Gioteck is fairly new to the gaming peripherals market but chances are that you’ve seen their products somewhere. They’re pushing aggressively into the South African market (and others, by the sound of things) but does the newcomer have what it takes to impress the gamers who use their kit? We got a chance to play with the EX-05 Wired stereo headset, designed for the Xbox 360, so that question will be answered.
The EX-05′s are styled to look like military gear, much like the rest of Gioteck’s range. The headband is extremely lightweight, consisting of a wire frame with netting stretched over it. The mic on this particular unit is covered in rubber and the overall impression, taken with the large ear cups, is of something that you might see a chopper pilot wearing. A 5 metre cable is packaged with the headphones, as well as a range of connection options for getting sound from your console that suits every home entertainment setup, provided you have an Xbox 360. Gioteck does offer a multiplatform model of this headset but that’ll cost you a bit extra. The unit comes with a separate volume controller attached to a cable, which adjusts in-game and voice chat volume independently, which we’ll get to in a moment.
First up, there is a gripe or two about the headset’s construction. The entire unit has been designed to be lightweight, with adjustable plastic moulding connecting the cups to the headband. We were a little wary to attempt to stress-test the plastic areas since they come across as a little fragile. They’ll hold up fine to normal usage but accidentally sitting on the headset might do a lot of damage. The mic on our review unit refused to stay in place, the floppy bit of wiring warped and extended itself after a few minutes each time it was adjusted but this is just a minor niggle. The volume controller will have its fans and detractors, some will prefer not having to poke an ear-cup to mute an annoying n00btuber, others will be frustrated by the extra control box attached to their heads.
It is the same ‘I might break it’ construction that gives the EX-05 headset one of its best features however: comfort. Extended periods with the headset on don’t result in excessive pressure being applied to the sides of your head. This is thanks in part to the deep cups, not to mention the padding around them. The feather-light headband doesn’t exert much of a squeeze but it isn’t too loose either, unless you’re headbanging with the headphones on (not recommended) they’re going to stay in place.
Which brings us to sound. The EX-05 is able to deliver an impressive amount of volume, should that be required, only distorting towards the upper limit of what the headphones can do. Even this is temporary because at that point you’re slowly going deaf. Whether your game of choice is Modern Warfare 3 or something more in the single-player line (with an eye on not waking the neighbors), this headset is definitely up to the task, giving good clarity at moderate volumes. There are better offerings on the market but few of them are in the R600-R700 price range.
Unfortunately the multi-platform model of this headset isn’t a whole lot more expensive, clocking in at a maximum price of around R850, making these hard to recommend. The fact that they are wired when everything else on your Xbox is probably wireless is another point against it but if they are within reach of your budget, you could do worse than the EX-05s. Too bad you can also do better.