Sony's own PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset set the standard for affordable, wireless PlayStation 4 gaming headsets, delivering strong sound and solid comfort at a price that didn't break the bank.
Now Turtle Beach has its own attempt at the very same value proposition: the Stealth 600 is a $99 (£89, AU$169) headset that pairs easily with your PS4, delivers virtual surround sound, and lasts for upwards of 15 hours of gaming. On paper, it's a very solid alternative with its own unique perks, including an amplified "Superhuman hearing" mode.
But there are some drawbacks to Turtle Beach's attempt, including an awkward design and cheap-feeling build, that hold it back from affordable excellence – although it certainly delivers strong virtual surround sound if you can get used to how it fits atop your dome.
Unlike some headsets that aim for subtlety (like the much pricier Beyerdynamic Custom Game), the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 screams "gaming headset." It's almost all chunky plastic, complete with big blue color accents on the cups for this PS4 edition. An Xbox One version is also available with the expected swap to green trim.
Unfortunately, this feels like very cheap plastic. Some parts recall the kind of plastic used for Happy Meal toys, and the headset definitely has an unsettling creakiness to it when holding and affixing it to your head. Compromises in build quality are fair given the price for a wireless headset with virtual surround sound, but the $59 (£49, AU$79) DualShock 4 controller feels a lot more refined than this headset. It's a little jarring.
Unfortunately, the frustration is even more pronounced when it comes to fit. Simply put, the Stealth 600 is one of the most awkward-feeling headsets we’ve ever stuck on our head. It lacks the kind of careful contouring needed to comfortably sit and stay in position, and no amount of fiddling could locate a sweet spot.
We’d shift the flexible headband – which has a dense, puffy cushion beneath – back and forth and play with the cups, but they pinch a little too much near the top of the cushions and never form a great seal around our ears. Without that secure feeling atop our head, they always feel tentatively attached, even if they never actually fall off during use.
At a glance, they look like they're supposed to be worn backwards...but it doesn't feel any better. Not that it’d work right anyway.
You'll spend a fair amount of time touching the left cup, since it houses the compact, flip-down mic, which conveniently mutes when flipped up. It also has the power and mode buttons, which offer a few different uses. The mode button activates the virtual surround sound mode, as well as swaps between a few different EQ presets (Signature Sound, Bass Boost, Bass and Treble Boost, and Vocal Boost).
Holding the power button also activates "Superhuman hearing," which we'll touch on in the next section. Meanwhile, having the overall volume and mic monitor volume dials side-by-side can be a bit confusing when you're blindly feeling for them.
Connectivity with the PlayStation 4 is thankfully hassle-free: a small USB dongle just pops right into the console. That's it: you're connected. Unfortunately, this edition of the Stealth 600 doesn't connect to other devices. Unlike Sony's Gold Wireless Headset, you can't pop in a 3.5mm cable for use with phones, tablets, or computers. That's a real limitation.
So far, not so great. But the Stealth 600 honestly delivers when it comes to audio performance. Flipping to virtual surround sound, the soundscape impresses with its depth and clarity, offering nicely balanced game audio across different types of games.
The familiar rat-a-tat of Call of Duty: WWII packs an immersive wallop in multiplayer battles, as bullets whizz by our ears and nearby explosions have us reeling. Swapping over to Rocket League, the satisfying boings of well-placed shots and the pulsing electronic beats all reverberate well through the Stealth 600.
Despite some real miscues with the build and design, the Stealth 600 lives up to Turtle Beach's reputation on the surround sound front. We’re not quite as impressed with the non-surround setting, which seems very confined and a bit muddled while gaming (even compared to stereo headsets), but you'll want to default to virtual surround anyway. It's a significant difference.
Tapping the power button during play activates "Superhuman hearing," which is an interesting little perk. Essentially, it amplifies certain levels so that sounds like footsteps, weapon reloads, and gunfire are more forward in the mix. When using it with Call of Duty: WWII, we definitely hear a difference... but we still usually get smoked by trash-talking teens. Your results may vary.
As for the flip-down mic, it's decent—a pal on the other end in party chat suggests it sounds clear and solidly full, but has a bit of an echo coming through.
Lastly, the Stealth 600 promises an impressive 15 hours of battery life on a single charge, and our testing showed that it's able to go for a long haul. Even after using it for several hours over the span of a week, it hasn’t demanded a topping up. It should hold up well across multiple sessions.
Turtle Beach's Stealth 600 headset for PlayStation 4 does a few things very well: the sound quality is very sharp, the wireless connectivity is seamless and effective, and the $99 (£89, AU$169) price point is a big plus.
But it comes with a number of drawbacks, as well, some of which might be more pressing to you than others. The uncomfortable design is the biggest issue in our eyes, along with a build that feels cheaper than expected even at this price. Beyond that, the lack of connectivity with other devices is a significant omission.
At this price point, Sony's Gold Wireless Headset delivers comparable aural performance while excelling in all the ways that the Stealth 600 falls short. And if you don't like Sony's headset and still want something wireless, you might be better off paying a little more for a headset that's a lot more versatile and refined than this odd misfire.