Review: Turtle Beach Stealth 700 for Xbox One (Gaming Headset)by Kirby Yablonski
- Direct Wireless Connection
- Speaker Frequency: 20Hz to 20kHz
- Built in Rechargeable Battery: Up to 10 Hours Use
- Speaker Size: 50mm
- Microphone: Flip-Up Omni-Directional
- Headband/Earpad Material: Synthetic Leather with Foam Cushioning
- Ear Cushion: Bonded Leather with Foam Coloring
- ProSpecs Glasses Relief System
- Independent Game & Chat Control
- Superhuman Hearing
- Mic Monitoring
- Bluetooth Connectivity
- MSRP: $149.99 (USD)
Anyone who reads my reviews of audio related products knows that I am a big proponent of sound in games. For me, it is just as important as the visuals as well as the gameplay. From the deep boom of a grenade explosion, the whine of a Bugatti sportscar's engine, to the dialogue spoken by characters in a narrative driven adventure, audio can immerse you into a game more than you think. The issue with using headsets on the Xbox One has been that you are always tethered to your controller somehow. It may be because all the game sound is routed through the controller to a headset plugged into it, or if an external adapter is used to get game sound to the headset, making it wireless, you still have to attach a cable to the controller for chat functionality. Well, all of this has changed, as headset makers are able to use a new feature called Xbox Wireless, which allows a headset to be directly, and wirelessly, connected to the Xbox One for both game sound and chat.
Turtle beach is a company who is well recognized when it comes to gaming headsets. Their products come in all shapes, sizes, and costs, and they continue to produce new headphone experiences for gamers to buy. The latest headset that we got to review from Turtle Beach is the Stealth 700 for Xbox One. It utilizes the new Xbox Wireless feature for 100% cable free headset gaming. It's been a long time coming for something like this, and we here at Xbox Addict are happy the time has come.
The Stealth 700 for Xbox One costs more than a budget headset, but it is far from those that are considered ‘luxury'. You'll need shell out $149.99 (USD), which equates to $199.99 in Canadian funds. For that price though you don't get a lot in the box though. Once you open it you will find the headset itself, a USB charging cable (also used for firmware updates), a quick start guide and a Turtle Beach sticker. Yep, that is it. Given that the headset connects directly to your Xbox One, you no longer need any extra fiber-optic cables or extra power cables which would connect to an external adapter or transceiver.
In terms of the headset itself, it is a mostly black colored affair with a hint of green around the ear cups and the Turtle Beach logo emblazoned on the cloth covering the 50mm speakers and a small logo on the outside of the ear cups. The headband has faux leather covering foam padding that keeps the headband from just being a plastic band that goes over your head. Speaking of plastic, the whole headset is made of it, and this kind of surprised me as it doesn't feel as solid as it could. This headset is not the most expensive one in Turtle Beach's collection; however, when you fork out over $200 (Cdn) including the taxes, you kind of want a premium feeling product. Unfortunately, that is not the case here, as if feels a bit cheaper than many of the headsets we've reviewed.
There is a sticker on top of the headset's box that says, "Update Your Headset Firmware". This has to do with the fact that this headset is 100% wireless requires the headset ‘talk' to the Xbox One. Updating the headset is easy, as you head on over to Turtle Beach's website, download the "Turtle Beach Audio Hub" and you'll be almost done. You then simply plug in the Stealth 700 into your computer using the included USB charging cable, and launch the "Audio Hub" program. It takes you through the steps of updating your headset with clear instructions, and it is a relatively painless experience. Once updated you can unplug and you're almost ready to go.
As this headset uses the Xbox Wireless technology, you'll have to sync the headset to your Xbox One, like you would a new controller. Again, it is a simple process as you press the sync button on the headset for three seconds, then press the sync button on the Xbox One console, and the two pieces of electronics will talk to one another and sync up. You can use an Xbox Wireless Adapter for PC to hook the headset to a computer as well, and the steps are the same except that you press the sync button on the Xbox Wireless Adapter in place of the console.
All the audio and chat functions are all on the left ear cup. You'll find the power button, the Bluetooth connect button (more on that later), the mini-USB port (for updates and charging), the sync button, the Super Human Hearing button, master volume control, and the chat/gameplay mixer control. Phew, that is a lot of buttons to mention. The microphone is also on the left side, and you flip it down to use it, and flip it up to mute it. The Stealth 700 for Xbox One also has microphone monitoring, as well as active noise cancelling. The latter is activated by pressing the power button quickly (less than one second). It works well enough, but it is not the quality of those fancy headsets from Bose or Audio Technica, you know, the ones you see people using on airplanes. Personally, I think that they put too many functions on the one ear cup, as there is a lot of buttons and ‘wheels' to adjust everything, and it's pretty tightly packed. They should have put some of the functions on the right ear cup, and hopefully they will in the next iteration.
Earlier on I spoke about the build quality. Even though it doesn't feel solid, the headset was pretty comfortable with the faux leather foam padding isolating much of the sound. I managed to wear them for a variety of gaming sessions, both on my Xbox One S and my Xbox One X. I had some extended time with them during my Extra Life fundraising 24-hour gaming as well. Now, as I usually mention in headset reviews, I have a fairly big noggin', and I have to say that the Stealth 700 for Xbox One managed to stay fairly comfy on me. I could go a few hours at a time with them with no comfort related issues (e.g. sweating, hot ears, etc.) and they stayed firmly in place without squeezing too hard.
