A WIRELESS headset for the Xbox One that’s expensive but offers top quality sound
Turtle Beach Stealth 500X
THE Stealth 500X is Turtle Beach’s first wireless headset dedicated for the Xbox One and the flagship model of the veteran firm’s latest range. With 35 years of experience in the field, the company has carved out a respected position as manufacturers of high-end gaming headsets that do not try to pander to audiophiles, instead focusing on delivering the best possible audio experience for consoles and PCs. Its latest model is a fine exemplar of that philosophy, combining comfort with sonic punch and depth.
Setting up the headset is a swift, easy undertaking. The transmitter - which features a series of blue lights denoting power and the likes of surround sound options - can be powered by USB directly from the console unit itself and is already paired to the headphones, which in turn come out of the packaging charged. After hooking up the USB and digital optical cables between the transmitter and the Xbox One, all that is required is to a quick, three-step guide to tinker with a few audio settings on the dashboard so as to get full surround sound. We were up and running with the 500X in less than three minutes, a sign of how intuitive Turtle Beach have made the whole process.
The design is not flash but it makes for a comfortable, fit for purpose headset
The black chassis of the phones with green trim is in keeping with Turtle Beach’s rugged, attitude-heavy approach, and is bold without being brash. The constituent parts are not of the high-end variety expected by connoisseurs who value leather and brushed aluminium over synthetics. However, the fabric and the breathable mesh wrapped around the cups makes for an extremely light and comfortable fit, crucial for those who enjoy lengthy gaming sessions. Simply put, the design and build of the Stealth 500X is not flash, but it is certainly fit for purpose.
In any case, Turtle Beach reserve the top-end technology that matters for the inner workings of the headset. With 50mm speakers featuring neodymium magnets - which maintain power without compromising on weight - the sound is muscular and full bodied, with the maximum volume setting more than accommodating for players who wish to hear bangs, roars and engines at their very loudest. Even at a more conservative level, the earcups do a very good job of filtering out external sound, leaving you free to focus on the on-screen action.
Surround sound brings heightened tactical awareness to multiplayer games
The most welcome feature is the incorporation of 7.1 surround sound, which adds a new depth and layer to the output that is especially advantageous in multiplayer games. Testing the Stealth 500X with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, for instance, brought a heightened tactical awareness to multiplayer team deathmatches, with the headset accurately translating enemies to the side, behind, or even above the player’s character. The atmospheric crowd and sound effects in NHL 15, meanwhile, felt all the more immersive.
With a game up and running and the headphones on, users of the company’s previous models will quickly pick up on the straightforward layout of the on-set controls. The left earcup is home to power, volume and microphone options, while the right is reserved for switching between different equaliser presets. It is a classic arrangement and in the heat of a game multiplayer, the dials and buttons are spaced sufficiently far apart so as to allow for quick, responsive use. It is a shame that Turtle Beach still rely on the player being able to memorise a sequence of low or high beeps to know what setting they are switching to, when an unobtrusive voice could do the job. But after a few days of play, it soon becomes second nature.
Different settings are geared towards TV and music but gaming is its strength
The various settings - for games, music and movies respectively - offer a wide spectrum of variety and is especially useful for those Xbox One users who route their television via the console or use on-board apps such as YouTube and Skype. A quick click to the movie mode and the 500X gives greater emphasis to the mid-range, delivering a performance that would rival any non-gaming wireless home cinema headset in a similar price bracket, The music option is also distinctive, even if it does sacrifice some detail in favour of a bass-dominated output. These are, however, welcome little bonuses. The Stealth 500X is a headset designed for gaming, a role it fulfils with aplomb.