Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Gaming Headset Review
I tried to buy the Turtle Beach Elite Pro last fall.
I was so enchanted by the rest of the headset that I always knew the day would come when I’d dive back in.
Fortunately, the third time was the charm.
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Gaming headset is a closed-back, wired gaming headset designed with input from pro gamers and streamers that sells for an MSRP of…$199.
That’s some serious cash in the gaming audio space. That puts us near the territory of Astro’s higher-end bundles, and Turtle Beach’s own wireless Elite 800 series.
In the box, Turtle Beach includes a removable cable and microphone. And a piece of paper that tells you the headset is really good.
Now, this base model often goes on sale for around $149. Which is a heck of a deal.
There’s also a package designed for PC users that includes a cable with a USB surround sound dongle on the end. That version goes for $199. If you really want a USB dongle, it couldn’t hurt to buy that version, though it has more limited availability and doesn’t go on sale as often.
Finally, Turtle Beach sells a $20 noise-cancelling mic and a $149 desktop DAC/Amp called the Tactical Audio Controller. The mic only works when used with the amp.
The amp seems cool, but as I’ll show in the microphone section below, you probably don’t need that other mic. Like, at all.
The Elite Pro is the most balanced, neutral-sounding gaming headset I’ve used to date. Overall audio reproduction and quality are very high, and right in line with what I’d expect from comparably-priced studio headphones.
If you’re way into neutral audio, you’ll find a lot to like here. If you like the typically aggressive, fun sound of other gaming headsets…this one might make a bland first impression.
Bass extension is good, but bass is in no way overwhelming. You won’t hear any more bass than what’s present in the original mix. They can bring it when they need to, but they don’t automatically make every mix thumpy.
The flat natural bass also stays entirely out of the way of the midrange, which is just about perfect. Voices come through with a properly natural, up front tone. Male and female vocalists in music both sound correct, without any hollowness or harshness. Game audio remains properly detailed too.
The treble is dialed down just enough to prevent fatigue, but still nicely extended and present. There’s no sibilance or shimmering or grain, and you can listen for hours at decent volumes without feeling like drills are coming into your brain.
Soundstage is also quite good for a closed-back headset. It’s not in the same league as the weirdly artificial soundstage of the Astro A10, or the monster width of Beyerdyanmic’s DT770 studio headphones…but imaging and staging are wide and accurate enough to be good for gaming.
I have no complaints about how these sound. I’d have to try really hard to manufacture one. I bet even the most picky of audiophiles will be pleasantly surprised by how the Elite Pro renders audio. If you love huge booming bass you’ll probably be let down at first, but once you adjust I bet it’ll be hard to go back outside of specific times when you just need that thump.
Turtle Beach was so confident in the tuning of this driver that they didn’t cover it with any foam or other obstructions inside the ear cup. That’s usually a good sign. It’s just hanging out in there under a transparent thin mesh material and a small plastic protective grill.
They were right to trust it.
Turtle Beach created a bunch of comfort features for the Elite Pro that I hope make their way into other products in the future.
Let’s start with the pads: they’re stupidly awesome. The hole diameter is perhaps a tiny bit small for the largest ears, but the depth is hilariously expansive. The padding is an incredibly high grade of memory foam that’s been blended with a cooling gel!
Do you remember those mouse pads that had a big gel pad thing for your wrist? This headset has that stuff inside its ear pads. The gel creates an immediate cooling sensation against your head, and although the sensation dissipates after around 15 or 20 minutes, I still noticed that my head and ears are cooler using this headset over long sessions than competing headsets with leatherette pads.
The front of the pad is flat, which makes for a great seal against the head, and the fabric that touches your face is a really nice spandex that, again, helps with lowering heat and sweat.
For those of you who wear glasses, Turtle Beach has got your covered thanks to the “ProSpecs” system. (Turtle Beach came up with cute names for almost every feature on this headset, haha, but I’ve refrained from using most of them in this review). There’s a small area of specialized padding inside the ear pad that will more easily get out of the way to allow the pad to fit better around glasses. You can adjust the size of this dip with a little tab on the underside of the ear pad (which are easy to pop on and off and replaceable, by the way). It’s great.
The headband uses a suspension system with metal cable supports, and like the ear pads, it is filled with a high-grade memory foam.
