With everything going wireless these days, being tied to your console via a headset is not the most pleasant of experiences. There’s nothing quite like a cord draped over the coffee table and onto your couch. Tritton is the first company that Microsoft has partnered with to produce Xbox 360 branded headsets. The first one we’ve gotten to test is the Primer, which is on the lower end of their product line. But does being on the lower end of the spectrum meant that it’s not worth your time? Let’s take a look.
The Primer consists of two parts: The headset and the base station. The base station is pretty basic. It is a glossy black box with a single LED on the front, which lets you know whether the headset is connected. On the back you’ll find a sync button, a stereo audio jack and a mini USB port for power.
The headset has a matte black finish, except for the ear cups, which are glossy black on the outside and orange on the inside. You’ll find padding on the headband and ear cups, which is made of a leather-like material. The right ear houses a pair of AA batteries, while the left has your controls. The left ear has a button for syncing, and another that will mute your mic. There are two volume sliders, one for game volume, and the other for chat. You’ll also see an audio port to connect to your controller, and a mic. The mic is not removable, but it is flexible, and pivots up to sit out of the way when you’re not using it.
If you’re a fan of no-hassle setups, then you’re going to love the Primer. The audio cable needs a pair of RCA inputs, which can be a hassle. If you’re using HDMI on an older console, then you’ll know that the component cables don’t fit in with the HDMI cable plugged in. (Well, it can, if you remove the casing for the component cable connector, but that’s another story.) Tritton worked around this by including a special connector that is thin enough to sit comfortably next to your HDMI cable. This connector only gives you the red and white connections, which means not having to deal with several feet of cable that you don’t need.
The downside to this is that there is no optical output on the connector, like you would find on the official one from Microsoft. If you’re using optical to output to a surround sound system, you’re going to be stuck using the OEM cable.
Once you’ve plugged in the audio and USB cable, you’ll need to install batteries in the headset. Just pop off the cover (which is held in place by magnets) and put them in. As with other wireless devices, you’ll sync them together by pressing the button on the receiver, then on the headset. The only other thing you’ll need to do is run the cord from your headset to the controller for the mic. In the span of just a couple of minutes, you’re up and running.
When you first put the Primer on, you’ll notice that it feels really snug against your head. While you can adjust how high they sit, the width of the headset does not change. If you don’t like a lot of pressure on your ears, you aren’t going to find these very comfortable. The ear cups also shallow enough that it presses my ears against my head. This is the sort of thing that makes my ears hurt after long gaming sessions.
Aside from the pressure on my ears, I found the headset to be comfortable. It has just enough weight to make you think that it can take a bit of a beating, but not enough to weigh down on your head. The adjustable mic takes only a flick to get into place, and all of the controls are easy to find. With them being out of sight on an earcup, I was worried that I might have difficulty finding the right button or slider. However, that was definitely not the case. One good look at them before you put it on for the first time, and you’ll be able to feel exactly where everything is.
The 40mm speakers in each ear provided good overall sound. Most sounds were crisp, and I never had any issues making out sounds or dialogue within the game. They do promise “rich bass”, which I would call an overstatement. The bass gets a little muddy, and isn’t nearly as loud as I’d like. It’s not enough to ruin the experience, but it did leave me wanting in that department.
I experienced no issues with the mic. My friends were always able to hear me loud and clear. My only complaint would be with the rather short cable that tethered me to my controller. Adding a few inches to that wouldn’t hurt.
While I normally only sit about six or seven feet away from my TV, I was sure to test the range on the 5.8ghz wireless connection. I was pleased to find that I could hear clear audio, even when on another floor, on the opposite side of the house. You’ll have issues seeing the TV long before your audio cuts out.
My two biggest issues with the Primer are in the comfort department. They sit a little too tight for my tastes, and the ear cups aren’t deep enough. Despite this, I was still able to play for several hours in a row, without issue. My ears would be a bit sore for a few minutes after I took off the headset, but I didn’t really notice the discomfort during play.
I said before that the speakers delivered good sound, and I meant it. The sound is good, but not what I’d call great. Normally, I’d expect great sound from a $100 headset, however, you’re getting wireless functions instead. Do I think that it’s worth the trade-off? I do, though I wish they would have made them a bit more comfortable.