WITH options thin on the ground for those gamers in search of a headset for their new consoles, Turtle Beach has stolen a march on its competitors with the launch of the PX4, billed as the first fully compatible device for the Playstation 4.
Turtle Beach Ear Force PX4
With a mid-range price tag, excellent acoustics and a remarkable generous battery life, the device deserves to take a strong foothold in a market that is sure to become crowded before long.
With 35 years of audio experience and a niche as one of the leading gaming accessory manufacturers, Turtle Beach has drawn on all its technical knowhow to produce the PX4 while maintaining its aesthetic traditions. Similar in appearance to the company’s PX51 range, the headset boasts the firm’s characteristic muscular design ethic is pitched somewhere between military aviator wear and a professional esport competitor accessory.
The look is robust and unfussy, with only a few understated flourishes - stitching and lights that match the Playstation 4’s thin power band lighting system - reminding you that the PX4 is intended to complement the chassis of Sony’s console, even though it works with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac and mobile devices.
At first glance, the chunky headband and thick padding of the breathable mesh ear cushions gives the impression of not inconsiderable mass. When worn, however, the use of lightweight materials reveals a surprisingly light set, weighing in at 885 grams. Even after extending play sessions, the PX4s never feel uncomfortable, with none of the rubbing or overheating that can plague headsets of an inferior build quality.
Out of the box, the wireless PX4s are straightforward to hook up; not only to a Playstation 4, but a home cinema system, with no instructions necessary (in spite of an online manual that could well be mistaken for a small novella). After connecting the digital out cables and USB of the receiver the console, the headset paired automatically, requiring only a degree of tinkering with the audio output settings on the dashboard; the entire process took around three minutes.
Sonically, the output of the headphones is superb. Unsurprisingly for a headset designed specifically with gamers in mind, prominence is given to the low end, a decision that benefits the vast majority of the Playstation 4’s small but growing catalogue of titles. As is customary with a Turtle Beach headset, a spectrum of presets is available to allow those who prefer a more treble-orientated sound to have their own way.
Dolby digital surround sound is by far and away the best feature of the PX4s, with six presets available on the wireless transmitter. The set’s 50mm drivers combine with dual band wireless technology - in layman’s terms, this ensures the signal does not interfere with other wireless equipment in your living room - to produce immersive and subtle acoustics with no static. The field of sound has a pleasing depth that is able to articulate spatial nuances, essential to those who plough hours into online multiplayer titles like Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Although Bluetooth works well with other media devices such as smartphones (allowing you to field calls while playing) those who wish to chat during online sessions will have to run a 3.5mm cable between their headset and the Dualshock 4, a consequence of Sony’s proprietary system which does not allow third party headsets to connect with the console via Bluetooth. It remains unclear whether a firmware update will eventually allow for full wireless connectivity in time, but in the meantime it is hardly an inconvenience.
The only other minor hindrance with the PX4s is its reliance on two USB ports: one to power the wireless transmitter, the other to charge the headset itself. Thanks to the generous battery life (up to 15 hours, a claim borne out when the in-game volume was set midway) the latter is not a routine occurrence, but given one of the Playstation 4’s two ports is usually set aside for charging the DualShock 4, it requires a degree of forward planning - the best option is to power up both the controller and the headset overnight with the console on standby.
Overall, the headset is the most compelling gaming audio option for Playstation 4 owners, thanks to its versatility, broad range of customisable equaliser settings and the kind of sound quality we have come to expect from Turtle Beach. The DualShock 4’s headphone jack may allow you to use any old set of buds, but if you are looking for crystalline audio during your gaming time, making a modest investment in PX4s will reward you time and again.