You can adjust the clamping force of the headset with two sliders that go from 1 to 10 on the top of the headband. This isn’t the only headphone to incorporate this, but I love how easy the setting is to use.
Height adjustment for the ear cups is a little bit limited. There’s just three heights to select from. I have to use these fully extended, so most people should be fine…but if your head has been too large for other headphones, you might want to try these before you buy or go to a place with a good return policy.
Not even the higher weight that comes from the extensive use of metal in the build causes an issue. These very nearly disappear on the head, and they’re great for long sessions.
The foam, gel, glasses cutouts, adjustable tension, and perfect balance all work together to make this an exceptionally comfy headset.
Unlike the RIG 600 I recently reviewed, the Elite Pro has top-tier isolation. The cups are fully closed, and the massive pads do a great job of keeping all of your sound in and all the outside noises out. These isolate as well as I could ever expect from a passive pair of headphones. That doesn’t just make them great for gaming tournaments, that makes them a good work headphone as well.
I loathe the build of almost every Turtle Beach headset that isn’t this one.
Seriously, most every other current product they build outside of the Elite 800 and the Elite Pro is just a comical pile of plastic and of prioritizing cheapness over durability. I don’t know how they’ve built themselves into such a massive gaming audio company on the back of such frequently lackluster, plasticky builds.
That’s all made more baffling by how good the build of the Elite Pro is. It proves that Turtle Beach could totally bring it all the time if they wanted to.
The Elite Pro is built out of a mix of solid metal and high grade composite plastics. The entire headband is metal, as are the rotation joints, and the cups don’t feel hollow or thin at all. The whole thing has the impressive heft and tank-like quality that you’d expect from a high-priced pro tool.
It’s a stark difference compared to the average Turtle Beach product, and I bet the designers were thrilled to finally be working with high grade materials.
The design is also more subtle than typical Turtle Beach fare, with a nice studio look and a mostly matte black color scheme. There’s a few orange accents here and there, but I think they’re tasteful, and occasionally they sell a special edition with green accents.
The cable is detachable, and it plugs into a smaller cable that’s permanently attached to the left ear cup. It has a breakaway design, so if you walk away and forget to unplug the cable, it’ll pop out without ripping the headset off your head and crashing it to the floor.
The plug on the cable is a proprietary thing that’s probably USB-based, so you’re stuck buying cables from Turtle Beach if you ever lose yours. The replacement cables are reasonably-priced at $20 for one with an in-line control or $10 for a plain one, so this isn’t a dealbreaker.
This headset has a great mic, which it should for $200!
The tone is natural and very nearly “broadcast quality.” I’d have no trouble using this for a podcast or other demanding voice recording tasks.
Even though the default mic isn’t marketed as being noise cancelling, it still has a good amount of analog acoustic background cancellation. Which again, I’d honestly expect for a headset at this price.
I’m continually surprised at how many microphones on gaming headsets are kind of bad or nasally, but the Elite Pro mic is one of the good ones. In fact, it’s good enough that I wouldn’t personally recommend investing the extra money in the other mic unless you just need to have everything.
The Astro A10 and the Arctis 3 have mics that are nearly as good at cancelling out the background and capturing voices for a much lower price, so keep that in mind if mic quality is a main concern.
The Elite Pro is a little thin on extras for a wired headset at this price. You don’t even get a thin carrying bag.
I know I know, I’m always going on about bags.
The lone included cable is of a decent quality, and has an in-line volume control with a mic mute switch. The controls feel a touch cheap and plasticky, and in fact they’re the only part of the whole package that doesn’t scream “premium.”
The included mic is fully flexible and has a nice windscreen on it. You can rotate it in all directions when it’s in the ear cup, but it doesn’t have a built in “fold up to mute” function like some other headsets.
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro is clearly a premium “tool-style” audio product that just also happens to work as a high-end mainstream gaming headset. It has a similar relationship to most consumer headsets that studio headphones have to regular headphones.
The sound is flat enough that I’d happily mix on them, and the comfort, build, and microphone are all right at the top of the heap.
And so is the price.
Look, you probably don’t need this level of everything. If you just want a nice gaming headset, you can do just fine for much less money. See the Astro A10, Arctis, G433, Cloud Alpha, RIG 400…the list goes on and on.
But I can’t deny the niceness of everything here. This headset is exactly what it says it is in the marketing. And it blows away anything else in the Turtle Beach lineup.