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The Turtle Beach Recon 200 brings versatility and sound to thrifty gamers

If you’re in the market for a new gaming headset and own multiple systems, choosing a compatible model can be a pain. After all, you want audio parity across all of your devices, and you don’t want to clutter up your gaming space with numerous headsets that only work on one machine. Turtle Beach’s Ear Force Recon 200 headset offers great sound quality on everything from Xbox One to PC, and for just the price of one new game. However, some bizarre design decisions keep it from being the right choice for everyone.

Affordable and versatile

The Ear Force Recon 200 is designed to work primarily with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but offers amplified audio on the Nintendo Switch, mobile phones, PC, and Mac, as well. Its 3.5mm plug can be used in all standard audio jacks, but it still uses a battery and cannot function at all without being turned to either the PS4 or Xbox One modes – even if you aren’t using one of those consoles.

When you listen to the volume of both your game and the included microphone monitoring, it helps explain why the Recon 200 still needs its own power supply. It’s extremely loud, beyond the limits of what one would expect from a standard wired headset. Even so, the audio remains quite clear.

Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 200 review
Gabe Gurwin/Digital Trends

You can charge it via a standard USB adapter for a phone if you don’t want to leave your consoles on while not in use, and it’s important to make sure it has a strong charge. Every time we used the Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 200 after only briefly charging the empty battery, we found the audio would continuously crackle and cut out.

The Recon 200 uses neodymium 40mm speakers – smaller than the PDP LVL 50 models – but I found the low ranges to be significantly better on the Turtle Beach headset. Bass in Apex Legends that had previously sounded muddled and fuzzy, now bumped and offered a percussive quality to the game’s score. Firefights were made more intense and easier to track, with subtlety in the sound instead of just raw power.

It’s extremely loud, beyond the limits of what one would expect from a standard wired headset.

There is an odd difference in top volume level between the two console settings. It isn’t noticeable if you don’t immediately flip the switch from Xbox to PS4 mode, but the former is substantially louder. When using the PS4 mode on its home console, the headset volume can be incredibly loud to the point of discomfort. Xbox mode, on the other hand, is the louder setting on PC and other devices, but it’s not nearly as deafening.

It isn’t only about your games’ sound quality though, as the Recon 200 headset also comes with a dial to adjust microphone monitoring. Using this tool, you can listen to your voice as you’re chatting with your party online, letting you hear yourself more clearly over the sound of the game itself. If you prefer to turn it down, it can be eliminated, but cranking it all the way up will have your own voice blaring in the speakers. For particularly hectic games, this could come in handy.

The Recon 200 is certainly sleeker than some of its similarly-priced competitors. The white model’s design is gorgeous, with very light texturing running along the length of the band, and the microphone itself is small enough that it can be nearly ignored when flipped up. This is also how you mute the headset, but Turtle Beach made the bizarre decision to let the microphone flip down on the opposite side, despite having designated “left” and “right” speakers. This won’t be an issue once you remember the side it’s supposed to rest on, but it did lead to occasions where we’d have on the headset backwards.

Durable but at the cost of comfort

The two faux-leather ear cups are comfortable and didn’t become too hot during extended use. They pivot near the top allowing for a wide variety of head sizes and shapes to use them without issue, and can be turned so that they rest flat to store the headset more easily.

The headband on the top is reinforced with metal to make it more durable, but this does come at the cost of it being a little tricky to wear. If you place it squarely on the top of your head like a typical headset, you’ll find that the small bit of padding in the center is insufficient. Frankly, it feels downright painful. Moving it closer to the front of your head helps, but it’s odd that such a small piece of padding would have been used in the first place. The band itself can also only be extended by about 1.5 inches, so those who require a more adjustable headset may encounter issues.

Despite a few setbacks, the Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 200 offers superior sound quality to its similarly-priced alternatives. Issues with the design of the headset and the need for a battery in a wired headset mean it isn’t the right choice for everyone, but the bumping bass and platform versatility make it a solid, affordable choice that’s hard to pass up.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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