Bold styling and great audio performance make the Stealth XP-Street one of the best budget headsets on the market
- Manufacturer: Stealth
- Model: XP-Street Edition
- Release date: Out now
- Price: £29.99
- Supported connections: 3.5mm TRRS jack input
- Reviewed on: Xbox One X, Windows PC, Samsung Mobile
- Supplied by: Manufacturer
Budget doesn’t always mean bad
There has been a surge of new headsets at the budget end of the price scale in recent years. Some have been underwhelming, to say the least, but every now and then you find one that ticks all the right boxes. Stealth produces a great range of affordable headsets, and even though the price is low, they clearly take a lot of pride in the presentation and design of their products.
The Stealth XP-Street edition performs well in the areas that matter, and despite a few shortcomings, it offers great performance for the price.
Unboxing and accessories
Many headsets come in fairly plain packaging, especially entry-level products. Stealth, however, has wrapped the XP-Street headset in possibly the most attractive packaging I’ve seen, with bold, vibrant and colourful graphics covering the box.
Bonus points should be awarded, as Stealth products all come with plastic-free packaging, which we’re huge fans of. There are no pointless plastic bags inside either, just a padded cardboard sleeve keeping your headset and the included stand protected.
Design and build
The styling of the Stealth XP-Street is bold, yet still remains tasteful. A pure white colourway is accented by gloss black panels. Black PU leather coats the headband padding, while the earcups share the PU leather, accented with the XP-Street graphics, and they look fantastic.
The design is football-themed, but it’s not in your face and has more of a Rio carnival feel to it. Personally, I love it. Adding bright colours to a headset can make it look garish or tacky, but the XP-Street toe the line perfectly.
Stealth has included a headset stand with the XP-Street, which is very rare even among premium headsets. Sharing the same colourful design as the earcup trim, it looks fantastic on your desk, and it’s a great way to display your headset.
A slight downside I found is that the earcups are manufactured from a single moulded piece of plastic, which means there is no tilt or swivel to the earcups. I’ve used other headsets like this and it’s been very hard to get a decent seal with the earcups, but thankfully the XP-Street have been well-engineered. I had no issues with the fit, and they are remarkably comfortable. Even when wearing glasses, the seal was good and there was very little sound leakage.
The Stealth XP-Street is incredibly light, which makes it easy to wear for long gaming sessions. Super-soft padding on the headband rests lightly on the top of your head, and the thickly padded earcups, although smaller than usual, fit snugly around your ears.
Some lightweight headsets have the tendency to feel flimsy, but I found the XP-Street to be very well put together. There are no creaking panels if you flex the headset, and the headband should be durable enough for even the most heavy-handed of gamers.
A nice touch is that the flexible boom-mic has a twist-lock function. It fits tight without it, but it’s the attention to detail that I appreciate and shows that Stealth takes pride in their products.
The XP-Street is a wired headset, which gives you compatibility with the majority of consoles, PCs and mobile devices out of the box. It has a 3.5mm right-angled TRRS connector which is ideal for mobile devices. The XP-Street doesn’t include a headphone/mic splitter cable, though this is only likely to affect a small number of PC gamers. Wiggling the connector, like what happens when holding your phone to watch a movie, can often introduce crackly static noise, but I had no issues here.
An inline volume control is fitted to the integrated cable, giving you quick access to a mute switch and a volume control dial. I’m not usually a fan of inline controls, but like the headset, it’s very light and it doesn’t annoyingly bang on your chest.
For such an affordable headset, the sound quality is excellent. The Stealth XP-Street has an audio tune that is well suited to competitive gaming. High-frequency audio has remarkable clarity, allowing you to pinpoint sounds like footsteps and gunfire with ease. On games with cinematic scores, the mid to high range can be a little overpowering at the cost of the low end, however this can be compensated for if you have an EQ control on your device.
Bass performance is a little lacking at the very lowest frequencies, with the audible volume diminishing significantly below 50Hz, and failing to produce anything below 30Hz. From 60-200Hz, however, the bass is clean and precise, with no audible reverb. In gameplay, loud bass sounds such as explosions are punchy, but they don’t carry the booming rumble some people prefer.
This is understandable, as the XP-Street have 40mm drivers, in comparison to the larger 50mm drivers that are more prevalent in gaming headsets. That’s not to say they don’t sound good, though. The sound is crisp, clean and punchy, and it’s actually closer in characteristics with the sound you would get from a set of reference headphones.
Surround sound performance, tested using Windows Sonic, DTS Headphone:X and Dolby Atmos virtual surround sound processing was accurate and advantageous. The slightly narrow soundstage means the XP-Street doesn’t have that spaciousness that more expensive headsets have, but in terms of identifying the positioning of sounds, I couldn’t fault them.
The closed-back design helps block out some outside noise, but the noise isolation could be improved. This is in part due to the lightweight design, as the earcup mounts have a slightly hollow feel to them. Unless you are playing in a noisy environment it’s unlikely to pose a huge problem, and for the price, it’s an acceptable trade-off to make.
Where the XP-Street really surprised me, though, was in the microphone quality. Feedback from my friends was that the mic audio was coming through crystal clear, and very loud.
I have young kids that go to bed early, so my other half has trained me to use “inside voice”. I’m usually told I’m talking too quietly with most headsets, and often have to repeat myself, or place the microphone so close to my mouth that I sound like Darth Vader with a chest infection.
With the XP-Street, I didn’t have to raise my voice, and I could position the mic in such a way that I wasn’t in danger of dunking it into whatever beverage I was taking a drink of between rounds. It’s hugely impressive.
Negatives / improvements
The moulded design fits my head perfectly, but as I’ve found with other headsets with fixed earcups, it may not be the case for everyone. I’d have preferred hinged or rotatable earcup forks, but this is based on an assumed issue that probably won’t affect many people.
The headset cable is also quite thin, and it’s difficult to straighten, with the wire retaining a kinked shape for a while after you unravel it. A thicker braided cable would be preferable, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker.
Who is the Stealth XP-Street best suited to?
As a parent, I’ve witnessed first-hand the destructive power of children. If something can be broken, it will be broken. The XP-Street for me is durable enough that I’d gladly hand them over for my kids to use and for just £29.99 they are affordable enough that should the worst come to the worst, they are easily replaceable.
I’ve been using the headset day in, day out for the last week, and they are great for action and competitive gaming. As an all-in-one headset for movie watching, music and gaming, they are ok, but I prefer more bass and a more balanced sound in that scenario. The XP-Street is a gaming headset, of course, and for anyone who wants crystal clear comms and sound, they are a great option.
The Stealth XP-Street is one of the best budget headsets we’ve tested. Bold styling is matched with an audio tune that is well suited to competitive gaming, and the microphone has clarity and volume that is up there with the most expensive headsets on the market. Deep bass performance is a little lacking, but the package on the whole and competitive pricing more than makes up for it.
For £29.99, the XP-Street is easily one of the best headsets in the budget price range, and it’s easy to recommend for anyone who is conscious of wanting value as well as performance. The attractive stand they have included is just the icing on an already delicious cake.