Review – Tritton 720+
+ Excellent build quality
+ Extremely well styled
+ Fantastic, full, rich sound
+ Well-engineered detachable microphone
+ Full digital Dolby experience
- Bulky overall footprint and cable
- Headset difficult to easily move to another system
The Tritton 720+ has incredible style, excellent build quality and powerful, rich, full sound. These headphones are, frankly, near-perfect, and at a price point that’s lower than you might expect.
First – gorgeous.
Unboxing this beauty was wonderful. The package is huge – and elegant, presenting bold white and orange displays of the prize that awaits. And it is a prize, let me tell you.
Opening this package feels like opening a new gaming laptop with all its accoutrements. First there is the huge poster-like set of blueprints for connecting the headphones to your various appliances, in case you couldn’t figure it out on your own.
Beneath the glossy block-cartoon assembly instructions, the headphones are presented in their full splendor, laid flat to show that the cans rotate something like 110 degrees.
Even further, past the gleaming white headphones, tracing the thick ropes of cable past the oval control module and descending into the catacombs, one discovers the shiny carapace of a Dolby decoder box and a hidden chest of cable connections for every desirable device, as well as the very cleverly designed microphone.
Spreading everything out, these elements do seem somewhat daunting. And that is the first pragmatic comment I would make about these headphones. They are not for the faint of heart. They are not to be tucked in your back pocket, or even wrapped around your neck like a luggage sized piece of jewelry that you can only truly appreciate your tiny iPod with. No, these will pretty much abide (like The Dude) wherever they are installed.
We’re talking about a USB connection to your system, an optical cable connection, both cables going to the decoder box, which itself has a rather large, apparently proprietary jack for the headphone controller cord, which then plugs into the headphones themselves. (Again, they come with a bright orange and white labyrinthian map of all these connections, so you’ll only get lost a couple times.)
Mine are in the den/office/storage shack, where I can listen to my music and the sounds of gunfire. They could, pretty easily, reside in the living room, since the length of the cord is measured in time, rather than linear distance (as in, it takes me X minutes to travel the length of the Tritton 720+ cord if I’ve had a good headstart). Thankfully, that means that if I want to watch a movie in the dead of night, while the wifey is otherwise occupied in dreamworld by fantasies of baking cupcakes with Ryan Gosling, then I can pretty comfortably sit on the couch while the headphone cord snakes its way to the PS3. But – that’s if mine have to go camping. For now, they sleep in the office.So you kind of have to make an investment; if you’re like me, and have the PS3 in one room and the PC in another, and for some asinine reason, tend to buy a third of your games for the console and the rest for PC, you must choose. Will the headphones abide in the den, or the living room?
Hooking up to a PC is a little bit more irritating than connecting to a console, since every time I switch them I forget that I have to change the output to the s/pdif and I end up sitting bewildered for a while at the flat, tinny noise I’m hearing. But, let me tell you …. once I get my brain on straight and select the proper output, it is as though I have been transported to the middle of the very heart of a crappy Michael Bay movie (sorry, redundant) – the entire world is erupting in sound around me, unless I’m playing Lionel Richie, in which case I’m transported to the early 80s and in love for the first time, all over again..
Nearly everything on these headphones seems very cleverly designed. As mentioned, the cans themselves swivel until they lie flat in one direction, and probably 15 or 20 degrees in the other direction. The ratcheting between the different sizes is solid and, thank goodness, they faced the size numbers outward and made it easy to read, so when your wife tries to steal your headphones and shrinks them to mouse-size, you can quickly and easily return them to the correct setting.
The build quality of these headphones is really striking. Every element seems to have been clearly thought through and executed well, with a couple of small exceptions. First, the (very) good. The headphones are absolutely solid. They’re fairly heavy and swivel solidly with no feeling of looseness or weak joints. Again, the sizing is totally solid, and the cushion at the bridge is firm and maintains really clean lines in keeping with the rest of the set. The cushions on the cups are comfortable and the covers seem like heavier material than is common – not some thin, papery fabric that’s going to disintegrate over long periods of time (as I have experienced with a number of headphones).
The cabling is also top-notch, which, ironically, has some drawbacks. First, there’s no question the cables aren’t going to come loose at the joints or get torqued and ugly. The connections have heavy sleeves with clean lines that protect it from wear and tear, and the cable itself is thick and strong. The downside here is that it is very difficult to forget the cable in the middle of whatever activity you might be engaged in – it’s so heavy and long (trying to avoid any double entendre here) that unless you’re actually sitting a good distance from the decoder, you’ve got cabling in your lap, or piled up beside you or tugging heavily at your shirt if it’s clipped to your lapel. This certainly sounds like a criticism, but I’m a guy who wants it all, so it’s tough to say Mad Catz has done wrong here – if you want a solid build and the freedom to move around, you’re going to have an onerous cable. I suppose the one thing I would do my way is to add an inline extension cable of the same quality that can be disconnected and tucked away until it’s needed.
The devices that the cables connect to are also robust and well designed. First, there is the inline controller that conveniently houses a microphone mute switch, microphone volume, and output volume and mute controls. These are really terrific controls and Mad Catz has obviously thought from the perspective of the fast-paced gamer here. First, the microphone mute is large and very easy to identify by touch, and it’s easy to slide up or down because of its size and surface. The volume controls are significantly smaller jog-dials on either side of the device, also easily flipped back and forth since the controller is large enough to hold comfortably while jogging the setting with your thumb. The only issue here is that I am so forgetful I can’t remember which dial is for which setting without looking at them. From a technical perspective, this should be an easy thing, since there is an obvious up/down orientation to the controller, and I just need to remember it.
