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Review - Turtle Beach 800X

The Turtle Beach 800X Elite is the top-of-the-line wireless headset offering from the console headset maker, Turtle Beach. I've been a pretty big fan of their headsets for some time now, using the EarForce X32, EarForce X42, EarForce X12, as well as the now-discontinued EarForce X11, and the XP SEVEN Tournament. Yeah, it's easy to say that I'm a fanboy.

About two months ago, I had to run out to my local Best Buy for work, and wandered around the gaming aisles to kill some time. Having just recently broken my XO One (yeah, that's another one I've used...) headset by carrying it in my backpack irresponsibly, I was in the market for a replacement. Enter...


the product

Turtle Beach Ear Force 800X Elite - $299.00

Here's what Turtle Beach has to say about their product:

Welcome to the future of gaming audio with Turtle Beach Elite. Powerful sound, abundant comfort and dynamic function combine to exceed your wildest expectations with the Turtle Beach Elite 800X. Uncompromising, the Elite 800X is the ultimate gaming headset including:

  • Superhuman Hearing
  • 100% Wireless
  • Active Noise Cancelling
  • DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Channel Surround Sound
  • Mic Monitoring to let you hear yourself in your headset
  • Up to 10 hours of use
  • Bluetooth compatible with mobile devices

source - turtlebeach.com; 800X Elite Product Page

Lets get into it. TL;DR at the end for you lazy folks.


the headset

A common problem I've had with a lot of headsets (including many of the headsets listed above) is the arms of my glasses digging into my ears and the side of my head, making it hard to wear headphones for extended periods of time without being sore. The active noise cancellation paired with the way these deliciously comfortable memory-foam and pseudo-leather 50mm cans wrap around your head has made it so that my co-workers had to start throwing things at me to get my attention. I've had a few times where I was so into it, that I missed the 12:00 PM mass-exodus for lunch. The noise-cancellation works, and it works damn well, featuring two hidden microphones to pick up just about any noises around you.

The buttons on the sides of the headset took some getting used to, but after a few days of messing around with them it was converted to muscle memory. Left ear holds power, bluetooth, and game volume adjustments while the right ear has microphone controls, audio preset switcher, and party chat volume adjustments. One issue I've run into is accidental input if I lean my head against my chair the wrong way, or if I'm carrying the headset in my backpack.

If you're into this sort of thing, you can pick up various speaker plates to show some love for your favorite franchise. I'm still rocking the stock plates, and the glossy finish does pick up scratches and smudges quite easily. If that's bothersome, you may want to consider picking up one of the painted replacements to hide the blemishes.

The combo console audio transmitter and wireless charging dock provide the headset with four audio modes, each with unique presets (which I'll get into later) while the headset is in range. When the headset is taken out of range of the transmitter, you get defaulted to a basic stereo mode for your bluetooth streaming.

I've had no issues at all taking the headset out to work, then returning home to have it re-pair with the transmitter and my Xbox One instantly while still maintaining its connection with my iPhone. While gaming, if I get a text or phone call, I don't have to pause anything or modify audio levels drastically to be able to hear my incoming calls and alerts.

The 800X Elite really shines in its battery life and charging. The rechargeable batteries seem to last forever, even though Turtle Beach has only advertised them as having a 10 hour lifespan. As early as 7:00 AM I've plucked it off the wireless dock, used it over bluetooth almost constantly at work until 5:30-6:00 PM with active noise cancellation turned on, popped the headset on the charger for about an hour or so while making dinner, and then proceeded to game at a decent volume until 10:30-11:00 PM. I haven't once, in the two months I've had them, run out of power. Even if you manage to run the batteries down, the headset comes with a 4ft USB cable to get a recharge at the office, and a 4ft long 3.5mm audio cable for that standard plug-in headphones experience.

Comfortable, great noise cancellation, easy to charge, button functionality is easy to learn, and battery life for days. Smudges and scratches can easily appear on the speaker plates, but they are interchangeable if that becomes too bothersome.


the microphone

There were some initial complaints about issues with the microphone from both PS4 and Xbox One users. Users had issues with party members being able to clearly hear them, despite any adjustments to their microphone preset. I purchased this headset after Turtle Beach had released a firmware update for the headset, and since my habit with new technology is to update all software and firmware before first use, I've never had any complaints from teammates or party members about my microphone quality.

An issue I have had is how the inline microphone monitoring works with noise cancellation, in that it... well, doesn't. If noise cancellation is turned on, the monitoring simply doesn't work for me. Even when the microphone preset is on the loudest setting, "Outdoor Use," I can't hear myself talk.

I'm a naturally loud guy, and the I did have to bring the microphone preset down to "Quiet Room" in order to not overdrive the microphone too much. The monitoring does help, in that if you're blowing out the microphone you can immediately hear it in the feedback. I've requested feedback from various party members, and the general consensus is that "Quiet Room" sounds fairly balanced without making their ears bleed, even with my easily projected voice.


the presets

The presets come in four modes; Game, Movie, Music, and Stereo. Each audio mode has a "Signature Sound" setting, which carries the signature Turtle Beach mix of a hair too much bass, but otherwise pretty balanced. I typically stick to the Signature Sound preset while gaming, as it seems to have the most widespread use cases across a variety of titles.

From their website, Turtle Beach offers the Ear Force Audio Hub for Windows and on the Mac App Store for free. With it comes firmware updates, the option to factory reset the headset and transmitter, and remove unwanted presets or add new game-specific presets into your arsenal.

I don't have a PC at home to review the Ear Force application, but I do feel like the Mac version could be getting a little more love. Seems like they may not have a team dedicated to creating new presets and maintaining these software packages, as the latest versions are technically for Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X Yosemite. It lacks the option to manually edit the EQs and presets that the XP Seven Tournament headset had with the Advanced Sound Editor. Fortunately, aside from pulling out the presets I didn't use and updating the firmware, I've had no need to work with the application at all.

Being that I'm an iPhone and Mac user, I can't offer any advice on their Android App, which has some mixed reviews. Overall, the time you'll spend in the Audio Hub will be limited, so I wouldn't call this a deal breaker.


the conclusion

Overall a really solid headset from Turtle Beach. Feels sturdily constructed, albeit some improvements with the speaker plates could have been made. Very comfortable for my big head and glasses. Easy charging with the magnetic docking mechanism in the transmitter. Great battery life. Overall balanced sound with a kicking bass, maybe even a bit too much in some cases. Microphone had some issues at launch, which have now been fixed with a firmware update, however microphone monitoring while noise cancellation is activated is spotty. Bluetooth features are a huge bonus, giving a great way to play music independently of game sound while crushing away at some noobs and working with your teammates in party chat, even answering calls without stopping your adventure. The Ear Force Audio Hub preset manager leaves a bit to be desired, but is overall functional.

From long-term gaming sessions to getting work done in a noisy environment, this is an excellent headset. The price point is a bit of punch to the wallet at $299, but I think you'll find it pretty worth it.