Most people will know of Polk Audio by their large suite of speakers for the home theater enthusiast, a passion for reference-grade sound and loudspeaker authenticity for over four decades. I knew that general history and philosophy as I visited their E3 booth, but went in a little blind when I put on their latest gaming headsets the Striker Pro (P1/Zx).
As brand director Michael Greco implied, the gaming headset market is fierce and every brand has been cutting out a piece of the pie for themselves. This is a statement I’ve also made more times than I can remember, so Polk had plenty to prove as they applied their revered expertise to scores of gamers out there; especially with tastes that are exceedingly more demanding and wildly varied than traditional audiophiles.
I was given plenty of free time to experience the Pro Zx which currently sits as their flagship headset. This is a universal lightweight design that works with current consoles and PCs — the main draw here is that it’s mostly centered on compatibility with the Xbox One. More Specifically incorporation of both controller revisions with a standard 3.5mm cable or included DSP adapter for the outgoing controller models, all of which are detachable and easily swappable. You also get an omni-directional microphone along with expected levels of comfort and convenience to match.
With gameplay from Battlefield Hardline used as a demo, what’s here is a different approach for acoustics than you might be used to. In general, most headsets are engineered with heavy bass and explosive low-ends to accentuate the action that often happens in modern video games, it’s enveloping in a powerful sort of way but often exaggerated with most background effects bluntly drowned out.
However, with the Striker Pro Zx in conjunction with Polk’s Optimized Electro-Acoustic Tuning (POET) and Dynamic Balance technology, a more traditional profile is produced which brings in a different quality. In that respect, the sensation was far more similar to a classic stereo environment you’d hear in a full-size living room setup.
My time was relatively brief, but Polk is going down a road less-traveled with the Striker Pro Gaming Headset. Sure, the technique won’t be for everybody but the immediate advantages shouldn’t be ignored if you prefer sophistication over brawn in your ears. Either way, we’ll find out if their efforts pay off this September for the Striker Pro lineup and the very limited Hitman Contract Edition.