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Published on October 19th, 2011 | by Greg


Sound Off: Mad Catz, Xbox 360, Gears of War 3

The hol­i­days have be­gun, for gamers at least. Ma­jor con­sole and PC ti­tles are com­ing out, pub­lish­ers rush­ing them in­to stores to avoid com­pet­ing for the block­buster sea­son that is es­pe­cial­ly full this year. One of the first out of the gate is the Xbox 360 ex­clu­sive, Gears of War 3, the crown­ing game in the tril­o­gy so far, tak­ing the al­ready-slick cov­er-based game­play and adding some new eye can­dy and a sol­id sto­ry. We aren’t re­view­ing the game, though, but a pe­riph­er­al that is built to en­hance your ex­pe­ri­ence. Fea­tur­ing Dol­by 7.1, this is a head­set that can be a game-chang­er.

The Mad Catz Gears of War 3 Sur­round Sound Head­set is ac­tu­al­ly made by Trit­ton, a com­pa­ny ac­quired in the re­cent past by Mad Catz, and mak­er of some our fa­vorite gam­ing au­dio gear. It has the look and feel of the pre­vi­ous Call of Du­ty cus­tom mod­els from Trit­ton we re­viewed last hol­i­day sea­son, which hadn’t changed too much from one of our most-loved head­sets, the AX Pro. Some of the changes are pos­i­tive, some a bit un­for­tu­nate, but the bot­tom line is that this is an quite good head­set with on­ly a few things to quib­ble about. You’ll love or hate the style, de­pend­ing on how you feel about GOW3, but the back­lit lo­gos were a nice touch- even if the sheer quan­ti­ty of brand­ing was a bit over­whelm­ing. And while we missed the mul­ti-plat­form sup­port from some of the oth­er head­sets and weren’t sure how to feel about the left-side on­ly de­tach­able mi­cro­phone, we were im­pressed by the com­fort and sound of this set. Cer­tain­ly, you can use this mod­el with PC or PS3, but at least on the PS3, it’d be as head­phones on­ly.

Set­up is fair­ly easy, and it’s a wired mod­el so no bat­ter­ies are re­quired. On the flip side, the nice braid­ed ca­bling is a bit heavy, and can ex­ert some down­ward force on the head­set while it’s be­ing used. The head­set it­self is sur­pris­ing­ly light, and we weren’t sure how to feel at first about the ‘Dig­i­tal Au­dio Con­trol Box’, which was a lit­tle wob­bly when up­right but can eas­i­ly be set hor­i­zon­tal­ly. Full Dol­by Dig­i­tal and Pro Log­ic IIX sup­port is hard to find fault with- sounds are dis­tinct, am­bi­ent noise is nice­ly blocked out, bass is heavy and puts you in the game. We didn’t love these for movies or tele­vi­sion- they felt a lit­tle off-bal­ance with di­a­logue be­ing too bright, but that may be be­cause we’ve been try­ing out so many ex­pen­sive am­pli­fiers and oth­er au­dio­phile gear re­cent­ly. It’s not clear the 7.1 pro­vides any ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits over 5.1, frankly, but we could def­i­nite­ly ap­pre­ci­ate the sound­stage and ac­cu­ra­cy- shots and nois­es were high­ly di­rec­tion­al, al­low­ing us to quick­ly iden­ti­fy the source of any sus­pi­cious sounds.

The in­line re­mote con­trol is handy, if placed a bit odd­ly, and of­fers vol­ume con­trol, mut­ing, as well as an odd fea­ture called Se­lectable Voice Mon­i­tor­ing. This al­lows you to in­de­pen­dent­ly con­trol voice chat and in-game vol­ume, and we didn’t try it out much since we rarely had trou­ble with vol­ume lev­els. Folks on the oth­er end of our gam­ing ses­sions re­port­ed fair-to-good qual­i­ty from the mi­cro­phone, a bit of flat­ness and oc­ca­sion­al pops. If you’re still us­ing the de­fault Mi­crosoft head­set, we’re dis­ap­point­ed in you. There are so many bet­ter op­tions out there, and these are nice­ly padded plus sound great. The cups felt a bit small at times, but ev­ery­thing was pret­ty ad­justable, and the spare earpad was a smart in­clu­sion. At $190, these aren’t cheap- but are the per­fect gift for any­one who loves Gears of War.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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