[Originally posted to my PC gaming column at Examiner.com] The Sharkoon X-Tatic SP Plus is a respectable multi-platform gaming headset for Xbox 360, PS3, mobile and (to a limited degree) PC gamers. But while there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the headset, it will likely serve our console-kissin’ cousins better than us PC gamers.
PC gamers are purely a coincidental bystander as far as the SP Plus’ PC support goes. In order to even connect it to the 3.5mm microphone and stereo audio connectors on your PC, you have to remove the inline controller—and along with it about 4 meters of cable, leaving you with only a little over 1 meter. (This alone largely restricts the SP Plus to service as a Laptop/mobile headset because it doesn’t leave enough cable to reach many desktop/under-the-desk PCs.)
And without an inline controller to make adjustments with, you’ll have to use Windows sound software controls—a minus for the SP Plus for PC gamers. (But hey, at least it includes all the cables, unlike some headsets.)
The Sharkoon has a plastic-sheathed headband wrapped in faux-leather cushioning, and the ear cups are lined with ½” thick cloth-covered foam. On the whole, the X-Tatic SP Plus offers good comfort, although it could arguably use larger ear cups for added comfort, like the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z-series.
Design and Features
The X-Tatic provides PC gamers with little more than an adapter cable and a reasonably comfortable headset—but the inline controller (along with a generous 4 meters of cable length) and virtually all other characteristics apply solely to console players.
The microphone is a detachable, flexible design, and the ear cups on the X-tatic SP Plus rotate a full 90 degrees so they can rest comfortably around your neck/chest when not in use—something all gamers can appreciate.
For mobile use, you can also detach the adapter cable for the PC and connect the SP Plus to any standard ‘unified’ 3.5mm audio/mic jack on a phone. The SP Plus also includes a short microphone you can use to replace the longer one with for this purpose.
The X-tatic SP Plus doesn’t include or require any driver software.
- Number of Drivers: 2
- Size of Drivers: 40mm Neodymium
- Supported audio format: Stereo
- 2 x RCA connectors for consoles/TV
Audio performance on the PC is generally quite good if somewhat unremarkable. The SP Plus has decent if slightly subdued bass, but generally favors the mid- and upper ranges—good for chat, slightly less so for feeling the rumble of explosions and gunfire in an FPS (first person shooter).
I predominantly put the SP Plus through its paces at work first, where it served well for Skype calls and listening to music to drown out the din of my fellow cubicle jockeys.
For calls no one complained about voice quality or having difficulty hearing me at normal volume levels, so the microphone seems to do its job well. I also cranked a large number of tunes through the SP Plus at suitably loud volume levels to stress test them (and possibly my ears) a little. Although I still find the bass to be a little subdued, I didn’t detect any distortion either.
The bottom line is that the SP Plus provides a good experience for music and general PC usage. It also proved quite capable as a mobile headset for my Droid phone for both music playback and making calls.
So what about PC gaming? The SP Plus sounds good, but again the bass is slightly weaker than I personally like, as evidenced in the likes of Left 4 Dead 2, SMITE, Tribes: Ascend, and a host of other games I return to frequently. And even though I’d like a little more bass, the SP Plus’ delivers bass that is still considerably better than some other headsets in its price range, such as the Razer Carcharias.
All in all, the SP Plus does a good if somewhat unremarkable job.
Overall: 3/5 stars
At $70, the X-Tatic SP Plus might be worthwhile to PC gamers that plan to use them as mobile/multi-platform gaming headphones. But unless the console gaming aspect holds significant appeal, you can generally do a little better in this price range in terms of features and performance with headsets that give PC gamers priority over console gamers, or at least treat them both equally and don’t treat us as an afterthought.
Sharkoon X-Tatic SP Plus Technical Specifications (courtesy of Sharkoon)
- Gaming stereo headset
- Developed for PlayStation® 3 and Xbox® 360
- Compatible with PC, MP3 players and smartphones*
- Two high quality 40 mm speakers (Neodym magnet drivers)
- In-line amplifier for premium sound output on the console
- Easy connection via RCA plug to console or TV
- Separate volume control for voice communication and microphone mute for PlayStation® 3 and Xbox® 360
- Amplifier powered over the console’s USB interface
- Flexibly adjustable and interchangeable chat microphone
- Cable length: ~400 cm
- Direct connection to smartphone or MP3 players via 3.5 mm stereo plug (4-pin)
- PC/Notebook connection over 3.5 mm adapter cable
- Cable length: 135 cm when connecting to PC and notebook, 110 cm when connecting with smartphones and MP3 players
- Diameter: 40 mm
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Sensitivity: 120 dB +/- 3 dB at 1 KHz
- Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Power output: 30 mW (0.98 V)
- Connectors: 1x 4-pin. 3.5 mm plug (TRSS)
Specifications (gaming microphone):
- Diameter: 6 x 5 mm (L x B)
- Directivity: omni-directional
- Sensitivity: -58 dB +/- 2 dB
- Impedance: 2.2 kΩ
- Frequency response: 70 Hz – 10 kHz
Specifications (mini microphone):
- Diameter: 6 x 2.7 mm (L x B)
- Directivity: omni-directional
- Sensitivity: -58 dB +/- 3 dB
- Impedance: 2.2 kΩ
- Frequency response: 50 Hz – 10 kHz
- Gaming Stereo Headset X-Tatic SP Plus
- Flexibly adjustable gaming microphone (~16 cm)
- Compact mini microphone (~5 cm)
- Amplifier cable for gaming consoles (3.5 mm plug > 2x RCA+1x USB)
- PC adapter cable (3.5 mm plug > 2x 3.5 mm jack)
- Smartphone adapter*
- Chat cable for Xbox® 360 (1x 3.5 mm jack > 1x 2.5 mm stereo jack)
- Manual flyer