Here at the Stuff technology storage and assessment facility, we all firmly believe that headphones need to suited for a purpose. Some are designed for travel, being compact and easy to transport while (ideally) offering enough clarity and noise cancellation to block out the masses that are also making the trip. Others are designed for pure sound enjoyment, with a monster price tag to go along with that perfect sound reproduction on lossless digital audio files. And then there’s gaming, which has a whole different set of requirements.
The firetruck red set of cans from Tritton that we were given access to fulfils almost every one of the requirements for gaming, hardly a surprise since that’s what they were made for, though the Pro+ Multi 5.1 headphones are not without their issues. The Pro+ 5.1s are a hardy setup, tough to the touch, but they are also some of the most complicated wired headphones we’ve ever encountered.
Peering into the box can be a bit deceptive. On the surface there are the cans themselves, a solid sheath of hard plastic surrounding the cans themselves and hiding all the fiddly bits, with a very lengthy cable attached to the left-hand cup. A short way along the cable is a fighter-pilot looking volume and mic control attachment, in a matching colour of course. Lift this out and you’re met with the decoder box (also colour-matched and which requires a power-point to function) and an array of cabling that should suit every gaming setup known to modern man. The Pro+ 5.1 is rated for use on the PC, PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360 but we’d be very surprised if you couldn’t convince it to work with a number of other devices as well.
Setting it up can be a chore, this isn’t really a casual set of ‘phones. If you’re running sound from a game console, then the decoder box is a must, with an included optical cable doing most of the work besides the usual collection of copper or fibre poking into the back of your gaming station. This runs from the console to the decoder box, while the headphones need to take advantage of the proprietary connection on the decoder to grab audio out of the Xbox 360 (or whatever your weapon of choice happens to be).
When it comes to the PC, you actually have a couple of options. One requires the decoder and optical cable, the other just lets you plus the Trittons right into the back of the PC at the sound card, throwing your PC’s 5.1 sound right into your ear-holes. Volume, including the mute option, and the individual 5.1 channel levels, can be modified on the in-line control with the PC out of the box. For the consoles, that’s what the decoder is for, giving users some quite impressive directional audio. In games like Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty, you’re getting a considerable gameplay advantage in knowing where the threat or target is on an auditory level.
Actually using the Pro+ 5.1s is going to see users experiencing one of two states. The headphone setup is fairly heavy and may become uncomfortable over time, though the cans and headband are well-padded enough to make extended use a pleasant affair. The problem might come in with users who aren’t used to carrying this sort of weight on their heads, since it can strain the neck at times. Tritton have also made concessions to gamers, PC or console, who don’t really care about the multiplayer aspect by making the mic removable. Just clip it in or out of the left cup as the situation requires. Both ear-cups have a large amount of movement, going so far as to flip 90 degrees backwards if you need them to – handy for those LAN situations or other times when you need to keep one ear on the real world.
If you do a serious amount of gaming, online or otherwise, then Tritton’s Pro+ 5.1 setup could be just the thing you’re looking for to keep the neighbours from reporting you for various noise violations. If you don’t mind wires, that is, since the Xbox 360 in particular requires a lot of connections to get some decent surround sound out of it. If you’re in any way hampered by cable littering your playing area though, then it’s probably best to look elsewhere.