z300-review

Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 Headset Review: A Force to be Reckoned with

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After getting to check out the Turtle Beach current and future lineup at E3 2014, I was excited to get the opportunity to review one of their feature PC and Mac headsets dubbed the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300.

It’s a wireless headset supporting Dolby 7.1 surround sound. The wireless works via a USB transmitter which plugs into your computer. The Z300 also allows Bluetooth connectivity, which lets you to connect another wireless device such as a phone. You can even connect two separate devices through Bluetooth; meaning you have the convenience of answering your phone while simultaneously gaming with the headset.

So with all these awesome features built in, is the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 worth its £169/$200 price tag?

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Design & Comfort

The Turtle Beach Z300 is tailored for comfort. The ear cups and headband are made with a foamy fabric, making it comfy around the ears.

With other headsets you can feel the bulk of the headset pressing into either your ears and head, but with all the tech inside, these cans feel surprisingly lightweight. I’ve had two hour long sessions with the headset on and not felt any urge to take them of due to ear ache.

The Z300 also comes with a detachable microphone, so you won’t be forced to endure a long microphone sticking out from the headset if you’re not chatting while you play. Even if you decide to leave the mic attached for convenience, you can swivel it upright so it’s not in the way.

The USB transmitter is thin and compact, though if you have a set up like mine where your desk has a half boarded back, you may find the length an inconvenience. I had to push the PC forward slightly to admit it, and even if you put the device at the front of your system you’ll have to be careful not to knock it.

With all the features available, you can bet the headset has many buttons. Thankfully they’re well placed and I rarely had issues with touching buttons by mistake. The power button is located in the middle of the left ear cup, making it easy to turn the device on and off. The volume wheel is also located on the left ear, with the right ear reserved for the chat, mute and Bluetooth buttons.

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Connectivity

Setting up the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 is simple enough. You plugin the wireless USB transmitter and turn the headphones on and it should auto install drivers for you. If necessary you can also hold the sync button to pair the device. Some computers may require you to download the drivers from the Turtle Beach website manually.

The only downside is that if you wish to switch between audio devices regularly, you’ll have to keep switching the default devices in your sound control panel. This is only if you wish to keep the transmitter plugged in.

The headphones are rechargeable via a mini-USB, to which the cable is included in the box. Some would prefer a micro-USB to keep continuity between other device outputs, but I see no inconvenience when the cable is included.

Having a wireless headset is certainly a luxury. Unfortunately the wireless range is limited. Straying around four meters from the transmitter caused dips in the sound reception. I also noticed the sound dipping in and out for milliseconds at times where I rapidly moved my head. This could be because my seating position is significantly higher than where the transmitter is plugged in, but it would be nicer if it could handle further distances. As a PC gaming headset however, I don’t see this being reason enough to pass on the Z300. It’s also worth noting that the Bluetooth range is significantly better than the wireless transmitter range, which is quite baffling.

I was surprised to learn that you can pair two devices to Bluetooth at once. So if your PC supports Bluetooth it can be paired to both the computer and the phone. As stated earlier this is great for answering calls while in game.

The Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 boasts 15 hours of battery life, which is perfect for gamers who binge play. It also does a great job preserving the battery life, but perhaps a little too great. The headset auto powers off after five minutes of inactivity. For someone like me who does more at the PC than game, this can get annoying. You’ll frequently find yourself turning the device on again to commence other activities such as music or media viewing.

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Sound

When it comes to sound, the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 is hands down the best sounding headset I’ve used for my personal gaming. With the surround sound activated I was able to make out sounds I’d never before been able to identify in games. In Battlefield 3 I could make out the direction of gunshots and explosions. I also tested the Z300 with music and movies.

As I listened to my iTunes library I was able to hear songs like I’d never heard them before. Everything sounded crisp and clear. I heard no distortion and the bass was perfect. I own high-end headphones specifically for music, and the Z300 trumps them by far. That’s very impressive considering I spent £200 on those high-end headphones.

The Turtle Beach Earforce Z300 also allows you to select presets, though it’s not explained how to go about this. It’s important to note that Mac users can only use the headset with Stereo sound.

When it comes to output, the microphone quality is crystal clear. I recorded myself in Audacity and found that it’s even clearer than the current microphone I use for podcasts. Sure latency may get in the way of this when gaming online, but you can bet that on a stable connection you won’t have any issues with voice quality.

THE GOOD

  • Wireless dolby 7.1 surround sound
  • Audio pre-sets
  • Bluetooth allows you to connect to two devices
  • Designed for comfort
  • Detachable Microphone
  • 15 hours battery life
  • The Dynamic Range Compression allows you to enhance softer sounds in games


THE BAD

  • The wireless range can be restrictive
  • The sound can dip out for milliseconds if you move your head too rapidly

Verdict

When it comes down to it the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 gives a lot of bang for your buck. What matters ultimately is the sound quality, and it delivers on this side. The wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, comfort and ease of set up are also major perks that help this headset to be one of the best valued headsets on the market.

The Turtle Beach Z300 is perfect for those who both game and consume media at their computer. There are many competing products out there, but with a company as reputable in the gaming field as Turtle Beach, there’s not really much more you could ask for until the company releases their next major PC headset. The more pricey headphones from Turtle Beach offer more presets and classier designs, but from a quality standpoint the Z300 provides everything you could want in a gaming headset.

The Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 is available now for around £169 in the United Kingdom and around $200 in the United States.

This review is based on a Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 provided by Turtle Beach for review.

About The Author
Gary A. Swaby Co-founder/UK Managing Editor
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