A headset geared towards VR sounds awesome, but is it actually worth it?
As good as the headset of your choice may be, if the audio isn't on point, your VR experience will be somewhat lacking. There is no shortage of options, but there's an obvious elephant in the room when choosing your perfect solution; the display on your head.
That's where the Turtle Beach Stealth 350VR comes in. This headset has been designed specifically for use with VR headsets and has some key design choices that should make the experience more comfortable.
Starting with the obvious bits, this Stealth doesn't look like most other Turtle Beach headsets. For one, it has been designed with a cutout in the cushioning on the headband to allow for any over the head cables. It's also wider compared to a regular headset or pair of headphones at the point where the cups meet your ears. This is to cater for side straps and the like and gives you that extra clearance rather than pinching everything to your head.
And it works. I've only been using the Stealth with a PlayStation VR and a Gear VR but it's definitely more comfortable than my go-to gaming headset, the Cloud X by Hyper X. The PlayStation VR doesn't have as much going on round the top as other headsets, but the extra width definitely helps. I don't think the top cutout makes much difference with the Gear VR strap, but if there was a cable there, it'd definitely be a comfort improvement.
The cups are covered with fabric — not sweaty leather or PVC — and padded with memory foam. If you're wearing a headset for an extended period of time, memory foam is the way to go, and the Stealth 350VR is very comfortable despite the fairly small size. They're just about over the ear fitting despite the fairly small size, and you get a good amount of adjustment both horizontally and vertically.
Again, the Stealth 350VR is very comfortable. More so than I was initially expecting.
It's not just about the physical changes made on the outside, though. Here's what makes up the Stealth 350VR:
- Battery-powered amplification. Play for over 30 hours on a single charge.
- Variable bass boost
- Full-range audio – 50mm Neodymium speakers with over-ear cushions deliver crisp highs and deep lows.
- Mic monitoring
- Removable noise-cancelling microphone
- Swappable cable system – Easily interchangeable cables to swap between PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.
That amplified audio sounds very good, especially with how important audio is to VR and the immersion. Does it make a difference? I'm not so sure. The Stealth 350VR does sound great and seems to deliver the spatial audio effects well. But, I'm not convinced it does it much better than a regular, good quality set of over-ear headphones.
The microphone works as well as you'd expect for a headset in this price range and being able to hear yourself is a bonus. The battery life on the amplification seems pretty accurate to Turtle Beach's claim of 30 hours, but if it runs out, you can't use the headset at all. For anything. Which is kind of a bummer. You also have to be careful how much you turn up that amplified bass. You might think you like a lot, but in this case, too much definitely ruins everything.
The Stealth 350VR is also a fairly mid-tier option in the wider scheme of gaming headsets. That's perhaps where it falls down the most. To meet the price you've got a fairly plasticky build quality. I can only think Turtle Beach might have been better off starting at the high end and working down.
The idea itself is sound and something I hope catches on. The Stealth 350VR is a better fit when wearing a VR headset; of that there is no question. The simple design decisions make all the difference, and for that they should be applauded. If you don't yet own a proper headset, it's well worth a shout. Even if you do, for $60 you could do a lot worse.
Most importantly, I can't wait to see what comes next.