I’ve used the F540 pretty extensively over the last few weeks, including some epic sessions in Realm of the Mad God. During this time I tried to focus on the following key points, sound/mic quality, range, and comfort.
Rating: Very Good
The F540 wireless headset has 40mm laser-tuned drivers. Putting the fancy terms and marketing aside, at the end of the day almost everyone will enjoy the sound of the F540. The upper end of the sound spectrum is definitely missing from the F540, but it is also missing from the majority of audio products. The F540 provides a great listening experience over all types of audio, and to me that’s what’s most important. It didn’t matter if I listened to rap, rock, electro, dubstep, classical, or smooth jazz, the F540 was always consistent. Voice communication on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, also worked well. Although I do want to point out that since the F540 is better than the standard Xbox 360 headset, you tend to hear more compression artifacts. This isn’t a fault of the F540, just a byproduct of the audio compression used on the Xbox.
I really like the design of the mic. You can easily mute the mic by pushing it up or by pressing the button on the side of the left ear-cup. Also, when the mic is muted, an easily visible red LED is illuminated, so you always know if you have it muted or not. Although there are a few drawbacks to the F540’s mic.
The first you’ll notice is sidetone. If you are unfamiliar with the term, sidetone is when you can hear yourself talk through the headphones. According to this thread on the Logitech forums (http://forums.logitech.com/t5/Headphones-Headsets-Microphones/F540-problems-PS3/td-p/526209), Charles B of the Logitech Product Team stated that sidetone was an intended design decision. Charles goes onto say that he has a tendency to yell without sidetone. While I agree with this, everyone may not want it. It sure annoyed the heck out of me the first few days. I wish there was a way to turn it on or off, or simply control the volume of the sidetone. Oddly enough, sidetone is only present on the PlayStation 3 and PC. When you plug in the Xbox 360 2.5mm cable, the majority of sidetone is eliminated. But now you have a cable dangling from your left ear like an earring. Not to mention, when the Xbox 360 2.5mm cable is plugged in, the voice audio volume wheel only controls the input from the Xbox 360 port. So using this trick to eliminate sidetone is useless if you want to control game and voice audio separately.
When you think all of the obvious stuff is out of the way, you’ll stumble upon your friends saying, “whoa, what’s that beep?”. At first you think they’re hearing things, but you soon realize the beep they hear is the same beep you hear when you mute your headphones. For some reason, the F540 broadcasts the ‘mute beep’ to everyone. While it could be a nice gesture to notify others when your mic is muted, it would be nice if this could be avoided.
Sound quality of the mic is ok. It produces clear sound, but it can sound a bit muddy, especially compared to the Sennheiser PC350 headset I reviewed last year. Here’s a couple of audio clips demonstrating the mic quality of each headset. Also the aforementioned ‘mute beep’ can be heard in the F540 audio clip.
Rating: Very Good
You can travel about 35 – 40 feet (maybe further if there aren’t many walls), before you start to get audio drops. The F540 goes about as far as any wireless router I’ve tested. I feel that a wireless headset doesn’t need to have the same range as a wireless router, so it was surprising to experience the F540’s wide range. While testing the range, I noticed that the volume controls on the headset don’t directly control the speakers in the headset. That might be a bit confusing so here’s a scenario to better explain it.
I set the headphones to a more than average level, let’s say 6 out of 10. As I wandered around and started to lose signal, I tried to lower the volume because the digital jitter was annoying. However, as I was lowering the volume, I continued to walk further away. When I returned within the appropriate range, the headset was just as loud as it was when I lost signal. That seemed a bit strange, so I wobbled back and forth on the range/out of range line. I quickly realized that whenever I change the volume, it relays it to the wireless base which then appropriately adjusts its output.
Rating: Very Good
It was only after epic 5+ hours Realm of the Mad God sessions when I would start to notice discomfort. Most of the discomfort was from the cushion under the top of the headset. I never had any issues with the ear-cups. Also, the headset is pretty light, so weight was a non-issue.
Extra Notes & Observations
In order for the F540 to work with the Xbox 360, you need to connect the supplied 2.5mm audio cable from the Xbox controller to the F540 headset. There are a few people that complain about this. I don’t see it as an issue. The wire never gets in the way with the stock Xbox headset, and the same goes for the F540. Also, Microsoft requires companies to license the Xbox’s wireless technology in order to connect to the console. If Logitech were to have opted for a direct wireless connection to the Xbox, the MSRP of the F540 would’ve surely increased to cover licensing fees. This isn’t fair to PlayStation 3 and PC users who would have had to pay the same price but may not even use it with the Xbox.
Charging the headset takes 3 – 4 hours and a bit longer if you’re using it while it’s charging. If you plan on using the headset a lot while it’s charging, you may want to get a couple USB extension cables. The supplied charge cable is only about 6 feet, which is nowhere near long enough unless you sit 3 feet from your TV.
If the battery is dying, you’ll hear a beep every few minutes. The ‘dying beep’ is the same beep you hear when the microphone is muted. It isn’t difficult to distinguish the dying battery beep from the mic mute beep, but other people can hear the dying beep just as they could the mic mute beep. Ignoring all of the beep issues, you will get around the advertised 10 hours of use per full charge.
The volume wheels click when rolled so you can tell how much they’re being turned. I like the volume wheels but the noise they create is amplified when you’re wearing the headset. Although, unlike the beeps, turning of the volume wheels cannot be heard by others.
Powering the headset on and off is simple, but I appreciate Logitech’s implementation. To turn the headset on, you just have to touch the power button. To turn the headset off, you have to hold down the power button for a few seconds. This ensures you won’t accidently turn off the headset. Also, the input button is slightly raised while the power button is slightly inset, making it super easy to distinguish the two without having to look.