Turtle Beach Battle Buds headset review: Gaming earbuds that Xbox seems to hate

The Turtle Beach Battle Buds are solid budget gaming earbuds that, for some reason, Xbox Live doesn't like.

We're big fans of Turtle Beach over here, for the diversity of the company's lineup and the general quality of some of its more recent headsets. Turtle Beach has forayed into gaming earbuds in the past with some limited success, and this latest solution, dubbed "Battle Buds," is the company's latest attempt.

At just $25, the Battle Buds could have been an exciting product, and in a lot of ways, they certainly are. But sadly, for whatever reason, Xbox Live party chat on both console and PC seems to hate them.

What you'll like about the Turtle Beach Battle Buds

The Turtle Beach Battle Buds are another attempt at building some gaming-grade earbuds, and for the most part, Turtle Beach has produced a great product.

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Frequency Response20hz to 20kHz
Speakers10mm neodymium
FeaturesIn-line controls for volume, muting, and multifunction for mobile devices.Detachable boom mic.
FormatEarbuds with multiple size attachments

The earbuds come with a powerful frequency response, solid max volume (without leaking audio to others in your vicinity), and decent sound reproduction. The intimate in-ear form factor is great when combined with Dolby Atmos for positional audio, elevated further by Turtle Beach's gaming-oriented sound profiling. Just don't expect to be blown away by the sound quality, particularly for $30.

The headset struggles a bit when it comes to music, with soft bass and heavy treble, but in games, the aggressive highs recreate footsteps and enemy movements more distinctly than almost any other headset I've used. The trade-off is that the overall audio profile sounds a bit unnatural, making it average at best for music, and limiting for non-competitive games. It's not as immersive as some of Turtle Beach's bigger headsets, owing to the in-ear form factor, but it is tactically sound.

The advantage of the in-ear configuration makes them a versatile option for using with a range of other devices and scenarios. You can detach the boom mic and use them as regular earbuds with your phone, on commutes and so on, using the inline controls for media and even responding to calls. When you want to game, re-attach the mic and hook them up to your PC, Xbox, or any device with 3.5mm and get going. There are a few downsides with this product that cannot be overlooked, however.

What you'll dislike about the Turtle Beach Battle Buds

We live in an age of goofy earbuds if the popularity of the Apple AirPods is any indication, and the way the Turtle Beach Battle Buds protrude out of your ears follows this trend a bit. I'm not sure how else Turtle Beach could have solved that problem, of course, since there needs to be a place to connect the boom mic, but it's something to be aware of.

If you're not used to this type of earbud, it may take some getting used to.

The Battle Buds come with three different sizes for its rubber components, including a stabilizer hook designed to sit inside your ear to prevent the earbuds from rotating while using the mic boom. They work well, but I personally found them a little uncomfortable, across every size. If you're not used to this type of earbud, it may take some getting used to.

Finally, the biggest problem with this headset is that the mic is sensitive enough to pick up audio from the speakers. For most modern chat programs, particularly on PC, this doesn't present a problem since Skype, Slack, and Discord all have some post-processing wizardry within their services to prevent these types of feedback echoes. However, Xbox Live does not currently scrub echoes, or at least not to the extent it should. As such, to use this headset on Xbox Live, either on Xbox or a PC, you need to keep the volume down quite low to prevent your friend's voices from feeding back to them.

Should you buy the Turtle Beach Battle Buds?

Your purchase of the Battle Buds ultimately hinges on what services you plan on using them with. If you're going to use them with Discord, Skype, or any other modern chat program with either push-to-talk or echo-prevention post-processing, then this is a solid $30 headset that offers some good tactical audio. If, however, you wanted to use them with Xbox Live on either console or PC via the Xbox app, it's a bit tough to recommend them unless you're willing to put the volume down to a point where the echo doesn't reproduce.

The onus is on Microsoft to modernize Xbox Live's chat systems to accommodate more powerful echo-prevent on its services, but it's also the case that many 3.5mm headsets do work on Xbox without producing the echo, such as Turtle Beach's own $100 Elite Atlas. If you're not really interested in Xbox voice chat and simply want some ear buds that have audio tuned for tactical sound, this is a solid purchase.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!