For some time now Turtle Beach has been really pushing the gaming audio market forward. Their headsets for the current generation of consoles (PS4/Xbox One) were some of the first to hit the market after launch and really demonstrated how to deliver quality audio for those gamers. Of course, PC gamers have seen some great headsets over years from them too, but none like the bundle we are testing today (which happens to be console compatible too). A modular set, the Turtle Beach Elite Pro range offers a headset, alternate mic, control pod and console parts. We’ll be looking at a bunch of them today, welcome to our Turtle Beach Elite Pro Review.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro Review – Packaging and Bundle
For this review, we were sent three of the Elite Pro range, the headset, audio controller and tournament mic. All share similar styling as far as the box art goes and Turtle Beach have really thought about the unboxing process. the mic box sleeve, for example, has a tear off strip which then allows it to fold open, revealing the product quick start guide. The larger products have nice little notes alerting you to where the extras are buried away.
As for those extras. With the headset we get a 3.5mm connector (single) cable with mute/volume pod part way down and a mic with flexible boom. The tournament mic arrives with an alternate cable ending in two 3.5mm connectors. With the Audio Controller we receive an optical cable, USB cable to connect to our system and another for firmware updates.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro Review – The Headset and Tournament Mic
The Elite Pro is an over ear, closed cup headset and Turtle Beach go with an orange and black colour scheme on this model which weighs 1.1Kg. The branding is quite discrete and although it looks like there is a mic extending from one cup, that is actually the connector where we insert the wire for our system, Audio Controller or mobile device.
Turtle beach has built in a wide range of flexibility with the Elite Pro. As is normal for a headset, it extends on each side to add around an inch of length. The ear cups swivel to a flat position and then we have something new on top. As well as a padded band which works through a suspension method there are two sliding metal bars on the top of the headset. Each allows us to adjust the tension on the headset.
Moving down to the earcups we find a significant amount of gel infused memory foam which is wrapped in leather at the sides and lined by spandex on the area which makes contact with our head. These padded sections can be removed and feature a moveable channel which gives some extra comfort to those who wear glasses by allowing the legs to sit within that gap. Then inside the earcups, we have 50mm drivers with a frequency response of 12Hz to 22KHz.
As we noted earlier in the review the Elite pro arrives with a mic but there is a second version available, something which Turtle Beach class as Tournament level. The tournament version is shown above and it clicks into the left ear cup with the ability to swivel up out of the way when we need it while also offering a wide range of flexibility.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro Review – Audio Controller
The third item in today’s article is the Audio Controller and it offers a wide range of functionality. On the front edge, we have our audio connectors for the headset/controller. Then up on top is a mic mute button beside the volume dial which has LEDs around the edge to indicate the current level. Four sliders are next and they, from left to right, offer game/chat balance, noise limiter strength, mic boost and mic monitor level. A LED lit Turtle Beach logo sits in the centre at the top and to the left a preset button (4 settings) with surround button on the right (four settings). The main profiles are Game, Movie, Music using DTS Headphone X with the fourth setting DTS off. Then within each section, we get profiles like Footstep Focus, Action, Acoustic, and Bass+Treble boost. A Turtle Beach signature sound profile is present for Gaming, Movie, and music with the Off profile getting “natural sound” instead.
The base of the Audio Controller has four rubber feet to keep it steady on our desk. Then round at the back, we find more connectivity, lots of it. The connections are Aux in, stream out, USB (to our system), USB (for firmware updates), optical out, optical in and two network ports which allow multiple Elite Pro users to set up a local chat network. A switch is also present allowing us to switch between PC/MAC, XBOX one/360 and PS4.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro Review – Software
Although the Elite Pro Audio Controller will work without a driver/panel we can download and install the Ear Force Audio Hub. That lets us manage the profiles on the audio controller and when available, update the firmware.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro Review – Conclusion
Starting with the build quality of the headset we have a product which feels like it is built to a high standard. For example, there is some nice chunky metal used for the headband arms, the ear pads are finished with high-quality material and each of the main cables is chunky with each connector offering a nice solid fit.
