When buying a gaming headset, you should first assess what sort of a gamer you are. Turtle Beach’s new Recon 150 is clearly aimed at gamers without pretension – those who harbour no aspirations to jack in their day-jobs and become the next e-sports star.
It’s cheap – at $69.99 (£49.99, AU$99.95) – and basic in terms of features, eschewing bells and whistles like surround-sound and active noise cancellation.
That said, it’s also well made and comfortable and contains the basic ingredients to do a very fine job for those who simply play games for fun.
Design and build quality
$70 gaming headsets can sometimes look a bit cheap and nasty, but that isn’t an accusation you can level at the Recon 150, although neither is it a headset whose fit and finish is classy enough to make your friends think you’re richer than you are.
It has a nice, comfortable leather-clad strap and big earcups, whose blue detailing signals that it has been designed for use with the PlayStation 4 (although it will also work with PCs: commendably, Turtle Beach includes an adapter for separate audio-out and microphone-in channels). The detachable microphone is on a long, bendy arm that even people with the strangest-shaped faces will be able to manoeuvre into a comfortable position.
It’s also on the lighter side for a gaming headset, and while the ear-cushions aren’t made of memory foam, they still do their job pretty well. So, comfort-wise, the Recon 150 can’t be faulted: it won’t start to weigh heavy on the ears of even the most dedicated of MMO enthusiasts, who are wont to spend hours at a stretch in their favourite games.
Performance and sound quality
But what of the sound? Crucially, it uses 50mm drivers, which are about as big as any you find in a gaming headset so, despite the price, Turtle Beach hasn’t skimped on that front. There’s no way you can adjust the EQ, though, so if you’re looking for big, dynamic, in-your-face sound, you’ll have to spend more on a headset.
But in the context of its price, the Recon 150’s sound is up there with the best that you can find. It’s pretty neutral, with the top-end and mid-range particularly impressive. What you don’t get is a vast amount of bass extension, or any subsonics, so the constant, atmospheric bottom-end rumble that a $150 to $200 headset will provide is absent. Most gamers, surely, could live with that. At times, it’s possible to detect a bit of dryness in the top-end, too, but not to the extent that it causes any annoyance.
We tested the Recon 150 with games including Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, and it sounded good enough to create a much more palpable sense of immersion than was possible through a TV’s speaker. It was particularly good at enhancing the environmental noises in the first Crash Bandicoot – which very much exist in the mid-range frequency band – and made a very decent fist of Final Fantasy XII’s string-heavy orchestral score.
The games we used to test
It impressed when playing Sniper Elite 4, too – a much more hardcore game – where decent stereo separation compensated adequately enough for a lack of surround-sound, providing a usable approximation of the footstep-direction of nearby enemies.
Microphone-wise, Turtle Beach hasn’t skimped either. The mic doesn’t have high-end features like noise-cancellation but it’s good enough to provide crystal-clear voice-chat. Even in unusually noisy environments, we found we could position it to make ourselves understood, and against a more normal background level, it performed admirably.
If we had to quibble, we’d point out that it isn’t the loudest headset we’ve come across, at least on the PS4, which always seems to output audio quietly to headsets (we were able to crank it up much louder on the PC). So, if you absolutely must have a headset which delivers eardrum-threatening volume levels from a PS4, you might want to look elsewhere. The only controls you get with the Recon 150 are volume and a microphone mute on the cable leading to the 2.5mm jack. But that’s all you need really, although that cable could ideally have been a bit longer.
Overall, the Turtle Beach Recon 150 is a keenly priced, well made, no-frills headset which will give the overwhelming majority of gamers what they need, without making a song and dance about it. It sounds good enough to enhance your enjoyment of any game you would otherwise be listening to via a TV speaker.
It’s perfect for co-operative games like Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Destiny or The Division. It’s sufficiently comfortable to be ideal for the most engrossing of MMOs.
True, for the likes of Counter-Strike: GO, the upper echelons of Call of Duty and their ilk, its lack of surround-sound could put you at a disadvantage against some of the ninja-players you will encounter.
But in the areas which matter — build, drivers and microphone — Turtle Beach hasn’t skimped on quality. Which means the Turtle Beach Recon 150 is pretty outstanding at the price.