Table of Contents
Introduction & Specification Details and Close-up
In the hardware world, there’s an expectation from the pricing. Stuff on the high-end of the scale should deliver in terms of premium features and quality, and by that same token, stuff on the low-end should offer up value for money. Of course, it’s never as cut and dry as that, but the price-to-quality formula is truer in the audio space than in others. From headphones to speakers to gaming headsets, premium sound and quality often come at a price.
As a wired gaming headset from Turtle Beach, the Recon 500 sits somewhere in the low to mid-range in terms of pricing (AUD $129.95 and USD $79.95), which is the range where you begin to see the biggest difference when jumping from headset to headset. Note – at the time of writing, Amazon has a 38% off deal on the Turtle Beach Recon 500 bringing the price down to $49.95, which makes the whole deal much more reasonable.
As a wired headset with a single 3.5mm audio interface cable (one that only measures just over a meter), it’s clear that the Turtle Beach Recon 500 is targeting the console and mobile gaming market first. This makes sense, and there’s a certain versatility that comes from being able to chop and change between PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch with relative ease and no fuss in terms of setup, software, or any sort of syncing required. It’s a shame then that the Recon 500 doesn’t ship with a splitter cable for PC, where audio output and input are almost always split in two. It’s kind of a requirement for the Recon 500 to truly be PC compatible out of the box.
With the Turtle Beach Recon 500 sitting in that affordability sweet spot for everyday gaming, outside of this PC connectivity shortcoming, what immediately stands out when plugging it in is the audio quality. Featuring Turtle Beach’s own Eclipse drivers, a fancy name given to the large 60mm dual-chamber drivers that split low and high frequencies to improve detail, the result is impressive clarity. And an overall booming sound that can sell a punchy bassline.
Specifications & Close Up
- Product Type: Wired gaming headset
- Interface: 3.5mm Jack Connection
- Supported Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Mobile Devices, and PC (PC Splitter Cable sold separately)
- Drivers: 60mm Eclipse Dual Drivers with Neodymium magnets
- Headphones Frequency Response: 20 – 20000 Hz
- Microphone Design: Uni-directional and detachable
- Ear-cup Design: Over-Ear (Closed)
- Ear Cushion Material: Fabric with Memory Foam
- Cable: 1.3m Braided Cable with 3.5mm Connection
Kosta’s Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 UNIFY
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3800X
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition
- Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB AIO CPU Cooler
- RAM: 32GB (4x8GB) HyperX FURY DDR4 3200MHz
- SSD: Seagate FireCuda 520 SSD 2TB
- Power Supply: Cooler Master V 850W Gold SFX Power Supply
- Case: MPG SEKIRA 500P
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Design & Software and Support
On top of great audio, Turtle Beach has also included some nice features in the Recon 500, specifically in the ear cup department. The fabric memory foam cups here are not only comfortable and somewhat breathable, but they include Turtle Beach’s impressive ProSpecs tech, which keeps the sound and overall pressure on your head the same, glasses or no glasses.
Glasses for many headsets can lead to unwanted audio bleed and a loss in frequency detail, so it’s great to see that’s not the case here. That said, even with its closed over-ear design, those around you will be able to hear your in-game goings-on, and there’s very little in that way of natural noise cancellation.
Where it’s clear Turtle Beach has cut costs comes with the overall build quality of the Recon 500, which is pretty much all-plastic, though the adjustable portion of the headband is metal. The cups do swivel 90 degrees which adds some degree of portability, but the stiff hard-plastic headband limits the flexibility somewhat. Again, thanks to the cup design, the Turtle Beach Recon 500 is comfortable enough to wear for extended periods, but it won’t be winning any awards in this department.
There’s a barebones quality to the design and look of the Recon 500, which makes sense for the price point. The all-black with some grey trim look is minimal with minor brand-based flourishes that include ‘Turtle Beach’ emblazoned on the headband and logo stuff on the outside of the cups.
