Turtle Beach is one of those brands that’s close to a household name in gaming circles. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve probably seen a pair at a demo station or written up in a “best headset” list. We were lucky enough to get our hands on their new PC gaming headset, the Turtle Beach Elite Pro. Will it review as well as its console counterparts or has the year between changed the lay of the land? Let’s find out.
- MSRP: $199.99
- Audio Connection: USB For Windows PCs / 3.5mm Jack for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mobile
- Volume Weight: 390g
- Speaker Frequency Response: 12Hz - 22kHz
- Speaker Size: 50mm Nanoclear™ Speakers with Neodymium Magnets
- Microphone: Unidirectional Gaming Microphone
- Headband/Earpad Material: Asahi Spandex, Leather & Cooling Gel-infused Memory Foam
- Ear Cushion: Asahi Spandex, Leather & Cooling Gel-infused Memory Foam
Over the last three months, we’ve tested a lot of gaming headsets, and the Elite Pro stands out as being one of the most premium feeling we’ve used. It’s big and solid with lush, gel-infused padding, and it makes great use of metal to reinforce common breaking points. Even the packaging drives the point home that this is a premium product, adopting the box within a box design with a giant silver ELITE logo on the inner box. Inside that is the feel-good letter telling you how much you should expect from the upper end of Turtle Beach’s line-up like this. I’m not one to laud packaging, but Turtle Beach definitely sends the message loud and clear: this is one high-end gaming headset.
Aesthetically, the Elite Pro is slick, opting for multiple textures and materials in a fingerprint resistant matte black with orange highlights on the hinges and earcups. The earcups also blend a faux leather outer edge with fabric inner face. These headphones are large enough where you probably wouldn’t wear them on the bus to work or school, but it’s great to see Turtle Beach avoid the garishness of other “gaming” headsets. The “pro” in the name really fits the look.
When you first open the box, it’s also not apparent just how well built they are. The usual points of breakage, the headband and where it connects to the earcups, are solid. The headband uses plastic arches reinforced with aluminum branding and joined in the center with another thick aluminum plate. I flexed them out far past where anyone should and they never so much as creaked. The earcups are also joined with metal arms. At this price point, I wish the earcups themselves were also metal, but they feel solid and can surely take some abuse.
It’s also great to see that both the connection cable and microphone are detachable. This removes two other points of failure that would typically send you running out to buy a new headset. It also allows you to swap cables between USB and 3.5mm. With a low impedance of only 32 ohms, virtually anything should be able to drive the Elite’s powerful 50mm drivers. The USB connection gives them a bit more juice, though, which can be important in games when you’re listening for sounds in the distance.
The headrest also features a unique tensioning system. Initially, I mistook this as a way to adjust the size of the headset, but that’s actually covered by the self-adjusting band in the picture above. Instead, tensioners on both sides adjust the amount of clamping pressure, allowing you to fine tune the grip until it’s just right for you. I have a small head, so the lowest setting felt awful close to the highest setting, which was still tighter than most headsets I’ve reviewed, while still being comfortable (more on that in a second). For larger users, though, I could see this making a big difference and possibly even helping with noise isolation.
Before we get into sound, let’s take a second and talk about those Aerofit Ear Cushions. At a solid 1” thick each, they’re lush and made to seal right around your ear with the headset’s natural grippiness. And they do - these headphones are some of the most noise isolating I’ve come across. What makes them special, though, is that their memory foam is gel infused, giving them an extra silkiness when pressed and against your skin. They’re like a pillow, and I mean that literally: my actual pillow is a gel infused memory foam, precisely because it’s cool to the touch. The gel infusion also means they dissipate heat much better than a standard memory foam.
Turtle Beach also gave a massive gift to glasses wearers with this one. Built into the underside of each earcup is a little tab that, when tightened, creates small channels for the arms of your glasses.
All of this is for nothing if the sound doesn’t hold up, and it does. The signature here is warm but has a superb treble crack with gunshots. The low end is powerful and has a nice rumble as tank treads tear past or gas grenades clunk open in Battlefield 1. For music, they’re rich and fun, providing a well-rounded listening experience without any EQ tweaking.
Unlike the console editions of the Elite Pros, the PC version comes ready to deliver full DTS Headphone surround sound without the additional $199 Tactical Audio Controller add-on. Getting it up and running does require a separate driver from Turtle Beach’s support page, so out of the box, they’re stereo only. While surround sound definitely widens the soundstage, it also cuts the body right out from the sound. Here the EQ trickery of DTS undermines the otherwise stellar stereo audio sound and is best avoided if you want the best with these headphones.
Lastly, we come to the microphone. I was impressed by how clear it was and how effectively it cut out background noise and hiss. At the same time, it was a touch quieter than I would like, even when fully boosted. To get the best volume, it has to be positioned just so under your mouth, lest pops and sibilance cut through the windshield. Have a listen:
Overall, I was very impressed with the Turtle Beach Elite Pros. Despite having tried Turtle Beach headphones in stores and at friends’ houses, I never owned a pair for myself. I’d heard cautionary tales or major name gaming headsets being sold on name over quality, and that certainly isn’t the case here. The Elite Pros are well built and have fantastic stereo sound. Surround is less impressive, which is often the case, but it’s a nice option for users who want it. At $199, they aren’t cheap, but swing for the fences in what they deliver. With a few quibbles here and there, I’d say Turtle Beach has scored a hit.
- Excellent build quality and stereo sound
- Superb cushioning throughout
- They actually accommodate glasses wearers
- Nice home-or-tournament aesthetic
- Enabling surround sound cuts the body from the sound
- Mic is a little quiet
The product discussed in this article was provided by public relations for the purposes of review.