Turtle Beach makes good headsets and we're still banging on about how comfortable the Elite Pro is after a couple of years of having the luxury headset strapped to our ageing noggin. Earlier this year we sampled the wireless Stealth 700 on Xbox One, and now we're back with another entry in the same line of products, the PS4-focused Stealth 300.
The most significant difference between this and the similar-looking Stealth 600 is the wire. This new headset needs to be tethered to your controller, so in that sense, you're linked to your DS4 at all times. For the most part that's absolutely not a problem because it comes with a longlasting battery, but every 30-40 or so hours the major kink in the 300's armour comes to prominence: the battery runs out.
Despite this being a wired headset, it's also a USB-powered one. You'll have to charge it up to enjoy the built-in amplifier. While on the one had the impact of the soundscape is enhanced dramatically by the powered amp when compared to traditional unpowered headsets, the downside is that when the juice has run out, the whole headset stops working. Frustratingly, there's no powerless alternative, so if you've got nothing left in the tank, you've got no audio. There's a hack in the sense that you can charge it via a powerbank while you play, but that's not really ideal is it...
In an ideal world, when the batteries ran dry you'd be able to switch to a standard wired setup, but that isn't the case here, which means the Stealth 300 is one that you'll want to keep charged to make sure it doesn't lose power during a key moment in a multiplayer match or similar. That's a criticism you can level at a lot of headsets so we'll not dwell on it for too long, but the fact that there's a relatively simple workaround that could have easily been put in place makes it a slightly frustrating fault that could have been easily remedied.
While we're talking about flaws, let's get our other main bugbear out of the way. Now don't get us wrong, the quality is generally high thanks to padded cups, solid materials, a classic matte finish, and easy to reach and intuitive buttons. The cups are connected to the headband via a new part-metal-part-plastic connection that seems sturdy enough. Our complaint is actually the lack of resistance in the joint and the ease with which the earcups can turn. While they're easy enough to put on and they're comfortable when you're wearing them, even over extended periods of time, we found that moving one cup so we could tune into a conversation out of the game meant that the lack of resistance in the joint sometimes caused the headset itself to slide off from the other side, with the other cup flipping around and turning back to front. If you're going to be wearing the headset while other people are in the room with you and it's likely you'll be jumping from in-game chat to real-world conversation, this possibly isn't the headset for you.
That said, there are still plenty of positives that will make it a tempting proposition for many. Given the quality of the audio experience, it's sensibly priced. The build quality is pretty high, and while the omnidirectional mic might be slightly more vulnerable due to its placement on the side of the headset (instead of being detachable/retractable), the mechanism feels robust, and there's a handy beep whenever it's put into position and the mic engages, letting you know when you've either joined or left the conversation.
There are two audio dials on the side of the left cup, one for in-game audio, another for your mic, so you can easily control the balance and get things how you want them. There could have been a touch more differentiation between the power and the preset buttons, but we didn't have any issues switching it on by feel, and there are only two so it's not rocket science getting started. The presets - there are four of them all told - allow you to quickly add extra bass or treble should the situation require it, and little beeps let you know exactly which preset you've selected as you cycle through. It's all very straightforward and elegantly designed.
Despite a couple of design quirks that didn't really resonate with us, the Stealth 300 has a lot going for it. Importantly for a product like this, it's comfortable to wear, and the powered amp ensures that the 50mm speakers pack plenty of punch. It might not be a luxury option in the same vein as some of the other offerings we've seen from Turtle Beach in the past, but it does offer a bright and bold soundscape that really draws you into whatever you're playing. It's not bad for listening to tunes on either, and while we didn't test it extensively on Switch and PC it does work well on both as a more traditional audio-in headset; in that sense, it's an especially good option if you're lucky enough to rock two or three of the aforementioned platforms.
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