February 19, 2012

Sennheiser X2 Review

Sennheiser X2 Review

Being a voice-only headset, I certainly wasn’t expecting the X2 to be a cornerstone of technological achievement. What it lacks in lustre and technological innovation, though, it more than makes up for in sheer sexiness.Its black and grey colour scheme, trimmed with green around the earpiece, certainly looks attractive; however, this attractiveness belies its somewhat flimsy build. If you thought Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE headset was fragile, just wait until you get your hands on the X2. While I have no doubt that the headset will last a very long time (likely longer than the Microsoft’s), the thinness and texture of the plastic making up the headset makes it seem somewhat cheap, initially. However, on further inspection, you’ll likely find that the plastic is reasonably sturdy, and will stand up to abuse, within reason. The headset is comfortable to wear, even during extended sessions of play. The sponge padding, while seemingly thin and bare, sits surprisingly nicely on the ear, with no fatigue felt, even after a couple of hours. The small 2.5mm cable does not share the fragility of the rest of the headset, and feels mostly solid; it is certainly stronger than that of the Microsoft headset.

Adjusting the headband of the headset is easy, but the mechanism for doing so shares the fragile feel of the rest of the product; despite this, the headband refused to fall out of position, even after some strong (and quite silly) headbanging. Delicate fingerwork is required in order to adjust the sizing, as the segmented extension of the headset tends to proceed in groups of two or three segments. It will likely fit any size of head, unless the head in question is exceedingly large. Finding the correct height for microphone placement is also easy: the fold-down boom readily slides down, which initially seems like a problem, until you realise that it locks into position quite firmly. Again, the boom feels quite delicate, and slightly cheap. Nevertheless, after multiple matches, and some quite ridiculous testing (i.e., jumping around the room), the boom arm simply refused to fall to the bottom of its rotation, something that came as a significant surprise to me, given my thoughts on its flimsy feel. The only problem I had was that the boom arm only rotated down on side of the headset, meaning that the earpiece must be fitted against your left ear. I know that most people use their left ear for voice communications, but I prefer my right, so this was somewhat bothersome. However, after a short amount of use, I had mostly adjusted to the southpaw feel.

The sound quality of the headset is capped, as others are, by the technical limitations of Xbox LIVE’s VoIP. However, this did not stop it delivering clear audio, with the volume control (positioned halfway down the 2.5mm cable, in the same style as the X320) allowing for uncomfortably high volume; you will not want to have it turned up to full while playing a scrim on Call of Duty, believe me. The volume adjuster, a small roller, rotates readily and easily, allowing for quick and comfortable volume adjustment; the thickness of the roller is also worth mentioning, as most adjusters of this type are thin and difficult to manoeuver; Sennheiser’s is far thicker than any I’ve encountered, and is coated with rubber, making it an absolute joy to use. The mute switch on the control panel is also worth mentioning, as it sits on the face of the panel, and horizontally spans the width of it (picture included below for clarity), making it easy to quickly toggle the microphone’s functionality. In terms of the microphone itself, it is nothing short of a 10/10 effort on Sennheiser’s part. The X2’s clamshell packaging boasts noise-cancelling as a feature, and it certainly delivers in this department: I had my brother and his friend sing and drone gibberish while I set up my PC and Xbox 360’s LIVE programs so that I could essentially voice-chat to myself. Even with the extreme amount of noise in the background, my voice could be heard cleanly and crisply, while the majority of obscene sounds weren’t even picked up by the microphone; the sounds that were detected by the microphone and sent upstream were dulled and cancelled to the point where they may as well have not been there. Background noise was practically impercetible compared to the volume of the voice.

[singlepic id=158 w=320 h=240 float=center]

 

The X2, despite my initial impression of it as a flimsy, somewhat-cheap-feeling headset, has won me over in a way that I didn’t think possible upon my opening of its neat, German-style packaging. Between this and the X320, I would, perhaps inexplicably to many of you, select this; if you have a home theatre, you have essentially no need for the X320, but the X2, with its deceptively sturdy design and comfortable feel; its noise-cancelling microphone, and loud-enough-for-anyone volume control, will become an essential part of your online gaming experience. Best of all, it’s affordable, available at only $44.95 from AddictedToAudio. If you’re finding the Microsoft Xbox LIVE headsets too fragile, or perhaps are just looking for a change, you couldn’t do better than the Sennheiser X2.

(Note: my apologies for the frankly awful picture quality of the control panel)

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