Mad Catz have been truly spoiling us this year with their Tritton audio brand. It’s clear that over the past ten to twelve months we have seen the execution of a determined strategy by the company to really push Tritton in order to compete with Turtle Beach and other prominent challengers, as well as provide a full range of aural solutions to the world. With the newly released Kunai headset we now have a portable provision, designed specifically for PS Vita, but which also works with your home PS3. Kunai translates from Japanese as a basic tool, one which in the hands of an (martial arts) expert could be used for multiple functions (as a weapon). So, does the stereo headset suit multiple uses and does it suit them well?
As with all this year’s selection of Tritton headsets the Kunai has the same industrial design, ensuring that everyone knows it’s from the big T. This means you have very similar manipulation options to those we’ve seen previously, all of which help in providing the best fit to anyone’s head and ears. The earcups don’t fit entirely over the ear due to an attempt to minimise the footprint for ease of transportation, but they do have lovely plush earcups which sit comfortably over the ear canal and in extended periods of gaming or other activities don’t cause any problem at all. The headset is lightweight also so in actuality you hardly feel the headphones meaning they can be used happily for long sessions and from place to place. The earcups rotate to provide further flexibility and the connecting headband is extendable to provide for very large and oddly shaped heads. Tritton have aimed for extreme comfort as they indicate in their marketing communications and they’ve done it. On initially seeing the headset there were concerns that it would grate over time having just come from wonderful home-based over the ear cans, but thankfully these fears were never realised.
The headphones are pretty robust in their design also. Immediately after receiving them we were able to take them on journeys far and wide, across planes, trains and automobiles, stuffing them in various bags for transit and ease of access. Again this was concerning as the headset could be broken in so many ways - an earphone, the headband, the cable, but thankfully there was not a single scratch on them even though we had handled them normally (i.e. not being ultra careful to minimise any chance of harm). In use, in public or otherwise it might come down to personal taste as to whether you’re happy to wear these great big things on the tube as opposed to little in-ear subtle options. This was something The Digital Fix were concerned with as well but here, too, concern gave way to understanding. Yes they are over ear and more obvious than our old in-ear OEM earphones but the design, the size, the comfort all meant that very quickly it was normal and not in any way embarrassing. Other brands we see around on our regular commutes make us chuckle still but these don’t. Brilliantly Tritton have seen fit to provide three colour options - white, red and black - to allow any potential embarrassment factor to be reduced further if you so desire.
The unit comes with a removable microphone for use in-game on both PS3 and PS Vita. The fact it’s removable ensures flexibility depending on what’s going on and in-use it works as well as any other solution folks may have, such as the official Sony headset. In the case of the Vita it works better than just using your speakers and microphone. With the sound coming into your ears and the microphone right by your mouth both you and those at the other end have much more chance of hearing and elucidating what’s being said. It’s the best way to talk via your PS Vita.
This brings us onto the sound quality. The headset is just stereo so it only needs to worry about two channels of sound and the Vita (or whatever format you’re listening on) itself does all the decoding work anyway. The full specifications of the Kunai are as follows:
- Cable Length: PS3 = 14ft, PS Vita = 3ft
- Speaker Diameter: 40mm
- Ear Coupling: Supra-aural (On-ear)
- Magnet Type: Neodymium
- Frequency Response: 25Hz–20kHz
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): - Resistance: 16 ohms
- PlayStation 3 Audio Input Type: RCA
- PS Vita Audio Input Type: 3.5mm Connector
- USB Powered: Yes (PS3 only)
What all the above equates to - remembering also that the Neodymium drivers should ensure superb clarity and smooth bass if the components have been engineered to a high degree of quality - is some best in-class stereo sound. We were able to use the headset on the PS Vita, PS3, our mobile phones and a laptop. We were able to hear a variety of sounds, from Fifa Football’s crowd cheers and crunching tackles, to LittleBigPlanet Vita’s oohs, aahs, cheers and so on, through to The XX and their bass heavy musicality, Radiohead’s varied soundscape across their career and some lovely videos on the PS Vita screen also. What was consistent across all these media and devices were the clarity, the quality, the high signal to noise ratio (very little noise could be heard when no sounds was coming from the Vita; none at all when listening to anything) and surprisingly the range of sound that could be heard - bass was more noticeable than ever before on the PS Vita for example. On the PS3 there are many varied and superior options than the Kunai, but as this is designed for the Vita, yet still works remarkably well on the PS3 and other formats, this provides a large amount of flexibility. In terms of noise isolation and noise leakage, things are really rather good for on-ear solutions. Obviously you’re not obscured from all external noise when listening to music or playing games but nothing interferes or distracts unintentionally. For folks around you as well the leakage is driven by volume as opposed to quality of headset - be it in an airport or at home with family there were no complaints or even looks or comments, which is a big plus point too.
Setup for the Vita is literally plug and play, like you would hope for from any headset when it’s just transporting sound and not decoding any of it. For the PS3 however things are more complicated. You need to change the sound settings on the PS3 from whatever you have today to the AV option (this assumes you use either HDMI or Optical today, otherwise you’ll be on the correct setting already), connect your headset to the in-line cable which then connects both to the PS3 via USB and the TV/Amp/receiver via 3.5mm jacks. Then those jacks connect to the PS3 as well using a cable that came with your PS3. That final bit is the problem. If you don’t typically use that cable today (most will use HDMI) then finding it is your first challenge. If you still have it. Granted, once you have everything, swapping the headset from PS3 to PS Vita is simple as you just unplug at the in-line module leaving everything else connected, but it’s a hassle in the first place and disappointing that not everything you need is in the box.
The Tritton Kunai headset really delivers across the board what it sets out to achieve. It’s a durable, portable, comfortable solution for any situation and delivers outstanding sound quality for everything thrown at it by the PS Vita. It’s a flexible solution for folks who want one headset for all devices, and given its price point of £49.99, it will fit in most people’s budgets too. It is a remarkably successful peripheral that should be at the forefront of anyone’s minds when looking for a multi-purpose, portable audio solution.