Great sound, cluttered design.
Turtle Beach’s new line of Stealth gaming headsets aims to do three things: be comfortable, deliver great sound, and not break the bank. The company’s latest midrange model is the $80 Stealth 300 (See it on Amazon), and it’s basically a wired version of Turtle Beach’s Stealth 600. It’s an amplified stereo headset that can be used with any device with a standard headphone jack. The big differentiator here versus its competition is the built-in power amp. Theoretically it means the Stealth 300 will be louder and offer richer sound, with more bass and cracking highs than you’d get plugging your earbuds into a DualShock 4 controller, Xbox One gamepad, or Nintendo Switch.
Turtle Beach Stealth 300 – Design and Features
The Stealth 300 sports a rugged, utilitarian design that’s not very flashy. Hard matte black plastic is the order of the day here, with a few glossy accents between each earcup pad and the outer shell. I really like the overall styling, especially the molded cuts and grooves on the earcups.
All of the controls can be found on the left earcup, making it pretty cluttered. It contains a flip-up boom mic, Micro USB charging port, non-removable 3.5mm audio cable, power and sound mode buttons, and dials for headset volume and chat balance, all within two inches of each other. This means making changes to anything without taking the headset off is tricky at first. The right earcup is free of any sorts of controls, and would’ve been a good place to balance things out.
Depending on the size of your ears, the Stealth 300 could be considered either on-ear or over-ear headphones, but Turtle Beach lists them as being “over ear.” Each earcup has a piece of contoured memory foam surrounding a large 50mm driver, and in the case of the PS4 model, a blue piece of fabric covering the speaker.
The headband is “metal reinforced” with alloy poles that connect it to the ear cups, and this headset also features Turtle Beach’s “ProSpecs” glasses-friendly design with softer foam in the upper portion of ear cup so it doesn’t push against your glasses.
While the Stealth 300 is offered in Xbox One and PlayStation 4 flavors (I reviewed the PS4 model), the differences are superficial: the PS4 version has blue accents while the Xbox One set sports lime green on the earcup liners, company logos, headband padding, and connector cable.
There’s no software to use but there is a button on the left earcup that lets you cycle through four audio presets, which include bass boost, bass and treble boost, Signature Sound and vocal boost.
Turtle Beach Stealth 300 – Gaming
As someone with an admittedly large head, the Stealth 300 remained comfortable for extended gaming sessions thanks in part to the inch of vertical travel allowed by earcup. Better yet, I didn’t have to worry about the earcups moving up or down during play because a rigid ratchet system keeps vertical adjustments locked in place.
I really appreciated how flexible the headset was physically. It never felt like the headband was going to break, no matter how hard I twisted it. A half-inch thick piece of memory foam on the headband kept the headset from putting too much pressure on the top of my skull, too.
My biggest gripe is with the location of the power and audio mode buttons. Even after a week with the Stealth 300, I had trouble finding one or the other on the first try, and when I did find them with my left hand, they required an extremely firm press to overcome the stiff mechanism underneath. It felt similar to having to click on an extra-stiff trackpad on a laptop.
My biggest gripe is with the power and audio mode buttons.
The 3-inch boom mic, on the other hand, works quite well. It’s a “flip to mute” design, and it also rotates all the way back and out of the way for those times when you have no use for it and don’t want it even sticking up. When you flip it down and position it in-line with your mouth, it’s active. In my tests, chat audio was clear on both ends of the conversation at all times.
In gaming everything I threw at the Stealth 300 sounded great. In God of War when Kratos’ Leviathan Axe was whooshing past my ear it sounded natural and crisp. Every troll stomp and fire attack sounded dramatic too, with just enough bass to be felt, but not too much to be a muddy, low-end mess.
War drums and my many untimely deaths displayed the Stealth’s low-end capabilities extremely well too, and Atreus’ shouts that he couldn’t fire more arrows, or when he dodged an incoming attack, were crisp and clear too, easily cutting through Bear McReary’s score. Ambient sound effects, like machinery and wooden traps creaking and groaning as Kratos and Atreus made their way through the heart of a mountain early on, sounded natural and appropriately subtle as well.
The Stealth’s quality held up with the Amnesia HD Collection’s more foreboding soundscape too. A creaking castle, the sound of footsteps rushing past, and my character’s short, panicked breaths all worked so well that I didn’t realize I’d been holding my own breath through one particularly spooky hallway. Here, bass reproduction was tight and punchy too, with a good amount of rumble. While the low-end isn’t as deep as the spec sheet’s 20Hz frequency response would suggest (the human ear can only hear 24Hz and above), it remained clear and sharp during my tests.
…bass reproduction was tight and punchy
In terms of multi-platform gaming, this is a great headset for the Nintendo Switch thanks to that built-in amp. Breakdancing rhythm-game Floor Kids benefitted the most in my tests, giving new life to Kid Koala’s scratch-filled DJ soundtrack compared to my go-to pair of passive $80 Klipsch earbuds. Breath of the Wild had a similar benefit, with the Hyrule overworld sounding better than it has whenever I’ve played my Switch away from my living room and home theater system.
As far as the audio presets go, available on the left earcup, in my testing they all sounded fairly similar to my concert-hardened ears, with a few subtle differences like vocal boost for giving vocals a boost in games and movies. Bass boost didn’t muddy the sound field, thankfully, but I found myself using Signature Sound (a “natural” preset tuned by Turtle Beach) more often than not because it felt the most balanced for longer gaming sessions.
The Turtle Beach Stealth 300 gaming headset has an MSRP of $79.99, and that’s the same price it is on Amazon since it’s new. It comes in a PS4 or Xbox design.