Although Polk is fairly new to the UK audio scene, the company has actually been around for 40 years and has a lot of audio experience under its belt. The Polk 4 Shot gaming headset is one of the first gamer-centric products the company has launched, but it aims to blend its strong audio history with what gamers require from a headset.
In that way, it falls somewhere in between your bulky gaming headsets and the more stylish home audio alternatives in terms of design. Plus it’s one of the more affordable gaming headsets on the market, and one of the first to be Xbox One compatible.
In fact, the Polk 4 Shot has been designed specifically for Xbox One users. Polk partnered with Microsoft to make sure its range of gaming products has been finely tuned to the Xbox One experience, and gaming as a whole.
Open up the box and you’ll find you get quite a bit for your £139.99 investment (although you’ll find you’ll actually pick them up a lot cheaper than that RRP). The 4 Shot themselves are wireless, but you’ll need to attach one of the included wires to listen to any audio. You get a standard 3.5mm jack to jack connector and another with an in-line mobile phone microphone with controls for playing/pausing music. There’s also a fabric cord with jack-to-jack connections that has an adjustable mic boom attached to it at one end.
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If you’re not keen on having a microphone boom in front of your mouth, the 4 Shot also have a retractable near-field microphone built into the left ear cup. Simply give it a press and the little microphone pops out, meaning its inconspicuous when you don’t need it and easily accessible for when you do.
What’s great is that you also get Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter in the box, which saves you having to fork out the additional £19.99. This control panel plugs directly into the base of the Xbox One controller and lets you listen to game audio with the 4 Shot and other wired headsets.
Thanks to the versatility of the 3.5mm jack connection, you can pretty much use the Polk 4 Shot with any audio or gaming device, including PC, Mac, PS4, mobiles and tablets outside of its Xbox One selling points.
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One of the main appeals of the Polk 4 Shot headset is its design. Although the ear cups are slightly larger than your average audio headphones, the 4 Shot are something you wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen wearing on the street. We’ve been using them for gaming and listening to music on the commute and at work and we didn’t feel like a Princess Leia impersonator once.
You can pick up the 4 Shot in a choice of three colours: Ink Black, Desert White and Nova Blue. The latter two are definitely the statement choices, so we would definitely opt for the black. These come with a stripe of grey on each earcup, with the Polk name underneath. There’s also the company’s heart logo on the inside too.
The adjustable headband is fitted with a leatherette cushion, while the ear cups are padded out with a similar material. Although the majority of the 4 Shot are made of plastic, the earcup hinges are made of metal for a little more durability.
However, despite their plastic build you’ll immediately notice that the 4 Shot are extremely sturdy and will survive twisting without buckling and being chucked into your bag for journeys. The cups even fold flat so you can wear them around your neck, or for easier storage.
Thanks to the focus on making the 4 Shot seem more like headphones for audiophiles, Polk’s efforts have made the 4 Shot the most comfortable gaming headset we’ve ever worn. You won’t find that there’s any press on your ears, meaning you can wear them for even the longest gaming sessions.
The over-ear cups with their leatherette padding are extremely well sized and accommodate your ears with ease. We often find that gaming headsets have a rather strong clamp on your head, but you won’t suffer from this with the 4 Shot. They’re just loose enough that they still feel secure on your head, but even after several hours of wear, we weren’t feeling any discomfort.
The headband is also adjustable, so even those with the bigger heads will be accommodated.
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Thanks to Polk’s history, we had high hopes for the 4 Shot headset in terms of audio quality. And we weren’t disappointed.
Despite the bass being a tad heavy, it really works well with gaming audio. You’ll hear crisp dialogue, undulating cinematic cut scenes and there’s no distortion even if you crank up the volume. We tried the out with several games, including The Last of Us Remastered, Far Cry 3, Battlefield 4, Need for Speed: Rivals and PS4 indie title HoHoKum and the 4 Shot delivered fantastic sound quality.
The Polk 4 Shot copes with a variety of gaming genres with ease. You'll hear the bullets whizzing past your head and the other high octane FPS machinery, but you'll also hear the sound of a quietly approaching enemy too. In-car sounds will leave you with the engine revs ringing in your ears, the screech of tires around that hairpin bend make you feel like you're actually in the driver's seat. That's partly down to the game developers of course, but the 4 Shot just adds to your overall gaming experience.
Even when watching movies using the Polk 4 Shot, you will never feel like you’re losing any of the subtler background noises when there’s more detailed dialogue.
Some may be disappointed that the 4 Shot lack any kind of in-built audio controls found in other gaming headsets like the SteelSeries H Wireless, but that's because they're designed to be used in conjunction with the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter. This device gives you volume and other controls at your fingertips, even when you’re playing.
However, even if you’re just listening to music on your iPhone or other mobile device, you’ll find the treble, mid-range and bass levels are finely tuned to offer a great music experience too.
There is a little sound leakage, but we only found this to be a problem when listening at higher volumes.
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You get not one, but three microphone options with the Polk 4 Shot. We found ourselves using the built-in near-field microphone the most. That’s down to its non-intrusive design. Despite its size, the little mic is capable of picking up your voice with ease and clarity. It’s not offering anything special, but its handy and you will hardly realise it’s there most of the time.
For those looking for a more traditional gaming headset experience could use the boom mic attachment. It simply plugs into the left earcup via a 3.5mm jack connection. It’s a lot more discreet and dainty than other headsets, especially the Sennheiser G4ME One. You can position it wherever you want too, as it is very malleable.
There’s also the in-line microphone for making phone calls. Shaped like a little shoe, it’s not the most elegant in-line mic we’ve seen and can be a little temperamental, but it was more than adequate for making voice calls over Skype and cellular connections.
It may lack some of the more intricate audio adjustments that many gamers may be looking for, but the Polk 4 Shot are definitely worth buying if you’re an Xbox One owner. The fact that they come with the Xbox One controller adaptor will save you a bit of cash, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a comfier gaming headset.
Polk’s audio expertise and design choices also mean that the 4 Shot can function as a great pair of all-rounder headphones. There’s not many gaming headsets we’d be caught dead in outside the house.
If you're looking for a gaming headset that can double up as your everyday headphones, then the Polk 4 Shot offer enough versatility and great audio quality for both uses. Moreover, you can pick them up for around £85 if you look hard enough, making them excellent value for money, even for those on more modest budgets.
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