Polk, a company with 40 years of experience in the audio business, showed off their latest in gaming headsets at PAX Prime 2014. They had an attention-grabbing set-up for playing Forza and nice display of their headsets in their various available colors. Specifically, PAX-goers got to try out the soon-to-be-released Striker Zx and the now-available 4 Shot Xbox One Gaming headsets. Despite trying out the headset in an environment as noisy as PAX can be, we were certainly intrigued with the feel and sound of the 4 Shot. So intrigued in fact, that we were lucky to score a set of our own for a proper in-depth review! After three weeks of use with the 4 Shot, we’re now ready to get down to business!
Build, Look and Feel
Available in Black and Nova Blue, the 4 Shot is simple yet pleasing to the eye. If I had to describe it, I’d say it had a utilitarian look that still says “fun”. While the ear cups and their connecting hinge are of plastic, the arms holding the ear cups and the headband are of metal. The leather padding on the ear cups and on the spring steel headband is soft, plush and comfortable. The ear cups themselves rotate which does well to slide the 4 Shot comfortably in place in one quick motion. The headset is *very* comfortable and keeps a secure (but not too tight) hold on your head. That secure hold kept any angst to a minimum when using the headset as a mobile travel companion, even in New York City.
In your hands, the 4 Shot gives you a sense of sturdiness and solidity, despite its light weight. With the dawn of Destiny, it was easy to immerse in a 6 hour non-stop session to gauge the fatigue level after long term use. Fatigue was non–existent, despite my wearing of glasses. The plush ear cups had just the right amount of give, avoiding that annoying pinch gamers can get with over-ear headsets. (That’s a plus for you Gunnar users out there.) The cushion sort of wrapped around my glasses while maintaining a proper sound seal.
The 4 Shot comes fully packaged with an Xbox One Stereo Adapter, a swappable threaded cable with an in-line boom mic for use with said adapter, and a second swappable cable for use with mobile devices -complete with an in-line music/phone call controller. The boom mic on Xbox gaming cable is bendable, allowing for a large range of possible mic placements. When you use the mobile cable with the 4 Shot, the mic that is used for phone calls is actually a nifty spring loaded piece that hides discreetly in the left ear cup.
Sound and Performance
Here’s where Polk’s audio experience and the Polk Optimized Electro-acoustic Tuning (POET) definitely shined through. In basic overall sound presentation, sound is vibrant and vivid, sporting a strong and non-muddy bass. This bass enriched gun-fire and explosions quite well. Mid-range comes across beautifully, solidifying the 4 Shot as mobile music companion as spoken word is nice and clear. Overall, the 40 mm drivers project sound that is as balanced and immersive as Polk’s POET system promises. Whether it be for mobile or gaming, the 4 Shot delivers in the sound department.
If you’ve read some of my headphone reviews, you’d know that I always give points to swappable cables. Cables are the most prone to damage and being able to swap them increases the longevity of your purchase. On the Xbox One cable, I appreciate that the cable is threaded which protects against cable catching or snagging. I just wished that the mobile cable was also threaded since cable snag possibilities are much higher on the go than when you’re flailing your arms in anger on your couch. Both the spring loaded ear cup mic and the gaming boom mic picked up my voice perfectly in both chatting scenarios. Obviously, less effort in speech volume control was needed with the gaming boom mic as you can always move the mic as close to your face as needed. I just had to put a negligible amount of extra effort when using the mobile mic given its location relative to one’s mouth. Not to mention with all mobile mics, you always have to compete with your surroundings.
The Polk 4 Shot is small and light enough for comfortable listening on the go. It has a very solid build while being flexible enough to accommodate users of any head type. The rotating ear cups play a significant part there. The mics perform quite well making chat a comfortable experience. Last but certainly not least, the sound performance in and out of game makes the 4 Shot a headset you’d actually want to take with you everywhere. For a complete package like this, I found the price point of $129.95 to be a gift for gaming and music enthusiasts. Other Xbox One headset makers definitely have a competitor to look out for with the Polk 4 Shot. In the market for a generously priced Xbone headset that delivers? Be sure to look into the 4 Shot here.
† Review unit provided by Polk. Two main product images obtained from 4 Shot product page.