Turtle Beach Recon 500 Headset Review: A Great Value For $80
Leaping into the fields of combat, you'll need a handy headset to lead you to victory. While an in-game gun or a sword is definitely needed to best your foes, having a Turtle Beach Recon 500 in your kit can heighten your gameplay.
The headset's new dual drivers provide an immense amount of audio detail for the $80 price tag, and the form factor is excellent, especially for big-headed players like me. But what about the rest of the headset? Is it up to the test?
Turtle Beach Recon 500 Headset Review: A Great Value For $80
The Turtle Beach Recon 500 shines in stressful in-game situations. A perfect example comes from a Call of Duty: Warzone match I played with a friend while testing the headset.
Down and out for the count, my friend was defending me to the very end. Thanks to the Recon 500, I heard distant footsteps on the far right side and could determine the diagonal source of the sound. With a wall in front of me and no vision at all, I was able to pinpoint their location in relation to my friend and warned him. Thanks to my callout, he was able to wipe the enemy out before they even saw him.
That's the moment when this headset wowed me, and you'll certainly have an advantage over other players with this budget-friendly peripheral.
What helped in this specific instance was the Recon 500 microphone. My friend reported that the audio was crystal clear and drained out the background noise, putting front and center what's truly important: your voice. Turtle Beach says that the Recon 500 delivers the quality that a professional gamer would hope for, and if my experience is anything to go by, that's exactly what this headset does.
In the PlayStation 5 exclusive roguelike Returnal, for example, you can hear every sound effect in crisp detail, despite the deep tones of the music and the overbearing nature of the action on screen. You can hear the pitter-patter of the rain hitting your helmet, the terrifying growls of every weird sci-fi creature (and where they're coming from), and the heavy pounding of each round being fired.
Overall, the Recon 500 offers a complex, enriching, and deeply bassy sound compared to other headsets I've used, such as the Gold Wireless Headset from PlayStation and the Razer Kraken X. The word "immersive" is overused in the gaming industry, but it perfectly fits what Turtle Beach offers here.
In another frenetic game I tested, Kingdom Hearts 3, the Recon 500 performed well yet again. While fighting the heartless, there are a lot of sound effects going on. Yoko Shimomura's glorious battle theme plays, Donald casts spells, and Goofy hyucks around the clash. It's all noisy, but I could still hear the heartless' attacks from yards away and knew exactly where they were coming from. Once the dust settled, I could detect the party's feet crunching in the snow beneath the loud music.
What helps the headset pick up these low-frequency and high-frequency sounds is the all-new patented dual drivers that Turtle Beach claims provide "ultra-detailed gaming audio across a massive soundstage." From my experience, it delivers that in spades; the cavalcade of sounds is impressively clear.
The superb sound imaging is also attributed to the wood composite earcup design that, according to Turtle Beach, "lends to enhanced acoustics" and a more realistic tone. While I'm no audio connoisseur, I do appreciate the rich audio that the headset offers.
Despite the excellent sound quality in Call of Duty: Warzone and Returnal, the quality of sounds in Fortnite was somewhat of a different story.
It could have been my audio settings or the game itself, but I found the positioning of the sounds jarring with this headset. As a nearby car blared out music, the sound was completely focused in the left earcup and was overwhelming. It roughly transitioned from left to right and sounded far too severe. With some games, your mileage may vary with the Recon 500, but with around six other games tested with this headset, Fortnite was the only outlier.
In addition to the strange sound sampling with Fortnite, the Recon 500's noise-canceling feature isn't as effective as you might like. I could still hear the TV in my living room as I watched a YouTube video on the Nintendo Switch. Your situation may vary depending on various factors, such as your setup. Still, if I were playing a portable game around my family, for example, the lack of noise-canceling would take me out of the gameplay experience.
Durable But Not So Comfortable
As a glasses wearer, it's often uncomfortable to wear a headset as my glasses slip and slide against the material. Thankfully, due to Turtle Beach's lightweight frame, the Recon 500 is glasses-friendly; your specs will snugly fit between your ears and the headset.
I've broken many a headset in my time since I have a huge head. In the past, the frames of PlayStation's line of plastic headphones and the Razer Kraken X snapped didn't hold up. I'm also hard-wearing with my headsets as they often fall off my small table. They often snap or simply stop working due to my unfortunate mishandling of the product.
Luckily for me, the Recon 500 headset is rock solid with its metal-reinforced headband. Also, the wood composite ear cups feel premium. The frame itself is metallic, and the plastic on top is hard, but it surprisingly stretches quite a ways to fit various head shapes. My big head can fit comfortably in the frame.
The 0.76m thick cable has a woven design, so it would not be prone to wear and tear, either. It also doesn't tangle easily from my experience so far.
However, something that is slightly concerning is that the wire attaching the rounded earcups to the frame is slightly bent at all times. It wasn't a problem in my time with the headset, but it could become an issue with extensive use or over many hours of play.
After a few hours of use, the headset begins to feel heavy, and I can feel the weight bearing down on the sides of my noggin. Despite that heaviness, the bottoms of the earcups feel loose around my larger earlobes. On a hot summer's day in a small room, your head will likely roast wearing this headset. Turtle Beach should have a fan add-on available for purchase...
All jokes aside, while the memory foam cushioning around the speakers is comfortable, the overall weight might be a downside for you.
Something to keep in mind is that there's only a wired option for this line of Turtle Beach headsets. That alone may be a big turn-off for those who desire a wireless headset, especially at the price range. Those who have phones and don't have a headphone jack may also want to steer clear if they want to use this accessory as an all-in-one audio solution.
On the other hand, one of its strengths is that you can take this on the go and look good while doing so if you have a phone with a jack. The microphone can be detached at any time, so you won't look silly with it hanging out like the Razer Kraken X.
The arctic white style is slick and has a unique pattern that will make you stand out; they're not as stylish as Beats or the biggest headset brands like Sennheiser, but you surely won't be laughed out of the building.
Turtle Beach Recon 500 Review — The Bottom Line
- Impressive audio quality that picks up all the little details
- Durable for even the biggest head
- Crystal clear microphone that can be removed
- Feels a little heavy after a few hours of use
- Memory foam should help, but it can get hot
- Noise-canceling isn't as effective as you'd like
The Turtle Beach Recon 500 is a great and sturdy headset slightly betrayed by its heavy design and lack of cooling.
[Note: Turtle Beach provided the Recon 500 unit used for this review.]