E3 is no doubt known for gaming. However, while they might not get their own press conference, there are plenty of hardware and accessory vendors on hand. While there are some big and small vendors, we got a chance to sit down with one of the larger ones to see what they had to offer, and their thoughts on sound technology. Jeff Burchett, Senior Communications Manager for Turtle Beach, informed us of what to expect from them this year, and even a bit about their origin.
- What puts Turtle Beach ahead of the competition?
Oh man, 38 years of audio experience. We’ve been an audio company since 1975. I mean our founder patented many technologies. We’ve been doing digital audio since digital audio was the thing to do. We pioneered gaming headset categories, something we are really passionate about, and we’ve been involved for a long time. We are so passionate, in fact, that audio can be driven by technology. It is 2014, if you can’t make anything sound good, you should go home. I know there are companies that can’t, but at this point, that’s just unacceptable. If you can’t make a plain headset that sounds good, you have no business making headsets.
We make very excellent sounding headsets, but we look for ways to push that forward through technology, rather that would be things like our custom version of DTS. This allows us to pull in the gun and make your character sort of centered in the first person games so it doesn’t sound like the center channel is fifteen feet in front of you, rather where he is. Our preset architecture allows the sound of fixed depth and the sound of explosions. There’s all sorts of things like that that no one else does or can do.
- What new technologies are you featuring for your new headsets?
We are launching a fully wireless headset for Xbox One, so no connections to the controller for chat, so that’s very cool. It’s not like gamers have been dealing with that for very long, but I’m sure everyone is going to be greatly relieved to get a headset that doesn’t have a chat wire. We are starting much more wide with the DTS headset 7.1 surround sound. It is an excellent surround sound protocol that includes ways to customize the way it’s processed, as it is very accurate and contractual. We have it for movies, games, and music, so there are different modes. We are also starting to bring out more of our dual-boomless microphone technology. We pioneered that on the I-30 and I-60 and it worked great, but we have improved it significantly to make it really awesome. We have active voice cancellation for the 8800, which is new, cool, and awesome.
- Where is the future of sound going?
That’s a really cool question, and I’m just waiting for the developers to answer it.
It is 2014, if you can’t make anything sound good, you should go home. I know there are companies that can’t, but at this point, that’s just unacceptable. If you can’t make a plain headset that sounds good, you have no business making headsets.
- Jeff Burchett, Senior Communications Manager for Turtle Beach
- Is anything beyond DTS 7.1 possible?
Dolby has been using technology in theaters for years. It is possible. I think one of the neatest things, in terms of audio and the future, is processing power. When you think about graphics, the ability of an engine to generate realistic graphics is strained by the number of bounces of light. Audio works in the same way. When I speak, I can tell you are to my right versus my left, and in front of you because the sound bounces. So with more horsepower built into consoles, and obviously unless a game was PC only, and even when it’s PC only you don’t know what hardware it’s using. But consoles are very consistent, so it’s easier for developers to develop for.
As we are on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it’s really exciting to see what the devs are going to do in terms of audio. I think that last generation we got to see a lot of substance. I’m waiting to see what we can come up with in audio. I think we are going to see ambient inclusion in audio, so you know the sound will be different if you spoke behind or in front of a box. We will see.
- What type of accessories will the headsets offer?
Some of the headsets will have speaker plates that go with them. Our Seven series has over 70 different unique designs. Some are Marvel licensed, so we have a lot of those. Some of our newer headsets, such as Disney Infinity and Star Wars, are customizable by the user. A couple of the new products, such as Infinity, come with in-game content such as character skins. Also, in terms of accessories, we sell headset stands. We are just kind of barely teasing the idea for our new sound controller, which offers a surround sound decoder, offline chat, and it’s designed for Major League Gaming.
- How much do the faceplates retail for?
It depends on what it is. The licensed ones go for about $25, and the ones that we designed are $20. They are available at TurtleBeach.com/speakerplates and they are presently available only in the United States.
- As for the sponsored headsets, such as Call of Duty, is their specific technology geared towards the title?
The Call of Duty headsets are a wonderful example of that. This is our fourth one, which started with Modern Warfare 3, through Black Ops 2, and up to now with Advanced Warfare. Starting with Modern Warfare 3, in fact, we’ve had our programmable headsets for the DSPs. We work with the audio team to tune the game with the headset and vice versa. The headsets also in some cases have voice prompts so they speak to you and tell you things. If you have an incoming call, it will tell you. It will also do some voices for in-game characters. There is also bonus content in some cases and that’s a real-world bonus content.