For more than a year, I put up with the crappy headset that came with my PlayStation 4. It was the gaming headset equivalent of those terrible $5 Gumy earbuds you see hanging by the dozen in Walmart. Sometimes, I couldn’t hear my friends at all, and my microphone cut out so many times I lost count. Eventually, the tiny plastic fiend died. As annoying as that was, the broken headset forced me to realize how much I hated playing with it.
I’ve used a few other headsets since, but the Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 600 Wireless Surround Gaming Headset impressed me more than most. At $100, this set is cheaper than many top headsets, but has a leg up on many of them. Often, “wireless” console headsets still require you to plug them into a controller, but not here. This is a completely wireless over-ear headset—you’re sans cables until it comes time to charge the battery.
The Stealth 600s sound sensational and feel fantastic, but it takes a lot more alliteration to describe how freeing it is to just turn on a headset and go. If you’ve never ducked out for snacks between Overwatch matches while remaining completely connected, you’re missing out. A good frolic to the fridge is worth its weight in loot boxes.
Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 600
Fully wireless, comfortable, clear sound. Surround sound and other modes are fun to try. Battery life is outstanding at around 15 hours. Great for players who wear glasses. Xbox One version is dongle-free.
Installing firmware updates takes some effort. Superhuman Hearing mode won’t give you the noticeable edge it promises. Fabric on cups is comfortable, but leather still feels cushier.
These cans are highly adjustable and should fit most heads comfortably, thanks to some extra plush foam padding on the top. Instead of a leathery covering on the earcups and padding, Turtle Beach used a mesh fabric—almost a kind of microfiber cloth. It doesn’t feel as luscious as leather and is a tad scratchy, but it does a nice job dissipating heat and sweat from your ears. For those who wear glasses, the padding in the middle of the ear cups is softer, putting less pressure on your frames as you game.
The left earcup is where the action happens. On its side, you can flip out the microphone, which automatically turns on/off as you snap it into position on the side of your mouth. Pull it up, and it mutes you. I’ve enjoyed this style of muting a lot more than the tiny, confusing toggles on many corded headsets—once you’ve used a microphone like this, it’s hard to go back. On the back of the left earcup, two wheels adjust main volume and chat above a large power button that sits below a mode selector. The mode button lets you access specialized audio profiles, including surround sound and a special “Superhuman Hearing” mode that’s supposed to let you you hear things like the leaves rustling behind you, offering a tactical advantage. It definitely gave me superhuman hearing, and by that I mean everything was a lot louder. I’m not sure any of the modes saved my bacon in games like Fortnite, but it was still fun playing around with boosting the bass, treble, and vocals.
Thankfully, sound quality is crisp and clear even if you don’t tweak the settings. I’ve become such a fan of the convenience and sound, I began listening to Spotify on my PS4 more, even donning the headset to watch shows on Hulu and Netflix. My wife probably loves it because she had to hear less Shark Tank and Monday Night Raw this week.
In-game, everyone I’ve played with says my voice comes in clearly through the mic—no issues there—and the headset hasn’t yet cut out on me. It did take me some time to get used to hearing my own voice, though. It’s nice that the Stealth 600 lets you hear yourself, preventing you from talking unnaturally loudly during tense matches, but it’s puzzling why the headset sends me different sound than my friends hear. As someone with allergies, it was distracting to hear myself loudly sniffling and clearing my throat. Perhaps they were being nice, but others in my chats assured me that they did not hear me sniffle. After a few hours I got accustomed to it.
There are a few differences between the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the Stealth 600. When switching modes, the PS4 version has a voice that tells you what you’re switching to, but the Xbox version uses tones. Also, due to limitations with the console, the PS4 requires you to plug a USB dongle into the your console. The Xbox One version has no dongle—just an extra button on the left earcup that lets you sync it via the Xbox’s built-in wireless protocol.
Have I mentioned the battery life? Turtle Beach says the Stealth 600 can reach 15 hours on a single charge. It was hard to nail down my exact battery life because it’s so difficult to wear it down. Bottom line—unless your full-time job is gaming, you’ll only need to charge this headset (via micro USB) once a week, at most. I’ve binged hours and hours of Netflix, listened to multiple albums on Spotify, played nearly 10 hours of games, and haven’t had to charge it yet.
At $100, the Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 600 is one of the best wireless headsets you can own on PS4 or Xbox One at a price that’s easy to stomach. If you’re used to gaming with wires, it’s time to unchain yourself. The refrigerator beckons…
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