Sold as a stereo gaming headset for Xbox One, the Stealth SX-01 looks to come to market with one aim in mind – to deliver simple, cheap, hassle-free audio to the gaming masses. Unfortunately, the overriding aspect of this addition to the gaming headset world only nails two of those points – simple and cheap – with the most important clean forgotten. And that means this headset should only really be considered by those unable to find any other option.
Initial signs are good in regards to the Stealth SX-01, with plastic-free packaging providing a rather welcome change to the norm. Props have to go out to Stealth for taking the time and effort to ensure that as gamers we are able to do our bit to save the planet, reducing plastic waste as we go, with basic instructions well laid out on a disposable inner cardboard sleeve. But from then on out, I’ve got to say I’ve been massively disappointed by the SX-01.
I guess disappointed is perhaps the wrong word to use, as any headset that comes in at under £20 is bound to be bereft of a feature or two. Perhaps for that reason expectations should be lower. That is certainly the case here with the SX-01 with one of the simplest, most basic design styles I’ve seen in recent years. But whereas the likes of the equally sleek PDP LvL range of headsets deliver in spades, this Stealth option comes across as nothing but cheap – with the black and green plastic styling hardly a standout feature to remark on.
Weighing in at 242 grams, an overarching plastic feel is the major takeaway here, with the black outer styling only broken up by bright green Stealth logos on each earcup, and a swipe of the same colour running between those and the ear cushions. Other than that, a decent amount of headband padding is present, although it would have been preferred to see this come in a little deeper – if truth be told it squishes down to barely nothing when in use. That headband is extremely flexible and adjustable too, but once more the cheap feel is the standout mention here, so much so that adjustments are stiff, inconsistent and hard to action. Yes, the in/out movement has eased up slightly over time, and I’d hazard a guess that going forward it will become even easier to move in months to come, but that would mean having to use the headset on a daily basis – something which is highly unlikely to happen.
The earcups are padded too, and even though they are smaller than I would like, near-on sitting on the ear instead of encasing them, they do the job asked of them – at least to a certain extent. But that initial feel only lasts for a certain period of time, whereafter you’ll be wanting to give your ears a rest. Wearing the SX-01 over extended periods, taking in gaming sessions that are hours long, isn’t something that is likely to happen in a hurry.
That’s a shame too, as when you do wear them they sound alright – for what you’d expect of a sub-£20 headset anyways. In fact, as long as you don’t turn the volume right up to the maximum allowed, Stealth have ensured that the 40mm drivers integrated inside are able to provide some punchy sounds, running slightly in favour of the bassier tones. Turn it up though and you’re in for a world of audio pain, with breakup, distortion and a muddy user experience that just isn’t nice to kick back with. That is the case across multiple formats too, no matter whether you have a controller in hand or are running a laptop for your Spotify fix.
And that then gets us on to the detachable mic. Easily locked in place by a rather nifty little twist-and-lock system (something which is probably the best feature of the entire headset), again we find the SX-01 failing to hit the mark required. I’ve had all manner of issues in party chat on Xbox One, with fellow gamers going as far to request a full headset change mid-game. Why? Well, major echo and feedback is present, and even though adjusting things in the console audio settings helps massively, there have been times when others have heard themselves repeating back – in some cases as clear as day. Messing around with sliders and turning the overall volume down sorts this, but you should be aware that using this headset straight out of the box should be done at your peril.
Thankfully, should you find a sweet spot in terms of that audio, or just don’t have any friends to worry about, then the inline controls are a cinch to hit. Mic muting and full game/chat volumes come easily to hand via a chunky SX-01 branded inline control unit.
The main problem with the Stealth SX-01 stereo gaming headset for Xbox One isn’t that it feels, and is, cheap. It is that the headset market has moved on massively in recent years and this has been left behind. Whereas previously gamers would do anything to get their hands on a cut-price bargain, with the likes of Turtle Beach, PDP and Plantronics with their stunning RIG sets happily trickling technology down into marketable areas previously unheard of, there is now much more expected of every single headset on the market. And even though the Stealth SX-01 costs less than £20, the smart players would save up just a little longer and go for something like the infinitely better Turtle Beach Recon Spark.
The cheapest isn’t always the best. And in terms of the Stealth SX-01 headset for Xbox One, that statement is true throughout.
Massive thanks to Stealth for providing the SX-01 stereo gaming headset for unboxing and review. If you wish to pick up the headset for yourself then head to the likes of Argos.
Related: Unboxing the Stealth SX-01 Headset for Xbox One