Is Turtle Beach's Elite Pro Tactical Audio Controller worth the price?

Turtle Beach Elite TAC
Turtle Beach Elite TAC (Image credit: Windows Central)

It's not cheap, though, especially if you throw in the Tactical Audio Controller (TAC). So is the additional device worth it?

Turtle Beach's Elite Pro Tournament headset boasts premium materials, a focus on comfort, incredible virtual surround audio, and a high-quality microphone. Many of my YouTube videos (such as this Xbox build video) were recorded using the headset mic, rather than a professional desk mic, and the results have always impressed me.

And at $149 (cut down from $299), you might be asking yourself whether it's worth the price of entry. I've been using the TAC for a couple of years at this point on a near-daily basis, and here are my experiences.

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What you'll love

The TAC can be used with either PlayStation, Xbox, or PC, supported by various types of interfaces, including USB and digital optical SPDIF. I've primarily been using it with my Xbox One, and the sheer amount of controls you get is amazing. The TAC comes with various sliders and audio options optimized for use with the Elite Pro Tournament headset, although you can use it with other headsets too, utilizing the 3.5mm standard jack.

With the TAC, you can control the volume of game sound independently of other audio feeds, such as mic monitoring feedback and general chat audio. I'm a huge fan of mic monitoring, especially with headsets that are as immersive as the Elite Pro Tournament set, and the ability to control that with the TAC using simple sliders is both convenient and powerful.

The TAC also comes with several presets and programmable buttons that enhance various other audio features. Standards like bass boost add a punch, but it's things like Turtle Beach's SuperHuman Hearing capabilities that elevate the experience, accentuating footsteps and other player audio cues to give you an edge in competitive games. For PUBG and Battlefield 1, it almost feels like cheating.

The TAC also just looks great, with premium materials, a metallic finish on the volume dial, and bright lights that illuminate its features even in the darkest gamer dungeons (such as my own). You can also set the TAC to disable lights when not in use, making it ideal for bedrooms and other spaces you might not want bright lights enabled all the time.

What you'll find annoying

The TAC audio controller is designed more for professional events rather than home use, complete with Ethernet ports for low-latency LAN setups, but if you're considering using it at home (and you should, because it's rather great), before you buy you should know a few things.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have with the TAC is the sheer amount of cables involved. You'll need to connect the TAC to an Xbox using USB and SPDIF optical audio, and then connect your headset using not one but two audio jacks, one for the TAC, and one for the mic. The mic cable is the most annoying thing, since you need to have it plugged into your Xbox controller, and if you want to have your controller connected via USB, it creates electrical distortion and echoing on the other end of the line. It's an annoying limitation.

The TAC controller is also quite difficult to set up, and the instructions are likely out of date versus the latest Xbox One updates. Unlike other Xbox-focused headsets, it doesn't just "work" out of the box, it requires a lot of set up and boxes to tick. Figuring out audio levels that you're comfortable with can take a long time, too.

So, is it worth it?

If you're willing to go through the rigmarole of setting up this audio controller, it'll fit nicely into a dedicated setup. Being able to control every aspect of your audio experience on the fly is both powerful and convenient, and it also looks and feels really nice, with premium construction and great materials.

It is annoying to get into a sweet spot, though, and all the cables can be supremely annoying when used in a home environment. This was designed more for tournament and event play, rather than sitting on your desk at home.

If the micromanagement doesn't bother you, the Turtle Beach TAC will elevate your game, and it provides an unprecedented level of control over your Xbox audio.

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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!