Turtle Beach's Elite 800 headphones are out not for £249 from Amazon.
- DTS Headphone: x 7.1 surround sound
- Custom FTS Surround Sound presets
- Active noise cancellation
- Two noise-cancelling mics built in
- Magnetic charging cradle
- 15 hour battery
In the hyped-up future of 'Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare', more tech is aways better tech. Whether you're running around in a robotic suit of titanic mega armour, flying a hover bike through the rubble of Detroit or using drones to kill people through the walls of a glass building, as long as you have at least three or four absolutely crazy, expensive gadgets on the go at once, you're on your way to devastating, violent success.
Problem is, in the real world of console gaming there are few actual gadgets you can employ to give you a similar advantage. Sure you can get a third-party 'pro' controller, a better/bigger screen or a gaming chair. But will they really make you better at the game? Nah. This isn't PC gaming, where impossible expensive mice and keyboards divide players on lines of commitment, income and possibly sanity. A PS4 is a PS4 is a PS4.
Except, arguably, when it comes to sound.
Enter the Turtle Beach Elite 800 headset.
At its most basic, this is an expensive (£249!) set of Bluetooth, wireless headphones. But the concept is that by adding up a bunch of high-end, gaming-focused features they will transform into something a bit more compelling for hardcore gamers: an advantage.
Take 'Call of Duty' as the example again. In CoD, sound matters. In an arena of death so brutal and fast as CoD multiplayer, being able to locate gunfire to a specific location can make the difference between life and respawning. If you're a noob, that might not be enough to keep you alive. But if you're decent, it could catapult you from mid-table to the top of the leaderboard.
Everything about the Elite 800 is designed to give you this sense of confidence. They feature DTS Headphones:X 7.1 surround sound, active noise cancellation and 'intelligent channel-hopping' for interference free wireless. They have two noise-cancelling mics, and many different sound presets which can enhance specific elements of a game - from footsteps to gunfire.
The result - as you'd expect - is at the minimum a… very nice set of headphones. They're comfy, built with weighty but not heavy materials, and are totally convincing in terms of physical quality. The magnetic charging stand is a nice feature, and setup is simple (once you've navigated the origami of the Quick Start guide). It's also worth noting that the headphones are wireless - but the base station isn't. That's still connected to the back of the PS4.
And yes, the sound is clear, sharp and deep, as well as completely customisable. They're as good watching sport as playing games, and last a long time - we were quoted 15 hours and that seems about right, though in truth we never got close to that level before plonking them down to recharge.
They're not perfect either, though. The button layout is confusing, and we were constantly taking them off to check where the right buttons were until we learned what did what. It's also oddly hard to tell which side is left and right (the writing is dark). These are minor quibbles though.
The point is that for £249 you expect a high-quality product, and with the Elite 800 you get that.
What is more up for debate is whether you actually get an advantage. If the comparison is between the Elite 800 and no headphones at all, clearly the answer is yes. But if it's between these and another pair of far-cheaper headphones, perhaps even Turtle Beach's own EarForce 400, that's harder to discern.
What we can say is that we genuinely did kill more bad dudes with these headphones on than with them off. We heard the enemy approaching from behind us (though not, as a reader pointed out, their actual footsteps, since you can't hear those in AW...). Then we crouched in the shadows and picked them off like pros. We ran to - or occasionally away from - big gun battles without even knowing the maps that well. And when we tried it with Alien Isolation, we almost blacked out with fear. That's a win.
What we didn't do was turn the mics on except in co-op. Life, frankly, is too short for this.
The truth is, these headphones cost a hell of a lot of money - and it still feels a little like they're trying to convince you they're worth it, rather than just clearly demonstrating it. In effect it's a little like a fancy car or pair of jeans - the aim here for Turtle Beach is to reflect the cost of the product, not to necessarily price the product for what it's worth.
Regardless, they're still hard to fault. These are among the best gaming headphones you can buy - they're probably the most intense ones we've ever used - and if you want them, think you can justify it and have the money, you should probably buy them. They'll go great with that exoskeleton you have earmarked for Christmas 2046.