The Turtle Beach X42 is a wireless headset designed for the Xbox 360.
The X42 is aiming to eliminate interference from the mulitude of wireless gadgets we pack our homes with, so it uses dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi for audio transmission. There’s no setup required, beyond a ‘pair’ button on the base station – the optimal band is automatically selected. It works well, with much fewer dropouts within the advertised 10-metre range than I’ve had with other wireless audio products in the same test area.
Connection from base station to the Xbox is via Toslink optical cable. You’ll need an adapter (not included) for older Xbox 360 units without an optical output. There’s also a 3.5mm auxiliary input. Power is supplied by the Xbox via USB.
The X42 offers virtual 5.1-channel Dolby surround sound, with six available ‘speaker setups’ switched via a button on the base set. I found it difficult to tell which was selected, thanks to an unintuitive interface, but at least it sounded great.
A removable microphone allows for voice chat – to enable that, you’ll need to connect the headset to your Xbox controller via an included cable with an inline mute button/voice volume control.
Despite its immunity to interference and good sound quality, one small fact ruined the X42 for us: it runs on regular AAA batteries. Yes, you can use rechargeables if you want, but you need your own charger – unlike many premium headsets that use regular batteries, you can’t charge them in situ. As far as we’re concerned, you should not have to pack disposable batteries into a $340 headset as if it were a cheap children’s toy.
Out of your price range? We also tested the $190 Turtle Beach X32, which is almost identical in design.
The X32 provides stereo sound only, and connects to your Xbox or other audio source via analogue RCA cables. It uses the same dual-band wireless transmission, and is a more economical option if you don’t want or need the X42’s virtual surround sound. However, it also shares the same reliance on AAA batteries.
We also noticed that the microphone picks up a lot of background noise, making voice-activated chat continuously transmit in noisy rooms. This may also be an issue with the X42, which shares the same microphone design. However, we only tested the X42’s voice chat under quiet conditions.