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Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS2 Dolby Surround Sound Processor

0% Positive Reviews
Rated #38 in Sound Cards

Posted

Pros: Easy to connect, multiple surround speaker angles

Cons: Poor equalizer, poor volume control

Disclaimer: Many of the problems I note with the DSS2 can also be attributed to the lossy compression of Dolby Digital. However, since the DSS2 is intended to be used as a surround sound processor, I feel it would be disingenuous to review it as a simple headphone amplifier. I believe that most people looking to buy the DSS2 are looking at it to provide Dolby Headphone, and therefore will be trying to run a Dolby Digital signal to the device.

 

Let's be clear, the Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS2 was made to solve a very specific problem: How do we add Dolby Headphone to a console? For that, it actually does a decent job with its six-position configurable speaker angles and ability to run all of the game audio to the processor with a single TOSLINK cable. I'm sure many high-level console gamers will be pleased to gain Dolby Headphone surround sound and an advantage over their competitors.

 

What it was clearly not designed for was running PC audio, listening to music, or watching movies. PC users' relative lack of interest in S/PDIF means that Dolby Digital support on PC S/PDIF connections is a complete crapshoot. For the majority of sound cards, no matter that it's onboard or discrete, The DSS2 has no choice but to upsample a 2-channel stream lacking any directional cues. Just in case you own an ASUS Xonar DGX like myself, let me save you the effort and tell you right up front that it doesn't support Dolby Digital. The Intel chipset onboard your work computer's Dell motherboard does, though.

 

Once the sound is on the DSS2 you had better not touch the equalizer button unless you want a great example of what overdriven, blown out, terrible audio sounds like. The presets (your only equalizer options) are so absurdly heavy-handed that they would actually be better off removing the feature entirely. The DSS2's poor UX starts to manifest itself here, as you have to wait until the full cycle of LEDs plays out before you can switch modes again. Not that you'll be switching often or even should, but the fact that you can't quickly compare EQ modes was a poor decision on Turtle Beach's end.

 

As you try to adjust the volume, the first thing you'll notice is that the knob has very pronounced detents. The second thing you'll notice is that the volume control is completely digital. The third thing you'll notice is that there is a hard volume floor. To its credit, I couldn't find out if the DSS2 had a volume ceiling, but to its discredit, it can easily get loud enough to damage your hearing or headphones. This is a very poor design for a volume control, which I often want to turn down to "ambient" levels and rarely want to turn up to "headbanging" levels.

 

Finally, the sound signature itself has two very distracting crystallized and reverberating effects. For electronic music and game sounds this isn't as noticeable, but it completely destroys the warmth of vocals and the fullness of an orchestra. I would go so far as to specifically recommend against using the DSS2 when watching movies or listening to most music.

 

I can't help but feel like the DSS2 would be a far better device if it were actually designed for one purpose. If Turtle Beach said "make a great console device to add Dolby Headphone", they could have added a belt clip to the back and a USB-rechargable battery for use at tournaments. If they had said "make a great external PC headphone amp", they could have replaced the TOSLINK, analog, and AUX jacks with four 3.5mm inputs and added some ballast to hold itself on your desk. The problem is that they apparently said "we want to sell to both", and made a poor compromise.

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Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS2 Dolby Surround Sound Processor
Description:

The DSS2 will transform your stereo headset or headphones into Dolby surround sound, immersing you in your favorite video games, movies and music with a stunning 3D audio environment. Dolby Digital technology allows you to pinpoint the direction of every sound, enhancing enemy footsteps and amplifying bone-rattling explosions with amazing 360-degree audio. Adjustable surround sound angles and multiple EQ presets let you enhance subtle sound cues and customize the audio for any gaming situation. The DSS2 also includes an auxiliary input so can listen to your favorite music while gaming in Dolby surround sound. Gain a competitive edge with the DSS2 and experience audio like never before!

Details:
DetailValue
BindingAccessory
BrandTurtle Beach
EAN0731855022007
FeatureDolby Surround Sound - Immersive 360 degree audio lets you pinpoint the direction of every sound Equalizer (EQ) Presets - Multiple EQ presets including bass, treble and midrange boost combinations Adjustable Surround Sound Angles - Alter the positioning of the surround sound angles to customize your audio experience Digital Optical Connection - Delivers the highest quality of digital surround sound Auxiliary and Analog Inputs - Connect a digital music player or other secondary audio source Adjustable Surround Sound Angles - Alter the positioning of the surround sound angles for the best audio experience Auxiliary and Analog Inputs - Connect a digital music player and listen to your favorite songs while gaming Equalizer [EQ] Presets - Multiple EQ presets including bass, treble and midrange boost combinations
LabelTurtle Beach
ManufacturerTurtle Beach
ModelTBS-2200-01
MPNTBS-2200-01
PublisherTurtle Beach
StudioTurtle Beach
TitleTurtle Beach Ear Force DSS2 Dolby Surround Sound Processor
UPC731855022007
SKUDHEARFORCEDSS2
PlatformWindows Vista Windows 7 Mac OS X PlayStation 3 Xbox 360
CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElementDHEARFORCEDSS2 TBS-2200-01
IsAutographed0
IsMemorabilia0
Item Height1.75 inches
Item Length7.25 inches
Item Weight0.59 pounds
Item Width6.75 inches
Package Height1.6 inches
Package Length7.4 inches
Package Weight0.6 pounds
Package Width7.1 inches
PackageQuantity1
PartNumberTBS-2200-01
ProductGroupVideo Games
ProductTypeNameVIDEO_GAME_ACCESSORIES
UPCList - UPCListElement731855022007
NumberOfItems1
OperatingSystemXbox 360
ReleaseDate2012-01-17
HardwarePlatformXbox 360;63043006306200
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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