Turtle Beach Titanfall Ear Force Atlas Headset Review
(Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360 and mobile)
A few months ago Kaeyi took a look at the Turtle Beach PX4 in video form. She found that the headset was an exceptional product for PS4 users… Maybe even the best around. Today we take a look at the other side of the console divide with the Xbox One (and 360/PC) focused Ear Force Atlas which is a Titanfall branded unit.
Packaging and Bundle
Given the game tie in the packaging style for this product is pretty obvious, some game related art but Turtle Beach get a nice big image of the product shown on the front too, which is ideal. Around the box we get plenty of info on the headset and then opening the lid of the box we find product documentation (plus a sticker) and then the Xbox One audio adapter and mic which plugs into the headset. There is also an important note to update our Xbox One audio adapter to the latest software in order to maximise compatibility with headsets. (This is performed via the bundled USB cable)
The top section of the internal packaging then lifts of to reveal the headset and additional items. These allow us to connect our headset to the Xbox 360/our TV and also includes our USB powered in-line amp/control device. More on that shortly…
Turtle Beach have based their styling on the Titanfall universe however there is more than a little bit of Star Wars about it too… intentional or not. The majority of the construction is plastic and as expected our headband features a foam/padded area to ensure comfort. This is a part closed, over ear headset and can be connected to mobile devices (or any audio source really) via the 3meter cable and 3.5mm audio connector which also plugs into our control pod.
The ear cups on the Ear Force Atlas are hinged to change angle vertically as well as horizontally to fold flat and each side extends by around an inch to accommodate larger heads. The ear cups have foam surrounds, as is normal, and Turtle beach cover these in a soft fabric. Inside the cups are decals and those cover 50mm neodymium drivers. These are 20Hz-20KHz parts with SPL of 120dB at 1KHz and total harmonic distortion of 1%. It is also worth noting that the removable condenser mic, which has a very flexible arm, plugs into the left ear cup and has response of 1000Hz -10 kHz.
Looking specifically at the In-line amplifier, it has two dials, one for volume and one to control game voice level. There is a button (and status LED) for mic mute and a port for the 360 chat cable. Essentially matching the functionality of the Xbox One adapter. As mentioned this connects via USB but also has a stereo cable pass through. So for PC gamers we plug the USB and stereo cable into our system then plug the headset into the pod to maximise functionality (including bass boost), or we can just plug the headset direct into the 3.5mm port, for example if out and about on our laptop trying to minimise clutter.
Interestingly Turtle Beach specify that for games, movies and the like we should select our 3.5mm output for audio. And for Skype etc we should point at the USB device.
User Experience and Conclusion
Starting with the build quality of the Ear Force Atlas there is no getting away from the fact that there is a lot of plastic used here. Where some manufacturers might use metal for the outside of the cups, or maybe the extension parts Turtle Beach have gone with plastic… the good news is that this is a very sturdy, thick plastic which really does feel like it will take a lot of punishment without issue. There is also a decent range of movement in each area (especially the mic) and all of the parts fit together well, the connectors having a solid clunk when inserted. Aesthetic wise, the branding is probably a bit too extreme for many to wear out and about but for those who need more plain styling Turtle Beach offer the XO Seven and XO Four.
In terms of comfort, the Ear Force Atlas feel light when worn for long periods of time and the cups really clamp the headset in place. That is great, however it does have one down side that inside the cups it can get a little warm even with the advertised breathable design.
Before we talk about performance it is worth mentioning that this headset retails for around £115/$140 with the two audio adapters, all cables and 1-year warranty. We would like the warranty to be 2-years or so ideally however the value offered by the hardware items is excellent. The Ear Force Atlas allows us to connect our headset to pretty much any device as well as including an amp for the above price which really adds value.
So, how does it sound? Well let’s get the slight downside out of the way first. Music. Like many headsets which are tuned for gaming the Ear Force Atlas isn’t great for music. It is by no means bad, there is plenty of clarity and volume but the overall sound is a little flat for our tastes. That said, when we plug it into a game (or movie) the headset comes alive. It excels with loud action sequences and offers great detail in the quieter moments. Being able to tweak our audio levels allows us to tailor the sound to our needs quickly and easily those we played with (and chatted to on Skype) were very impressed by the mic quality too. In fact the Atlas has one of the best headset mics we have tested to date.
Overall a nicely designed, well-built headset which offers excellent functionality and class leading audio quality.