Turtle Beach are one of the leading names in the gaming audio market. They’ve got one of the most recognisable brand names in gaming and they’ve built themselves a great reputation for providing gamers with a wide range of headsets that cover virtually all budgets and formats. The headset I have at my disposal today is targeted at the mid-market, with a very reasonable price tag of around £79.99. This isn’t so expensive that it’s into the premium grade, but still more than enough money that you’re going to be expecting a great range of features and solid performance.
The Z60 is designed to work with PC, as well as mobile platforms and comes equipped with a great range of features that should provide us with some impressive audio, or at least I’m hoping it does! The Z60 is the first headset on PC to utilize 7.1 channel DTS Headphone:X Surround Sound and it pushes this new virtual surround technology through a pair of powerful 60mm drivers.
The Z60 comes equipped with a detachable boom microphone, a USB controller with built-in soundcard for plug-and-play compatibility with desktop PC/MAC and a hard wired 3.5mm cable on the headset for plug-and-play mobile use.
The USB in-line controller is really nicely designed. Not only is this the DTS Headphone soundcard, but it features all the controls you could ever need in a compact unit. The game and chat audio are on separate control dials and there’s a dedicated microphone must switch on the side.
One of the cooler features, which I’m really looking forward to testing, would be the mode switch, which allows you to tailor the surround mix for different kinds of media, such as movies, music and gaming.
The microphone is fully detachable and has an adjustable boom to help you find the optimal speaking position. I really like detachable microphones as it’s not often I need one and it bugs me when it’s in front of your face and not being used.
The headset itself has a sleek and somewhat understated look. There’s a nice mixture of soft matte finish plastics and some glossy back covers on each of the drivers.
The headset is trimmed with a little bit of red detailing to help keep it looking a little bit interesting. There’s a thick foam padding on each ear cup and a very comfortable feeling fabric coating that will be very welcome during those long gaming sessions.
The headband is thick and durable to help keep the headset in place, but it’s also very light weight so that it doesn’t become bothersome during extended use.
The interior of each ear cup is big enough that the headset will fit over-the-ear. Combine this with the thick padding and the closed back design and you should find it very easy to get lost in the game world and block out virtually all external noise.
The side extenders lock firmly at each position and there’s a good range to each side; perfect for a wide range of head sizes.
Each ear cup can be rotated to lay flat, which is a lot more comfortable when you’re wearing the headset around your neck between games.
Overall, a very nice looking headset that avoids much of the garish flair we often see on gaming headsets. It feels durable, lightweight and initial impressions are that it’s very comfortable.
The Turtle Beach EarForce Z60 is designed to be a gaming headset and I’ve decided that is the best place to start. I put them through their paces on Borderlands 2, Skyrim, Star Conflict, Battlefield 4 and for something a little different, Sim City (2013).
I hooked the headset up via USB, making good use of the built-in USB soundcard and its surround sound capabilities. On the default settings, I found the sound quality to have a nice warm tone to it, plenty of bass and a lot of clarity. This was great for shooting games, as the sound effects sounded powerful, the dialogue was nice and clear and there was plenty of detail in the sound overall. The surround sound modes are interesting, as they do offer a much wider soundscape and you can hear a very clear directional sound that’s great for first person games. However, I feel that the sound quality drops a little with these modes enabled and it’s not as crisp as it is in stereo mode. It’s really down to personal preference, but I prefer the stereo performance of the Z60.
The detachable microphone is nothing fancy, but it’s easily adjusted and the in-game chat audio is nice and clear; although it always is on every Turtle Beach headset that I’ve ever tested.
Music performance on this headset didn’t really excite me, at least not with the USB sound card enabled. The maximum volume I could get out of the headset in USB mode was 88dBa and this dropped off another 2dBa with virtual surround modes enabled (even on native surround tracks). Switching to the 3.5mm cable made a big difference, as I was able to get 97dBa out of the headset and get the full power of the drivers. I’m not saying that I want to deafen myself, but the extra power is great for when your source material isn’t especially loud. The sound quality is a little less refined, but you still get a lot of punch to the sound that’s great for watching movies or listening to music; when it comes to gaming, you’ll want the USB sound card.
The Turtle Beach Earforce Z60 isn’t cheap at £79.99 from most major retailers on Google Shopping, but it is on par with similar specification headset from a few big rivals. It marks about £20 above headsets from Turtle Beach (such as the Recon 320), but adds a few new features and if you desire more dynamic surround sound from your headset, it can be worth the extra investment.
This is a really nice headset, albeit one that isn’t perfect. Headsets can be a very subjective product, one persons needs may not be the same as the next persons and for myself, I typically listen to more music through headphones than I do gaming, so I personally wouldn’t invest in this headset. However, if you play a lot of games, be that single player or competitive multiplayer, you’ll find a lot to love about the Z60.
The in-game chat audio is really nice, it’s bright and clear and voice have a nice natural tone to them that certainly reaps benefits to online gaming. There’s a separate volume controller for both game audio as well as game chat, giving you absolute control over what’s more important on the battlefield.
The surround sound modes do work very well, but I still think the stereo mode offers better acoustic performance. If you want that extra bit of quality and power, stick with the surround mode off. If you want to hear enemy footsteps coming up behind you, at the cost of a little sound quality, at least you have the option to do so.
Build quality is very good. The headset feels durable and I have no doubt that it’ll survive a few hard knocks and bumps with no issues; good news for those who plan on travelling to LAN events with the headset chucked in their backpack. The cables and microphone are fully detachable too, which again helps prevent them from becoming damaged in transit.
The Z60 is a little tight on the head, but it’s designed to wear into the user. It gets more comfortable after extended use and after a couple of days using it myself, I now forget I’m even wearing it.
- Durable build quality
- Detachable cables and microphone
- Mobile and desktop use
- Built-in surround processing
- Nice gamer friendly aesthetics
- In-line controller with separate chat/game volume controls
- 9dBa difference in max volume between 3.5mm and USB connections
- It is a little expensive, but it’s about on par with offerings from rival brands
“A great headset for those who play a lot of games, with great chat performance and a durable design overall. Gamers will love it, but those want to focus on movie and music playback may want to look elsewhere; such as the Turtle Beach Recon 320.”
Thank you Turtle Beach for providing us with this sample.