Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS
Turtle Beach’s Ear Force DSS unit comes with some lofty claims for such a small piece of black plastic. It’s 5.1/7.1 channel Dolby surround sound processor claims to transform any stereo analog headset into full, immersive surround sound for playing XBOX, PS3 or PC games and watching movies with Blu-ray or DVD players.
Now I’ve tested and bought myself one of Turtle Beach’s X41 headsets for the X-Box and it’s transformed my gaming experience. But that was both a base station and wireless headset/communicator, so didn’t depend on whatever pair of headphones I had lying around.
Now because I already had my XBox sorted with the X41, I tested the DSS unit on the PS3 with my Audio Technica DJ Headphones.
There were some issues.
The issues however were with the PS3 and not the DSS unit or headphones. When I plugged my X41’s into my XBox they just worked. When I plugged the DSS unit into my PS3 it didn’t work. The PS3 was incapable of detecting that I had plugged a device into it’s digital audio port and was still wanting to play through my speakers which were in fact turned off. I had to go into the settings and specify the source and output type before I could continue.
The first test was with the BluRay version of The Book of Eli. It’s a film that I’ve already seen, but wanted to return to to see if Denzel Washington’s character was in fact blind. I knew exactly what to expect with the beginning of the film, but it still freaked me out watching it with my headphones running through the DSS unit. All I can say is that the sound was incredible and took the film to a totally new level.
I was hooked – these babies worked!
Next up was the low budget independent monster film, Monsters. This was on standard DVD and whilst the sound was ok, the limitations of DVD over BluRay and budget independent sound over big budget Hollywood were evident.
Then came Band of Brothers on BluRay. And this was problematic with the PS3 as well. Because it is a ten year old program I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had hoped that they would have re-maastered the sound for the BluRay release. The box states DTS-HD Master Audio and Blu-Ray.com goes one steep farther by adding 5.1 suggesting that it should play in 5.1 surround sound. But the PS3’s 5.1 setting gives no audio and because it has no DTS-HD setting you’re left with the 2 channel default setting.
That’s not to say that the DSS unit with it’s adjustable Bass setting doesn’t pump out some epic sounds – it’s just not as mind blowingly awesome as The Book of Eli. And I guess that’s the one limitation of any audio device, it’s only as good as the quality you put into it.
Now because the PS3 also plays games – go figure – I tested the DSS with inFamous 2. At first I thought the sound was just ok, they I remembered that I hadn’t checked the sound settings before starting the game, so I quit out and discovered that I was only listing to 2 channel stereo. After setting it up for 7.5 and launching the game again, I could definitely tell the difference on this Sony flagship title.
The DSS unit pretty much rocks it’s little heart out no matter what you decide to listen to through it. With a decent BluRay action film it’ll blow your socks off. For gaming it will do likewise. But it’ll only match what you play through it, and if you’re using a PS3, be warned that the PS3 isn’t the most user friendly machine. I even tried setting up a new user so that one user could have the sound set for my stereo speakers and on user set for 7.5 DSS output. Sadly however the PS3 changes the audio setting for all users, not just the one you’re using.
It’s a pretty big failing for the PS3, but the DSS unit is a solid investment for gamers or BlyRay addicts like myself.
Reviewed by: Jonathan