Over the last three months, I’ve exclusively used the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Headset, a piece of audio technology that’s absolutely among the best I’ve ever had. It works with the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360 platforms, though obviously the 3.5mm jack will plug just fine into other outputs. It is a wired headset.
Before we get started, you need to understand that if you’re interested in getting this headset and the extras I think you need to really enjoy it, you’re going to be set back a few bucks. Turtle Beach (and other companies, for that matter) has plenty of mid-to-low-range audio gear aimed at more budget conscious consumers.
Here’s the configuration I used.
- Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Headset – $199.95
- Turtle Beach Elite Pro TAC – $199.95
- Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Noise-Cancelling Microphone – $29.95
You could absolutely live without the TAC, though it adds layers of convenience that I genuinely loved. You’ll want the noise-canceling Microphone, though. To get going, you’ll be spending around $230.
Like I said, this won’t be cheap. However, if you’re really looking to step up your gaming audio with a great headset, the Elite Pro is a great way to go. Even at $230, the Elite Pro is actually one of the cheapest, best headsets in the high-end range. Toss in the TAC (Tactical Audio Controller that’s basically a mini mixing board), and the Elite Pro system stands with other high end devices.
With the price point out of the way, let’s get to the meat of this experience. The Elite Pro was designed to deliver audio clarity without sacrificing comfort. Turtle Beach succeeded.
We’ll start with audio clarity. Without the audio controller, the Elite Pro offers full sound that’s rich and concise. You’ll get plenty of bass without really sacrificing much in the higher range. The mids tend to be drowned out a touch, but it’s never so bad that you won’t hear aural cues in games or moments in music.
The sound comes in stereo with just the headphones, so you won’t get that surround goodness that you might expect from the $200 price point.
The listening quality is good at the baseline. It’s not great, but it will satisfy. If you want to drive the experience up, you’ll want the Tactical Audio Controller.
The TAC offers 7.1 surround, audio settings that include Turtle Beach’s Super Human Hearing feature that makes detecting enemies in combat much easier, an accessible and wonderful feeling volume nob and four surround modes with four presets each.
And that’s where I’ll hit my first complaint. The TAC is great, but it offers four separate surround modes. You cycle through them with a button press, though they aren’t labelled. One is meant for music, the other is meant for movies, then there’s standard sound and finally games. You’ll need to memorize which buttons and presets do what, and with four presets for four modes, Turtle Beach is asking users to either tape the preset guide to their PC or remember too much info.
I’m ready to let that slide, however, once we turn our attention to what the TAC offers in terms of voice chat. Yes, finer listening control is great, but the TAC is a necessity if you game competitively and rely on vocal functions. The TAC offers its own background noise limiter that sits on a slider and lets users easily tweak their input to let in less background noise. You can quickly boost your mic, adjust the level of chat audio vs. game audio and even tweak your own mic monitor levels, something I greatly appreciate.
If you game on a team at events, multiple TACs can be linked with Ethernet cable, completely eliminating chat lag between competitors. This is a seriously niche feature, clearly, but it demonstrates Turtle Beach’s commitment to appealing to the eSports scene. You can even use a dedicated jack in the back of the TAC to specifically send out your mic’s audio for streaming instead of going through other software.
What about your voice? I recommended the noise cancelling mic to all users, and I’ll stand by that. The mic the Elite Pro comes with is extremely sensitive and definitely not meant for gaming in a crowded space. When you’re home by yourself, sure, you can get away with a mic that picks up a bunch of noise. In a tournament scene, next to a noisy PC or in a loud home, the noise cancelling mic is a necessity. It’ll run you $30, but it’s worth it.
The game I’ve played most with the Elite Pro is, without a doubt, Overwatch. That title is voice heavy, especially when playing in Competitive or with friends. Everyone I played with reported outstanding audio clarity from me, and most noted that my microphone sounded best in groups. Through my own local recording and testing, the microphone worked well. I wouldn’t put it on a par with other hardware that I use specifically for audio production or the microphones I’ve used in concert set ups or recording (I had another job once, but that’s a different story), but it’s great for the gaming setting.
Finally? Comfort. Over the ear headsets might produce the best when it comes to audio quality, but company’s perhaps don’t dedicate enough design attention to the actual comfort of their headphones. Turtle Beach did.
On the negative side, and maybe my only issue here, the Elite Pro is heavy. It weighs more than a pound, and that’s noticeable over long gaming sessions. It compensates for this by offering other features that are rare in the industry.
First, folks with glasses will love what Turtle Beach did with the cups on the Elite Pro. Over the ear headsets often pinch glasses making it so that gamers with less than 20/20 vision have to take more breaks as their glasses are squeezed against their heads. The cups on the Elite Pro headset have these practically indescribable notches that let frames rest inside the foam of the cups rather than squeezed against the user’s head.
The frame itself features sliders on the right and left side that adjust the tension of the headset, too, making it so you can control how much squeeze you feel when the device is on your head. I found myself fooling with these sliders a lot until, aside from the weight, the headsets became practically unnoticeable for me.
I used these things at least five days a week for more than 8 hours a day as I work and play on the same PC. I had no issues with sweating (in this blazing hot summer) or headaches, and I’ve never been able to report that.
The Elite Pro is a great headset. If you want the full experience, you’ll need to drop $430. That sounds like a lot. It is a lot. It is, however, pretty comparable with what other company’s offer. The Elite Pro, though, is just about the most comfortable for long play sessions that I’ve ever used.
If you’re looking for a serious dip into gaming headsets and have the scratch, give this system a go.