Review: Polk Striker Pro P1 Headset

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Product: Polk Striker Pro P1 Headset
Release Date: September 24, 2015
Manufacturer: Polk Audio
Original MSRP: $129.99
This product was provided by the manufacturer for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 445 of the podcast.

2015 has been a pretty crazy year for us in terms of headphone reviews, but being able to get so many on our heads gives some great insight for comparison, and that’s paying off heartily when it comes to a surprise like the Striker Pro P1’s from Polk Audio.

I’ve never tried any headphones from Polk in the past when it came to gaming, but I’ve been a fan of the company for quite a while. My main home theater (I have one in my office and one in the living room) is a full 7.1 setup, all built with Polk Audio drivers of different shapes and sizes.

I’ve always been a “casual audiophile” and although I don’t get too incredibly picky about minute details, my main home theater setup is pretty over-the-top when compared the average household. Heck, I still have my Laserdisc player hooked-up and still use it on a regular basis. So when Polk wanted to set an appointment up at E3 to check out their new gaming headphones, I leaped at the opportunity.

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The thing is, E3 is a double-edged sword when it comes to a good first impression for headphones. Things like wireless interference because of so many devices in a close proximity can be jarring, but it’s a great chance to hear how well they isolate noise out of the equation. Both of these conditions applied when I first put these on my head.

Since these are intended to be plugged into the controller, it quickly became clear that there were a myriad of DualShock 4’s in the vicinity. The result was dodgy connectivity which made the headphones cut in-and-out pretty consistently.

This isn’t the fault of the headphones though, so instead I focused on the design and comfort, both of which I really liked at first blush. I decided to hold judgement until I could truly run them through my standard battery of tests.

… The build quality is superb …
Included in the box, besides the headphones themselves, are a boom microphone, a small box that plugs into the DualShock 4 (we’ll cover that in a minute), and three separate cables for your different needs.

One cable is pretty long and intended for use with your mobile device, with a standard 3.5mm male plug on either end and an inline microphone. The next breaks one end out to both a headphone and microphone jack for PC use. The third is shorter than the rest, and is intended to be connected to the box that I mentioned above.

The box is actually a microphone attenuator made specifically for the DualShock 4’s input, and it helps immensely with those that may have a louder than normal voice. I’m sure that you’ve been in a party chat when someone gets really loud, and their microphone just blows-out. This device takes care of that issue, and it also includes an inline volume control for the headphones as well.

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You don’t have to use it, but if you do your voice will probably sound much better to your friends. You can also use these with an Xbox One controller if you have the adapter or newer controller that includes the input jack.

The build quality is superb from top to bottom, but at the same time these headphones are incredibly light. The earcups are connected to hinges (made from what I believe to be Tungsten, but I’m totally guessing) so they can lay flat on your shoulders when you take them off. The crossbar is wrapped in what they describe as “leatherette”, and whatever it is, it feels great on top of your head.

The earcups themselves are solid all around, with ample cushioning that surrounds your ears (these go over your ears, they don’t rest on them) with comfort and no seams to irritate you after prolonged sessions. The tension on my head never felt too strong, and quite frankly, these are my favorites for 2015 in that respect.

… exceeded any expectation that I’ve had …
The earcups never wobbled off my ears, but at the same time I never felt compelled to pull them off to “depressurize” as I do with many other headphones. To compare as best I can, they feel like a smaller build such as the Astro Gaming A30/A38, but I’ve always been more of a fan of headphones that surround my ear instead of sitting on top of them.

The most important feature though is the quality of the audio that they produce. My favorites for quite a while, and the headphones I use all of the time as my “Gold-Standard” for comparison, are both the V-Moda M100’s and the Logitech G633’s, both of which I use on a regular basis in many situations.

For this comparison though, I focused on the Polk vs V-Moda aspects since they’re both models that plug into the DualShock 4 (among other things). If you look into my backpack at any time, you’ll find the V-Moda Crossfade M-100’s. I take them with me everywhere because they travel well and the quality is tough to beat.

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As I mentioned in the review for them, that quality comes at a price. Even out of the box, they’re pretty fantastic, but the MSRP currently is $249. Above that though, I’ve upgraded to the Boom Microphone and to the more oversized earcups, which tacked another $50 onto them, even though both are worth the price in my opinion. That boom mic especially is fantastic and really tough to outperform.

To be blunt, the Polk Striker Pro P1 headphones have exceeded any expectation that I’ve had, and all at a price of $129. The lightweight and simple design is brilliant and deeply comfortable, and the included cables and microphone give you numerous ways to use these depending on whatever situation comes your way.

The inline microphone included on two of the cables works better than expected and handles differences in volume better than most others that I’ve used. The boom microphone is only slightly edged-out in overall quality by V-Moda’s, but it also doesn’t cost $30 extra.

… easy and enjoyable with no hassles …
The mute button is easy to access as it’s on the bottom of where the microphone is plugged into the headphones under the right earcup. It’s also mechanical, which takes away the guessing game of whether it’s actually muted or not. Since these aren’t powered, having a red LED to indicate that really isn’t an option.

The fact that the boom microphone doesn’t move much takes getting used to though. It’s flexible, but you can’t move it directly in front of your mouth, but when you hear the result, you’ll quickly realize that the brains at Polk Audio know what they’re doing.

Unlike some other headphones in this category (including the V-Moda’s) it’s quite clear that these are made for gaming first and can then be used for other purposes if you choose. You can easily swap the cable out for another that suits your needs more, and the microphone can quickly be removed if you don’t need it. So using these for a full day at work to listen to music is easy and enjoyable with no hassles.

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But what about the actual audio? I keep going back-and-forth between these and the M-100’s, and quite frankly, the Striker Pro P1’s produce audio just as good as the V-Moda’s. Surprisingly, I’d even say that they produce better separation between the different ends of the audio spectrum, with no discernible loss of clarity in the highs or lows.

The only difference when connected to the DualShock 4 for me is that it always seems like I can’t get the Striker Pro P1’s to get quite as loud as the M-100’s, but even then the difference is negligible. Also, again, I just love that I have a dial right on the cable to raise and lower the volume which, with many others, you have to control by interrupting your game to go to the audio sub-menu on the PS4.

… can’t find a better value or bang-for-your-buck …
Even though the overall size of the earcups is a bit smaller than some of the other headphones that I’ve used lately, the Striker Pro P1 headphones have no problem filling them with audio all around. The movement when connected to the DualShock 4 (they send a Virtual 7.1 signal to the headphones) is fantastic. I had no problem hearing footsteps in Star Wars Battlefront, even with that iconic soundtrack attempting to distract me with every note.

Conclusion:
To say that these headphones were the biggest surprise of the year for me is putting it mildly. I’d put them in my backpack if I didn’t want to assure that they’re always close to my PS4. I now use these exclusively on my PS4 (and with my Vita) whenever I need to use headphones, and I still can’t come up with a complaint.

We’ve had a few other reviews this year for headphones that plug into the DualShock 4 with prices that range from $70 all the way past $300. But at $129, you can’t find a better value or bang-for-your-buck than the Polk Striker P1 Headphones.

Score:
9.5

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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