Whether chatting with friends while playing online games, or you just want a private theater experience, headsets are becoming increasingly popular among console gamers. Sony even built the functionality into the PS4 controller and included a headset–albeit a cheap one–right in the box. It may be simple to plug any $10 set of earbuds with a microphone in, but ease doesn’t mean they’re the best option available.
I resisted headset audio for years. I was the guy that used headphones to chat, but insisted on game audio coming through my surround sound. Eventually I relented to moving game audio into the headset, but only when I was playing online with friends and had to. The Turtle Beach Stealth 600 headset is one of the first headsets that has made me actively want to use a headset for my gaming audio all the time, not just within the confines of online play, but also to enhance the soundscapes of single-player games.
PS4 users get a wireless USB headset that connects to the PS4 using a dongle. Yes, this will take up one of the few USB ports on the console, but the PS4 doesn’t have any additional options (Xbox One owners get the benefit of a direct connection to the console via Xbox Wireless, no dongle needed). It’s a clean wireless connection that I never encountered any problems with. Even walking into my kitchen, which often causes stutters in audio coming through the DualShock 4’s audio port, didn’t cut off the connection. I didn’t properly test the distance by walking as far as I could until it disconnected, but any realistic gaming setup shouldn’t encounter any wireless interruptions with the Stealth 600, even with wireless controllers, laptops, cellphones, etc. in the same area competing for bandwidth.
Turtle Beach is known for impeccable audio quality in gaming headsets, and the Stealth 600 doesn’t disappoint. Though it has the ability to switch to four different presets–Signature Sound, Bass Boost, Bass+Treble Boost, and Vocal Boost–the quality of the Signature Sound mode was excellent in every test I ran, holding most true to the audio mix that developers intended for their game and allowing me to hear my party chat when I was in one. I can see vocal boost being a useful setting to bring out the chat audio, but using the PS4’s party chat settings, I was able to balance that audio without needing to change the headset settings.
On the other side of things, the microphone picks up and transmits loud, crystal clear voice chat, so you can be certain that your headset isn’t the problem in an online game. The mic monitoring with volume control is a feature that most people don’t realize they need in a headset, but will come to appreciate once they have it. With other headsets, I often set one slightly off of my ear so that my own voice doesn’t sound muffled in my own head, but the Stealth 600 mic monitoring allows me to wear the headset as intended and still hear my own voice. Volume control means I don’t have to hear too much of my own voice (I really sound like that?). The mic flips up to mute, a simple yet effective feature that is much easier than fumbling for a button or removing the headset altogether.
Turtle Beach’s surround sound rounds outs the audio offerings. “How can you get surround sound from only two speakers?” you ask. Well it’s a bunch of complex audio processing figured out by smarter men and women than you or I, done to alter the sound waves before they come out of those two speakers to simulate more than a simple stereo field. More often than not, I could effectively tell if audio was coming from in front of or behind me, and it’s clear that the complexity of virtual surround sound offerings are improving, performing the same function with two speakers that other systems do with five.
Turn Off the Gimmicks
There was one audio feature I couldn’t get on board with, and that was the Superhuman Hearing feature. Supposedly used to enhance quiet audio cues like footsteps and reloads for more precision in multiplayer, I found that it simply didn’t attenuate the rest of the audio, often leaving music and other “standard” gameplay sounds peaking and sounding crackly. I tested it in Destiny 2–both PVE and PVP modes–and Middle-earth: Shadow of War. In each case, I preferred to play with Superhuman Hearing turned off.
Of course the audio quality means little if the headphones aren’t comfortable, but the Stealth 600 has you covered. I would like to think that the name Stealth came from their ability to sit on your head for long periods without being noticeable. This is easily one of the more comfortable headsets I have worn, and even after multi-hour sessions in the Destiny 2 raid, or powering through Shadow of War for my review, I wasn’t left with that sore feeling that most other headsets often give me after hours of play. The soft ear cups are angled backwards to properly fit the shape of the human ear, and the build of the headset is light enough that it doesn’t need to press down on my head or squeeze onto my ears to stay in place. Up to 15 hours of charge time means that forgetting to throw these on the charger one night won’t have you out a headset when the next day’s gaming session rolls around.
If you’re looking for an affordable option to chat with friends while keeping great game sound, the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 headset is an impressive bit of technology and a great doorway into better gaming audio that won’t necessarily break that bank. Many may balk at paying $100 or more for a headset, but amazing audio quality and comfort keeps the Stealth 600 headset well worth the money, far better than anything you could find below this price point. It has some gimmicky features that I won’t find myself using, like Superhuman Hearing, but Turtle Beach has consistently maintained their reputation for top quality gaming headsets, and this latest series does not disappoint.
Turtle Beach Stealth 600 headset review unit provided by manufacturer. Reviewed over a two week period of time using a standard PS4 with multiple games. For more information on reviews, please read our Review Policy.