The PC headset market is much more crowded than the console headset market, which means it’s particularly difficult for any one headset to standout. Turtle Beach is a reputable name when it comes to gaming audio, and the level of quality in their products does nothing but boost this reputation. How does the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60 PC gaming headset fair against all the others on the market?
The first thing that impressed me about this headset is that it offers DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound technology without the need to download an additional driver. My previous PC headset required me to download a surround sound driver from the Turtle Beach website, so it was a nice surprise to know that the Surround Sound worked on the Z60 as soon as it was plugged in. It’s also the first of these headsets to use 60mm drivers.
The headset also provides the same level of comfort that all Turtle Beach products have been known for. I’ve never had sore ears from wearing a Turtle Beach product for too long, and the Z60 feels just as comfortable as the rest. It has a solid plastic frame that circles around the head nicely, and the foam on the headband and the earcups offer enough padding for long term sessions. It never feels flimsy and I rarely had to fidget with it to get the perfect position. Given the size and thickness of the headset, it feels lightweight to wear.
The Turtle Beach EarForce Z60 is designed to be used via USB. There’s a cable that stems from the left earcup that ends in a 3.5mm jack, this is what transfers both microphone and stereo signals. If you wanted to you could plug this straight into another device, such as a mobile phone or laptop, but it would provide none of the devices true features, including surround sound. The 3.5mm jack is intended to be plugged into its USB powered amplifier, where its true power lies.
The USB amplifier is essentially a 16-bit sound card that decodes all the audio signals over the USB connection. The best part is that it’s 100% plug in and play, it couldn’t be simpler. Depending on your computer set up you may have to go into your control panel and select the device as the default for it to work, but upon plugging the amplifier in there’s no additional software that needs to be downloaded.
The amplifier has volume wheels for both volume and chat audio. There’s a mute button on the opposite side, followed by a button to change the current audio mode. The different modes include game, movie and music. There’s also a stereo mode for non-surround sound effects.
The game mode is well done, putting extra emphasis on explosions and gunshots. It’s mainly beneficial in first-person shooters where locating enemies is important. The mode gives you a sense of distance that helps you to pinpoint the location of sounds within the game, which is an important thing in competitive gaming.
The movie mode is designed to provide a cinema like audio experience. I wasn’t able to watch a full length movie with the Z60, but I did manage to skip through a few of my favourite movies that I had at the ready. Guardians of Galaxy in particular sounded excellent with the Ear Force Z60 compared to PC speakers. I sometimes find in films that there’s an imbalance with the music score and general dialogue, which causes me to keep turning the volume up and down throughout the viewing. But the surround sound movie mode on the Ear Force Z60 will provide an enjoyable watching experience without the need to keep adjusting the volume to balance out the movie sounds.
Music mode compliments my music of choice well (Hip hop), as the Z60 has some pretty bassy attributes. I found that the surround sound gave the songs I’ve listened to frequently a new layer of sound that I’d never heard before. Some genres may not benefit from this mode however, which is where the amplifiers stereo mode comes in handy.
As for the detachable microphone for the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60. It’s crystal clear. I tested it in a Skype call, in game and I also recorded myself and played it back. My voice was clear and smooth, with no muffling or feedback. I sometimes find with these microphones that they’re so sensitive that they distort my voice somewhat, I’m also conscious that the headset may pick up my heavy breathing. But from what I can tell, this microphone picks up my voice perfectly without any distortion. Being able to position the microphone also helps it not pick up my breathing. The level of quality on the microphone is pretty surprising given the fact that the microphone has no foam shield around it.
It’s important to understand that there are other Turtle Beach PC headsets out there that offer more enhanced sound than the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60. But what makes the Z60 attractive is its price. I’ve seen them go for around £70 – £99, which is an excellent price range for the level of quality these headsets provide. I remember paying £50 for my very first PC headset, and it’s miles below what this headset offers for just thirty or so pounds extra. If you want a great quality headset but aren’t willing to go over £100 for one then the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60 is the perfect choice. With its plug and play ease of use, you won’t be disappointed.