Turtle Beach Stealth 420X+ Headset Review
Turtle Beach are renowned for their quality headsets and I’ve experienced this first hand after owning a couple of different models in the past, including my faithful P11’s. Of course things are now getting serious in the audio stakes, especially with competitive multiplayer games requiring an edge in audio precision. More kills are lost due to lack of skill for sure, but being able to hear your environment better could give you an edge in battle so to speak.
Hence the Stealth 420X+ wireless headset is here with its Superhuman hearing technology on-board to allow you to do just that i.e. it enhances the audio to make in-game audio such as footfall, just that little bit sharper.
The question is does it deliver? So let’s take a look at how they performed.
Firstly I need to point out that the Stealth 420X+ headset is primarily designed for the Xbox One, yet I need to add that they can also work with your mobile device via the 3.5mm headphone cable that is supplied in the box.
Additionally I did try the headset with my Windows 10 PC out of curiosity and you can find my thoughts on this at the end of the review. However, I need to point out once again the headset is sold primarily as an Xbox One headset.
Box Content & Design
The box is fairly large to accommodate the headset inside, though now that I know the price tag is £100+ I feel the headset and the contents could have been better packaged. Don’t get me wrong the headset has some great design touches and they look fab, but apart from the small Turtle Beach Ribbon that prevents the headset from falling out during transit, there isn’t that premium feel to the presentation as I would have personally liked to see.
With that aside the 420X + comprises of two ear cups that are padded around the edges and they also feature embossed Turtle Beach logos inside. Around the ear cups you also have a green seam that offsets the outer logos that flash or light up during paring and in operation.
Additionally the right ear cup's outer logo is designated as the Power On/Off button and also it’s what activates the Superhuman hearing mode. It’s nice how they got the power button seamlessly integrated into the headset itself.
The right ear cup also houses all of the controls to the side, these comprise of a standard volume rocker at the top with a pre-set button underneath. This allows you to switch between the various sound profiles during operation (Base Boost, Base/Treble Boost, Voice and Natural Sound), more on these in a moment.
Next to this you have the in-game microphone control which also seems to double up as standard volume control if you utilise the 3.5mm headphone connection on your Mobile.
Continuing with the design, you will also find a microUSB charger port which is paired with the small 0.5m USB cable for charging the device. I found it took just under an hour to charge up first time, as there was some residual charge out the box. Subsequent charging from a completely flat battery took about 2 hours. However do get about 15 hours of life for each charge.
Note: If you get a longer cable you could play and charge at the same time.
Finally on the right ear cup you have beneath the microUSB jack a 3.5mm headphone port which partners with the 1m 3.5 to 3.5m cable.
On the left ear cup is where you will find the microphone port that the separate mic boom attaches to. This boom features a bendable wire so you can adjust the microphone to your taste; it also features a foam cap to prevent airborne noise from scuppering communications.
However its best to remove this foam cover initially because one side has the slit for the Microphone connection, so you need to know which way around this goes before placing connecting it back onto the headset; otherwise you may be speaking on the wrong side during use.
At the top of the headset you will find a foam padded headband and at the top this has a rubberised coating with the Turtle Beach logo embossed. Further logos are etched on the side of the headband where you can adjust the length to fit your head.
In the box alongside the mic boom and cables you also get a quick start guide and the USB wireless receiver.
Out the box the Wireless receiver is already paired to the headset, so from an Xbox point of view it’s just a case of plugging it in and away you go!
However I found you may need to re-pair the product manually if you get some issues with drop connections or interference...
On the Xbox One I have done a fair bit of testing here as this is the platform the headset was designed for. However before I mention the good bits I did discover a few niggles that I need to point out first.
Bearing in mind this happened once, the first issue seemed to involve the placement of the receiver....
I added the receiver to begin with on the rear USB port at the back of the Xbox One; which resides in an open back TV cabinet which also happens to be close to a wireless telephone and near the wall.
As a result after I loaded Doom I started to hear cut-outs with the audio, to the point it eventually stopped working entirely. I had to swap to the side USB port of the console to resolve.
