Reviewed: October 17, 2010
Type: Ear Buds
Inside the Box
Bundle also includes: ($59.99 value)
MSRP: $99.99 (Bundle)
When it comes to audio equipment, I used to be a frugal man. My first headset was an old pair of headphones with a standalone microphone taped to the side, and I thought that was good enough for me. I was fortunate, then, that I managed to get my hands on the Nox Specialist Ultimate Gaming Bundle, then, since getting to spend time with quality hardware, rather than the cobbled-together jury rigs of my past has given me a new appreciation for sound hardware.|
The Nox Specialist is quite the charmingly designed piece of hardware. Somewhat chunky, the arms of the headset can be shortened and the speakers folded up to fit into a large pocket or the included carrying case. A small microphone on a lengthy extendable stalk resides under the left ear, while a detachable cord hangs from the right. A dial on the left eat controls the extension of the microphone stalk, while a similar dial on the right controls the volume, which is a welcome change from the cord-mounted volume controls of other headsets, cutting down the cord's profile and making it easier to store and much less likely to get caught on things.
The ear cups are made of light memory foam, which stays comfortable during a long session of wearing. I've managed to spend eight-hour spans wearing the headset with only short breaks without even mild discomfort. Additionally, unlike most headsets I've experienced, the design is slick enough, and the microphone subtle enough, to wear it in public without risking looking like a giant tool.
The only complaint I have about the design is that the massive size of my head, combined with the relatively compact band of the headphones, makes me worry about stretching it out to fit. However, the Nox Specialist has maintained its physical integrity where lesser sets of headphones have snapped, and were it to break, the Specialist is covered by a warranty against manufacturing defects That said, my head is an extraordinary physical specimen and people with less intense craniums aren't likely to run into this worry at all.
The Specialist's sound range tends towards the bassy, but in my sound tests, I found the sound to be crisp and robust across the entire audio spectrum, and listening to music on these was a joy. The microphone stalk is both long and flexible, allowing for any number of positions to suit the user's needs. Sound transmitted by the microphone is clear, and the noise cancellation of the foam around the speakers was more than enough to stop echoing.
In addition to these find headphones, the Nox Specialist Ultimate Gaming Bundle comes with a vast array of attachments that let you hook your headset up to your PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. While the USB tag, volume adjuster, optical cable, and console-specific plug is a bit daunting to set up initially, once it gets going, it's great to have a replacement to my old 360 headset, as well as a voice solution for my PS3. Far more comfortable than the default 360 headset, the Nox Specialist is a great option for voice chat, though the Nox Negotiator set that the Ultimate Gaming Bundle comes with can also be used to connect any headset to either console. Meanwhile, the PC splitter is easy as pie, taking the single cord of the Specialist and allowing it to plug into a PC's microphone and headphone ports.
All told, the Nox Specialist and Negotiator have changed the way I listen to my MP3 player, voice chat over Skype, Xbox Live and PSN, and use my computer. It's hard to quantify how much it's improved my day-to-day life, but I can recommend the purchase wholeheartedly for anyone looking to step up their game in headphones or trying to find a set of high-end headphones that are both versatile and comfortable.