We aim to review products with an open mind here at bit-tech. After all, branding product X as a disappointment before you've even opened the box will inevitably see you swallowing your pride when it proves to be awesome. Even when a specific feature or even products from a particular brand in general have been poor time and time again, you simply can't rely wholly on pre-judgements. However, it's easy to have pre-conceptions about 5.1 headsets. Very few that we've tried have come close to mimicking a 5.1 speakers (it's physically impossible to do this as our ears need cues from much larger surroundings than the confines of a standard headset ear pieces), and many have sounded worse than stereo headphones.
This hasn't stopped plenty of people trying through, such as CM Storm with its Sirus headset and Corsair impressed us with its Vengeance 2000. Mad Catz is well known in the peripheral market and has plenty of experience in the headset arena too and currently offers everything from stereo to Dolby Digital 7.1 surround models for the PC and consoles. It has four new headsets under the Tritton brand and we're looking at the 5.1 Dolby Digital Tritton Pro+.
Click to enlarge
It comes with a mass of gear that left us a little bewildered at first. You've got all the necessary bits to hook it up to an Xbox or Playstation, plus USB 2, optical and analogue 5.1 mini-jacks. Apart from the attractive-looking, glossy-white headset, the centre of of attention is the large digital decoder, which sports 5.1 output mini-jacks for hooking up your speakers, optical and USB 2 inputs as well as two proprietary digital connectors for up to two Tritton Pro+ 5.1 headsets. For PC users, you have a few options - the optical input, the USB input or ditch the decoder box entirely and use the included PC adaptor, which converts the headset's proprietary connector in to four mini-jacks and a USB connector for power. Unfortunately, the mini-jacks and USB connector are far too close together, especially if you'll be using a discrete sound card, although this does provide some means of switching between consoles and your PC, albeit leaving the decoder connected to the former.
Click to enlarge
As with most gaming headsets, the Tritton Pro+ 5.1 includes a detachable microphone boom, which can be bend into practically any shape and stays there, unlike some headsets we've tried. The headset itself is a little weighty compared to the likes of the Asus Vulcan ANC, but then it does have 30mm front and rear drivers, a 23mm centre driver and 40mm sub pummelling your eardrums. Thankfully, there's plenty of padding of offer; our ears had no complaints from the large circumaural pads, although we'd have liked more support in the head region which only has a couple of inches of padding at the top. As a result, it's not quite as comfortable to use as the Asus Vulcan ANC.
Click to enlarge
There's plenty of adjustment and the closed-back ear pieces swivel and tilt too, and can bend right round to 90 degrees for easier storage. PC users will probably find the 12ft cable a little cumbersome, especially as this only makes up a portion of the total cables needed to get up and running. The in-line controller adds a bit of weight too, but in general we have few complaints with regards to comfort. The in-line controller is an essential bit of kit, though, which packs a surprising amount of tweakability.
It provides a mute button, smart volume adjustment, microphone mute, Xbox LIVE port, and more importantly, complete control over the volume of the front, centre, rear and sub. You're able to tune each individually and with a minimum of fuss, with each channel glowing according to its volume level, although it can take a while to get used to how each affects the resulting sound. For instance, we found the front and centre adjustment to have a huge impact on treble, which required some fine-tuning.