When it comes to PC 7.1 surround sound headsets, everyone will be thinking of virtual Dolby surround sound, Turtle Beach however have decided that perhaps that isn't always the best option and have released a range of both console and PC headsets based on DTS Headphone:X Surround Sound a 3D 360-degree sound stage which the company say has an unmatched accuracy.
Our testing of PC headsets has been quite limited when compared to consoles, with us trying out many major releases of 7.1 surround sets over the past year or so. When it comes to PC's our main review machine has been using an old Logitech G35 wired 7.1 surround headset which supported Dolby surround. It is still one of our most loved headsets despite its age.
The Turtle Beach Z60 we are reviewing today is aimed as a lower budget 7.1 surround set for PC's, its fully wired and doesn't come with the range of settings that many of Turtle Beach's higher specced and high priced headsets do, but that doesn't mean it is a slouch when it comes to quality.
The DTS Headphone:X support isn't the only big thing on the Z60 though, as the headset also comes with huge 60mm Neodymium speakers which really overload the bass.
Setting up the Z60 is as easy as headsets can come. Unlike many other top-end headsets this is as simple as plug in and go, there are no drivers to install at all, even on a Mac. Once you have plugged the headset in to your PC, you go to the audio controls and then set the sound to output at 7.1 surround sound, the hardware does the rest of the decoding.
The Z60 feels good on the ears for long lengths of time and never ends up feeling uncomfortable. We have no problem about wired headsets either, especially on a pc where many people play close to a monitor.
The remote that allows you to change settings from Game surround to Music and Movies does the job perfectly well and never gets in the way at all during gaming sessions.
We tested a large range of PC games to see just how the headset fairs on a large selection of different titles. The titles we tested the Z60 on are listed below:
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
- Battlefield 4
- The Witcher 2
- The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
As we were told when we received the headset for review, the Z60 is certainly aimed more at the action market with games such as Battlefield 4, Call of Duty and other first person shooters. The reason we say this is when you play many RPG's or adventure titles with a lot of dialogue, it can sometimes seem a little harder to hear the voices as they can be a bit drowned out with everything else going on around you.
The quality of sound was a little hit and miss at times, with games like Battlefield really showing off great surround both in terms of positioning and height. The explosions were suitably full of bass, but dialogue was sometimes hard to hear as if it blended into the rest of the sound effects rather than being clear.
Shadow of Mordor wasn't bad either especially with the clashing of steel and range of directions enemies were coming at us from, but once more dialogue didn't feel punchy enough when compared to more expensive headsets or even our old G35's.
Other games that are dialogue heavy also suffer from a lack of punch despite surround effects being good once more. This seems very much at odds from the other DTS Headphone:X headsets that Turtle Beach are coming out with such as the Stealth 500x which from hands on test didn't have any issue, though we don't have one to review currently.
The detachable mic is great though with very clear voice reproduction and the ability to hear yourself when using it makes all the difference when gaming and not ending up shouting at team mates. As usual with a Turtle Beach headset, the Z60 comes with their Dynamic Chat Boost which increases chat volume levels in the event of game sounds becoming too loud to hear anything else.
Movies, Music and Mobiles
Testing the Z60 with movies via blu-ray produced very good results, this seems to be where the headset excels itself, thanks even more to the added bass that it produces. I can see this being a great purchase for those on a budget with a decent gaming/movie playing laptop, maybe at Uni.
Music again isn't bad, but this is supposed to be a gaming headset first and foremost. As expected the bass is very punchy thanks to the 60mm speakers, too much for our liking but I know people who tried these who loved that added bass, for me it too away other more subtle sounds.
As has become the norm on Turtle Beach headsets, the Z60 can be used on your mobile devices as a plain stereo headset. You simply have to detach the mic and the mobile cable from the control unit and you are ready to attach it to your Windows Phone, iPhone or any other device. The sound isn't bad at all and is well worth using when traveling, especially if you only have the cheaply included headphones which usually come with those devices.
In the end we have come away both impressed and disappointed with some aspects of the Z60 headset. Comfort is excellent and once more that is what is needed when you play games on PC's for long stretches at a time, the headset also has a lot of versatility thanks to gaming, music and movie modes.
The problem is that while some first person shooters sound excellent on them from an effects point of view thanks to the added bass, a lot of dialogue suffers for some reason and because of this it can sometimes feel a little tinny. Despite this, for the price the Z60 can certainly replace many cheaper PC headsets on the market both in quality of sound and quality of comfort and that can't be a bad thing.