However in the same play session I also experienced an issue when the headset telling you that it’s enabled Superhearing audio i.e. the mode that allows you to hear enemy footsteps. The problem here was I happened to be in an Xbox 360 compatible game called Monkey Island and when the mode kicked in my audio again stopped working.
I basically believe this was caused by interference, so to cut a long story short I simply repaired the receiver to the headset and now it’s been working flawlessly for weeks. Plus it also works again at the back of the Xbox One again to!
Thankfully as I said earlier this has only happened once!
Xbox One In Use
As mentioned earlier the in-game audio experience can be adjusted using the preset button at the side of the headset. To begin with this does take a little bit of time to adjust to, more so with the profile button which allows you to switch to different audio modes. Sometimes I found it hard to find the option without accidentally knocking the volume control first.
What I noticed though was that the headset actually speaks to you when changing these presets, so instead of just a beep you actually get to hear exactly what mode you are in!
This is a good feature in some ways, but the only drawbacks are that it could be a touch quieter, plus it will interrupt what you are listening to. In fairness this is more of a problem if you are playing games outside the multiplayer environment, so don’t adjust the presets when you are listening to NPC characters talking otherwise you will miss the dialogue! I just wish they had a way to disable this talking function in all honesty.
Likewise the headset also tells you when the batteries are running out, but it just won't stop telling you! So for example after a few more minutes it would repeat itself again and again until the batteries finally died! It's not as if you can play and charge because of the short 0.5m cable that comes in the box.
Of course the big seller of this headset is the Superhuman hearing mode (which again will tell you it's being activated when the side button is pressed) and in terms of Halo 5, with Superhuman hearing engaged, I think what the actual mode does is enhance the low-level noises i.e. footfall and even gun noises to the point that they sound sharper.
However because the headset lacks surround-sound the Superhuman hearing mode on large open maps, such as ones found in Halo 5's Warzone, I actually found the mode was less effective.
For example most of the time I was killed from long range so I could not really take advantage of the Superhuman hearing technology. You actually get more benefits in close quarter combat, with smaller Deathmatch style levels to be honest.
Mind you in Titanfall, again on more compact levels, I did find the mode allowed me to sense the steps and I turned around to indeed find an adversary approaching, so it does sort of work.
I managed to get high up the leader board here, which was a contrast to Halo 5 where I was slaughtered. Yet I’m not really a big fan of this game anyway so this may have had an adverse effect on proceedings.
In Doom I tried it on the Arcade mode without the Superhuman hearing engaged and while the base does enhance the explosions and rock music, it’s not what I would call real kick-ass meaty base in comparison to say my Thrustmaster 7.1 surround headset; you certainly know when the base kicks in here!
In Gears of War 4 however the Superhuman hearing mode was actually pretty effective, especially when I played Horde mode and my team mates left in round 9. I then got up to round 20 by myself before I got bored, and to cut a long story short I found you could certainly hear the footfall of the enemies in this mode and the grunts of the Swarm etc.
In less hectic games, such as Monkey Island, the audio quality was again good, but not outstanding to the point of view that you felt you had a £100 plus headset on your head. I think the Superhuman hearing mode also has a slight downside outside multiplayer, in that you can hear subtle hissing during the quieter periods, which is less evident on FPS style games.
It all depends on the type of game to be honest, though I think the Base & Treble boost is the highlight for me as it seemed to balance the base a touch more and it certainly brought out the treble highlights. Thus, if you are going to game without the Superhuman hearing mode engaged this is the best one to opt for in my opinion.
Also I recommend turning the Superhuman hearing option off within the Xbox One menus as it creates a weird audio effect as you navigate through them.
I nearly forgot to mention that the headset also has an auto-shut down function.
This does not happen as much with the wireless receiver connected, unless you leave the headset without content playing through it, but when you use the 3.5mm cable in your mobile, after 15 minutes you get the headset telling you that it will shut down unless you press the power button to cancel!
This is really... really annoying! Especially when listening to music, again there does not seem to be a way to disable this function either. I know it’s trying to conserve battery life, but for the love of all things holy please give us the option to stop it!