At E3, we got to see Turtle Beach’s latest product lineup – and we were left impressed with how it all looked. But, as with everything, the important part is how did it all sound? Well, we got our hands on the Elite Pro range to find out!
ELITE PRO HEADSET
First up, we have the Elite Pro Tournament Gaming Headset. Turtle Beach’s new flagship headset, and designed for tournament play, the Elite Pro. Designed in conjunction with premiere ESports team Optic Gaming, it’s designed to be a beast when it comes to competitive multiplayer, and by and large, it succeeds.
First up, it’s comfortable. A headset of this size has the potential to be quite bulky, and have your ears getting drenched in sweat after a mammoth gaming session, as well as feel quite bulky around your head. Thankfully, neither of these are a concern thanks to not only a really impressive cooling gel in the earcups, but also a unique adjustment method that alters how tightly the ‘phones grip your dome. It’s a neat touch that is really welcome. After a lengthy evening of Rainbow Six Siege, I still felt like I’d just sat down, with no real physical fatigue at all. For those of you who wear glasses, like myself, there’s a much-welcomed feature on the Elite Pro headset. Slide off the earcup, and you’ll see a little tab. Pull down on that, and you’ll see a little channel appear on the padding of the cup, which will allow the arm of your specs to sit inside without putting too much pressure on them. It’s a small feature for some, but for others it’s a huge bonus, as I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt my frames pushing harder into the side of my head throughout the course of a long game.
Audio fatigue, however, will be subjective. These cans have some big old drivers on them (50mm to be precise), and are designed to pack one hell of a punch when it comes to the lower end. Fortunately, as with the Turtle Beach sets I’ve tried in the past, there is rarely a hint of distortion, even if pushed until the point of being uncomfortably loud, and even if there is, it only comes with the loudest of explosions, at which point you’re probably going to be reaching for the volume controls anyway! The sound quality of the Elite Pro is pretty impressive, with as full a range being catered for as you’d expect from a headset aiming at this price point. The highs are nice and crisp without feeling tinny, the bass is suitably weighty, and the mid-range has a nice natural feel to it without sounding too artificial.
The headset comes bundled with a detachable mic, which I’ve got no complaints with at all. It does a sterling job and I didn’t have any complaints during the sessions I played with it in. However, if you want to go for the full Elite Pro experience, you’re going to want to try…
ELITE PRO TOURNAMENT NOISE CANCELLING MIC
Sold as a £30 add-on, the tournament mic is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a microphone with an additional mic in the front for an impressive level of noise cancellation. I tested it out with my TV on in the background at close range, and whilst it didn’t result in complete silence, It was certainly much more impressive than the bundled mic, and picked up my voice really clearly as well.
In the box is an alternate cable to use with the Tournament mic, which has a separate audio out and mic in plug, to allow for it to be used in tandem with the Elite Pro TAC (more on that shortly). It’s a surprisingly decent quality mic for the money, and I can imagine it being really handy in busy esports/tournament environments.
In the interest of transparency, the first tournament mic I was sent had a bit of an issue with it. It was very crackly, and at one point it seemingly stopped working altogether. I had a replacement dispatched very quickly, however, and it was back up and running in no time.
Wrapping up Turtle Beach’s Elite Pro package is their answer to the Astro MixAmp…
ELITE PRO TAC
The Elite Pro TAC very snugly fills a void that Turtle Beach’s products have been missing for a while now. Astro’s MixAmp has been leading the field for quite some time in terms of small, easy to use mixers, and TB’s answer to it is legitimately impressive. Essentially, the Elite Pro TAC is a small box that sits between your console and your headset, and allows for a massive amount of fine tuning, both in how the game sounds and how you interact with everything around you.
Appropriately decked out with a whole heap of LEDS, the TAC provides you with four faders and a whacking great rotary control at the bottom of the unit. The faders control your mic monitor level (to allow you to hear your own voice), the balance between the game’s audio and your chat audio, the level of a noise gate (designed to further cut out any background noise that may be being picked up) and a level to boost your outgoing mic signal. It’s really intuitive, and allows for a very quick on-the-fly level of audio customisation that I’ve not seen in a peripheral before.
The two buttons up on the top of the unit provide a set of virtual surround options, as well as audio tweaks for each of those within. When combined with the Elite Pro Headset, it’s a legitimately impressive, if not slightly overwhelming, experience. You can tell that the tweaks that are being made to the audio are there to give you a competitive edge in multiplayer titles, and during my testing time with Rainbow Six Siege and Black Ops 3, I found there were a number of times I was hearing things that I simply can’t with the headset on its own. It uses a clever mix of Equalisation and Compression techniques that really enhance all of the right sounds that you’d be expecting in the competitive arena. I will say that although you can use any headset with the TAC, it’s recommended to use the Elite Pro headset, as I found the virtual surround to be a little jarring with other headsets, particularly my go-to set in the Audio Technica ADG1X. You can disable the surround options if you want to use a different set though, and still have all of the other flexibility on offer.
If you’re in an esports team, or just want to get some friends involved for a competition, the TAC does a brilliant job of being able to link together. Simply throw an Ethernet cable into the back of it and you can link multiple TACs together, each with their own settings.
From my point of view, the TAC is useful for another function as well. I do a lot of game capture for the YouTube channel, and a lot of the time, it’s meant that I’ve been unable to use my headphones whilst playing on the PS4, because the PS4 audio cannot be routed to both the controller’s 3.5mm output and the HDMI/Optical output. It’s been a royal pain, but thanks to the TAC, I can now do this. The TAC has opened up a new workflow for my gameplay videos, and it even has an auxiliary output at the back which allows for the audio to be piped directly into any capture software I want to use! Not only is this great for recording, but anyone who wants to get into the streaming game and have a bunch of audio options at their fingertips can’t really go too far wrong with this if they’re willing to put their hands in their pocket, as to me, it more than justifies the £150 price tag.
With the exception of the initial issues I had with the Tournament Mic, I’ve been hugely impressed with Turtle Beach’s latest lineup. The Elite Pro headset is surprisingly comfortable for a bigger headset, and sounds fantastic, even for prolonged use. The addition of a glasses-friendly channel into the cushioning is something that I sincerely hope other manufacturers take on board, as it’s a boon to those who are fed up of having their ears in pain due to them being squeezed into their frames! In terms of day to day gaming, I can’t say I’ll be using it over the more natural sounding, open backed ADG1X headset, but when it comes to multiplayer FPS sessions, I’ll be slapping the Elite Pro onto my head at the first opportunity. The Tournament Mic is a nice addition, but honestly it’s a nice-to-have rather than an essential. If you’re that serious about your gaming and are looking to spend a lot on audio kit anyway, then by all means pick it up. For home use though, the built in mic will probably suffice. Then we have the TAC. The TAC is the single most impressive audio peripheral I think I’ve had the pleasure of using. A wealth of input and output customisation options provide an unprecedented level of control over your setup, and the streaming output is a small but much welcomed feature that will assist anyone looking to record or stream their footage.