Gadget review: Turtle Beach Elite 800X
AMID a welter of new gaming headsets from Turtle Beach in 2015, the Elite 800X is indisputably the best of the bunch. Priced at £249.99, the company’s flagship Xbox One model is aimed at the more discerning owners of Microsoft’s console. While it may look disarmingly similar to more affordable headsets in the Turtle Beach range, the grade A quality of its audio performance sets it apart.
The wireless model’s sound is muscular yet nuanced and capable of doing justice to a wide spectrum of genres. In keeping with Turtle Beach tradition, the emphasis is on the low end of the spectrum; the bass is full and chunky, making on-screen explosions and gunfire in Call of Duty Black Ops III all the more exciting to behold. At the same time, the audio picks out details in the mid-range and treble, ensuring an excellent general balance and a broad spatial range.
Turtle Beach has worked with developers to produce game-specific presets
A bevy of preset options means that you will be able to tinker around with various genre-specific settings and through a partnership with various developers, Turtle Beach also offers more dedicated presets for a variety of titles such as Battlefield and Assassin’s Creed via its Audio Hub, software that acts as a preset manager and firmware updater. Fans of these series will pick up on the subtle differences they introduce to the audio, but for the most part, the default signature sound preset works so well it became our go-to setting during several days of testing.
This great performance is complemented by a flurry of features, such as Superhuman Hearing (ideal for online multiplayer shooters) - noise cancellation, DTS Headphone:X 7.1 (great for listening to movies) and, best of all, Bluetooth functionality, a great addition that means you can use the 800X out and about with the like of an Android handset or iPhone. At home it is just as useful, especially in games where the soundtrack is not essential; during our testing, we played Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 while listening to podcasts and music via an iPad. Given Microsoft has yet to support background audio for the Xbox One, this is an excellent way of getting ahead of the curve.
The materials are not as plush as other models but the headset’s build is satisfyingly solid
The various buttons which control power, Bluetooth connectivity and presets are contained on the outside of both earcups and require only a sensitive touch of the finger to be activated. While this is useful when you are in the midst of the action in-game, it is all too easily to accidentally activate the controls when moving the headset around. It is a small niggle easily rectified by carrying the 800X by the headband, but if you have young children or pets, it is perhaps best to keep it stored out of reach.
The headphone unit itself is in line with Turtle Beach’s established aesthetic blueprint for Xbox One headsets, with a black and green design reflecting Microsoft’s own approach. The use of synthetic leather means that the 800X are not as plush as similarly priced all-purpose headphones and the concealed microphone at times struggles for clarity, but for a dedicated gaming headset, they tick every other box, with memory foam padding ensuring they stand up to lengthy sessions. They may not be the most stylish option but they are hard wearing and comfortable which, to our mind, are more important.
The wireless charging is the standout design element of the 800X
The standout design element is the way you charge the 800X, with a discreet and stylish magnetic base unit allowing the headphones to be pleasingly propped up as part of your home entertainment setup. Connected to the console via USB, the unit delivers around 10 hours of battery use. There may be other models on the market that provide more, but given the process of charging the 800X is so easy, it is an attractive and innovative approach.
The whole package is extremely impressive. It may be expensive and the materials in its construction could never be described as luxurious, but the 800X is more than the sum of its parts, thanks to sheer power and performance. It is a close run call between this and our other favourite wireless gaming headset - the Steelseries H Wireless - but Turtle Beach just shade it.