What you should know about Turtle Beach’s Ear Force XP400 Wireless Gaming Headset
Launched in 2012, I like to view XP400 as the smaller brother of XP500 and PX5. The three headsets are similar in many regards – including their robust design – but differ in pricing, number of features and controller/transmitter design.
In The Box
This is what you find when you open the box:
- The XP400 headset
- The XP400 base station and transmitter
- A Digital Optical Audio Cable
- A charger cable (12 feet long)
- A Bluetooth Chat Adapter
- The manual
- …and the mandatory Turtle Beach sticker!
The Good and the Bad
Users and critics agree that both overall sound and surround sound of the headset are very good. The product offers great comfort and numerous users are happy with the possibility to couple it to your mobile phone.
If there’s anything negative to say about the set, it is about the non-replaceable battery. Unlike most other models made by Turtle Beach, the battery of XP400 cannot be changed by users themselves – a move that turned out not to be popular.
Large Ear Cups, Big Sound
The first thing that struck me when I took a closer look at this headset is its large ear cups! They are truly over-the-ear cups, designed to really “eat up” your ears, fully covering them. You’d need to have fairly large ears – read: huge – for the cups not to fit.
Inside each of these gargantuan ear-cups is a 50-mm driver. Both drivers are responsible for the whole audible spectrum – bass, midrange and treble. Turtle Beach states that the drivers are able to produce sounds from 20 to 20,000 Hz (20 kHz), i.e. all frequencies which are audible to humans with normal hearing.
The headset comes with four equalizer presets:
- Bass Boost
- Treble Boost
- Bass and Treble Boost
Ear Force XP400 uses Dolby Digital to create (simulated) 5.1 surround sound. This should definitely suffice for most people, as it is what the vast majority of games on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 offers.
To get surround sound from your XP400, you need to connect the headset’s base station to your console using the included optical audio cable. If you have an older Xbox 360 – the models that came before the Xbox 360 Slim – you might not be able to do this without an adapter that has an optical output (see photo) .
Selectable Surround Sound Positions
If you use a home theater system, you can move your speakers (and therefore the sound-producing drivers inside them) around your room to reposition your surround sound. This way you can get a more accurate representation of directional sounds.
XP400 allows you to virtually move the (simulated) drivers. The headset comes with six presets for surround sound positions (see picture). You can switch between those using a button on the base station, saving you from all the heavy lifting that would be involved in changing a speaker setup!
You can communicate with your fellow gamers on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network using the microphone. If you really do not want to use the microphone, you can simply remove it (but that would leave you without the main reason to buy a headset in the first place). To talk on Xbox Live, you can do one of two things:
- Connect the set and your controller with a cable.
- Use the Bluetooth dongle that comes with the headset to talk to other gamers wirelessly.
The dongle has a button that allows you to mute and unmute your microphone. This is the same button that you should use to pair the dongle with the Bluetooth device in your set.
The dongle is dedicated to Microsoft’s own, original controller for Xbox 360, and cannot be used with other models, steering wheels, etc. If you want to use one of those, you will have to use a cable to connect the set and the controller.
What about PS3?
If you play on PlayStation 3, you can use the console’s built-in Bluetooth capabilities to chat on the PlayStation Network, all without using the dongle!
Call Me on My Ear Force
XP400‘s Bluetooth capability comes with an added extra: you can use it to pair the headset with your mobile phone, if your phone has Bluetooth connectivity.
Since XP400 allows for two simultaneous Bluetooth connections, you can pair both your set and your phone at the same time! Then, you can take and make calls through your phone, while gaming on your console.
If your phone supports voice dialing, just call out the number or name of the person you want to talk to into the microphone. The phone will then dial the number for you.
Do your friends or your family often complain that you are shouting into the microphone if you’re talking to other gamers? The reason for this may be that you cannot hear your own voice over the loud game sound.
To solve this problem and prevent family feuds, destroyed relationships and hoarse voices, XP400 offers a separate volume control, which allows you to change the loudness of your own voice in the headset.
Once you find the optimal setting and get proper feedback on your behavior, you won’t start shouting as easily, thus saving your social life.
Another problem related to chat volume is that once gunfire, explosions and loud music start taking over the sound channels in all their majestic glory, it becomes hard to hear your fellow gamers in voice chat.
Turtle Beach tried to do something about this. They equipped XP400 with Chat Boost, a feature that automatically raises and lowers chat volume, if game sound volume calls for it.
If the game sound gets louder, Chat Boost makes sure that the chat volume also increases. If the sound in the game calms down, the volume level of the chat is reduced accordingly. All this happens automatically, as soon as you activate the feature.
