A slick hardware and software combo.
The Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp is the latest wired 7.1 surround sound headset from Turtle Beach (See it on Amazon). As its name suggests, this headset sits near the top of the company’s lineup and commands an unsurprisingly high price of $249; a $50 premium over the previous Elite Pro model. The reason for the price bump is because it now has surround sound and an included SuperAmp control unit. Unlike the previous Elite Pro’s Tactical Audio Controller (TAC), the new version swaps out a breakout box with multiple sliders for a Bluetooth-connected hardware wheel and a mobile app to streamline the operation a bit. The new Elite Pro 2 is offered in versions for either Xbox or Playstation, so PC gamers will have to stick with the older model, for now.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp – Design and Features
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp is all about refinement. Compared to its predecessor, the Elite Pro 2 has fewer lines, less screen-printing and employs glossy plastic accents and brushed aluminum in addition to a textured matte finish. The result is an understated, minimal look that doesn’t draw unneeded attention to itself. Also, as I mentioned above, whereas the previous model only offered stereo sound, the Elite Pro 2 offers DTS Headphone:X surround sound.
When I first saw this pair, I sighed when I spotted the suspension headband mechanism. I have a rather large, oblong head, and it has never gotten along with spring-band type headphones, Sony’s Platinum PlayStation 4 headset being the most recent example. Imagine my surprise when after a few hours of playing Spider-Man I forgot they weren’t gaming headphones with a traditional band.
Mated with the inch-thick memory foam earcup pads and a glasses-friendly ProSpecs design, I was able to play for hours without discomfort. That’s huge for someone who wears glasses. Pull the magnetic earcup pads away and you’ll see the large 50mm drivers that give the Elite Pro 2s their oomph.
Similar to the Astro A40, the Elite Pro 2 features magnetic earcup plates that can be customized. Pull them off and underneath you’ll find four magnets and more plastic. Compared to the A40 though, the included plates are flimsy and detract from the otherwise premium feel of the headset.
As far as inputs and outputs go, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and an input for the included boom mic tucked under the left earcup, and that’s it. Typically, the company would clutter this area with things like chat mixing controls, buttons for changing sound modes and a volume wheel, which has always made finding the right adjustment without taking the headset off difficult. Now, all that’s been moved to a mobile app that connects to the SuperAmp via Bluetooth.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 – SuperAmp and Mobile App
Here’s how it works: You connect the 7-foot long 3.5mm headset cable to the SuperAmp, and then connect the SuperAmp to your console via a generous 10-foot long micro USB cable. The setup easily stretched across my living room with plenty of cable to spare. Then you connect to the amp via Bluetooth, and open the Turtle Beach Audio Hub app on your smartphone, which is where you can easily select and adjust settings.
The amp itself is a single-function, aluminum volume knob. Each turn of the donut-shaped infinity dial has a satisfying, soft click to it, and there’s just the right amount of resistance to turning it. With each click, a corresponding LED lights up on the plastic display within, indicating the current level, and you can adjust display patterns with your phone.
The amp itself is a single-function, aluminum volume knob.
The outside edge has a grippy engraving in it, and the rubber pads on its underside kept it from sliding around on my desk. The SuperAmp itself has a solid heft at 140 grams, and stayed in place easily while I was playing Overwatch in the living room and balancing the device on my leg. Around back there’s a micro USB port, optical audio input, and 3.5mm audio output.
Turtle Beach moving audio controls off the headset (and breakout box) and onto a mobile app was a really smart decision. The app is available for Android and iOS, and is pretty simple to set up and use. In addition to cleaning up the Elite Pro 2’s design, putting all the extra audio controls in a mobile app made me a lot more apt to mess around with audio presets. I even created a few custom ones.
Typically, tasks like that are handled via PC software, or in Sony’s case, system software. Here, I never had to take the headset off or leave a game to change the sound mode or make adjustments. Instead, I confirmed the changes in the app and they applied almost instantaneously via Bluetooth. There aren’t any frills here, but navigating the app and making changes was really intuitive.
Within the app you can also adjust things like game and chat mix, mic monitoring level, surround sound mode, and game presets. You can also adjust your mic level and game output level for streaming, and there’s a limited customization feature for the SuperAmp LED.
My personal favorite was the sound meter pattern that lit up the volume meter based on game audio. Footsteps and ambient noise lit up fewer diodes, an explosion or firefight did the opposite. There’s also a Stealth mode for situations when you don’t want any lights or distractions, such as when you’re watching a movie. Another option lets you customize the color of the SuperAmp’s Turtle Beach logo, which only turns on when the mic is plugged in.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp – Gaming
During my gaming tests, the Elite Pro 2s held up admirably. PS4’s Spider-Man has killer sound design, and tucked away in the options menu, there’s an audio setting (“maximum”) for high-end home theater setups with lots of dynamic range. I alternated between that and the Headphone setting during my tests, and found “maximum” was what sounded best. It gave each element in the mix its own place, keeping things fairly well separated.
I started my testing with Spider Man, perched atop the Avengers tower in Spider-Man’s New York City. I put the headphones on, sat back, and let Manhattan’s sounds wash over me. Everything sounded natural, from the ever-present emergency sirens to the sound of Spidey’s tights rubbing together as he ran. However, even with the DTS surround sound mode enabled, the audio lacked a little clarity and spatial separation compared to other headsets I’ve used recently.
This was even more apparent when I had to examine Doctor Octavius’ lab. There are countless buzzes and whirrs in addition to a layer of white noise from all the electronics in the room. With the Elite Pro 2s, they were slightly muddled together. Dialogue was clear and distinct from the ambient sounds, however.
The battlefield in Overwatch can be a cacophony of dialogue, explosions and laser blasts. And that’s before you add in voice chat from your teammates. Like in Spider-Man, the Elite Pro 2s handled it all with ease, and the mobile app made adjusting the game/chat mix really easy and seamless. If I really wanted to hear background effects – footsteps in particular – at the cost of everything else I’d enable Superhuman hearing (treble boost, bass drop) on and off.
The flexible mic is a little on the stiff side, and for me, is a little too short. When I had it plugged in, it was always in my peripheral vision, and an extra inch or so would’ve meant I could bend it out of the way. My teammates said that my voice sounded fine, without any complaints or comments otherwise, and promptly resumed ignoring both me and moving the payload.
The SuperAmp is capable of putting out respectable sound for stereo listening too.
With movies, voices were a little harsh at the top end. The train wreck scene from Super 8 is a killer test of any sound system, and really shows what your setup’s low-end can do. Freight cars fly everywhere and there are plenty of explosions, too. Unfortunately, this is where the Elite Pro 2 and SuperAmp fell short. The scene turned into a muddy mess without much depth to the bass. For watching TV or something with less action, though, they worked well enough.
The setup didn’t make me want to throw away my go-to earbuds for music listening, but the SuperAmp is capable of respectable sound in stereo too. I even activated the DTS surround mode while listening to Spotify via my PS4. It gave the music quite a bit more depth and separated the voices well enough, but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t shake that this was a software trick, rather than the drivers themselves. That said, if I were going to use the Elite Pro 2 for music, this is the setting I’d default to.
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 + SuperAmp has an MSRP of $249 and it’s usually the same price online.