I'm a fan of Turtle Beach, but they've made it hard to recommend their latest wireless headset.

The Turtle Beach Elite 800X launched a few weeks ago with a promising array of features. Some of these include a robust wireless design that looks as sleek as it does functional. Throw in an awesome charging dock to help keep your gaming space tidy and DTS 7.1 surround sound with customizable modes that can enhance games by genre.

How does this Xbox One headset self-described as "the most advanced ever" fall short?

Key features

  • Costs £249.99 / $299.95
  • Wireless connectivity listed up to 10 ft
  • Xbox One and mobile phone compatible only (There is also a Playstation variant)
  • Noise cancellation
  • DTS Headphone:X 7.1 360 Surround Sound
  • Magnetic charging dock that connects wirelessly to the headset and via optic audio cable and USB to the Xbox One
  • 8-10-hour battery life
  • Hidden integrated microphones
  • Customizable speaker plates

Great Audio quality, design, and features

First let's talk about what aspects of the 800X truly make the grade. The 800X earphones deliver an incredible audio experience that is a cut above other headsets I've used. The potential volume range is insane, and whether you're playing games or listening to death metal, you'll find your ears more than saturated (and maybe damaged if you're over-zealous with the volume rocker).

Like the Stealth 500X and XO Seven, the Elite 800X comes with tailored audio pre-sets for a generous amount of scenarios. You can adjust the stereo settings and rock through a ton of customizable modes per use case. If you're gaming, you can adjust the audio for horror, racing, and even to emphasize the sounds of gunfire and footsteps. You can download further pre-sets that are game-specific, as Turtle Beach have worked with major developers to tailor the experience for several games.

The 800X also comes with Bluetooth, which makes them a viable option for mobile music lovers. Pair your phone, swap the audio setting to music and you'll struggle to find a better experience. I tested them on a busy road, armed with the noise-cancellation setting and a Deftones album. The rich bass and crisp high and mid ranges added a new dimension to one of my favourite albums, which now sounds underwhelming when I listen to it using other methods.

For gamers, the Bluetooth pairing has other uses. It allows you to receive notification tones from your phone even when you're gaming on your Xbox. If you wanted to be really industrious, you could turn down the background music in the game and replace it with your own music from your phone. The versatility offered by the addition of Bluetooth is great, particularly if you're still waiting for the Xbox One to support background audio.

Design-wise, Turtle Beach have largely delivered, with only a couple of minor annoyances in tow. The cans are cushioned using a suffocating faux-leather, which is comfortable but can get clammy, particularly if you're putting up with the summer right now. The headband is among the most solid I've seen and offers reassurance as a person who is notoriously clumsy for snapping headsets. The only minor annoyance I have stems from the trade-off of allowing customizable speaker plates. Customization is a great addition, but I fear the result makes the control rockers overly sensitive. When you're trying to adjust the audio and you accidentally hit the preset rocker, a woman invades your game to inform you that you're now in a new mode. Thus cutting out party chat and all other sounds. I'm sure with practice you could circumvent these issues, which is why they're only listed here as a minor annoyance.

For me, the 800X's killer feature is the magnetic charging dock. As someone whose desk is covered in devices, peripherals and wires, the charging dock is a godsend. It fits neatly on top of the Xbox One besides the main vent and generates no heat. The headset snaps into place as satisfyingly as a Surface Pro 3 keyboard and informs you when it's charging. The battery will net you around 8-10 hours of use time which isn't great if you're a marathon gamer, but I think the vast majority will find that adequate.

There's a lot to celebrate about the Turtle Beach Elite 800X, there are a couple of flaws that I have to address, however.

Microphone audio

Update: Since this review still gets search traffic, I was given the opportunity to go back and check the 800X's microphones with the latest firmware. This section has been updated with my latest findings (31/10/2016).

Back when I wrote this review originally back in 2015, I complained that the Elite 800X's use of internal microphones over a standard mic boom was a big mistake. At the time, Xbox Live party members asked me if I was using Kinect while in chat, and considering the frequency by which I use Xbox Live to play games co-operatively, I found it to be a huge issue.

Turtle Beach have since delivered several firmware updates for both the base, and the headset itself, and thankfully (so thankfully), the majority of the issues I had have been cleaned up. People on the receiving end of my party chat were unaware that I switched headsets between this, and another headset that used a standard mic boom. They said that perhaps it sounded as though I was further away from the mic, but it was still clear and they could hear me just fine.

You can adjust the microphone for "Quiet Room", "Normal Room" and "Loud Room", but none of these settings seem to alter the experience for those trying to hear you, even when I simulated the conditions they purport to be for. Also the mic-monitoring for speech still seems patchy and quiet compared to the Elite Pro Tournament or 420X+ headsets offered by Turtle Beach, but the situation has improved markedly compared to when this headset originally launched.

The lack of a mic boom or even a mic jack on the headset make them more outwardly pretty, but I still think a proper microphone would see this product into the headset hall of fame (if there ever were one.)

Conclusion

Disregarding the less-than-ideal party chat experience, the Elite 800X is an almost perfect product. The audio quality is stellar, and the build quality is complimented throughout with a premium feel. The control rockers are a tad sensitive, but with the trade-off of awesome customization. The charging dock is a brilliant addition that I hope they keep for future wireless headset iterations, as well as the versatility offered by Bluetooth.

Buy the Turtle Beach Elite 800X headset from TurtleBeach.com

Buy the Turtle Beach Elite 800X headset from Amazon.com

Buy the Turtle Beach Elite 800X headset from Amazon.co.uk