The problem with being on top is that those beneath you covet your crown. For years FIFA played second fiddle to PES but once it stole the football crown, FIFA wouldn’t give it back. Can the same be said of Turtle Beach? Since owning the ASTRO A50 I’ve barely looked at another headset. Dave Moran (TiX Editor-in-Chief) and I even did a head-to-head on our favourite brand, after which we decided that when ASTRO Gaming and Turtle Beach released their next headset we would swap loyalties – boy did I luck out with the Elite Pro.
Coming in three boxes, the Elite Pro not only looks the part in its premium packaging, but it’s out of the box ready to be used across all platforms – including last gen. The Tournament pack includes the Tournament headset, Tactical Audio Controller (TAC) and Tournament Noise Cancelling Microphone. It’s a modular set, so you don’t have to shell out the £299.99 asking price right away – although doing so will save you £49.98, which is enough for a new game.
Turtle Beach has certainly been listening to feedback from gamers and their pro teams. The Elite Pro looks and sounds amazing, and is the most comfortable headset I have ever worn. As you’d expect, the headband is adjustable, but also includes tension control with height and swivel adjustment on the ear cups. The combination of materials not only makes it look Elite, it feels Elite.
Smartly dressed in black with striking orange tints, faux leather surrounds the ear cups helping to keep game sound within them and giving the headset a premium look. The oval ear cups engulf your ears and on the inside a soft cloth gives a snug fit. The real witchcraft is the active cooling foam located inside each ear cup. An icy hug greets you when you pop the Elite Pro on your head. It may sound odd, but it works brilliantly. Sure the ear cups warm up eventually, but the foam retains a slight coolness. Rest the headset around your shoulders or lay them down for a minute and the chill of the foam returns quickly giving you an icy blast when you pop them back on your head.
If you wear prescription or gaming glasses, the Elite Pro has a nifty relief system that can be adjusted by removing the ear cup pads and tightening a small tab located underneath. It’s easier said than done though and the quick start guide wasn’t much help. With a little perseverance and by using an online guide I was able to get the cups off to set the relief system and allow the arms of my glasses to sit neatly in the ear cup cushions.
Even without the TAC, the headset sounds glorious. Rich sound swarmed my senses while still allowing me to pick out directional sounds. Even cranked up to the max there’s no distortion but beyond microphone mute and a master volume dial there’s little more you can do with the audio without going into the Xbox One’s audio settings – that is unless you have the TAC.
The TAC is included with the Elite Pro Tournament Pack or can be bought separately for £149.99. Powered by USB and connected via optical cable, the TAC includes all required cables in the box with exceptional length to boot. If you have a desk setup you may want to substitute some shorter cables. Instead of plugging the headset into the controller, it plugs directly into the TAC – the only time you need to connect the TAC to the controller is if you want to use the microphone.
At the back of the TAC, there’s a whole host of options including ports for daisy chaining units together, a stream out for capturing voice chat during streaming and an input allowing you to connect a phone so that you can play music over your gaming or take calls through the headset microphone. To use the TAC on different platforms you simply set the slider to PlayStation, Xbox One, Xbox 360 or PC/Mac and with the built-in sound card boasting DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound, I can have stunning surround sound on my Mac for all my ‘recorded’ entertainment.
Adding the TAC into my setup made my gaming come to HD life – my senses went into overdrive – it was like going to the cinema and being immersed in the sounds of the screen. It sent shivers up my spine. I could pick out the sounds of a distant battle or the one going on right around the corner, perfect for ambushes or getting the drop on someone sneaking up behind you.
There’s a stack of sound presets to choose from. The surround sound button controls the type of audio – Game, Movie, Sports or Off – while another button selects one of four presets. Remembering what each combination of lights means takes a bit of getting used to, it would have made more sense to have includes a plastic credit card sized cheat sheet for all the different audio presets rather than the paper quick start guide.
Two of the sound settings in the Game mode are reserved for Turtle Beach’s trademarked Superhuman hearing and Footstep Focus, something that should place this headset firmly at the top of any shooter fan’s wish list. There’s also a signature sound setting in each of the modes, which is a great all rounder. At times I even drifted into each of the other modes. Movie mode was particularly good for LEGO games and Music mode made the orchestral score of Halo 5 sound particularly magnificent. While some may prefer to fiddle with their EQ balance manually, I found the 16 presets more than enough to get the best from the Elite Pro.
Four sliders on the TAC control microphone settings – chat/game balance, background noise filtering, microphone boost and microphone monitoring. A large dial controls the master volume and can be pressed to mute all audio. There’s also a small button to mute the microphone. Indeed audio control is comprehensive and unlikely to leave you wanting more, my only complaint is that the TAC doesn’t auto power down. However, if you do remove the USB to turn the TAC off, the Surround Sound settings are set to whatever you had previously selected – every cloud…
When it comes to the microphone, the included boom microphone and the Noise Cancelling microphone are of the same great quality. Both picked up my voice loud and clear with no distortion – it sounded like I was sat talking with my team rather than over the Internet. The TAC really helps to get the best clarity out of the microphone – either by boosting your voice output or filtering out background noise so you can hear your team over a busy household or the roar of a tournament crowd. When cranked up to the max, the background filter slider did cause some issues with my own mic monitoring and clipped out my voice in the headset. If you’re prone to heavy breathing while concentrating on a game of CoD, you needn’t worry about putting off your team with either microphone but unless you plan on going to any tournaments, there’s little to choose between the two.
The Elite Pro is a no nonsense modular headset that is super comfy with a range of options to make the headband fit even the most oddly shaped head. Audio is contained within the ear cups with little sound leak, so I couldn’t hear anything outside of the headset – perfect if you have small children running around the house – it’s a shame that there isn’t a storage stand included to keep the kit neat and tidy.