Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 450

Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 450

Stunning audio—but it comes at a cost

Audio is one of the most important ingredients for a stunning gaming experience. It’s also very easy to ruin. As PC enthusiasts, we are well aware of this. We know that it depends on the quality of the drivers, the sophistication of the components, and the condition of the equalizers running at the heart of your high-frequency, vibrating canisters. So when a company such as Turtle Beach comes up to us, ready to share its latest headset, it would be remiss of us not to say we were concerned. After all, what could a company that specializes in consoles be able to offer? Regardless, we pushed our preconceived prejudices aside, and decided to give it a chance. And, boy, was that a good decision!

The Ear Force Stealth 450 is a set of wireless, 7.1 surround sound gaming headphones. It embraces a set of 50mm neodymium magnetic drivers, with a frequency response ranging from 20Hz all the way up to 20KHz, and includes a detachable omni-directional mic. Not too shabby a feature set for $130.

As far as audio reproduction goes, the Stealth 450 headphones are clean and crisp. Amazingly, Turtle Beach has managed the impossible for a gaming headset: The bass is where you’d expect it—there’s a lot of it, in other words—but the clarity of the treble and mids hasn't been lost. This means you get a remarkable listening experience. Seriously—these headphones deliver earfuls of joy.

On top of all that audio goodness, Turtle Beach has thrown in some nifty software features to help you get even more out of your headset. There are four different EQ presets embedded into the headset: bass boost, bass and treble boost, vocal boost, or natural sound. Honestly, though, if you’re after a really enjoyable listening experience, just throw the bass and treble boost on, and leave it there. There’s also a handy little digital voiceover for whenever you switch on the headset, to inform you about which preset you’re in, whether the mic is muted, and also to alert you if the headset is about to turn itself off.

The biggest problem with the Stealth 450 comes down to its fit and form. It’s a tiny bit on the small side. And although it fits fine around those with an average cranium, anyone with a larger skull may have problems. Another concern is the size and shape of the ear cups themselves. Instead of the traditional circular style, they’re actually oval in design. Again, if you’ve got small ears, then great—otherwise, you might be forced to endure this as onear headphones instead. Fortunately, the headset is quite flexible, and with a bit of force, you can set it to the right size if it is a little tight. The ear cups, though? Well, no, you’re stuck with those. Other than that, the padding is comfortable, the fabric could be a little softer, but overall, thanks to the plastic frame, it’s incredibly light and comfortable, even during those longer gaming sessions.

Unfortunately, we did encounter some software-related problems. The headset doesn’t seem to work particularly well alongside Windows 10’s system volume mixer. From 1–99, it’s on at 100 percent, and when you’re at zero, of course, it’s muted. Oddly, this doesn’t extend to games or applications. YouTube, Google Chrome, and all of our game suite worked just fine. And, of course, there is an inline scroll wheel on the headset to adjust volume manually as well. Still, very odd.

As far as the mic goes, it’s fine—you’ll be clear and audible in voice chats. It has a tendency to be a little tinny, but it’s more than clear enough. The fact it’s removable is a nice touch—great if you want to get it out of your face when you’re not raiding Hellfire Citadel with your buddies.

All in all, it’s a great headset. The sizing might not be ideal for everyone, but the audio quality is second to none. For this price, you’re not going to get much better, and from a company that specializes in consoles, that’s high praise.

Driver Size 50mm
Frequency Response 20Hz–20KHz
Connection Type Wireless and USB dongle, 4-feet 3.5mm mobile cable
Battery Life 15 hours
Microphone Detachable omnidirectional