Price (RRP): $269.95
Manufacturer: Turtle Beach
Well, I’m behind the times. When Turtle Beach approached me about reviewing a product, I instantly thought of the days when Turtle Beach was the creator of better-than-SoundBlaster sound cards for the PC. But it turns out that these days, the company’s main game is gaming headsets. Indeed, its X51 from 2005 was apparently the first ever headset for gaming consoles.
Now, fourteen years later, I’m looking at the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero gaming headset, and this is one intended primarily for the PC.
Elite Atlas Aero headset features
Yes, it will work with consoles. It comes is a 3.5mm cable for the purpose. But on a console you will be wired in, rather than enjoying the wireless functionality available for PCs and Macs, and you won’t get the PC sound tuning capabilities. Since I’m a PC guy, the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero headset worked well for me.
So, what is it? This is a wireless gaming headset. The “gaming” part means that the headphones also have a microphone. This is on a flexible, light-weight boom which plugs into the left earcups. You can remove it or fold it away if not needed. There’s also a microphone defeat switch on the left earcup. The microphone is designed to cancel ambient noise in order to keep your voice clear.
And there’s also a “mix level” control on the left earcup. You adjust this to control how much of the microphone pickup gets mixed into the signal that you’re hearing from the headphones. Useful if you need to hear your own voice on calls or in-game chats.
The headphones use 50mm “Nanoclear” drivers. Turtle Beach rates the “Speaker Frequency Response” at 12 to 20,000 hertz.
They are charged via Micro-B USB – a cable is included – and the battery life is rated at thirty hours, which should be enough for any gaming session.
Elite Atlas Aero headset communications
As with the Xbox, PS4 and Nintendo Switch, you can use them with your PC wired. But most will choose to go wireless.
The wireless connection is not Bluetooth, but something proprietary. You plug a small dongle into a USB socket on your computer and it’s that with which the headphones communicate.
That’s a smart design choice. Some Bluetooth modes are rather slow when it comes to latency – the time delay between the signal and the result – and that can play havoc with gaming. You don’t need more delay added to your own reaction time. How much latency? This test on various Android phones suggests Bluetooth delays of more than 200 milliseconds, up to more than half a second.
I might as well deal with that right now. Even proprietary wireless communications systems involve some latency. In an endeavour to quantify that, I tried using an on-line reaction timer. I measured my reaction time using the headphones, a couple of dozen times with them connected to my computer via wire and then wirelessly. The timer was a bit flaky, sometimes giving unrealistic figures. So I ruled out any result over 300 milliseconds. With wire my times were around 209 milliseconds. Wirelessly, around 224 milliseconds. Turtle Beach doesn’t specify a figure, but I’d say that the wireless connection adds perhaps a 10 to 15 millisecond delay. Which is probably about as small a delay as is technically possible.
In games where reacting quickly to sounds is important, that low latency can give quite an edge. Perhaps in important competitions, you can go wired to respond even faster.
Comfort and control
The Elite Atlas Aero headset applies a fairly firm pressure to your head, but I found it fine for a few hours of use. The cups encompass one’s ears, rather than sitting atop them, and that keeps things easy.
I went for a little walk at one point. The wireless connection proved to be solid up to around fifteen metres away.
There are more controls on the headset. The main on/off button is a little recessed, but your fingers will soon learn its location. Above it is a protruding button which invokes “Superhuman Hearing Mode”. The idea of this it to let you listen more closely to what’s going on in the game, perhaps giving you a useful boost in performance. But as we’ll see later, it has another useful function.