I’ve seen some interesting gear since taking over the hardware duties at 2D-X. Some have been excellent (Street Fighter X Tekken Fightstick Pro), some have been god awful (HKS controller). The $19.99 XJacker PS3 kit and the $29.99 Soniq Rush 2.0 (a headset adapter and amplifier, respectively) falls somewhere between. The the pair, in unison, lets gamers turn any headset into a PS3 headset with ear-wrecking volume, but clunky setup issues somewhat mar the experience.
Both kits assume that you are either using RCA composite or component cables with the system and that the display has RCA inputs. This is the XJacker kits’ big flaw. Anyone with a PS3 (or Xbox 360) and a LCD display will most likely connect the hardware via HDMI or a HDMI to DVI cable, single cords that carry both audio and video. The Xjacker’s RCA wires require you to plug a cord into the display. Note: There are a fair amount of people who have their consoles connected to a large computer monitor instead of an actual TV. The vast majority of computer monitors don’t have RCA inputs, FYI.
That said, you can use HDMI cables and the Xjacker, but that complicates matters as they use two different display input sources and require different connections. An optical audio (TOSLINK) connection would have been preferable as there are a good number of TVs (not monitors) that have this connection for outputting audio to external speakers such as headsets. You’ll need to set the audio to output to multiple sources and mic input to USB on the system side for the Soniq Rush 2.0 amplifier to work.
Soniq Rush 2.0 is the standard Xjacker kit with a mini USB cable and sound amplifier. The cables on this kit are seriously too short for actual use. The longest is the RCA cable and that’s only 6ft long, but it attaches to the amplifier which plugs into a USB port for the mic to work. And the mic adapter is about six inches long. Needless to say, the distance you’ll sit from your display is determined by how long the cable is for your headset.
This is a headset adapter and amplifier combo, so of course the burning question is “how does it sound?” The short answer is LOUD. Here’s the slightly longer answer: Soniq Rush turns a headset into a set of tabletop loudspeakers. This amplifier is loud, and by that I mean, it can get insanely loud. I raised the volume to “4″ (on scale that goes to 11), and the audio quickly became too loud continuous play. Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe I just play my games in a quiet settings, but I found that loudness level unnecessary. The package states that the amplifier can do a 20x gain and I believe it.
There’s a serious lack of bass. This is surprising there are only two knobs on the amplifier and one is a bass control. You can hear the bass increase when turning the knob from “0″ to “2″, but over that I couldn’t hear a difference and what I did hear wasn’t much at all.
I experienced a buzzing sound that I couldn’t seem to shake from the headset during my testing. It grew in intensity as the volume increased. It was similar to the buzzing that you’d hear when using an FM tuner adapter in a car. On the upside, the mic quality, according to friends who I conversed with online, is very good.
Overall, the XJacker and Soniq 2.0 are quality devices, but the execution (specifically the set up, cable length, and weak bass) is lacking. If you don’t have cash for a new and better headset, that this is the next best option. Just be prepared to sit within inches of your display.