When it comes to performance and audio quality, this is very much a headset aimed at a specific target: gamers. Treble is fairly detailed, around what you would expect from a regular set of headphones at this price point. Voices also come across well, and even music is not unlistenable with the Xtatic SP. But what about bass?
When the headset isn’t powered, bass lacks any real impact. It would make the headset pretty disappointing for games and movies if it weren’t for the Xtatic SP's rumble effect. Once you feed the SP juice through USB, and audio through its analogue stereo cable, the extra rumble effect transforms bass from anaemic background noise to an intense, dominating experience that will let you feel explosions, gunshots and drumbeats.
Don’t let the name fool you: the headphones don’t actually shake or rumble like a force feedback controller. Even so it’s the closest it gets to having a subwoofer on your head without causing a discomfort or killing off brain-cells. Consequently, it also works really well for those who like their music heavy on the low frequencies.
Not everyone will like how bass now overpowers the mids and high-end, further reducing detail, but for its target usage we reckon most will be pleased. This rumble effect is, of course, hardly unique to the Sharkoon’s Xtatic SP. It’s found on many other gaming headsets, especially 5.1 efforts. However, this is one of the more affordable sets we’ve come across to offer it. Overall then, the SP’s audio quality is good for its price. Our sole criticism here is a low but constant background hiss, though it’s only noticeable during silent moments.
The boom microphone, meanwhile, picked up audio clearly. Clarity was no worse or better than the microphone on most headsets, meaning it’s good enough for gaming. The microphone itself is hard plastic, which we prefer to less rugged foam alternatives. Its adjustable arm is made of durable metal.
If you’re just after a decent pair of cans with all-round good sound quality, it’s worth spending the extra £13 over the £52 Xtatic SP on a set such as the Cresyn C720H. However, if you want a headset with the ability to hook up to your consoles, an inline remote, microphone and extra bass kick, Sharkoon’s latest stereo gaming headset provides good value. Only the background hiss prevents the Sharkoon Xtatic SP from netting a recommended award.
As a pair of headphones, the Sharkoon Xtatic SP are relatively comfortable but simply don't come into their own. The high and mid range aren't the clearest or most detailed we've heard, and a slight but noticeable background hiss distracts during quiet moments. However, as a modestly-priced gaming headset that will play nice with the major consoles and features an impressive bass kick, it's worth checking out.