At one point, gaming headsets with microphones were reserved for the hardcore gaming enthusiasts that spent hours online at a time and craved the boost of a locked-in environment. Over the last few years, companies like Turtle Beach, SteelSeries and Razer have flooded the market with headset options at all price points. However, Xbox One users have settled in with one company in particular as the go-to for supplying top-notch audio for their gaming experience.
The Turtle Beach Elite 800X hit the shelves of retailers a few months ago, labeled as “the most advanced gaming headset ever”. That’s a lofty description, but with wireless connectivity, DTS 7.1 surround sound, custom audio profiles and luxury materials, we knew we had to see if this headset lived up to the hype.
From the outset, the 800X feels like a top-of-the-line product. It comes in quality packaging, a small tab on the box is pulled to reveal the headset in all its glory. At $300, you’d hope that this pair of over-ears would elicit that kind of response. The build quality is outstanding, memory foam ear cushions and headband provide welcome relief from soreness experienced during long gaming stints. Overall, Turtle Beach pretty well nailed the design and I’d guess most gamers would be happy with the feel over longer periods of time.
Personally, my favorite aspect of the 800X is the wireless design. Gone are the days of running wires from your controller to the headset. Turtle Beach handles this by including a wireless transmitter that sits next to your Xbox One and connects via optical audio as well as microUSB for power. Both cables are included, which is expected at this price point. The transmitter handles communication to the headset as well charging. Power management is elegantly carried out by the magnetic connectors on the recessed resting pad for the headset. When the 800X comes close to the small gold tabs it snaps into place, proudly displaying itself in vertical fashion. Turtle Beach expects 8-10 hours of battery life per charge and we found that to be on point in our experience.
Aside from the physical design, the 800X caught the attention of gamers for its laundry list of technical specifications. DTS 7.1 360 surround sound, active noise cancellation and sound profiles highlight the audio side of the equation. Turtle Beach has delivered an exceptional audio experience that brings games to life with details you’ve likely never heard from your TV speakers. Small details such as breathing and footsteps are not just background noise but sound life-like in many scenarios. Battlefield 4 and Destiny are excellent examples of titles that sounded impeccable during our testing. Game and chat volume levels are controlled on the side of the ear cups, you’ll find power and Bluetooth pairing buttons there as well.
Action games are not drowned out by a muddy low end, the 800X handled nearly every battle sequence that I threw at it without issue. Audio presets such as Action, Racing or Footsteps provide greater emphasis on certain areas. The Ear Force app for iOS and Android enables even greater flexibility in creating a custom audio experience. Bluetooth connectivity also means the 800X can serve as your primary set of cans for listing to music. Noise cancellation is a nice addition for plane or train rides with constant background noise.
Now to what isn’t so great: the microphone. Turtle Beach opted for an internal system on the 800X, which has the benefit of chopping off an annoying boom microphone constantly sticking out. A disappointing byproduct of that was an often frustrating online experience with friends that simply struggled to hear me during gameplay. Admittedly, I’ve had this headset for two months as Turtle Beach and Microsoft pushed out firmware updates. While the situation did improve over time, my comrades still reported a quieter voice than Turtle Beach’s XO Seven set that I also own. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but was a disappointment.
That’s the struggle on recommending this headset. It’s loaded with high-quality and luxurious features but in that one area fails to deliver as expected. The wireless setup and conductive charging are standout features but for $300 you’d hope that every inch of this product would shine. If you have the money, Turtle Beach’s 800X Elite are worth a look. Most gamers would likely be satisfied with the XO Seven for many applications. It’s a big commitment from a price stand point considering Xbox One consoles have nearly come down to $300 on their own. The sound and hardware are amongst the best that we’ve ever used, if you’re willing to make an investment of this level, the long list of features may outweigh the microphone issue.
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