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.
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
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.