Tritton has been a big player in the professional gaming headphones scene for a long time and continues to be a darling among gamers that can shell out big for the most cutting edge technology in the world of surround sound. But that’s the spin, ‘shell out big’, because to get all the Dolby Digital and DTS goodness, one would have pay up to and above $180 for Tritton’s top of the line AX Pro headphones which have been part of many professional gaming leagues. Hence, when Tritton introduced the AX 720 for $129.99, it was immediately lapped up by gamers because although it was a bit scaled back compared to its big brother, it had the same range, quality and versatility of the AX Pro.
Unpacking the box, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It has more wires than my PSU, and looks equally intimidating as a 500 page chemistry book. The sheer size and seeming complexity of all the hardware forced me to check the manual – something I haven’t done in a long, long time. In the box, along with the gorgeous white headphones and its long tail of wire, you get an amplifier, an optical cable, a USB cable, an Xbox 360 mic connector, a G6 adapter for the PC, and the power unit.
I have only set it up with the PS3 though I am pretty sure it would be as easy with Xbox 360. I had to first setup the amp and connect it to the power unit, then connect the USB and optical cable on the respective ports on the PS3 and the amp, and finally plug in the headphones in one of the two headphones jack in front of the amp. You can skip the USB if you don’t intend to use the mic. It took me about 3 mins to have it up and running and it was a pretty hassle free experience though it did create a bit of wire-y mess.
My test games were Killzone 2, infamous and Mass Effect 2 demo. The AX 720 unlike the AX Pro does not feature ‘true’ surround sound capability, meaning it only has one driver on each cup compared to 8 individual drivers on the AX Pro. Hence, what the amp does is it converts the Dolby/DTS sources into Dolby surround sound for headphones, resulting in a much improved ‘simulation’ of 5.1 ch surround. But you will have to cut it some slack, despite the technology that powers it; it is still producing a ‘simulation’ of a surround sound setup. In my play test with Killzone 2 and infamous, I found it only slightly better than a normal gaming headphone in sound position and virtual surround immersion. That’s not to see it was mediocre, far from it. It did a good job of placing details around my head but it obviously lacked the crisp and sharp ‘pinch’ that comes with a proper 5.1 setup. That said the AX 720 is a brilliant performer. The sound was rich, loud, and packed in enough punch to deliver the booms, bullet whizzes and heart pumping immersion of a well-orchestrated sound track. In Mass Effect 2, the dialogues were meticulous fine, and listening Miranda walk and talk left my heart racing as it always does.
With great sound comes great looks as well - a ‘touche’ in an argument with your spouse/girlfriend to justify the hefty price tag. I mean, just look at them. They are absolutely gorgeous. White is a pretty rare color to be used on a pair of cans, especially when it won’t go with any of your equipment but it doesn’t matter. The AX 720 are beautiful. The white is covered in glossy plastic with a thin matte logo band running over the headrest handle. The cups are covered in what I call the ‘sofa cushion’, a soft cloth material that is always great on the ears. The headrest is covered in a similar fashion as well.
The AX 720 are large and will completely devour your head. They aren’t very flexible so expect a bit of pressure on the ears. It’s not uncomfortable though you never forget they are on your head. They are a bit heavy as well, so at times you will feel it lugging on your ears. So quiet honestly, the comfort level of these headphones will depend on the quality of software you are playing. On Mass Effect 2 you will be fine, but if you fire up the single player campaign of COD: Black Ops you will be harassed by its size and weight. In fact, these could work as a quality indicator – you are uncomfortable while playing a game, there is a good chance that it sucks. The sudden finding of this great theory is thrilling, but I digress.
The headphone comes with an inline controller and is one of the major appeals of the set. You can choose to use the amp or go solo, turn mic on and off, connect the Xbox 360 controller with it, and adjust the mic and master volume right from the device. I only wish one of the volume controllers felt different because it is hard to distinguish between them in the heat of things.
The amplifier is as big or as small as a standard router. On the front panel you have the power switch, volume rockers and Dolby mode button which switches from different presets like movies, music, etc. There are two headphone jacks, so if your friend has a Tritton he can simply connect to it and share the sound. A perfect solution for late night co-op games. There are also four LEDs indicating the power, Dolby, PLS and the Dolby presets. On the back you simply have the optical connect, USB port and the power jack.
The only real drawback that I can think of the AX 720 is that, even though it claims to be versatile in supporting the Xbox 360, PC and PS3, you can only really
use it with one of them. Because if you want to use it with the PS3 and
the Xbox 360, you will have to make sure both the systems are placed close by. Then you will have to change the optical cable from one source to another as it is a short wire. Using a console and the PC simultaneous is literally impossible without having to bend over to the back of the CPU as the G6 adapter is quite short. So if this is the case, why would I want to purchase these over a much cheaper yet extremely good quality gaming headphones like the Creative Tactic3D Sigma when I would have to go from source to another anyway, or when I can just simply plug them into the headphone jack on my HDTV?
Personally, I wouldn’t buy the Tritton AX 720 because of this limitation, and because of the mess of wires it would create even if I had adjusted to it. I am not saying they are bad in anyway, in fact they are incredibly good and easily one of the best in the market but considering its not even true surround sound, I would rather save myself $50 or so and go for something equally good but doesn’t have the bells and whistles like an included amp. But if you think the mess of wires and the aforementioned limitation will not be too much of a bother for you, the AX 720 is simply a fantastic choice. They are a great looking headphones, with equally good sound capabilities. It will easily justify the $129.99 price tag if you manage to set it up with two or more systems.