Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60 review

Are 60mm drivers the new gold standard for gaming headsets?

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Our Verdict

A good all-rounder, but there are better sounding headsets around if you sacrifice the 7.1 surround sound.

For

  • Surround sound that's more than marketing bluster
  • Very adjustable

Against

  • Not the best overall sound reproduction on the market

If you've had the pleasure of trying out Kingston's superlative HyperX Cloud headset and sampled its thunderous bass, you'd say its 53mm driver units were big enough to power any gaming audio kit.

The industry, however, apparently disagrees.

We've had Asus with its Strix Pro boasting 60mm drivers and now Turtle Beach is getting in on the act with its Z60.

The cynic in us wonders if the value in increased driver size isn't more about marketing than consumer benefit; it's a nice number to imply a quantifiable benefit over rivals, but driver circumference alone is far from a gold seal of quality.

There's substantially more on offer from this $90 (£80) surround sound headset.

Did we say surround sound? Sorry, we meant DTS Headphone: X, which is a "revolutionary" new 360-degree, 3D surround tech that gives not just space but height to sound cues. If that sounds a bit far-fetched, but… it isn't.

You really do hear the illusion of sounds coming from high above as well as behind or around you.

Turtle Beach has made a fine name for itself on the console market by combining great surround sound with strong build quality, but doesn't tend to release as many models for us PC users.

It's really bringing its A game to our realm with this model, though.

The headset itself connects to an inline control which offers preset sound behaviours for gaming, music and movies (as well as the usual volume/mic controls). Movie mode boosts the frequency range that speech most commonly occurs at to keep dialogue clear, while also pumping up the bass to keep the sound effects hard-hitting.

It's designed with J.J. Abrams in mind, rather than Werner Herzog.

Game mode goes even further with the bass, boosting low frequencies to a level you can feel as much as hear.

This is where the 60mm drivers come in – they're positively violent.

Turtle Beach works them harder than Asus' Strix Pro cans, the end result being hilariously OTT gunfire, explosions… basically anything occupying a lower frequency range than Brian Blessed.

Music mode is as close as the Z60 comes to placating the audiophiles, flattening out the frequency response so your songs don't sound like mush. But it's only partially successful.

Kingston's HyperX Cloud delivers more satisfying bass, but still scrubs up well when you need flat, 'true' sound – aural evidence that driver size isn't the last word of the argument.

Yes you can

The headset design is very similar to more expensive console models such as the Turtle Beach Ear Force PX4, and as such it's very adjustable, breathable and strong.

Construction materials are predominantly plastic, but are finished to a really high standard and are near-silent when you're fiddling with them.

The microphone is perfectly functional and easily adjustable, and can also be removed if you want to use the Z60 as headphones for your MP3 player. You'll need a USB connection to make use of the surround, but there's a handy 3.5mm jack connecting the cans to the inline remote.

We liked

That 3D surround tech does sound a little far-fetched...until you try it. The vertical separation is the most obvious benefit, really giving you the illusion of sounds coming from above and below, as well as around you.

The in-line remote is good too, offering relevant and sound-changing preset profiles.

The build quality is typically-good for a Turtle Beach set of cans. The Z60 will fit pretty much anyone's head, with a little adjustment, and is nicely robust.

We disliked

The combination of hefty 60mm drivers and the surround sound support means the Z60 is a bit on the pricey side. If those features aren't for you then neither is this headset.

Verdict

The Ear Force Z60 is a good all-rounder, as you'd expect given Turtle Beach's previous cans. We'd hesitate to say it's overpriced, but you can find rival offerings for much less if you're willing to ditch surround for sound quality.

Specs
Frequency response range - 20Hz-20KHz
Driver size - 60mm
Connection type - 3.5mm/USB
Cable length - 3m
Mic - Omni-directional

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