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Latest Articles

PAX South Tour Guide Pt. 3 - Quick Tips
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The OG Replay for Jan. 19
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PAX South Tour Guide Pt. 2 - Where the locals eat and drink
If there’s two things San Antonians know, it’s good food and drinks. Although the city is the Tex-Mex capital of the world, San Antonio offers a wide range of food from classic Mexican to Japanese. Dowtown San Antonio has it all, and to save you some time, we have a few ... [read more]

Latest Reviews

Driveclub Review
Originally announced at the PS4 reveal event in Feb. 2013, Driveclub was due for release as a PS4 launch title. Development misfortunes led to an 11 month delay and the game was finally released in the first week of Oct. 2014. The game faced major challenges at launch as the... [read more]
This War of Mine Review: A new angle on war games
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The Evil Within Review
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8-Bit Eric: Top 10 Wii U games of 2014
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NOX Specialist Headset/Negotiator Accessory Pack Review
Posted on August 19, 2011 by

As much as we like to ‘play it loud,’ there is a need among more nocturnal gamers to be able to hear their games without disturbing parents, siblings, significant others, and neighbors.  The Specialist Headset by NOX promises to bring rich sound and convenience to gamers who have to turn it down. 

This review will cover both the Specialist headset and the Negotiator accessory set, which contains a USB amplifier, digital audio cable and dongle that can connect any headset to a Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.  The Specialist sells for $79.99, the Negotiator costs $59.99 or they can both be purchased together at the same time for $99.99.

 

MAX HEADROOM

Comfortable - The Specialist is fairly comfortable to wear, the band across the top was easily adjustable and able to accommodate my large head.  While the 'cans' didn't completely cover my ears, I could wear them for extended periods.

Portable - The phones can be rotated 90 degrees and folded up, making them fairly compact.  There are also no cables permanently attached to the headset itself, so dealing with them is a bit easier than usual.

Retractable Mic - The left phone has a mic for voice chat that can be extended and retracted with the turn of a knob on the outside of the headset.  This comes in handy for playing solo or if you want to hear music.  While the mic doesn't completely retract into the phone, it does get out of the way.

Digital Audio Connection - Unlike the usual red/white inline RCA connectors that are often used with gaming headsets, the Negotiator uses a USB amplifier/decoder that plugs into a Xbox 360 or PS3’s Digital Audio output which ensures that the phones will be getting the best signal possible.

Switch-Hitter - The Negotiator cable pack comes with adapters for use with both the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and pretty much anything else with headphone and/or microphone jacks, so owners can get maximum usage out of their investment.

The Negotiator Accessory Pack

 

HEAD-PHONY

Poor Audio Quality - I tested this headset on my Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and laptop while playing games and listening to music.  For perspective, I usually hear my games and music coming out of a mid-range Sony receiver and Sony speakers using a digital audio connection.  Regardless of the source, the sound from these headphones was awful.  These Specialist seems to have been designed to handle low frequencies fairly well at the expense of everything else, resulting in what I would describe as a 'mushy' sound.  High frequencies were not crisp, and the mids were drowned out by the heavy bass.  I took the liberty of letting some friends try them out to verify my findings.  My friends consisted of an Average Joe, a musician, and a person who said he was 'very picky about headphones.' Their responses ranged from 'just average' to 'terrible.'

Too Expensive - The MSRP for the Specilist is $79.99, which is too high considering the mediocre performance just mentioned in the previous paragraph.  In addition, if you want to use them with your console, you will need to shell out at least another $20 for the Negotiator, so for all practical purposes, this is a $99.99 console gaming headset, or a $79.99 PC gaming headset.

Funky Chat/Game Sound Balance Control - Instead of having separate volume controls for game audio and in-game chat, the Negotiator uses a balance control which doesn't quite completely work.  This sounds like an odd complaint, but I was never able to get the in-game sound turned down completely.

Flimsy Feel - The build quality of the Specialist headset is lackluster considering how much NOX is charging for it.  For the same price or less you can get full-sized headphones that completely cover your ears.  The plastic used for the Specialist feels flimsy and some of the cables feel thin and cheap.

 

 

The NOX Specialist Headset and Negotiator combination sound great on paper, but do not completely live up to the hype.  The Specialist has awful sound, is badly overpriced and on top of that, requires the Negotiator to work with consoles.  While there are some good ideas here, such as the ability to fold it up for portability and the retractable microphone, I cannot recommend the Specialist at all, especially when headsets with better audio quality can be had for around half its price.  The Negotiator, on the other hand, is a good idea hampered by its flaky balance control and high price.  Paired with some quality headphones, the Negotiator should provide a great audio experience for those few willing to pay the price of admission.

 

What was your GOTY for 2014?

Shadow of Mordor
Bayonneta 2
Dragon Age Inquisition
Divinity: Original Sin
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Dark Souls II
Destiny
Hearthstone
Far Cry 4
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Shovel Knight
Alien: Isolation
Child of Light
Sunset Overdrive
This War of Mine
Monument Valley
Transistor
Super Smash Bros. Wii U
Mario Kart 8
Other (Let us know in the comments)
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