The Polk Audio Striker ZX is a fantastic headset. Even as I write this review I’m currently listening to music on my laptop. Polk Audio has been around the block with regards to speakers and audio devices, and the Striker ZX is music to my ears. Let’s talk about why they’re a bargain for the price.
The Striker ZX is designed specifically for the Xbox One and even includes a custom designed Polk Stereo adapter to plug into the Xbox controller. This gives you control of your in game and chat audio at the touch of a button, and also mute controls too. The headset is very comfortable, and I don’t find myself constantly readjusting the headset because it’s putting too much pressure on the top of my head. It’s got nicely wrapped “ear muff” style speakers that completely cover your ear in a successful attempt to fully immerse you in the sound. While using them on video games they act pretty much like sound canceling headphones at medium level because of how well the earpieces rest over your ears.
In addition to the comfy ear cushions, the headphones themselves adjust to fit over larger heads, but for my purposes fit perfectly over my hat, which I’m generally wearing while gaming. Aside from the extendable headband, the ear muffs also pivot on two axis which makes getting them on and off easier, but also helps to provide that nice “seal” around your ear to really get you into the sound. The sound quality is fantastic. At $89.95 (retailer depending) the sound quality is impressive. While not a direct comparison, I ranked them with a set of Bang & Olufson Earphones, not the same type of headphones but the audio quality between the two is very comparable. The Polk Striker has really good bass response and it doesn’t get distorted like some cheaper headsets I’ve used in the past do. Using the Striker on my iPhone at full volume I heard ambient background instruments in some songs I’d completely missed before on other headphones. The range these have is great, but I can seem some audiophiles complaining that perhaps they could be louder at max volume on non-Xbox One devices. For me, the full volume on my laptop and phone are more than satisfactory and with no distortion whatsoever, the sound remains crisp and clear just the same as when they’re lower. So sound quality is good, let’s move on to the microphone.
I’ve used this microphone on my Xbox One and my PlayStation 4, and no problems were reported. While I find the retractable microphone to be a bit finicky when trying to retract it into the earpiece, people said that the sound quality was good even when the mic was retracted versus fully extended, and it wasn’t even that close to my face. Not that I have a good benchmark for quantifying the microphone, one friend immediately noticed the difference in my audio quality when we jumped into a game together. So that’s points in the microphone category for Polk as well. The fact that it worked as both a headset and microphone on the PS4 as well as the Xbox One only serves to add additional points as the device now has multiple uses for me and probably you too. On the Xbox One, the included Stereo Adapter is great, but with some drawbacks. Rather than two separate audio up/down switches for chat and game audio, it’s a game/chat balance switch and master audio. The game/chat balancer works by increasing the chat and decreasing the game audio, or in the reverse, increases game while reducing chat audio. Then you control the overall volume by using the master volume switch. I personally would rather two independent volume controls for each, rather than having a balancer. What if I want both to be loud? It’s a minor issue, but still worth noting.
The headphones provide quality sound while working on your computer or your phone. I don’t think I’d be comfortable taking these outside of the house, only because they’re not really compact, but by no means clunky either. They’ve got decent weight to them and the construction feels good. I don’t feel like I have to be gentle with them like I do with an entry level headset I am replacing this with. For the price, it’s a very good product in the sub-$100 range with versatility and comfortability. Here’s my breakdown of pros/cons.
- Comfortable over extended use (longest run so far was 7+ hours with minimal adjustment)
- Sound quality is great for gaming, movies/tv, and music
- Versatile: Includes Custom Xbox Stereo Headset Adapter, but also works on many 3.5mm devices
- Available in multiple colors (Black, Orange, Blue)
- – 3.5mm headset cable could be longer. Makes placing the controller down and standing up to reach for a game case problematic. Better off removing headset or holding onto controller
- Game/Chat Balance selector toggle can be confusing, especially with chat loop feature.
- No mic mute button on headset at all, only via Xbox Headset Adapter. Only an issue when using with PS4
For the price (currently $89.95 at the time of the review) this is a great deal. They’re comfortable, the sound quality is great, and even though it’s an Xbox One designed product, they have the ability to work on other devices which helps mitigate the cost factor when you can use them with other stuff. I definitely recommend them.