Ben Rayner reviews the Turtle Beach Stealth 500p Headset…
It’s no surprise Turtle Beach have been a big name in the gaming world for this long, with almost every headset they release delivering great audio and comfort at respectable prices. Well, as long as you don’t go too high-end of course.
The wireless market for next ten consoles is somewhat sparse, leaving a big gap for the amphibious branded company to wade in and offer something to those of us desperate to bring the noise down for others and enjoy the sounds of battle free from the shackles of tangled cables and a forced perspective of face against screen.
While I’ve previously reviewed the Ear Force Stealth 400 headset with great results, minus some niggles, Turtle Beach now have the bigger, much sharper brother on store shelves, in the shape of the new Ear Force Stealth 500p headset.
Offering DTS 7.1 surround sound and a rechargeable battery that boasts 15 hours of non stop gaming before needing to plug in and charge up, these 50mm speakers housed in a comfy design look like the perfect choice for any gamer after a premium experience while on a budget.
But are they as good as all these promises sound?
Well, of course I had to find out!
Design is our first port of call, and these cans do not disappoint. Looking simple and sleek, with a black plastic finish, emblazoned with the Turtle Beach logo across the headband and a bright blue stripe running around the ear cups, you can wear this set without fear of looking like Optimus Primes deformed sibling.
With a faux leather padding around the ear cups and head band, once set to fit your melon, you wont have any complaints about comfort here and unlike its predecessor, the 500p headset wont leave your ears sweating it out like Charlie Sheen in a drug raid. All thanks to that breathable material!
Powering on your headset is as simple as pressing a button hidden within the Turtle Beach logo on the right ear cup, causing lights on each ear to glow bright blue as the woman now in your head declares “powering on”.
On the side of the right ear you’ll find two volume controls, one for your overall levels and the second for your microphone levels in game. Being able to hear yourself may seem like a simple function, but it’s definitely one you’ll find helpful once you get to grips with this set. The “stop shouting” mechanic as its been labelled, surprisingly does make you realise just how loud you’re talking and will help with keeping your room mates or girlfriend happy if you’re the only one who stays up on late night gaming binges.
Made from a ribbed metal, the microphone is completely free to move where ever you see fit and is also detachable for those solo missions where you’d rather slim the headset down and remove the distraction of a metal stick poking past your ear.
To get sound transferring over to the headset, the Stealth 500p uses a USB dongle which connects to the optical audio port of your PlayStation but it doesn’t stop at the PS4. You can of course use it with a PS3, PC, Mac or even your television. Anything with an optical out in fact will work here, making for one versatile headset overall.
Versatility doesn’t stopped in the wireless department as The Stealth 500p is also compatible with mobile devices, utilising a 3.5mm jack which can be attached onto the right ear cup.
With a swift set up process and wide range of compatible devices, how does the actual audio quality fare? The 7.1 surround sound is actually really decent, with some impressive processing on occasion. When listening to anything that supports surround sound, you’ll find yourself uncontrollably ducking and diving as bullets and shrapnel seem to fly past your ears, or enemies creep up behind you.
Theres a choice of settings which include four main presets – Game, Movie, Music and Stereo – each of which come with their own four sub presets – Natural Sound, Bass Boost, Bass and Treble Boost and Vocal Boost. All of which again come with their own narration from your new in ear friend, who’ll happily tell you what mode you’ve switched to. Something which shouldn’t be underestimated as an interesting novelty,
Game mode adds some more beef and bass to explosions, making you feel them a bit more intensely while Movie Mode cleans up dialogue and balances the switch between action and ‘whispering loudly’ vocals that Hollywood seems to love these days. Certain games however, did benefit from Movie Mode too, The Witcher 3 with its dialogue heavy moments sounded crystal clear and all the better for the switch.
Music mode is perhaps the weakest of the collection, occasionally leaning a bit too heavily on the bass, but again it still offers a really solid experience for most musical genres.
Stereo mode is the real king of the castle here though, with the difference in quality becoming clear, immediately from the moment you switch over. Everything just sounds so rich and clear.
It’s not all a perfect experience though, as you’ll find that certain PS3 games simply wont output audio to the Stealth 500p at all. Forcing you to jump back to the menu and play around with the output settings until you find the right spot.
The biggest niggle I could find however, was the constant buzz the headset suffers from, thanks to the microphone. It’s a gentle one but enough to distract so the best advice is to always switch it off when playing a game that doesn’t need team chat. Especially since detaching the mic itself, doesn’t stop the buzzing.
The microphone itself is decent quality, subtle enough to pick up every breath in fact, leaving me with no complaints during testing as every conversation online was as clear as a bell.
Battery life also lives up to its hype, with more than a handful of long gaming sessions and Netflix binges under my belt before the headset needed its first charge.
Overall the Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 500p is a well made headset that offers an all-rounder experience. Great 7.1 surround sound and a comfortable fit, I’m happy to make this my everyday headset for gaming and most things outside of it.
Sure, the buzzing is a minor annoyance and not all PS3 games are compatible which may leaving you fiddling with the settings somewhat, but for the price and the range of uses, this is definitely worth a look!
-Great 7.1 surround sound
-Works with a wide range of consoles and tech
-Comfortable for long haul gaming session
-Mic buzzing can be a distraction
-Not all PS3 games are compatible straight off the bat.