It’s minimal, sleek, and serviceable, and this extends to the on-headset controls, which are a volume dial and a mute button. And that’s it. The latter is large and easily accessible, so that’s a plus. Throw in a detachable microphone, and the overall build design of the Recon 500 is decent, but again the build itself might be a bit plasticky for some.
Software and Support
As per the introduction, connecting the Turtle Beach Recon 500 Headset to a PC is something of a hassle if you don’t have a 3.5mm audio splitter handy. As someone who has had more than a few headsets cross their desk over the years, I had a decent splitter and extender to connect the Recon 500s to a PC. But that was obtained from a similarly priced gaming headset from a competing brand – which makes the omission here from Turtle Beach a strange one. Granted, the Recon 500 box lists consoles and leaves PC support to the realm of the footnotes, but it would have been nice to get that extra platform support out of the gate.
As a wired headset, Turtle Beach has opted not to include any app, customization, or software support for the Recon 500 – leaving all of that to the platform it’s connected to. For Xbox and PlayStation players, the good news is that both platforms offer chat, game, microphone, and other audio adjustments as part of their operating systems, so tweaking levels is easy enough.
PS5 owners also get Sony’s impressive Tempest 3D Audio, which does work great with the Recon 500 headset – which features a warm, rich, and detailed default tuning. The overall sound quality and balancing of the Recon 500 lead to similar performance across major consoles and even PC.
Performance & Microphone
Turtle Beach is a brand that is known for bringing bass, so to speak. When it comes to immediate impressions, a bass-heavy mix can often be the one people look for – but not always ideal in the long run. With that in mind, it was great to learn that the Turtle Beach Recon 500 sound featured an impressive frequency response to sit alongside the booming bass. For the price point, it’s impressive stuff, warm, rich, and crisp, with enough room to keep things like voice, footsteps, explosions, and music in the mix.
Of course, it’s not anywhere near audiophile-grade, and there’s a general lack of sub-bass that comes through when listening to music, and the bass does overwhelm some of the detail. But the balance is great for a gaming headset that doesn’t feature anything in the way of onboard or app-based customization.
Playing Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered on PC and PS5 and the clarity of the music and street sounds found across the game’s New York City setting was a highlight. Firing up Saints Row on the Xbox Series X (even the game itself isn’t great) and the music on the radio was as clear and crisp as the cars on the road and in pursuit.
A lot of the credit here goes to Turtle Beach’s 60mm Eclipse Dual Drivers, which are tuned for gaming. They offer clear and detailed sound without distortion and sound just as good when the mix in a particular game goes wild with explosions and chatter. The booming quality of the bass extends to overall volume, too, as these can get loud – if that’s your thing. As a nice little bonus, the warm tuning does lend itself to decent music performance, where highs aren’t overly harsh, and mid-range detail is there for the most part.
Having a detachable microphone should be the norm no matter the price range, so it’s good to see that Turtle Beach has opted for one here versus a flip-up and down deal. In terms of its quality, much like with audio performance, it’s mostly good news. Voice detail is clear and detailed, with lower and upper frequencies captured and broadcast with surprising clarity.
The downside, though, is that even though it’s branded as a “Noise-Cancelling Mic”, in our testing, it picked up quite a bit of background noise. Including audio bleeding from the headset itself, which can be annoying for those on the other end. Plus, the physical bendy design is stiff and limited in being able to fully adjust and put it in the best possible spot.
As an affordable wired option, the Turtle Beach Recon 500 Headset is a great option for those that do the bulk of their gaming on consoles, with the versatility and sound quality far more impressive than we expected going in. That might be due to having a personal preference for warmer-sounding speakers and headphones, but there’s no denying that Turtle Beach’s hardware has decent tuning for a wide range of games, music, and media.
But there are shortcomings. Some of these are understandable, like the plasticky build and minimal no-frills customization options to keep costs down. That said, they still bring an air of cheapness to the Recon 500 that would be more acceptable on a budget headset. The lack of a 3.5mm splitter is strange because it rules out PC compatibility unless you have one lying around. Or shell out for one as an add-on.
In the end, for the price, the Turtle Beach Recon 500 is a solid headset for console gamers. And one that delivers when it comes to audio quality.