This video from Turtle Beach explains both mic monitoring and Chat Boost:
The Base Station
The base station is XP400‘s brain. It contains a radio transmitter that communicates wirelessly with the headset. To do so, the two units have to be paired, but Turtle Beach already did that for you. If for some reason you do need to pair them manually, you can follow an easy and well-described procedure.
The base station offers a number of important controls. It also sports a 3.5-mm mini-jack connection, which you can use to connect a music player, so that you can listen to your favorite music, wirelessly.
The front of the station comes equipped with four LED lights, which indicate whether the base station communicates with the headset, whether surround sound is enabled, etc.
The back of the base station contains both a digital TOSLINK input and output, offering digital optical audio cable connectivity. If you don’t use the mini-jack to connect a music player, you can use a mini-jack-to-RCA cable to transfer analog audio from your console to the station.
Please note: The analog 3.5-mm input will be disabled if the digital input is used. This means you cannot use the two inputs simultaneously!
The base station features three buttons:
- Pair: Used to pair the headset and the base station.
- Surround Angles: Allows you to choose from six different surround sound positions.
- Surround On/Off: Allows you to choose between surround sound and stereo sound.
Now, back to the headset. As mentioned above, XP400′s ear-cups are LARGE. To also make them comfortable, Turtle Beach fitted them with soft pillows that are covered with a mesh.
The latter ensures that both your ears and the area around them get fresh air during those long gaming sessions. This should prevent your ears from sweating.
The underside of headband is similarly covered, so that you won’t get blisters on top of your head.
Turtle Beach takes your hearing seriously. After all, their business model depends on it! Ear Force XP400 comes equipped with a feature called Blast Limiter, which helps to protect your ears from dangerously loud noises.
Imagine playing a game and, since not much is going on in the surroundings, sound volume is low. To better hear what is going on, you turn up the volume. Then, suddenly, something explodes near you with a enormously loud bang! Because you are playing at a louder volume, this could, in the worst case, permanently damage your hearing.
What Blast Limiter does is reduce these loud sounds automatically, so they won’t have any harmful effect. You can choose whether to use this function or not, and you can change its sensitivity through four presets:
- Limiter Off
- Mild Limiter
- Medium Limiter
- Max Limiter
Many of the most important controls are located on the ear-cups.
On the left ear-cup, you will find:
- A power button: Turns the headset on or off.
- Tone: Allows you to toggle between different EQ presets.
- Limiter: Allows you to select the various Blast Limiter presets.
The lower part of the left ear-cup carries two volume controls – one for game sound and one for microphone monitoring, as described above. It also carries an input for the cable that can connect your headset and Xbox 360 controller, in case you want to chat without using Bluetooth.
On the right ear-cup you will find:
- Bluetooth Volume: Volume control for chat and phone calls
- Bluetooth Multifunction button: This button allows you to pair your headset with other Bluetooth devices, such as your cell phone or the dongle that you plug into your Xbox 360 controller. You can also use this button to send out, answer or reject calls.
- Mic Mute: This button (un)mutes the microphone.
The lower part of the right ear-cup has a charging port, which you can use to charge the headset’s battery.
The Wireless Solution
The XP400 headset receives audio signals from a Wi-Fi transmitter located inside the base station. This transmitter uses two frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
Using two bands reduces the risk that other wireless devices – e.g. a wireless router – create crackling sounds in the headset or cause audio signal to disappear for brief moments.
Still, it does not necessarily eliminate the problem of interference. One guy, who did own an excessive amount of wireless devices, still experienced both crackling and intermittent sound loss while using the dual-band model.
For most people, however, the dual-band feature of XP400 should prevent interference from occurring.
Ear Force XP400′s battery sits in the right ear-cup. It can be recharged by connecting the ear-cup to a USB port on your console. You will be able to play for about 10 hours before the battery needs recharging, according to Turtle Beach. During this charging, you can continue playing without any difficulty.
As mentioned above, the battery cannot be replaced, in contrast to other models, such as PX5.
What You Need
To make use of Ear Force XP400, you will need an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3. For the former case, you will also need:
- A digital optical audio output on your Xbox 360.
- … or an audio cable with a digital optical output:
- An HDMI audio adapter cable
- An advanced SCART cable
- A composite audio cable with an output for a digital optical cable
The Bluetooth dongle/adapter is designed to work with Microsoft’s official Xbox 360 controller and, as stated by Turtle Beach and mentioned before, will typically not work with controllers made by other manufacturers.