As far as design goes, overall it is quite minimalist and we like that. The use of orange could have been a bit over the top but Turtle Beach have kept it to a minimum and in the end, it just adds a touch of interest to an otherwise plain finish. The tension sliders on the headband really don’t feel like they do much, there is a slightly different feel at each end of the scale but not to the extent two inches of movement on each side would suggest. On the plus side glasses wearers will no doubt find the glasses relief feature a real win. We like that the main cable and mic are removable which should mean we can replace them over time should any issue arise with no need to replace the whole headset.
Moving on to the extras, we have two components which are also impressive. Starting with the mic, it offers plenty of movement and just the right amount of resistance. It can be pushed up out of the way very easily and does look quite chunky and cool. The Audio Controller is the main area of interest, though. It is a nice solid box, some soft touch coating would take it to another level as it could be accused of being a touch plasticky, though it looks decent. The controls are all very easy to use and placed in a way that means we are unlikely to hit the wrong one. Having said that, maybe a different shape/texture on each of the sliders and buttons would have made control easier without looking away from the screen. We also found the LEDs a little odd. The mic mute and volume are fine, as are the preset and surround buttons. The sliders each have LEDs, also fine but for some reason, Turtle Beach have chosen to illuminate their logo but not the descriptions above each slider stating what function is activated. In good light, and over time, we’ll learn this but it doesn’t make things easy in the first few days as you need to look away from the game to try and remember which of the two centre sliders was noise limitation and which was mic boost.
As far as audio quality and day to day use goes, for the most part, it was a very positive experience. The worst we could say is that in some use cases the noise cancellation on the mic was too sensitive so when high up on the slider it was actually fading out our voice. Not just the background noise. Easily fixed, though, just move the slider back a bit. It would have been nice to have some sort of LCD on the audio controller to say what profile was active as trying to remember what each combination of eight LEDs is assigned to is near impossible.
All of this is pretty minor though and becomes even less of an issue when making use of the headset for gaming or media. The Elite Pro is a very comfortable headset to use. The fit on the side of the head is good, just the right amount of pressure. The weight on the headband ok, maybe leaning a bit towards heavy but it never became uncomfortable. You just become aware that you have a chunky headset on.
There is a noticeable change in quality between the standard and tournament mic which makes the latter worth a purchase for those not ready to move to a stand-alone model. We assume the standard mic is offered to keep those with an existing mic happy that they haven’t had to pay more for something which won’t be used. That’s fine. When gathering feedback from those listening to our voice on the Elite Pro (with tournament mic) they noted that our audio was nice and crisp, decent clarity with minimal background noise. That said, they were of the opinion that a stand alone mic was better. No surprise there, but an admirable showing from Turtle Beach.
Gaming audio was a real highlight on the Elite Pro. When using the DTS/Gaming mix there was a noticeable difference between each of the four profiles, each offering a unique attribute that will help in competitive gaming. Such as the ability to highlight enemy footsteps. Movies too benefitted from the DTS-based profiles. Plenty of boost where needed, nice clear voices from the actors. Where the virtual 7.1 didn’t really enhance the experience was in music. We found that across the profiles the sound wasn’t great for music, some had too little base, others lost the vocals in the mix, there was too much echo elsewhere and the midrange was really loose in others, lacking any snap or punch. The good news is that this is completely resolved by turning the DTS off and going with the natural profile. Bass and Treble Boost was also a decent option, down to taste really but overall in stereo mode the Elite Pro was a very capable headset for music playback.
Summary: At $200 for the headset, $129 for the controller and $30 for the tournament mic the Elite Pro is a significant investment for any gamer. That said it is built well and offers loads of functionality across multiple platforms which adds value. When we also take into account that it excels in its main task of gaming audio and has the added bonus of impressing in movies and music too, it is easily worthy of our Gold Award.