One of the neat features of the headset is for people, like me, who wear glasses. Turtle Beach has included their ProSpecs Glasses Relief System which is dual-foam ear-cushions, with softer foam in the section of the ear-cushions that rests against one's glasses, alleviating the pressure the ear cups would put on the frames. You can feel the area on the ear cups where this is, and it does feel softer. I was able to take off and put on my glasses while wearing the headphones, and like I said earlier, there were no major comfort issues.
Sound wise, the headphones performed quite well. For those wondering what I played, I managed to get in a lot of Call of Duty: WWII, Forza Motorsport 7 and Destiny 2. I also played a couple of games from my backlog, including Life is Strange and Tales from the Borderlands. In terms of Call of Duty: WWII, the game sounded pretty good. From hearing the explosions of grenades, the screams of your army division, to the music that played during pivotal scenes, it was fairly immersive. As for Forza Motorsport 7, I had no complaints with the sound of revving engines, tires screeching as they fought to hang on to the asphalt in a tight corner, to the AI cars coming from behind and to the side when trying to pass. You could even notice the wind effects when hitting some pretty high speeds (while in the cockpit view). As for Destiny 2, the futuristic sounds of weapons sounded solid and the environmental effects, from riding your sparrow over water to the rain coming down on Titan, was easily handled by the headphones as they managed to convey all that was on screen. Finally, Life is Strange is a very narrative loaded five-part story, with lots of dialog and a ton of music, and Tales of the Borderlands is somewhat the same. For both games I was able to clearly hear the voice work by all the voice actors and the dialog in both games sounded crisp while the music that accompanies pivotal scenes, especially in Life is Strange where there is a abundance of it in the game, was nice to listen to as each game's music choices sounded good.
Given that I was really checking out the Xbox One X during a big chunk of my time with the headset, I spent some extended time with the 4K Blu-ray "Planet Earth II". Wow, these headphones managed to impress here. From the sounds of various animals to the environments they were in, everything sounded and was not muddled at all. With streams running during a winter melt in the mountains to the sound of wind whistling through trees in a jungle, the headphones can reproduce much of what is thrown at it quite well. Listening to David Attenborough narrate during the series was also kind of a treat, as his pronounced English accent seemed right at home when listening to it with the Stealth 700. Surround sound effects were pretty good too, but that is more of the Xbox One X than the headset itself. Finally, I did manage to listen to some music via the Spotify App. I listened to quite a variety of genres, from classic rock, EDM, hip-hop to current day top pop. I enjoyed most of what I listened to. From guitar riffs, electronic notes, to drum solos, all the music was mostly pleasant to the ears. If I had one complaint, it would be some of the really heavy bass tones, in some of the EDM or hip-hop, pushed the 50mm drivers hard, and you could tell they would struggle now and then, but this was mostly at a higher volume, and turning them down took ‘the struggle' away.
The Stealth 700 for Xbox One are, at the most basic level, a stereo headset. They become a surround sound headset when using the Windows Sonic feature in the Xbox One, which is Microsoft's virtual surround sound. Now yes, the sound is simulated, but you will notice a difference when compared to regular stereo. You will feel like you are in the middle of the action, instead of just hearing the left and right-side. I also downloaded the Dolby Atmos app (note: it is a paid app) and played some of the Atmos demos with headphone settings on. I closed my eyes and let the sound do the talking, and you can indeed hear how the virtual surround sound can work when using this headset. The Dolby Atmos app is almost ‘fuller' in terms of sound, as you really do notice some of the simulated surround sound effects.
In terms of online use, my online friends said that I sounded good, and that there was no discernable difference in my voice as opposed to when just wearing a chat headset. This was reassuring as the built-in microphone seems to be placed a little farther from one's mouth than on other headsets. Getting a good balance between chat and game sound was simple too, once I was able to remember where the wheel to do so was.
A strange thing about this headset is that you control some of the features through an Android or iOS device (via Bluetooth), or through your PC using the Audio Hub. I used my Samsung tablet, and found that it was the only way that I could change the sound mode when using the headphones. The default is Signature Mode, and there are three other modes including Bass Boost, Bass & Treble Boost, and Vocal Boost (I stayed with Signature Mode). Now, I looked EVERYWHERE (caps for emphasis people!!!) on the ear cups and could not find anywhere to change the sound modes, hence the need for an external device like a tablet or phone with the app. A strange design choice in my opinion.
Given that these headphones are Bluetooth capable, you can use them with your mobile phone or device. Why would you want to do that you ask? Well, you can answer calls and/or play music from your personal device while you game. Sure, it's not a feature everyone will use, but hell, if it's added then some people will be even more happy.
So, where do we stand on our impressions of the Stealth 700 for Xbox One? The sound is solid as I enjoyed what I got to experience in games, and media (e.g. Blu-ray disc and music). I won't lie though, the build quality is not what I have come to expect in this price range ($200 Cdn, damn exchange rate), but once you wear them, you realize they are fairly comfortable and can be worn for some extended gaming sessions, even for people who wear glasses. With this in mind, these headphones are definitely within the "must consider buying" category, and if you are looking for a 100% wireless experience, you may just find them to be what you are looking for.
Overall Score: 8 / 10
***A review unit was sent to us by Turtle Beach for the purposes of this review article***