Turtle Beach Stealth 420X+ Headset Review
One of my all-time favourite gaming headphones is the 2009 Turtle Beach’s Ear Force X-41. Limited to RF technology that had restricted range and very susceptible to interference that made them prone to audio dropouts, nevertheless they sounded great and were pillow comfortable. Time marches on and technology continues to improve. Nowadays with Bluetooth technology wireless audio equipment is becoming more prevalent. Getting solid audio reception twenty to thirty feet away from the source is now possible. Pretty amazing.
So here we are seven years later and Turtle Beach is still alive and kicking in the gaming headphone market and one of their latest entry is the Xbox One specifically tailored headsets – the Stealth 420X+. It’s a stylish looking unit – mostly black and trimmed with Microsoft green. It’s all plastic with a rigidly solid headband cushioned underneath with padding. The cups are adjustable to accommodate different head sizes. The cups are swivelled but are limited to 90 degrees in rotation. The cushions on the cups are adequate but a trifle skimpy. At a $140 US for a wireless gaming headset some comprises are inevitable and there is a a rough edge to the ergonomics. Given the solidness of the plastic headband and the modicum of cushioning for your noggin and ears, the 420X+ clamped onto my head a trifle too tight and uncomfortably. Note – I was able to soften the jagged feeling of the fit by swapping out the cushions with a spare pair I have from my Brainwavz HM-5s. They are deep cushions – about twice the thickness of the stock 420 ones. Highly recommend picking up a pair – or something similar. The increased comfort level is definitely worth it.
“It’s a stylish looking unit – mostly black and trimmed with Microsoft green.”
On the functional side, the set comes with a removable flexy microphone that comes with a foam cover to reduce any vocal sibilance. The microphone plugs into the left cup. All the controls are on the right cup. The power button is on the outside of the right cup in a triangular button with the Turtle Beach logo. To power it on, you simply give the button a logo press. The logo lights up green and a female voice tells you the headphones are powering up. If there is insufficient or low charge, the female voice will pipe in to let you and the logos will turn red and stay red during the charging process. Condition green will return once fully charged. Charging is done through min-USB connection. A charge should last around 15 hours.
Once powered up, there are two wheels to control volume. The upper wheel controls the headphone speaker volume and the bottom one is used to set the volume balance between the headphone speakers and the microphone. Between the volume controls is a preset button that is flush with the contours of the right headphone. There are 4 audio presets available: natural sound – the best one in my opinion, a bass boost, a bass and treble boost, and a clear voice. The natural setting provides the most balanced and clear soundstage while the other options give prominence to one aspect of the soundstage at the sacrifice of clarity of everything else. All these controls are found at the back of the right earcup. I fumbled with them at first, especially the preset button, but after getting use to their layout, their use became much easier.
There is an additional audio option available. A quick press of the power up button activates a – Super Hearing mode – designed specifically to help gamers locate enemy players or NPCs by accentuating their movements via their audible cues be footsteps, weapon noises, etc. Use of this mode comes with a price though as it compresses the overall game soundstage making the soundstage sound thin and introduces audio artifacts like hissing. Multiplayer gamers may find the trade-off acceptable but I disliked the compromise.
Bluetooth connectivity is via a USB dongle. While designed for the XBox One, extra functional marks are happily handed out as it works perfectly well with PCs too, including the microphone. Speaking of the microphone, the audio quality of it is excellent. Your voice is heard clearly by other players and reproduces your voice very naturally and clearly. This clarity extends to the headphone speakers too. The audio is clear and I experienced no drop outs or break up. The range of the headphones will vary from one gamers home base to another but for me I could easily go almost thirty feet away with no issues. The USB connector is located at the bottom of the right earcup. There is also an additional 3.5 mm jack which you can use with the included cable to hook up to your phone or digital audio player. The cable features an inline dangle mic.
The audio qualities of the Stealth 420X+ come off across a little cool to me but that in no way detracts in their ability to function as a solid, wirefree gaming headset. They work well for gaming, watching videos, and other thing like chatting and podcasting. They even work or casual music listening but for serious music listening, a wired set of music focused headphones are still provide the ultimate experience.
Turtle Beach has put together a solid, wireless gaming headphone here. Naturally this is a heavier set than a wired one and if you don’t invest in a more plush set of headphone cushions you will suffer fatigue. At the price point of these headphones, Turtle Beach had to strike a balance between ergonomics and functionality. They have done a superior job with the Stealth 420X+.
***A Stealth Xbox One headset was provided by Turtle Beach***
- Wireless with good sound
- Microphone works very well
- Works equally well with PCs
- Heavy with a rigid feel
- Audio options come with compromises
- Stereo only