If you’re shopping around for a new gaming headset, particularly one that won’t kill your wallet, you’ll quickly find that there are an overwhelming amount of options to choose from. From gaming accessory manufacturers like PDP to first-party companies like Sony and Microsoft, it’s now easier than ever to find a great headset without having to compromise on the price.
Turtle Beach is one of the most recognizable brands in gaming headsets, with both high-end and affordable products available for all major platforms. Recently, however, its been faced with growing competition, and the alternatives only underline our disappointment with their latest budget-friendly option, the Ear Force Recon 70 headset.
We smell shenanigans
Retailing for an attractive $40, the Turtle Beach Recon 70 is quite a bit cheaper than its battery-powered sibling, the Recon 200. Available in a variety of different colors, it would appear that its compatibility is determined by the package you purchase. However, this is not true.
Whether you choose the PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch branded headset, each is compatible with all the other systems. The only difference between them is the color. This is obviously a huge benefit if you know about it going in, but this information is only revealed in small text on the back of the box, making it very easy for someone to purchase more than one to ensure they can use it with all their systems. That said, the colors are very appealing. Because it’s compatible by default with all three consoles and PC, there isn’t anything else in the box, either — just plug it in and you’re good to go.
The Recon 70 sports a simple design with features that fall in line with what most casual players are looking for. The faux leather headband expands to fit your head, and the breathable synthetic leather cups feel good on the ears. A small dial on the left side of the headset can be used to quickly adjust the volume on the fly, and an omnidirectional microphone can be flipped up to mute it. The ear cups pivot, allowing for easier storage, and the headset itself feels very durable.
While all these features make for a pretty well-rounded gaming headset, much like the Recon 200, the Recon 70 isn’t all that comfortable to wear during long game sessions. The padding is once again limited to a small strip running along the top of the band, posing an issue for those with wider heads as it ends up pressed right against the plastic. By fully extending the band, we were able to find a position that worked better, but it took entirely too much effort to the headset feel comfortable. We haven’t experienced this problem on any recent headsets aside from Turtle Beach’s, because the others are either far more generous with padding or wider and more flexible.
Is good enough good enough?
We were impressed with the microphone’s clarity, which is comparable to more expensive gaming headsets we’ve tested, and despite being sensitive, it didn’t distort our voice when shouting. The microphone is short enough that it can be tough to tell if it’s flipped up or down when you’re wearing it, but that also means it won’t be in the way.
At $40, you can’t expect the most impressive sound from the Recon 70 line, and it’s definitely a step down compared to the Recon 200. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, as the 40mm neodymium speakers are still able to deliver clear audio to help you win in your favorite games, but it lacks anything defining. Crisp as our gameplay sounded we can’t help think that there are better options for around the same price.
During our time with Yoshi’s Crafted World on Switch, we found it to deliver fine high-end audio, which complemented the game’s shrill soundtrack, but it lacked the heavy bass found the Recon 200. In Super Mega Baseball 2 on Xbox One, which uses a wider ranger, we experienced similar results, as the low-end sounded thin.
There are several different alternatives to the Turtle Beach Recon 70 that make it less attractive, as well. The lesser-known EasySMX VIP002S can often be purchased for even less than the Recon 70, but delivers similar sound quality alongside much-improved comfort and a more durable cable. If you’re looking to spend even less, you can find the PowerA Fusion headset on sale for less than $20, but packing 50mm drivers and the same universal compatibility as the Turtle Beach.
The PDP LVL 50, which we covered previously, is only slightly more expensive but features a more comfortable design and more breathable ear cups. That being said, it doesn’t offer the same universal support as the Turtle Beach model, nor can it be converted flat for easier storage.
You can also find a better option in the Recon Spark model. Almost identical in design to the Recon 70 but with memory foam ear cushions and a more glasses-accommodating design, the Recon Spark costs $10 more, but we immediately noticed a difference in comfort. It also works with all the same systems, too, and is not marketed for individual consoles in the same way the Recon 70 is.
The Turtle Beach Recon 70 is not going to be outright disappointing to someone unfamiliar with headsets, but there are so many other options available that it seems bizarre for Turtle Beach to not try to create a superior or more feature-rich product.
The Turtle Beach Recon 70 is a sharp, competent, and versatile gaming headset that will do the job just fine if you need one headset across all of your gaming systems. It lacks, however, in making the case for itself when lined up against alternatives. It’s uncomfortable, lacks the impressive sound of its big sibling, and is missing features we expect even at the $40 price tag. If colorful designs or durability are your biggest factors when purchasing a headset, you can do a whole lot worse, but we think you are better off giving your money to a different company.
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