware capabilities of your system. Let’s look a bit at each, but first here is a picture showing just HOW MUCH wiring comes with the Sharkoon.
The simplest way to use the system is simply as headphones. To do this you attach the PC standard adapter to the round connection and use only the headphone jack, making sure the in-line amplifier is switched off. In this configuration you can also use the microphone by hooking up the microphone cable.
The same configuration provides the basic PC setup. In this case aside from hooking up the headphones and microphone, you also need an available USB 2.0 port. This provides the power for the in-line amplifier, which has a dramatic impact on the overall sound quality. The downside is that as you can see there is little slack for non-standard laptop layouts – if your USB ports aren’t very close to your headphone jack, you are out of luck. So for me that meant easy use with the Macbook Pro, no use with the Sony Vaio.
For full Dolby surround sound with a microphone you need an optical SP/DIF hookup and a USB port and some way of connection headphones and microphone. In the case of a PC it proceeds as before, with the additional need of an optical connection, something less and less common.
The XBOX360 and PS3 have optical connections readily available. So aside from the optical hookups and USB connection, you need to hook the microphone from the inline amplifier into the microphone input of the XBOX360 controller for console use. This adds two connections to the back of the console a wired connection to a wireless controller, and two hardware ‘lumps’ along with the cables. Take a look:
In practice this means that aside from a wired headset the gamer has another cable hooked into the controller. For kids used to wireless everything this is certainly a hassle, whereas if you are already using wired headsets it is no big deal at all.
With all of these configuration concerns and tangled wires, you are likely wondering WHY my boys and I are fighting over these things: the sound!
Even in basic headphone mode, the Sharkoon headphones are extremely comfortable, light and just sound awesome. Add the amplifier and the world drops away and is replaced by beautiful music. And by the time you engage full Dolby surround, it is like a top-end home theater with perfect positional balancing. You really CAN hear things moving around your audio field in real-time.
At $139.99 these are clearly not for everyone. They represent a step up from most headsets available, and a massive jump from typical earbuds and the low-end headsets too many gamers use. Once someone hooks into these, anything else feels primitive!
Here is my video unboxing, which shows all of the components and features:
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
What I Like: Excellent sound quality as headphones, powered headset, or full-on Dolby mode; convenient microphone; highly modular
What Needs Improvement: Each of these capabilities seems to add a wire; microphone more sensitive than most headsets; top-end pricing to match top-end capabilities
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit