Customer Reviews: Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS2 Dolby Surround Sound Processor - Xbox 360
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on January 27, 2012
I just purchased this sound processor to go with my COD Foxtrot headset (px21). I was waiting for the DSS to go on sale and this was just released and the DSS mysteriously dissapeared. One question I have that concerns me about this device is the original DSS advertises Dolby 5.1/7.1 surround sound and the NEW DSS2 which is $10 less brand new with the added option of adjusting speaker angles with 6 presets, is why did the Dolby 7.1/5.1 disappear? The old one says it all over, this one just says Dolby. I am wondering if it is a lesser quality of surround sound or why would it not mention anywhere on the new one it has 5.1/7.1 surround? I did some research and could not find an answer, but never having the first one I am sure I will be happy with this. Just a few things I was wondering before purchasing and seeing as the old one is nowhere to be found at a reasonable price, made me think something is fishy. I will update once I get some use after it is shipped to me. I hope this helps a little and feel free to comment if you know something I dont. Thanks
**** UPDATE ****
I spoke with several Turtle Beach employees after being transferred to someone who could answer my questions, he assured me this was an improved model over the first and TB decided to go with a different price point and for licensing reasons they may have excluded putting the DOLBY 5.1/7.1 on the DSS2(even though he did not sound like he knew 100%). From what I gathered it sounds like they dont know. I will update actual product usage after I test it out some. Feel free to comment again and thanks for the info. By the way, Amazon is overcharging $10 more for this at $89.99, go to Turtle Beach direct for $79.99

*********BREAKTHROUGH UPDATE!!!!**********
Well, well, well, I figured out the mystery of the DSS vs. DSS 2. The new Dss2 is not dolby 7.1 or 5.1 it is closer to 4.1. Thats right, after massive research and some calls to Turtle Beach(which got me knowwhere); I have discovered why the old one dissappeared and the new one is lacking the labels of 7.1/5.1 Dolby. Ready for it, drum roll please..... The new DSS2 has adjustable speaker angles as an added option because you only get 4 sound outputs, thats right ONLY 4: front right, rear right, front left, and rear left. If you look at the amazon video from a Turtle Beach representative showcasing the original DSS, it has a diagram of the sound outputs, seven in total which some are front right and left, rear right and left as well as a center and behind. I knew something was fishy and if you look at Turtle Beachs website at the new and IMPROVED?, DSS2 it has specifications and its own sound diagram, displaying only 4 sounds, FR, FL, RR, and RL. The big upgrade is the speaker angles which are preset and you will need to adjust just to get sound in front and back. You can see for yourself at TB website and under Amazon as well for the DSS 1. I feel like I solved this case and I hope i saved someone else the headache. Please comment if you have more to add and like before I will update with actual usage.for DSS
******DSS2 USAGE UPDATE******
The DSS2 is packaged nicely, with a TB sticker, manual, and all the necessary wires. For my PS3, I simply plugged in the digital optical cord supplied from the unit to my console and a usb cord as well which is supplied with the DSS2. Plug in your headphone jack and usb cord into the dss2 and you are pretty much ready to go! There is a setting you have to change in your XMB menu, but it is explained in the manual. First thought was, wow more wires, but that was expected. The 6 speaker angle presets are pretty good. The equalizer presets go from horrible sounding to great, depending on your sound preference. The burning question for most I would think is, is it worth it? Well that is up to you, I wanted the best sound possible for a wired headset and for the most part it is an upgrade from stereo headsets, nothing major, it wont help your kill to death ratio go from 1 to 2, but it is a must have for audiophiles and people that want the best sound they can get from their headsets. If you go through TB they have it coming soon packaged with the p11 headset for $119. The manual does mention 5.1 Dolby and for less money than the original DSS, this is a good buy. If you own the original, I would keep it. Thanks for all the comments and I will include future updates after I have had this a month or two.

*****New Headset with DSS2*****

Well, I decided to return my Foxtrot headset, which paired with the DSS2 was great! I jumped on the TB MW3 BRAVO wireless headset when I saw the price dropped to $93. Gamestop sells this headset for $180 and it is just a stereo headset. I love the fact 1) Its wireless(DSS2 plus a wired headset = lots of wires) 2) Unlike most wireless headsets the Bravo has a rechargeable battery with USB(No Batteries!), however this is not a review of headsets but I just wanted to add the DSS2 takes my Bravo Headset to another level! I now have wireless, Dolby surround, and all for around $160 ($93 for BRAVO headset and $73 with shipping for DSS2). If you want to spend $200 plus you can skip the DSS2 and go for a wireless Dolby headset, but for under that I am extremely satisfied with my set now, and I love the speaker angles the more I use them. Please add comments about your DSS2 experiences, I would love to hear other opinions!
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on June 3, 2012
Alright, I'm new to surround sound through headsets. I have surround sound speakers in a family room (a 5.1 setup with a really nice center speaker and good-sized satellite surround speakers) and it sounds fantastic. But sometimes, you don't want your family or neighbors to hear the noise from gaming. I couldn't justify buying $100+ surround sound headsets as I do have to watch my spending (buy way too many games and other stuff). So I started off with the Turtle Beach X12 headset (fantastic, by the way) which was an excellent deal at the time. However, the X12 headset is only stereo. Which is fine and has excellent sound but it's not surround sound. I could only tell left and right and in a crowded gaming situation, you lose track of where objects are in space.

Another reason why I wanted to upgrade to surround sound is I like to record my gameplay with my Hauppauge HD-PVR. If I set the HD-PVR to record 5.1 optical, I couldn't hear audio through my stereo headset which is RCA stereo. So I was forced to play with the full surround sound speakers of my room which is not convenient when you need to be quiet. So I ended up recording my videos in stereo so I could play with the X12 headset. But with the DSS2, I can do my recordings in 5.1 as well as use my X12 in 5.1 with the DSS2.

At the time, the DSS1 was still around but was a bit pricey. I missed out on some sales for it unfortunately. So I waited for it to come down in price again, but before I could get another sale, the DSS1 was quietly removed from the marketplace and replaced with the DSS2. I heard the DSS1 was superior to the DSS2, but it was a moot point as the DSS1 became harder to find and more expensive while the DSS2 dropped in price. So when the DSS2 was on sale for $49.99, I jumped on it.

Now, I'm not going to comment on the DSS1. Whether it's really better or not is not for me to say as I never got to try them out. These comments are purely for the DSS2, and how I use them with my X12. And so far, I am loving the DSS2 with my TB X12 headset. Setup is pretty simple. The hardest part was setting the the cabling to be tidy so that my Xbox 360 could switch back and forth between the headset and the receiver with true surround speakers in the room without having to unplug cables as constant unplugging and replugging is not good for longevity of the cables.

Now, the X12 has a little box that contains the volume, bass boost, and mic controls. It's advised to turn off the bass boost and use the bass boost on the DSS2 as both devices boosting simultaneously can distort the audio. The next thing was figuring out the right volume level for both the X12 volume knob and the DSS2 volume knob. Do you set the X12 knob to the middle and then dial mostly with the DSS2?

On the DSS2, there is a button to turn the Dolby Digital Surround Sound off and on. When it is turned off, the audio is digital stereo. When it is on, it creates a virtual 5.1 setup. I read comments that state 4.1. I don't know about that. All I know is in multiple places in the manual (both in text and pictures), it shows 5.1. And really, all I care about is having a deep, full sound environment and being able to figure out the positions of the bad guys.

There are buttons for surround sound angles and equalizer presets. Unfortunately, there are no dedicated LEDs to indicate which preset or surround sound angle is currently selected. However, the LEDs that are present will blink in sequence and this tells you what preset is selected (you have to look in the instruction manual). So you're going to have to be very attentive if you need to keep track of what presets for which game or presets between different users of the system.

The game I first used to test out the surround sound was Halo Reach as I got recommendations on its excellent sound separation. At first, I couldn't tell much difference, but the more I played, the more I notice how good the sound separation was from before. We were driving in a warthog and as an animal ran behind the warthog, I could tell it was behind. When some NPC was doing a conversation, I rotated my character around and I could tell the NPC was in front or behind me. I even did a blind test and rotated around and checked if I was really telling if it was in front or behind and I was correct.

In a crazy firefight, sounds are coming from all directions so I couldn't always pinpoint where but the sound was fuller than before I had the DSS2. When the combat was more intimate, I could definitely tell where the enemy was.

The next game I played was Left 4 Dead 2 and the DSS/X12 combination was awesome! I could tell where the boomers, spitters, etc. were coming from! You can't hide from me anymore! Stereo helps out a little in identifying where baddies are but nowhere near as well as the surround sound setup!

Some other games I recommend to test surround sound include the Dead Space series, the Bioshock series, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Modern Warfare 2.

Now, the DSS2 is not perfect. There were a few times I heard some audio crackles/noise. I solved this by moving the USB cord to a different port which led to really clean audio.

Also note that the included optical cable must be the thinnest cable ever made. I swapped it for one of my regular optical cables as someone told me it makes a difference.

For the $50 that I got the DSS2 for, it's amazing and will stay on my 360. It comes completely ready to use as it includes a USB cable and an optical cable. You just plug in your headset and go. This is one of the best budget methods to get a surround sound headset. Around Black Friday, I got the X12's for about $35 and with this $50, I got a darn good setup going. $85 over the course of 8 months versus $100+ upfront is a good deal for a person on a budget. There was some trepidation over the DSS2 due to the negative comments I read, but having tried it myself, I can allay those fears. Sure, the DSS1 may be better (I'll never know) but I'm really enjoying the DSS2 and its sound effects.

And don't forget, the DSS2 is for any stereo headphones/headset so your experience and results may differ depending on the model you have since headphones have different designs. Also, your ears shape and structure differ as well so one person's comments won't necessarily apply to you. You just have to try it for yourself to determine whether it works for you. And luckily for me, it works great! The DSS2 is a fairly good 5 stars with the only complaint being that there are no dedicated LEDs to indicate the chosen preset. If it had dedicated LEDs for presets, it would be a strong 5 stars. This has been one of my best gaming purchases in a long time.

There are some more features of the DSS2 which I haven't really had a chance to try out so I'll update the review appropriately after playing with them. One question I'll briefly cover (but will test out more) is how regular music sounds with the surround settings enabled and so far, the music sounds great.
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on May 28, 2012
I bought the DSS2 in a bundle with the XL1, but I'm using the X12 headphones instead.

I've been using the device for over 2 months and I hardly play without them anymore. I had 2 Tritton products before, but I had to send them back because one was not working properly and the other broke after 2 months.

The DSS2 is a device which is meant to enhance audio sound by simulating surround sound (multiple speakers) in stereo headphones (2 speakers). There is a video called "Turtle Beach Surround Sound Demo" on Youtube and on the Turtle Beach website that explains how simulated surround sound works.
In case of the DSS2 it really works. One can really approximately tell from which direction sound is being emitted.
Now the DX12 headphones already are very good so the DSS2 is not a dramatic improvement, but still the difference is noticeable.

Setting up the system is quite easy. Most of the things which are needed to set it up are in the box.
The audio is being transmitted from the console to the DSS2 via an optical audio cable (older Xbox 360 models require an adapter for that). There are nice, detailed instructions in the manual to help with the setup.
I had to buy an overpriced Amigo II USB adapter so I can use the microphone of my X12 headset while playing on the PS3.

Comparing the DSS2 in combination with a good Turtle Beach headset to the Tritton AX Pro (a true 5.1 headset, it has 4 speakers on each side), the AX Pro has an advantage in finding the direction of a sound, but it has smaller speakers built into the headset offering a weak sound quality.

The DSS2 has a few nice additional features compared to the older DSS device. You can choose the virtual angle of the surround sound speakers, select an equalizer which improve or worsen the sound quality depending on your headphones. It also has an AUX IN (auxiliary input) which I assume it lets you connect your music player and mixes it with the game's sound to be able to listen to your own songs while playing. Unfortunately I haven't been able to test that feature.
There is also a difference in the audio/surround quality between the DSS and the DSS2. The DSS is being marketed as a 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound Processor featuring Dolby Pro Logic IIx. The DSS2 is only a 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound processor. I took the time to ask the Turtle Beach online support what the mystery is behind this. It turns out that the Dolby Surround decoder chip in the DSS was not made by Turtle Beach, having them pay higher licensing fees. The DSS2 has a Dolby Surround decoder chip made by Turtle Beach.
From my tests I cam to the conclusion that the DSS doesn't sound as clear as the DSS2 and the telling the direction of the sound isn't quite as clear. There is also a slight echo with the DSS that sounds like you are in an empty room. It makes music sound better but during gaming I prefer the DSS2.

In my opinion the initial price was way to high for what the device has to offer. The audio surround improvement can be noticed but it is not a dramatic difference. For players who want to hear surround sound without bothering others this is a great alternative.

Here's a list of games and videos which I have used to test the audio:
WipeOut HD (PS3) Audio Test
Halo DVD (Xbox 360) Surround Sound Test
Crysis 2 (Xbox 360)
Tomb Raider Underworld Teaser (orchestral music)
Ghost Recon Future Soldier Teaser (strong bass)
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on June 14, 2012
Used this product with a Razer Chimaera 2.0 headset on both a ps3 and a pc. I tried out the games FFXIII and MVC3 to test the quality of the surround, and not much to say except it works. The quality of the surround sound enables you to pinpoint directions if you have a keen enough hearing, where you can pick up specific audio cues from the environment in FFXIII (birds chirping etc.), but surround is still lacking as compared to the CMSS3D virtual surround from my Titanium HD soundcard.

Sound quality to me, is bad for this product where the sound-stage is congested and audio is lacking of clarity. Perhaps this might be due to the Chimaeras I'm using with the product, but I'm more inclined to believe that this is due to the DSS2 using a low quality DAC. I tested audio quality by bypassing my PC soundcard straight to the DSS2 and there is a pronounced difference compared to audio output straight from the card.

But considering that i got this when it cost 49.99, it's a steal when compared to similar products like the Astro Mixamp or Recon 3D. If you're looking for a virtual surround experience on the cheap, the DSS2 is adequate, but if you mind the quality of your audio and you have an open wallet, spend more for a Mixamp or Recon 3D instead.

*DSS2 tested with equalizer setting on 4 (treble boost) and surround position on 2.
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on October 16, 2012
Using this with the Turtle Beach x32 headset. I mainly play MW3. I loved my x32's and decided to make them a little bit better with the DSS2. I noticed the difference immediately. The setup is a bit confusing at first, especially since I had an adapter for HDMI for my old setup which I don't need anymore. Just the optic cable from the xbox to the DSS2, and the DSS2 to the transmitter. It does need adjusting though! I spent a day playing with different surround sound angles. It seems to me the best for MW3 is treble boost 4 and either surround sound angle 2 or 6, I prefer 2. For me, I can really hear the difference in where action is coming from. Before I could just hear that action was coming from "over there." Now I can know (since I know the maps) that it was coming from that corner, so that must be here, and I win the gunfight having the advantage of not only footsteps and gunshots, but the exact pinpoint location. It's almost as if I can aim with just hearing. For me, the difference is dramatic, after playing around with the different settings that is. Overall, I'm very satisfied with this product, and are a great addition to my headset I already loved. I'd recommend it!
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on April 20, 2013
I think people just don't read instructions because it works flawlessly for me have had it for a month or so now with no problems, took a minute to set up, one thing to mention is you have to go to settings on ps3 and turn surround sound on, also changing presets on both headset and the dss2 helps get better angles and sound quality, tweak it until it sounds great, not sure if this justifies an additional $100 since its the same price as upgrade to surround sound headset.
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on December 31, 2012
While this can't substitute for a full surround sound system, the surround sound effect is great for watching movies late at night without waking up everybody. One thing to note is that if you're using this on a PS3 you have to make sure that you uncheck all the of the DTS audio options in the ps3 menu and leave only the Dolby Digital option checked. This will make sure that you'll be able to hear the audio if you're watching a blu-ray or playing a game that uses a DTS audio track and not a Dolby audio track.
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on September 11, 2014
The virtual surround produced by this thing far exceeds my expectations. If I didn't already have a set of Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, then I would have gone for 'true' surround sound headphones. I mainly use this for movies and games on PS3, and games on PC.

The front channel sounds like it's coming from above, and the rear channel sounds like it's coming from below. If you play isometric games (dimetric projection if you want to get technical) like Diablo and Starcraft, then this will be okay for you. To compensate for when I play FPS games, I tilt the top of my headphones forward so it's not directly sitting on top of my head.

Another thing I would have liked is for the volume to go lower. Because of this, I have to turn down the volume through each game's sound options. This is where I take off a star.

Also, note that this device only supports Dolby Digital through an optical cable.... not DTS nor PCM. I ended up buying a new Soundblaster Z for my PC. I also picked up another optical cable because I didn't want to fumble around behind my PC when switching to the console. I find it easier to swap cables at the DSS2 end. A velcro thing or strap to secure the DSS2 would have been helpful since the headphone cord is coiled, but a couple of strips of tape seems to work okay for now.

Good luck have fun.
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on January 29, 2014
Now I purchase these along with Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset and Amplified Stereo Sound and I have been using them for a bit over a month testing and my test conformed these results......I was very iffy with this protect and like how everyone was saying that the one is better then this, So me buying this was more like a leap of faith. Well I can boldly say that this Product WORKS!!!!! I never owned one before, but after using it I realize what all i have been missing, Using the DSS2 it's like placing speakers around your head, once your turn off your DSS2 you can feel the difference. This DSS2 is Good my KD average now is like less the 10 deaths and kill 27+, one of my highest I had in TDM 38 kills and 9 deaths, now if you don't want to believe its fine but this DSS2 makes a difference, I can clearly hear guys moving, changing weapons and even swapping......Should of gotten this sooner. Setting up and choosing a profile is based on the person ear anatomy but for me I use Preset 1 and ear Preset 2........ I can proudly say that I am please with my purchase.
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on February 18, 2014
Previously I owned the Turtle Beach p11 however within a few months the left driver went out. even though I own a ps3 I bought the x12 because it seems the headphones for PlayStation 3 are really crappy. the x12 are much better then the p11 headphones however I was bummed because I couldn't chat with my friend over Skype.

this is where the DSS2 comes in, first and foremost the digital optical fiber optic cable is much better than using the composite cables. for call of duty the explosions are much crisper and the footsteps are much easier to hear.

if you have the x12 or a similar type of headphones I recommend using setting 6 for surround sound angles and using treble boost because the headphones already have the bass boost. If you do not use treble boost than the noise from gunfire and explosions will drown out footsteps and other small important background noises
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