As far as surround sound performance goes, the AX Pro did not disappoint me one bit. In fact, itís easily one of the best surround headsets Iíve used so far. Games like Left 4 Dead, Unreal Tournament 3, and Call of Duty 4 had all 6 channels rendered with an excellent degree of spatialization and channel separation. The direction of sound was easily distinguishable, whether it was an in-bound chopper strike in CoD or a hunter trying to sneak up behind me in L4D. Thanks to the dedicated LFE speakers, the headphones also had a good deal of bass to further enhance explosions and gunshots.
Gears of War 2 also exhibited excellent sounding surround audio, with gun shots and explosions seemingly coming from all directions. Voice communications was excellent as well, with my online compatriots reporting that my voice was crisp and remarkably clear. For comparison, I booted up Left 4 Dead while using a pair of Sennheiser HD280ís with CMSS3D enabled on my X-Fi Professional sound card. CMSS3D is similar to Dolby Headphone, which provides virtual surround sound to a 2 channel output. While the audio quality was better with the Sennheiserís, the surround sound quality was more accurate when using the AX Pro, thanks to its 8 speaker powered audio capabilities. Overall, the Tritton set provided us with better positional audio than a stereo set with 3D virtualization.
For fun, I also tested the AX Pro with a few scenes from movies that I know have some excellent examples of positional audio. From Batman Begins, I watched through the Ďwinged backupí and Batmobile chase sequence and was impressed by what I heard. The flying rats were heard from all directions and the car crashes exploded in my ears in spectacularly accurate surround. The Siege of Barad-dur from the opening sequence of The Fellowship of the Ring was also accurately portrayed in terms of audio. The swirling sounds of battle were heard from all directions, while voices were clearly depicted coming from the Ďcenter channel.í While I still prefer a dedicated sound system for movies, itís impressive that the AX Pro is easily up to the task of faithfully rendering film surround.
While generally audio quality was good, we did run into one particularly annoying issue in regard to the decoder box. When listening through the Dolby box, we heard what sounded like interference during quiet segments of games and movies. We connected the headset directly to our PC via the adapter cable and did not hear the same noise, so we are left to conclude that the noise is being generated or introduced during the decoding process by way of the decoding box. While subtle and barely audible, it was still loud enough for us to take notice and take us out of the moment. Thankfully, I rarely find many quiet moments during games to really listen for the noise, but itís still important to mention.