Sound Produced: Stereo
Primary System: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC/Mac
Connection Method: USB, 3.5mm
The Gioteck EX-05 (wired) is the first of the manufacturer’s entries in the RipTen Gaming Headset Buyer’s Guide. With an extremely affordable price point, the unit sports comfortable earcups, a unique mesh headband and is a great entry point into the realm of gaming headsets. If you’ve used products on the higher end of the spectrum, it’s unlikely going to blow you away, but it is an enormous step up from the sound produced from tiny television speakers.
What’s in the Box?
Headset, Control unit with 5m cable, 2.5mm to 2.5mm Xbox chat cable
Aesthetics and Durability
The biggest difference between the EX-05 and every other headset we’ve reviewed for the Guide is the design of the headband. The main part of the headset band is mesh with a camouflage deco (also appearing sparsely on the exterior of the earcups). This is held in place by two rigid plastic pieces wrapped in a plasticky leatherette type materials. Nearly every other unit we’ve looked at has a more solid, cushioned head piece.
Moving downward, the adjustments are made of thin, rigid metal that is very easy to manipulate. Expanding and contracting for fit is an easy process even when worn. I had expected the adjustments to slip because of how easily they were moved, but I never had a problem.
Finally, the earcups are held in place by U-shaped pieces that allow for pivot, but not rotation. This simply means that the cans can’t be laid down against your shoulders when at rest. The padding is covered by microfibre. At first glance, I thought it was similar to what Astro uses on their headsets. The primary difference is breathability, with the material here causing more sweat (though less than you will likely experience wearing leatherette).
The Gioteck name is only subtly present, embossed in black on black on each side of the headband side of the adjustments. The model (EX-05) appears in red against a black and blue camouflage on the outside of the ears.
Ease of Setup and Use
The EX-05 is simple to setup and use. For PC/Mac use, simply plug in the USB connector and select the device in your input/output settings. For Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, game sound is handled by fitting the RCA connectors either on the TV-side (in between media cables and the television audio ports), or in the case of the Xbox 360 with an HD dongle, plugged into the two stereo ports on the console-side.
Chat is handled via USB for PS3 and Xbox chat cable (included) for Microsoft systems. There is a switch on the control unit that allows users to toggle between Xbox 360 and PC/PS3. If you use an HDMI cable for sound on an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3, you will have to plug the sound cables into the TV on the audio output side (rather than input).
The controller allows for independent chat and game channels and features a mute switch. Above the small, inline unit, the cable is the flat, anti-tangle variety. Why this wasn’t used where it matters, on the 5m section, seems to be a misstep. Additionally, I had to use an included twist tie to manage the excess wiring. An attached velcro piece would make things much easier.
Sound Quality and Performance Notes
The EX-05 managed to both surprise and disappoint me in my time with it. I was impressed by the sound quality that the 40mm drivers emitted through both USB and RCA connections. I had previously been using a higher end, surround sound device, and while the transition was noticeable, Gioteck has packed a lot into this affordable unit.
The basses were a lot richer than I anticipated, while at the same time managing to keep the trebles from sounding tinny and hollow. For a headset that costs the same as a console game (and 1/5 of the price of the most expensive unit we’ve reviewed), there is a lot to love in the sound field produced from the EX-05.
Unfortunately, things aren’t quite as impressive on the recording side. If all you do is play games online, this microphone is certainly acceptable. However, if you have any aspirations of using this model for podcasting, you might want to investigate other solutions. As you can tell from the recording sample below, recorded voices sound very distant. This is due largely to the temperamental boom in which the element is housed. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the post to stay bent toward my mouth. It’s unfortunate, because it skewed the recording sample. It’s impossible to attribute the poor quality to the microphone or the trouble I had with adjusting its position.
There are things I really love about the design and comfort of the Gioteck EX-05. The mesh headband is a brilliant decision that reduces weight while spreading out the pressure across the top of the head. The metal of the adjustments makes it easy to fit the unit while wearing. The microfibre is comfortable, but as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t eliminate sweat (though it’s certainly better than leatherette).
The biggest complaint I have is that despite all of these wonderful decisions, the rigidity of the two pieces (front and back) that hold the mesh in place tend to during extended play sessions. My ears never hurt and the top of my head was extremely comfortable. It was just those to strips where those bars rest that I couldn’t abide. A bit more padding would go a long way and bump up the extended-wear comfort immensely.
The most significant feature is the mesh headband. If you find yourself weighed down by other headsets, this is a good one to consider.
The Gioteck EX-05 has a lot going for it in the comfort and sound output department. Where it falls short is in its microphone and boom design. For $59.99, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. If all you need to do is chat with friends while gaming, this set has you covered. If you are hoping to podcast, I’d recommend increasing your budget. If you are interested in learning more about Gioteck’s line of products (controllers, chat headsets and more), visit their website at Gioteck.com.
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