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Tritton AX 120 Stereo Gaming Headset from Mad Catz

By Kevin McAuliffe
I've been an video editor for a long time, but I've also been a gamer for a long time as well, and much like in television, I've always stayed on top of the newest consoles (I have an XBOX 360 and a PS3), and trends in video games. 
 
I've had an issue that I've been trying to resolve for a long time, and that is that I always have clients come to my home office to watch their final product(s), and I have my XBOX 360 set up on my 57 inch television, and needless to say that in my home/office, there is a lot of noise, but I need to make sure that my client hears every pin drop in their show, so I needed to come up with a simple solution for getting final approvals on my work, and who would have thought that a simple crossover into my other passion, video gaming, would have been the lifesaver. 
 
Let me tell you what I mean.

WHAT YOU GET

I have to say that I was very surprised at the amount of......choice that you get when you purchase this powered headset.  What I mean by that is that it is not only designed to be a gaming headset, but Mad Catz (MC) has really designed this headset to be a "all-in-one" solution, as you have the ability to remove the gaming microphone, and add an MP3/iPhone adapter to take this unit on the road with you.  Here's a look at what you get with the AX 120.

Headset with Game Microphone

The headset is a nice, comfortable wear, with form fitting ear pieces, as well as a game microphone that easily attaches or detaches from the left side (We'll get more into the fit of the headset later in the reveiw).  I'm not one who talks much when I play online, so I normally never have it attached, and when I'm using it for client approvals, having the option to remove it is a huge added bonus.  Remember, since the headset is still a communication device, it is powered by USB when you're gaming.  Oh, and I even love the clips that come attached to the cables.  Nice addition!

 

In-Line Controller

There are four different controls on this small unit where you are going to adjust the game/video volume on one dial and the Voice Communication volume (sound of other players on XBL) on the one beside it.  On the other side you have the Mic Mute button (so other users don't hear you talking/breathing/laughing at them when you frag them), and you also have an input called "Xbox Live Port". What's important to keep in mind is that this little port is the only "output" of the headset that will send your microphone output back to the XBOX 360, to be heard in your online game. 

Game Microphone

Fairly self explanatory.  This is a detachable microphone that goes into the left side of the headset so you can communicate with your friends online.  One thing that I really liked about the microphone is that it's not a flimsy piece of rubber with a windscreen on the end.  It's a rigid, "metal" design that locks into place with every slight adjustment.

RCA Connection Cable

This cable will either connect to your XBOX 360 Component cable (which has the R/G/B as well as stereo RCA connectors) or the XBOX 360 HDMI Analog Audio Adapter, and is what sends the sound from the XBOX 360 to your headset.

XBOX Live Communicator Cable

This cable connects from your controller to the "XBOX Live Port" on the in-line controller of the headset, and is what sends your voice from the microphone back to the XBOX 360.

XBOX 360 HDMI Analog Adapter

If you connect your XBOX 360 to your TV via HDMI, you will need to use this adapter to get the sound from your XBOX to the AX120.

MP3/iPhone Adapter

Very, very nice!  Why limit your new headset to just the XBOX.  This extension cable makes it easier to take your AX-120 headset on the road to use in your MP3 or iPhone, or in my case, I now use the headset when I record all my video tutorials.

Here's a little setup diagram that comes in the instruction manual.  In all, it took less than 5 minutes to set up.

You can tell that Mad Catz put a lot of thought into what you are getting with the AX-120, and have made it not only a gaming headset, but one that can be used for any of your on-the-go audio needs.

HOW IT WORKED FOR ME

Now I know what most people do when they get something like the AX 120.  The rip it open, and start playing, but I consider myself a bit of an "Audio Geek" when it comes to things like this, so I wanted to sit down and "experience" everything about the headset.

First, I adjusted the ear pieces, as I have a bit of a long head (LOL), and slid the headset on.  The first thing I noticed was that Mad Catz have made the "cans" (earpieces) rotatable, so no matter what shape your head is, the fit will always be just right.  Next I noticed that the earpieces were very narrow, which I'm not accustomed to in a headset, as most headsets you buy, but I have to say that I actually prefer it that way.  Once the "height" of the headset was right, it stayed perfectly still on my head, no matter which way I turned it.  Now, most people might think the next thing I did was pop in a game and start playing, but I didn't.  I actually just sat there and listended for a while, and do you know what I heard?  Nothing.  One thing that is very important in a headset, is not just how well the game/movie sounds, but how much of the ambient sound does do the headphones keep out, and I'm happy to say that the AX 120 did a fantastic job of isolating you from the "outside world" to really imerse you in the game you are about to play, or the movie you are about to watch.  O.K., NOW I put a game into the machine, to see how the sound was.

Halo Reach was the title I decide to try, as I haven't played it yet (yes, I know, I know), and needless to say, I was very, very impressed.  The sound was crystal clear, and every time something flew from the left to the right side of the screen, it sounded like it was right there in the room with me.  There was a great balance between the treble and the bass, so nothing was over or underpowering.  I jumped online as well to give the microphone a try, and it worked like a charm.  Anyone who has been stuck using the Microsoft headset that you can get bundled with an XBOX Live Gold Membership needs to take that piece of junk and throw it out, as once you've used an AX 120, you'll never go back.  I also put in Toy Story 3 into my XBOX and watched about 1/2 an hour of it, and I got the exact same results.  Crystal clear audio, and I even heard things that I hadn't heard before!  Very nice!

Now, I know what you're probably thinking....O.K., great for gaming but I'm an editor.  Why would I need/want this headphone set.  Well first, as I mention before the crystal clear audio, mixed with the excellent muting of the outside world, makes the AX 120 ideal for an audio monitor when you are editing/mixing audio, but more importantly, what the AX 120 is perfect for is an on-the-go monitoring solution.  These headsets can be taken with you on location to edit/or monitor sound, or, pack up your entire XBOX 360, and take it to a location with you where your client can listen and approve your show with the best possible sound quality you can get.  For an entry-level headset, this one's a winner!

PROS
- Crystal Clear stereo sound
- very comfortable on your head
- mutes the outside world to immerse you in your game or work.
- $59 US MSRP

CONS

- Most non-gamers would overlook this unit, as they would think it only for gaming
- the Headset cable could be longer

In the end, an excellent entry level headset that gamers will love, and one that should be considered by anyone (even editors) looking for a great sound experience.  For more information on the Tritton AX 120, you can check it out at http://www.trittontechnologies.com/ .


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





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