The dongle also won’t connect with steering wheels, whether made by Microsoft or not.
In all these cases, an Xbox Live talkback cable should help you out. This cable is not included with the headset if you buy it.
Feedback and Reviews
|Expert Reviewer’s Score
Based on 2 reviews
|8.5 / 10|
Those who play around with the XP400 are usually very happy. Most of the tech reporters who reviewed the headset were also very pleased with it.
Some of the positive comments:
- The sound is very good. This applies to bass, midrange and treble.
- Surround sound is good and accurate. The fact that you can choose the positions for it is a definite plus, according to several users.
- Thanks to the dual-band technology, few people have experienced interference from other wireless devices, whether wireless routers or microwaves in close proximity…
- Most people like the feel of the headset. Its large ear cups and comfortable cushions make sure the headset feels good against the head.
- Several people emphasized that XP400 is a solid set.
- Some users think it is great that the set is ready to be used, straight out of the box. You do not have to pair it with the transmitter or wait for the battery to charge before you can start using it.
- One user really appreciated the Blast Limiter function. It allowed him to turn up the volume to better hear footsteps, without fearing for his hearing.
- Many praise the possibility of pairing the headset with your mobile phone.
Then, some not so positive comments:
- Several users have strong objections against the inaccessible battery. If the battery can no longer be charged, you can assume that you will either need to buy a new headset, or send the old one to Turtle Beach, so that they can change the battery for you – which comes with additional costs.
- Some users think four EQ presets are not enough, and would like to have more options.
- One reviewer mentioned that Bluetooth lowers voice quality and that voice chat sounds better if you use an Xbox Live talkback cable instead – which means losing wireless functionality.
- The headband is rather tight and can cause the more big-headed gamers among us to experience an uncomfortable pressure to the head.
- One user missed the option to use Turtle Beach’s Advanced Sound Editor on his XP400. This editor is available for XP500 and PX5.
It is worth mentioning that the headset was awarded IGN’s “Best of CES 2012“ award in 2012.
What I Think
I am an avid consumer of Turtle Beach headsets. I think the company has made some of the best gaming sets for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. They stay true to that tradition with XP400.
If you disregard the price (yes, it is high), you have a really great set for console gamers.
The sound is rich and very clear. Few headsets have managed to deliver such a complete soundscape to my Xbox 360. It does indeed offer less EQ settings and adjustment options than XP500, but I personally don’t mind – four EQ presets are good enough for me.
The surround sound is good and repositioning it is of little use to me.
One of my few complaints about Turtle Beach headsets in the past was the location of the headsets’ control buttons. Why are they placed on the ear-cups? With my big fingers and poor muscle memory, I have often fumbled while searching for the right buttons, at the same time seeing my game character die on-screen.
On the XP400, this problem has been alleviated. Some of the buttons are larger in size and all the controls are more clearly positioned. It is now easier to hit the right buttons than it is on previous models. I am happy with that.
You should certainly not buy this headset if you own a well-functioning Ear Force XP500, Delta, Bravo, PX5 or PX3. XP400 is no significant improvement to any of these models.
That being said…
Turtle Beach’s Ear Force XP400 is a great headset for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers. Overall sound (bass, midrange and treble) and surround sound get lots of praise from the headset’s users. Surround sound is simulated, but works really well. Even though the price of the set is high, you get what you pay for: a high quality headset with many interesting features.
If you value wireless sound quality over price and can reconcile yourself with the fact that you cannot replace the batteries by yourself, you should really consider buying Ear Force XP400.
- Total Number of Drivers: 2
- Driver Size: 50mm
- Driver Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Sound Pressure Level: 120dB
- Microphone Type: Condenser
- Mic Response: 50Hz – 15kHz
- Wireless Technology: 2.4/5 GHz
- Support: XP400 Support Page
XP400 Compared to Similar Models
|Ear Force XP400||Ear Force XP500||Ear Force XP300||Warhead 7.1|
|Sound Output||Surround Sound||Surround Sound||Stereo Only||Surround Sound|
|Driver Size||50 mm||50 mm||50 mm||50 mm|
|Frequency Range||20 Hz – 20 kHz||20 Hz – 20 kHz||N/A||25 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Wi-Fi Frequency||2.4 GHz & 5 GHz||2.4 GHz||2.4 GHz & 5 GHz||5.8 GHz|
|Wireless Range||30 ft – 9.1 m||30 ft – 9.1 m||30 ft – 9.1 m||33 ft – 10 m|
Xbox One Compatibility
Will XP400 work with Xbox One? Yes – well, probably. Click here to read more.