It feels like a no brainer to have a decent headphone and mic these days, but where do you even start? There are a plethora of brands out there offering the latest features, ultimate comfort, clear communication quality and whatever else they can fit over your ears, but which one is the right one?
This has been the question I’ve been toying with over the last few months, trying to round out my setup with the perfect set of headphones. I’ve tried different styles and setups in the past from USB mic and headphone combos to standard console branded headsets – but there’s always been something lacking, whether that’s mic quality, discomfort or time it takes to actually setup and get going.
So here I am on a journey to find the perfect gaming headset for my setup and I’m starting with Turtle Beach’s Stealth 600. Turtle Beach are a reputable brand, favoured by many gamers, streamers and pros alike and who, in my experience, have had some very good sounding headphones in the past. So the 600’s felt like a good place to start being one of Turtle Beach’s entry level headsets.
The 600’s have a super simple setup – plug in the usb transmitter into your PS4 and turn on the headphones. Done. Literally that’s it. They are already paired out of the box, so you will be good to drop with the squad before you even ready up. There has been a couple of times where I’ve turned on my Playstation and the headset and it hasn’t seemed to pair with the transmitter properly, but it’s been a quick “turn off and on” again fix via the headset.
The 600’s have pull down adjustability and a mesh cushioning around each ear as well as across the head rail, all of which give solid comfort around your head. Even after extensive gaming sessions, there was no feeling of sore ears or a sore head as with other headsets I’ve tried in the past and the 90 degree turning ability from the Left and Right ears made it very easy to rest the 600’s across the shoulders when taking a quick break. There is a possibility of the mesh lining to potentially cause some friction marks around the ears due to its texture and as the headset does wriggle a little with excessive head movement. But that is very dependent on how much head thrashing you do whilst gaming.
The first big difference I noticed with the 600’s was the sound quality. Previously I had been rocking a pair of headphones which I still think have pretty decent sound, but these Turtle Beach’s changed my gaming life. TLDR: the 600’s sound took me straight to #1 position on match leaderboards in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Technically the 600’s have 6 different sound presets available:
The 4 EQ presets pretty much do exactly what they are labelled as, no surprises there. Superhuman hearing is a feature a couple people had mentioned to me about the headphones, but I found that if anything it was a fancy name to a gain boost preset. Essentially it’s advertised to “pinpoint quiet audio cues like enemy footsteps and weapon reloads” which absolutely it does, but that’s because it’s your “Turn it to 11!” notch. Where my ears found the most pleasure and the preset that up my gameplay 10x was the virtual surround sound. Instantly I went from thinking I was hearing where enemies were pretty well to absolute god mode and “that person you yell at in a match because there is absolutely no way they could have known you where there” – but here’s the secret, they do know your there because VIRTUAL SURROUND SOUND.
I was blown away by how accurately the sound this entry level headset pumps out could pinpoint enemy movement. Literally game changing!
The mic and communication quality of my setup has always been a high priority, which is probably why Virtual Surround Sound blew me away so much. As I play quite a bit with my fellow Press Start team members, as well as record and make content for the socials, the mic quality has always needed to be clear, but also have a solid balance with gameplay audio. And this is probably where my biggest gripe comes from with this headset.
Firstly, what it does well. The 600’s have a flip to activate microphone, meaning you flip it down to turn on and flip it back up to mute. I found this feature very useful and easy when playing, as in the past I’ve had either a button on the back of an ear, which was often hard to find, or with a USB mic, I would have to jump into the group chat and actually turn my mic level off. It also has two very easy to find and use dials at the back of the left ear – one for overall volume and one for your microphone volume (how much you can hear yourself through your mic). The microphone quality is also nice and clear in comparison to other headsets at the same pricing. I did a little test with my previous headset (similar pricing) and the 600’s – the old headset mic sounds like I’m talking with my head inside a toilet, muffled but weirdly echo-y at the same time; the 600’s mic is crystal clear, still a little echo due to the room I was in, but it actually sounded like I was in a normal room, not down a toilet.
However – and this is a point which had the Press Start team in a hot debate for several hours – where the audio and mic combination of Turtle Beach’s Stealth 600’s let it down is in the fact that there is no seperate dial for voice chat volume. Which means if you have a party chat happening with some very vocal players, you’ll either need to tell them to turn down their mic or just suffer the ear bleeding screams of them dying, winning, taking revenge. The volume dial on the headset dials up or down the overall volume, meaning on playstation as either just chat audio or all audio is sent through headphones, when you turn up the volume you turn up both gameplay and chat volume.
Yes, party chat as a “Non-Party Audio to Party Audio” slider – but come on, that thing really does not do anything. The only thing this headset is missing is just one dial – Gameplay/Chat Balance. Other headsets in its price bracket have this dial or button on them, but Turtle Beach has decided to forgo it on the 600’s. It seems like a weird choice to me to put in a Microphone Volume dial instead of a Gameplay/Chat Balance dial, as how much I can hear myself through the mic is something I can definitely live without over a well balanced chat and gameplay setup. At first I thought I just hadn’t set it up right, but upon trolling the internet it does indeed seem like my worst fears were correct.
Don’t get me wrong, there are work-arounds, like asking your squad mates to turn down their mic, or using in-game chat and features like in Modern Warfare where you can adjust the chat volume parameters. But having this easily accessible on the back of my ear which I am in full control over is just hard not to live without (especially after having a headset which could do this, but lacked in other areas).
Overall, Turtle Beach's Stealth 600 headset is a great choice for anyone looking at getting their first or entry level headset. With great comfortability, easy setup and quality audio it will definitely change the way you play and appreciate your game audio For the average price tag of around $140, I would have liked it to have that little extra Mic Feature, but I get Turtle Beach need to differentiate the other headsets in their Stealth Series line up as well.