Gioteck: TX-1 Throat Mic

There’s only one reason a gamer would have for picking up one of the many throat mics available for the 360, and that’s because they want to pretend they’re in the army. Unless they haven’t got a head on which to rest a regular microphone/headphone set on, but I’ll bet my left buttock these people don’t exist.

Gioteck enter the fray with the TX-1, a sturdy piece of hard plastic that grips tightly round 240 degrees of your neck and offers the one inner earpiece, laughably claiming that it’s an ambidextrous unit because you can flip it round and have the earpiece nestling in either ear. I’m left handed, but I have never in all my years heard of anyone being born left eared. Of course, you could be the sort of unlucky fellow who has lost the hearing in one ear, but the claim that this unit has been designed with that in mind is still laughable – can you even imagine what a throat mic that could only be used by the mono-eared might look like?

But anyway, throat mics primarily appeal to FPS fans since they come wrapped in that military swaddling usually found cradling army babies strapped to the back of muscle-bound marines as they storm the terrorist nursery.

The TX-1 doesn’t have much to distinguish it from the rest of the pack; like many others it runs directly off the controller it is plugged into and doesn’t need any more wires running from your console across the floor, which is why it only picks up voices from other players in-game. This, for me, is one of the major flaws. When I’m playing any multiplayer FPS game, I need to be able to hear where the gunshots and footsteps are coming from. And since I don’t have a wow-inducing surround sound set up in my living room, relying on the TV for valuable information like ‘are those footsteps I can hear getting closer coming from in front or behind?’ is pointless. I need the full, twin headphone, monty.

But if you’re intent on getting a throat mic (those chunky headphones feel like bricks strapped to your head after four hours of running and gunning and bring on the kind of headaches that can get you signed off work for a month), and have only ever experienced the free headset that comes with the console, then the TX-1 is a good place to start.

After a good week of FPS gaming, over a variety of games, I can safely say that the mic picks up everything you say, doesn’t cut out before, during or after speech and doesn’t make you sound like you’ve got a stoma.

Of course, the suggestion is that, like military style throat mics, these cheap gaming ones (the military ones cost in excess of £100) pick up vibrations from your larynx regardless of the volume you are speaking at, and thus cut out all extraneous noise. Now, if you’ve gone to the trouble of buying a proper one, then you can be sure that you will be heard even if you are whispering and playing a game while sat next to a Boeing 747 on take off. However, these gaming ones don’t actually pick up throat vibrations as they essentially contain a microphone inside the neck strap that picks up every sound around it, including, as happened to me, the sounds coming out of the TV.

If you’re whispering, then you might be heard by your team mates, but they’ll hear it as a whisper and not a full bodied voice like you’d expect. This in itself is not a big problem – part of the appeal of the throat mic is the suspension of disbelief it brings to your FPS experience – but you should be aware that these mics are to gaming what the toy gun is to modern warfare.

After a week of use, I quite enjoyed using the TX-1. I’ve been using some Turtle Beach headphones (complete with miles of cable sprawled across my floor) for the past two years, and though they’re great for focusing my attention on the battle around me, they’re heavy and they make me completely oblivious to anything my wife says (now how’s that for a sales pitch!). The TX-1 is, as you’d expect, extremely lightweight and compact. It gave me no headaches, kept me free of m’lady’s wrath (will you turn that bloody thing off and take the damned rubbish out!) and didn’t once trip the cat over with its wires.

However, there are some downsides. First and foremost is the fact that it’s not designed for those with large necks. I never realised I had a large neck until I felt the TX-1’s tight embrace around my throat and there wasn’t one single position on my neck, top middle or bottom, that made it feel any more comfortable to put on. Though this discomfort abated the more I became used to it, it still felt like some 70s fascist school teacher was gripping me round the throat from behind, pushing my face into a maths book and demanding to know why I hadn’t carried over the two and added it to the units column.

Also, because one of my controllers has been so badly abused over the years, the jack socket is flaky. This doesn’t present a problem for my Turtle Beach headset, which has a specially designed jack plug that holds it firmly in the right place; but the TX-1 has a standard jack plug and cuts in and out in that controller continuously.

All told, I can see why many gamers might be interested in a throat mic, and I’d be happy to recommend this unit to them – but if they have a bigger than average neck, a shonky jack socket or a desire to hear the battle raging all around them, they’d be wiser to seek out a more appropriate mic/headphone peripheral.

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Written by Neil

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5 comments

  1. Alex /

    I’ve read it, and thank you for the review. But you missed one of the reasons people might want to use a device like that. I have my Xbox connected to my Stereo-Amplifier and use HiFi-Headphones to play (mostly not to annoy my non-gaming flatmates). So what I need would be a mic that’s not a headset – something like the presented one.

    • Neil /

      A fair point, which prompts me to add that I’ve been using this at times for unconsidered reasons like talking to my wife at the same time as playing yet being able to hear the game I’m playing at the same time – it’s a lot more comfortable than wearing one earphone and leaving the other behind an ear. Strange how people who are neither playing nor watching the game don’t want to hear the same sound effect a thousand times over…

  2. jack /

    I have been looking for headsets you can listen to the game through and still talk to your party through. Are these one of the kind I have been looking for?

  3. @ TS [ Neil ]. So you really want to lose youre left buttock ? 🙂

  4. Major /

    The ambidextrous ability of this appeals to me because I prefer having my headset on the left ear. Ive tried before having on the right and it just doesn’t feel right.

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