Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 500P: first look and hands-on

Stealth_500P_ProductPhoto-resized

Turtle Beach, purveyors of some of the finest audio equipment available on the gaming market, recently announced their latest addition – the Stealth 500P. This headset, while being of the popular Turtle Beach pedigree, will also be the first wireless gaming headset exclusively created for the PS4 and PS3 games consoles. The folks at Turtle Beach sent us one of these headsets to try out – and it left me impressed in many areas.

The main bonus with this headset is of course its wireless capabilities. First I tried out the headset with my home laptop – setting up the headset was as simple as plugging the dongle (the size of a memory stick) into a USB port and letting it install itself. Holding down the side of one of the headphones switches the set on – while wearing the set a voice can be heard, announcing “Powering on”. The headset instantly connected to the dongle and began playing music straight from my laptop instantly.

I was impressed by the range at which the headset still functions, heading downstairs 2 stories proved an adequate test, and the headphones maintained signal all the way, refusing to go quiet until I reached the bottom floor of my house, which is a decent range for the headset and means that you can continue listening to your game and talking to others even if you have to get up for a moment, which is a real game changer if you enjoy socialising via gaming.

Sound quality also held up rather well across the board – classical music on YouTube or the sounds of gunfire in-game were high-quality and audible at all times. The audio also centred well in-game, with distant cannon fire as audible as the sound of bayonets clashing during a Napoleonic skirmish, which is pleasing to a history buff like me. The power of DTS HeadphoneX: 7.1 Surround Sound kept the game as immersive as ever.

However, with the high quality and impressive features mentioned so far, there were also a number of drawbacks. I am no newcomer to the use of Turtle Beach, and am rather fond of my Turtle Beach P11 headset which I purchased for my PS3 around a year ago, which of course became my comparison point.

In the midst of battle I connected and enabled the 500P headset’s microphone (easily done with the aid of a button built into the unit) and entered discussion with my fellow players. They were less impressed with the headset, with most reporting that my microphone’s quality was far lower than the usual they expected from my P11’s microphone. Additionally, I noticed that the headset was prone to picking up the sound of my breathing which left a huge amount of static, much to the annoyance of everyone else. Thus I was left somewhat disheartened by the microphone provided with the 500P, and surprised that it was a lower quality than my older and cheaper headset.

Further use also highlighted a few other issues, one most notable being the fact that the headphones hug the head rather tightly, which becomes very uncomfortable after extended use. Additionally, the small but very bright light emitted by the dongle became rather distracting when connected to the side of my laptop, where it was likely to point for the corner of my eye, which became somewhat irritant after an hour or so. This, coupled with the other issues and the pleas of my fellow players had me reaching for my old P11 headset before long.

Taking the headset from the PC to my PS3 was a breeze however, with my PS3 already being tuned to using external audio devices, it was simply a matter of plugging the dongle into the system and connecting the optical cable from the dongle into the rear of the PS3. I could find no faults in the headset when running them from my PS3 – the speakers instantly captured the sounds around me in-game beautifully and maintained its quality throughout my session. Conversation with other characters sounded clear and lifelike, with the sound of babbling streams and the wind in the trees creating a solid atmosphere from the headset.

large_476x574_stealth500p_b-resized

Overall, I am impressed with the 500P headset. If you are just entering the world of gaming headsets, this would make a great first choice – the ease of use provided by a wireless setup is wonderful, and the 500P captures this ease very well. The lower microphone quality may be off-putting for those like me who are already used to one headset, but if you have not use a headset or do not intend to have use for the microphone, this headset would make a great choice. The quality of sound and ease in setting up the system is great, and shows that Turtle beach is a solid choice for gamers looking to maximise their audio capabilities.

The Stealth 500P headset will be available on 10th October 2014, at an RRP of £99.99.

Our full unboxing video can be found below.