NOX Audio Specialist Headset Review

NOX Specialist

In its first foray into the consumer headset arena, Nox Audio has done an excellent job at producing an affordable, yet highly functional, versatile, and satisfying piece of equipment in its Specialist headset. For personal audio, voice recording, phone calls, and of course gaming, this little package does a great job without breaking the bank. It doesn’t perform in the upper echelon of precision surround sound headsets, but at a base price of $80, one would be hard pressed to find its pound-for-pound, dollar-for-dollar equivalent.

First off, the Specialist features a sleek, attractive design, colored black and silver with the option of black, green, blue, or red accents to fit your personal tastes. Compared to other gaming headsets, the Specialist is smaller and far less cumbersome than average, although the benefits of its modest size and fold-up design do call into question the headset’s durability. When folding and unfolding the Specialist, the strength of the build, especially at the hinges feels somewhat delicate. That said, I’ve experienced no actual damage after tossing the headset around the room between uses.

NOX Specialist

Going hand in hand with the Specialist’s lightweight design is its wonderful level of comfort and wearability. The memory foam pads surrounding the headset’s speakers do not engulf the ears, but rest relatively gently against them. The material is also very breathable, which means gamers and other listeners will be able to don the Specialist for longer periods of time without having their heads overheat. The same combination of materials can also be found on the adjustable over-the-head band for added comfort.

On the headset itself, one will find a microphone mute switch, as well as a cleverly implemented knob for volume control on the right ear and one for adjusting a retractable, flexible boom microphone coiled into the left earpiece. The latter is an especially appealing feature, considering the wide range of applications the Specialist can be used for that do not call for voice input. With the Specialist, eating a bowl of cereal while playing an offline game is no longer a concern for starving gamers, and thanks to the Wolverine-like retracto-mic, it’s not that big of a deal between trash-talking sessions, either.

Out of the box, the Specialist comes equipped for PC, cell phone, and standard listening use, with a detachable 3.5mm audio cable for convenient portability and a separate splitter to adapt the cable to fit both speaker and mic jacks on a PC. In order to use the headset (properly) for home game consoles, the Negotiator accessory is a necessary $60 (purchased separately) or $20 (as part of the $100 Ultimate Gaming Bundle) purchase. This means that for $100, you have a headset that works for just about everything, and exists in a small enough form factor to actually be usable across the board. The included zippered case that houses the Specialist makes this all the more viable.

NOX Specialist

The Negotiator comes equipped to interface with either the PS3 or Xbox 360 via the consoles’ optical out ports. The final string of cables/adapters is admittedly a bit complex, and I question the necessity of the negotiator box itself (which attaches to the game system’s controller) between the optical cable/USB dongle combo and the Specialist headset cable. I spent much of my time with the Negotiator completely detached from the controller, anyway, for tangle-free simplicity, and the Negotiator knob used to balance game and voice audio still functioned properly in that configuration.

Which brings us, finally, to sound quality. The Specialist does not stand up to a full 7.1 or 5.1 surround sound system for gaming, which is the soundscape I am used to, but nobody is (or SHOULD be) asking it to. For stereo headphones, positional audio is present and fairly separated, although not to the same degree as top-tier audio solutions. I would have liked to hear clearer distinctions for depth and direction, but again, this is a stereo headset. Details from throughout the sound field are crisp and notable, and the overall experience is still very good — easily a huge step up from simple stereo speaker setups. For voice chat, the Specialist is excellent, producing good sound quality from both ends, clearly and to whatever level the user desires, thanks to the aforementioned negotiator mixer knob.

NOX Specialist Negotiator

For general use, the headset is solid, although while the bass end and the highs of audio sources are transmitted well, the mids are somewhat weak. This makes sense for gaming, as those are the more important areas for that medium, but for music, some fidelity feels lost. Recording quality is excellent through the Specialist’s microphone in computer applications such as Audacity, Acid Pro, YouTube’s web upload, and Skype. For cell phone calls, I couldn’t ask for better quality, but perhaps wearing these to take calls in public settings would be a bit silly.

The Specialist’s total package is excellent. There are certainly a few knocks against it across the board, but the headset’s overall performance, especially from its $100 Ultimate Gaming Bundle, is incredibly formidable in the entry-level headset arena. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, this comfortable, multi-purpose solution is hard to beat.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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