While it’s all well and good to have a monster surround sound, 5.1 or even 7.1 set up, there are times, particularly in a family home, late at night, where cranking up the volume is just not going to happen. In instances like that, headphones are the savior of any gamer that needs to feel the noise screaming in their ears without waking everyone else up. The Sharkoon X-Tatic SP is the latest response to this particular need, and for what you’re paying, it’s a solid choice.
The X-Tatic SP is actually a budget version of an earlier X-Tatic model that Sharkoon released earlier in the year. That model, known as the X-Tatic Digital, was a premium headset with 5.1 audio capability and four speakers built into each ear piece. The SP model being reviewed is a much more modestly built stereo headset, selling at a more reasonable $69.99, but its lack of multi-directional audio aside, it’s every bit the quality piece of audio equipment its older sibling is.
The X-Tatic SP is built well, with generous ear pieces that will comfortably surround most ears, and solid construction that manages to sit snugly on the head even for extended periods of gaming. The headphones also do a good job of blocking the noise from the speakers themselves, requiring outside listeners to get in very close before being able to pick up any sound from the head phones. The SP doubles as both headphones and gaming headset, with the smart design choice of including a detachable microphone when communication isn’t required. The microphone is on a firm, flexible wire that can be adjusted for personal preference. If there’s any downside to the SP’s actual physical construction it’s the fact this is a completely wired piece of hardware. The SP is designed to work with a PC, Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, and each platform requires to types of cable to be plugged in, one for the USB interface and the other for the respective platform, such as the jack into a 360 controller for chatting, or the stereo input for the PC. For gamers that have gotten used to the wireless communication of a Bluetooth headset, this might be an issue, the cable issue aside, the X-Tatic SP is a well constructed piece of hardware built with quality parts.
In operation, the SP manages to live up to the standards set by its predecessor. While it’s true that you’re not getting the benefit of 5.1 sound, the quality of the stereo sound coming through will suit the needs of most gamers. The SP represents mid and high range sound well, coming through clear and rich, distorting only if you go beyond normal sound levels and really crank up the volume. The bass is functional, but doesn’t come off as rich as higher frequencies, something that more expensive head sets do better, but the muddiness of the bass here is well within acceptable levels considering the cost of the headset.
In game chat also works well with the X-Tatic SP, with the reception of others coming in much clearer than the average Bluetooth or Xbox headset. Your own voice also carries at higher qualities thanks to the wired microphone, and the SP smartly uses two discrete volume dials—one for in-game audio, and one for voice chat—in order to ensure that users can adjust levels to preference rather than having one set of audio drown out another.
All in all, the Xtatic-SP is a good choice for people in the market for a headphone, headset combination. While it may not have the prestige brand name recognition of other products such as the Turtle Beach headsets, it matches them in quality and actually outperforms similar products by the same brand within the same price point. Don’t be scared off by the lack of brand name familiarity, for about $70.00, users are getting a well built headset with good stereo quality, excellent game chat functionality and the ability to switch the headset between three different platforms. This is an easy product to recommend for people that are in the market for something to keep the sound good but loud while not waking up others in the home. The abundance of wiring and less than pristine bass are really the only liabilities of the Xtatic-SP.