The decoder box looks like it should be on display wherever it’s installed – super slick white glossy surface on the top, and a nice matte gray/black face with the few button controls and cable jacks. Does the job with style – but one criticism here: For some reason that is not clear to me, they have placed a volume knob on the decoder box along with the power button. I don’t know why you would ever power the decoder off, and I don’t know why you would ever turn down the volume at the decoder, when you can do it at the inline controller. To add to my confusion, this is the one element that is somewhat poorly designed, as the volume jog dial tends to stick in the too-perfectly sized housing. So I simply make sure to turn the volume to max and, well, it’s really not a problem at all.
The microphone is just about exactly what I would hope for on such a beautiful set of headphones. It feels terrific – pleasing cold metal adjustable arm that swivels easily. Again, this is a completely solidly machined part. It locks into place with a satisfyingly solid movement into position. It disconnects entirely from the headphones with a twist, and while disconnected leaves a small opening that only draws minutely from the overall elegance of the rig. This is one of those aesthetic elements that makes buying a device so much more satisfying over time – rather than nag at you, as poor engineering does, it just feels great every time I disconnect or reconnect the mic.
One last incidental regarding the build: These headphones clearly could be connected to a laptop, iPod etc directly, without the use of the decoder, if you wanted straightforward sound without Dolby amplification and decoding. However, the cable was explicitly designed to fight this, and probably for the best. The 3.5mm plugs project from the inline controller in such a way that it’s very difficult to plug them into anything directly, would require an extension, and would be rather ugly to boot. (The connection here doesn’t feel quite as perfectly fitted as the rest of the elements in this build. Not a serious flaw, but it makes me want to keep reseating it to try to get it just right, even though I don’t need to…) On the one hand, this completely eliminates the convenience of just yanking the headphones from your desktop and quickly plugging them into a laptop, etc. On the other hand, this more or less ensures that you won’t hear any dissatisfyingly weak audio experience through your Mad Catz device.
These headphones are bold and beautiful, with incredible touches like the very cool bright orange Tritton logo actually inlaid into the casing as if it were a fine piece of furniture that will be inspected by an admiring expert of the antiques roadshow 100 years from now.
The inner body is rubberized, and the movement and style of the swiveling cans is just cool too behold. As far as the headset itself, when turning, twisting, ratcheting the size, everything feels as though it is form-fit without a millimeter to spare, which makes the overall visual impression that much sweeter.
As indicated throughout the build elements, this is a well-engineered, beautifully styled package with perfect attention to virtually every detail.
And speaking of experiencing sound – finally – the sound through the Tritton 720+ headphones is marvelous – REALLY marvelous! It is full-throttle, with deep 50mm drivers that absolutely kick. When I put on a pair of headphones with real power, I instinctively try to break them by turning up every equalizer slider, every volume dial and button and basking in the wall of sound. Whether it was my favorite Depeche Mode or FPS, the sound was painfully overpowering before I heard any distortion.
Listening to my favorite sounds, I feel as though I’ve just been pressed down by a massive wave into the depths and am swirling around in the moment unable to recall what responsibilities were or that in real life every footfall, every nearby breath doesn’t find its way directly into my hungry ears. The sound overall and individually is so full and rich – not merely loud, but bursting in all directions. Mind you, it isn’t random or a wall of noise – directional sound is effective and helpful – and clean.
Finally, two odd, ongoing problems occur in my experience:
First, whenever I turn on the decoder and am not actively listening to something, I hear a distinct electrical hum through the headphones. I don’t think I can reasonably blame this on Mad Catz, since I never set up a clean electrical environment. (I have not merely tons of cables snaking over cables, I’ve got power cables daisy-chained everywhere..) It’s an irritant and I don’t know exactly what’s causing it. Thankfully, when I do play sound, I can’t detect it, even if the sounds are quiet.
Second, I have run multiple tests of 5.1 Dolby surround on both my desktop machine and on my PS3. At no point does the subwoofer test produce sound. Again, this is very grating – just knowing that something that is supposed to work doesn’t, and not knowing what the difference is. As mentioned above, the sound through these headphones is wonderful and incredibly rich. But there is a difference between rich, full, deep bassy sound – and the body jarring result of an grenade exploding at your head. I really don’t know if it’s missing in my case, or if I’m getting it and should be happy.
On that last point, a word about the Mad Catz tech support crew – really happy with the interactions I’ve had with them. They respected my explanations of the troubleshooting I’d done, and only discussed logical options – these techs seem to be true geeks working with what they know, nothing like your typical cable guy following a script of prompts. Communication was regular and when, ultimately, they decided they needed to replace the decoder box, the process was straightforward, and the lead tech followed up. Unfortunately I was out of the country for a few weeks, so I’ll have to update this post with any further troubleshooting we do in order to get the subwoofer working. And again – bottom line: in spite of the fact that the sub isn’t working in the tests, these headphones still sound amazing.
All in all, should you spend your cash on this? I think if you’re happy having your primary headphones stationed at a single location, in my opinion these are very competitively priced headphones given the compatibility with the Xbox360, PS3, and PC, their incredibly powerful output driven by a 50mm neodymium magnet, genuine Dolby digital 7.1 surround sound, and extremely refined, awesome design details. I think these will be your favorite gaming and movie headphones for quite some time.