Turtle Beach’s gaming headsets have always been economically priced for the features they provide. I previously reviewed their Stealth Series and their sub-brand, Roccat’s Elo series, and was impressed with how much they manage to offer at such a reasonable price point. I was recently sent their latest wired gaming headset, the Recon 500 set to release on May 30th. Available at just $80, I was curious to find out if it will continue the legacy of its predecessors. Though it did miss some marks, I won’t say it completely failed.
What’s In the Box
There isn’t much in the box. Since the headset is wired, it doesn’t need to be accompanied by a charger, a dongle or a flight adapter. Moreover, Turtle Beach usually doesn’t include extra accessories such as carrying cases or pouches. So, the packaging contents are pretty straightforward: the cans, a detachable mic and the usual paperwork.
I love that Turtle Beach provides detachable mics with their headsets. Having a mic that detaches extends the utility of the cans by a great extent. Moreover, the Recon 500 deserves an extra point for hosting a mic so subtle, lightweight and flexible in addition to being detachable. It has negligible weight and is fully flexible in every direction.
I’m not a fan of how most gaming headsets look. The Elo Series weren’t the most aesthetically pleasing and I was quite vocal about it. However, the Recon 500 is stunning for a headset that’s a) designed for gaming and b) costs $80. It looks and feels like a high-end headset. Made of excellent-quality plastic, the headset sports a plain black body with the Turtle Beach logo on the exterior of one of its earcups and the brand name on the other.
The earcups’ interior hosts huge metal grilled covered with a fairly thin layer of translucent cloth. Hence, you can clearly see the inside of the earcups. I personally find this feature cool but it usually comes at the cost of my cartilage touching the grilles because of the absence of padding. However, the Recon 500’s deep earcups ensures my ears don’t touch the grilles at any point.
The earcups are padded with breathable memory foam cushions. The cushions are large enough to not only cover the ear but also provide an inch of room on all four sides. The padding is coated with athletic weave fabric and offers an over-ear closed back design. Recon 500’s headband features sufficient cushioning of memory foam coated with a thin layer of leather. The headband’s exterior is adorned in ridges with the brand name emblazoned on it.
Ergonomics and Navigation
The Recon 500 definitely missed a mark in ergonomics. While the fit is comfortable from all angles, it isn’t a snug fit. The earcups didn’t hug my ears the way they ideally should. Whenever I moved, even slightly, they moved back and forth with me. Even when I was still, they applied negligible pressure on either side of my head. I had to constantly shift the cans back in place manually. What’s surprising is that my head is smaller than the average, and the fit was still loose on me. I’m not sure if people with larger heads will even be able to use these comfortably. I get highly uncomfortable with a loose fit.
Padding-wise, the headset did a great job. I had these on for hours, and didn’t feel any kind of discomfort apart from the aforementioned flaw. The headband and earcups’ sufficient cushioning were comfortable and the headset is lightweight.
Navigation on the Recon 500 is fairly simple because the cans are wired. The left earcup features a large mute button, which is hard to ignore. It is not only massive in size but also placed at a strategic position on the earcup so you don’t have to fiddle for it between a game. The rim of the earcup hosts a volume dial and a port for the detachable mic. There’s also a quite long, 1.3m, braided cable coming out from between the dial and the port with a 3.5mm connection. All of the controls of the Recon 500 are intuitively designed; they’re simple to locate and easy to get used to.
To test the Recon 500’s gaming capacity, I first put one of the best Android games of the month, Fable Wars, on. The game allowed me to test the headset’s SPL capability and audio texture among a couple of other things. The game was loud and clear, to the point where I had to significantly lower the volume to be able to enjoy it. Its audio was considerably layered with a 3D feel to it. It specifically highlighted the game’s narration and made it sound as if it was on a layer separate to other elements of the game.
Next, I played Cyberika. This action-adventure MMORPG game allowed me to test much more. I was able to check low-end in the shooting, sharpness in the sound of in-game notifications and directional precision in the footsteps. The low-end was inadequate. While it wasn’t completely absent, it didn’t create the kind of experience where I’d be able to recommend its bass. The sound was sharp and had accuracy though; I could easily detect the direction of each and every footstep in the game.
All in all, the Recon 500 has a pretty impressive sound profile considering its price point. It could have had a little more bass, but considering it hits all other marks in terms of sound is still brilliant.
Is It Hardcore?
The Recon 500 could have used better bass and a snugger fit. Apart from that, it is a brilliant headset considering its very economical price. It has a gorgeous body and layered sound.