Turtle Beach Stealth 520 Review: Wireless Dynamo
Ben Sheene / Nov 22nd, 2016 No Comments
The quest for perfect sound is one of the most daunting tasks for a gamer. We want to hear the creak of floorboards as an opponent tries to flank from anywhere in a building. We want the punch of a gunshot or the bass of an explosion to rattle our ears as if we were right there in the firing lines.
Sound has become a crucial component to both the single-player and multiplayer experience. What you hear can enhance any moment or be the a key factor in whether your K/D ratio is going up or down. Gaming headsets can tout specialty features all over the box but it’s rare when a pair can hit every note at a great price and incredible functionality. For PlayStation 4 owners wanting to invest in a crucial piece of hardware, the Turtle Beach Stealth 520 wireless headset is as good as it gets.
The Stealth 520 primarily connects to the PS4 (and PS3) through the optical port on the back of the console. An included cable links the port with a wireless dongle that plugs into any available USB slot. A few seconds tinkering with the audio settings on your console and the headset is ready to go.
For my first time using the optical drive with an audio device, I was surprised at how easy set up was. The instructions in the box lay everything out plainly and finer adjustments like microphone and chat volume can be done on the PlayStation dashboard.
Many wireless headsets function through the sole use of a dongle that transmits sound. Because the Stealth 520 takes advantage of optical audio it instantly gives the impression that sound quality is going to get a major boost, even wirelessly. The headset’s convenience factor is one of the biggest draws for any gamer. Having the ability to transition from a couch to a chair or even grab a drink from the fridge without having to worry about cables is a blessing in nearly any long-term gaming session.
PlayStation owners may be familiar with the PlayStation Gold wireless headset or one of its previous iterations; in fact, I used one for three years. When I wore the Gold the signal would often get very spotty when I was over twenty feet from my console and often completely give out when I walked downstairs. The Stealth 520 receives sound and delivers my chat audio in all the places the Gold doesn’t.
Loud and Proud
Turtle Beach didn’t make any sacrifices to sound quality when crafting the Stealth 520. The manufacturer’s name is one of the few that is instantly recognizable with gaming headsets and audio, so it would have been a shame to see a drop in performance for the sake of losing wires.
50mm speakers are packed inside the headset’s cans which deliver a thunderous amount of sound right into your head. The first game I played with the Stealth 520 was Titanfall 2 and I was not disappointed. Multiplayer in Titanfall 2 is some of the most chaotic and fun nonsense available right now. Titans dropping and players firing off guns at each other makes for incredibly loud and deep sound.
I’m the kind of player that usually has my volume at an almost deafening level. Even during the most hectic matches, the Stealth 520’s speakers never crackle or sound like they are about to blow. Yes, it gets to the point in Titanfall 2 where explosions and guns are barely distinguishable from one another but it’s just how the game is.
For a change in pace I decided to play Search and Destroy in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. The tension of picking up on the opposite team’s footsteps as they try to plant the bomb makes it one of the most thrilling and heartbreaking multiplayer modes around. I consider it one of the true tests of how good a headset is at picking up subtle noises that most players don’t normally pay attention to.
The Stealth 520 sports DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound and a feature Turtle Beach deems “superhuman hearing.” These features are meant to ensure that players hear realistic noises in the locations they come from. For any Search and Destroy purposes or when hearing everything is essential, the headset passes with flying colors. Players can lay in the corner of a building facing away from the door and hear the crunch of an enemy’s footsteps as they walk in the grass stalking for prey.
I won’t say that the Stealth 520 makes me any better at Call of Duty or any other multiplayer scenario but it certainly increases my awareness. From Rise of the Tomb Raider to The Witness to Grand Theft Auto 5 to Hotline Miami to Deux Ex: Mankind Divided, the amount of sound actually heard is constantly surprising.
A few optional DTS surround sound modes can be selected with the push of a button on the backside of the right ear cup. These include natural sound, bass boost, bass and treble boost, and a vocal boost. All have a subtle impact on how the headset delivers different sounds. It’s fun to test out some of your favorite games and seeing how the Stealth 520 enhances them in new ways.
For the amount of power going into your ears, it may be surprising to feel how lightweight the headset is. The light plastic used for the frame of the headset allows it not to weigh down on your head. Considering the weight of the cups and the fact you can rotate them to the side, the plastic frame may feel a little flimsy around the headband to some.
Despite the light quality of the headset, it’s really quite comfortable. The synthetic leather used for the ear and headband cushions doesn’t feel as sublime as truly leather fabric and memory foam. However, the material is actually quite soft after you adjust the headset to the shape of your head. Since there’s less of a reason to take off a wireless headset, it’s good that Turtle Beach used comfortable material.
An adjustable and removable microphone rounds out the Stealth 520. It’s easy to bend the microphone toward or away from your mouth and it does a fantastic job at picking up your voice with good quality at many angles. Because the headset gets really loud and the ear cups are effective at blocking out sound, the Stealth 520’s use of microphone monitoring is a crucial addition so you aren’t shouting too much.
Possibly the biggest downside of the headset is going to be for PS4 owners who have purchased the slimmer PS4. That console’s lack of an optical port will limit the functionality of the Stealth 520 along with many other popular headset brands. The standard audio jack still delivers great sound but it really doesn’t compare to the full experience a PS4 Pro or old PS4 player will experience.
After several long and intense sessions using Turtle Beach’s Stealth 520 wireless gaming headset I was truly blown away. Things like a 15-hour battery life, a dial to adjust chat volume over game audio, and a power down function when no sound is detected are the icing on the cake. The headset retails for $129.95 and for the wireless functionality and quality of sound, it’s impossible not to recommend to PlayStation owners looking for one of the best ways to hear their games.
The Turtle Beach Stealth 520 was reviewed using a headset provided by Turtle Beach.
tags: Ear Force Stealth 520 , hardware , hardware review , ps3 , ps4 , review , Stealth 520 , turtle beach