– Cool contemporary design
– Great audio for FPS games
– Good quality extendible mic
– Comfortable padding
Not so much
– Plastic, lightweight construction that can’t be folded
– Audio not as good with some non-FPS games
The current Striker Zx gaming headset for XBox One by Polk Audio is a stylish-looking unit that promises quality sonic performance, comfortability and useful gaming functions but does it deliver?
Look and feel
Available in a slick dark monochrome palette and a crisp white/blue or white/orange combo, the Zx is eye-catching without a doubt. We nabbed the white/orange set and that’s the one that really stood out for us. The orange accents pop and give the Zx cans a real modern and fresh feel.
We also like the mix of textures. The headband and can sections are covered in a matt plastic, while the section connecting those two sections are glossy – that’s the orange part. If they’d have been entirely glossy I’d have run a mile after having snapped a pair in half. Thankfully Polk has some class.
When you pick up the Striker Zx’ you’ll immediately notice the lack of weight. We’re used to gaming sets being a big chunky and heavy (some of them even sport metal) by design, so the comparatively dainty Zx feels a touch cheap. This isn’t a criticism as such, but this headset is just noticeably lighter than we’re used to. We do like the padding around the band and earcups, it’s soft and keeps comfortability at a max for long periods of play.
Considering how light it is, we’d have liked to see these headphones made collapsible, unfortunately they’re not. But at least the microphone can be extended 3inches on a flexi-metal arm from the left earcup so that it can be close to your mouth.
Performance and verdict
Armed with 40mm drivers, the Striker Zx puts out a decent level of sound, although some noise carries stronger than others. It seems like this headset has been tuned specifically for first person shooting titles, shining particularly with gun fire and explosions. However, things like backing soundtracks, voices and more subtle noises like footsteps, lack some the separation and texture needed to truly immerse you in the environments of games that don’t see you running around an active battle field.
During fighting games like Mortal Kombat X for example, hits are registered with pleasing thumps and thwacks, but when opponents are just sizing each other up, the overall audio track doesn’t fill your ears enough to create the energy and atmosphere that you’d associate with this awesome title.
One feature that separates this affordable headset from budget options, is that it has Chat Loop, which plays your voice back through the headphones when you speak which means you don’t have to raise your voice to hear yourself when the action gets thick and heavy – another sign these are designed mostly with shooters in mind. The loop also lets you know that the audio performance of the mic is good, clear and crisp. This feature only seems to be available when used with the XBox One, but this is an XBox One headset, so can’t complain here.
Ultimately, the Striker Zx headphones for Xbox One are good value for money, but we just wish they were a little tougher and packed a richer level of sound that paid off in a wider variety of games. Of course if you want better performance, you could always take a look at the slightly pricier Polk Audio 4 Shot headphones.
It’s also worth noting that some purchasers of the Zx Striker have complained about poor connections that have degraded after only a short time, leaving one or both earcups soundless. We have had the Striker Zx set for over a month and have encountered no such issues with the quality of our connection. Of course we will update if we do experience any poor connection issues.