When CNET reviewed Turtle Beach's Ear Force HPA headphones in 2005, we found that they produced a very convincing surround sound effect, thanks to the presence of four drivers in each ear cup--effectively mimicking the front, rear, center, and subwoofer channels of a 5.1 surround system. But there was a big catch: the PC-only headphones required a tangle of wires--including an AC power adapter--in order to connect to the necessary outputs on a computer's soundcard.
Now, Turtle Beach has gone back to the drawing board and delivered a more streamlined version of the headphones. The Ear Force AK-R8 connects to PCs with a single USB cable that handles audio and power requirements in one fell swoop. An inline module known as the Audio Advantage SRM (which the company also sells separately) handles all of the surround processing, and the headset also includes a removable boom microphone. The AK-R8 headphones are compatible with PCs running Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. They're available now for $150--which could be considered rather pricey, if not for the fact that PC gamers are used to paying upward of $400 for a new video card.