On the other end of the spectrum to our PC and Mac-only Plantronics Gamecom 780 review the other day, the Tritton Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 Headset aims to fulfil the needs of absolutely everybody.
Whether you have a PS3, 360 or a PC (or any other device with an optical out), this is a package that can hook you up with 7.1 virtual positional audio and microphone support, and it’s armed to the teeth with every possible cable and peripheral you could ever imagine.
If you have multiple consoles or a severe weakness for tinkering and fiddling with your setup then, the Tritton unit may well be for you; but how does it rate overall?
Speaker Driver Size: 40 mm diameter
SNR: 106 dB/V
Speaker Frequency Response: 25 ~ 22000 Hz
There’s no other way to put this, the Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 headset is an absolute beast in terms of peripherals and construction. Open up the box from the wrong side and a stream of plastic packets will fly at you, each of which is nicely branded in the Ghost Recon font and clearly presents what’s inside. For your money you’re getting the headset itself, a microphone, the decoder box, an optical cable, analogue audio cables, replacement earpads, a replacement headband plush, a usb power cable, an old-school xbox AV adaptor cable, and several other items that I’ve no doubt completely forgotten.
Essentially then, if you can think of a setup, the Tritton unit will have you covered. Construction is good too, with heavy-grade plastic and sturdy rigidity characterising the headset, which lights up the Ghost Recon logo on both sides whenever it’s turned on. Even the braided cabling has been given the full branding treatment with a nice powdery turquoise finish, and the whole thing reeks of robustness and quality. There’s a small amount of flex to the headband that should compensate for any potential mishaps, and the decoder box even ships with a little plastic stand (I knew I’d forgotten something), allowing for vertical or horizontal placement according to your setup.
Piecing everything together is a fairly straightforward process with the headset breakout cable plugging straight into the decoder box, which in turn draws power from a USB cable connected to whichever device you’re using. Audio is then fed into either the optical or analogue inputs from whichever combination of console and adaptor that you’re using, and the Microphone (and Xbox cable) snap comfortably onto the left ear piece. The breakout cable houses inline controls for various volume features and vocal muting, whilst buttons on the front of the decoder box allow for either game, movie or stereo modes to be selected with a quick press.
Surprisingly for such a complex array of bundled peripherals, once you’ve gotten the headset sorted out that first time, there’s little fiddling that you’ll need to do afterwards. Sure you can swap out the pleather trim for a fuzzy velveteen type if you want, but everything else remains largely maintenance-free. If you’re swapping systems, simply plug in your alternative audio source and you’re good to go.
It’s also worth noting that although the headset weighs noticeably mire than the likes of the Plantronics set, there’s nothing here to suggest that the Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 shouldn’t suit lengthy sessions of play. Indeed during our testing we regularly racked up 2-3 hours at a stretch in a single game, without either discomfort or the ‘hot ears’ sensation that usually crops up with cheaper alternatives.
As you’re paying a premium price for the Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1, you’d have every right to expect a high level of quality from the Tritton headset, and in this regards we’re happy to report that it’s no disappointment. If you’ve had any of the Tritton products previously you’ll know roughly what to expect, and the Future Soldier 7.1 delivers some excellently punchy audio whether you’re running in Game or Cinema mode. Indeed out of those two we tended to veer towards the cinema setting as our overall preference, as it seemed to provide a little more warmth and bass across the board, at the expense of a bit of surround depth.
And as far as that virtual surround depth is concerned, the Dolby Virtual technology in the Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 is every bit as good here as it is in the likes of the Plantronics, which is to say quite brilliant for general use. Lengthy sessions of Halo Anniversary and Battlefield 3 allowed us to pinpoint audio sources wherever they originated, and the likes of DiRT 3’s in-car view fully enveloped us with deep and throaty engine noise coupled with the tinkling of gravel as it landed all around.
If you’ve never played with a decent headset before, simply being able to hear everything is quite the novelty, and worth the asking price alone. For those of you that are used to the sensation however, we’re also happy to report that there seems to be a fair bit more range to the directional audio here than in other headsets we tested. Sources are clearly defined and yet sound distant whenever necessary, with the only downside being that the Tritton introduced a slight cavernous echo and a low-level of white noise from time to time during more subtle moments. Again, utilising the cinema setting and carefully calibrating your volume level seemed to alleviate the majority of those gripes, and as long as you don’t mind a bit of initial tinkering, you’ll get a level of quality out of the Ghost Recon Future Soldieer 7.1 headset that will rival any non-dedicated audiophile device.
£160 is a lot to ask for a headset, but considering the target market (and the fact that you’ll inevitably find this around the £100 mark fairly quickly), the Ghost Recon Future Soldier 7.1 ends up as quite an attractive proposition. It’s a device that encompasses all the audio requirements you’ll likely have in this generation (HD audio formats aside, although no doubt a HDMI solution will be in the works at Tritton), and offers a great level of performance whether you’re playing the latest-and-greatest shooters or indulging in late-night movie watching.
It is a premium product and that’s undoubtedly a premium price, but you definitely end up with what you pay for here. Sure, the Ghost Recon branding is a little ostentatious when it comes to the headset lights, but there are similar, alternative (plain-coloured) models available from Mad Catz here in the UK or Tritton if you’re abroad. No doubt, they’re worth a look.
Verdict: Thoroughly Recommended.