Last year, I reviewed the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Headset, and it quickly became one of my favorite PC accessories. The Elite Atlas had it all: It was comfortable, it was aurally pleasing and it was affordable. But in the past, Turtle Beach has always excelled at wireless models. Why did the Elite Atlas have to be tethered to systems with cumbersome cables?
Enter the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero ($150): one of the finest wireless PC headsets I've reviewed lately. It's comfortable and customizable, and it provides first-rate sound. And while $150 is considerably more money than its wired counterpart asks, it's pretty much the going rate for midrange wireless PC headsets. The Elite Atlas Aero provides nuanced wireless sound on PC — and, as an added bonus, it works wirelessly with PS4s and docked Switches, or in a wired configuration with undocked Switches and Xbox Ones.
The headset does have a few small flaws. Putting two separate volume dials right next to each other was probably not the best idea, and the software skews heavily toward power users at the expense of everyday fans. But if you've got $150 to spare and want to free your PC from the tyranny of wires, the Elite Atlas Aero is a strong choice.
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Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero design
The Elite Atlas Aero looks like a slightly upgraded version of the Elite Atlas, which is fitting. You've still got the sturdy black plastic chassis with a flexible metal headband and two large foam ear cups. This time around, though, there are adjustable rods on the ear cups themselves rather than above them. It's a bit hard to describe, but the bottom line is that it's a little easier to adjust the headset to get a good fit — and a little easier to accidentally jostle it out of whack.
The left ear cup is where most of the action happens. This overstuffed appendage is where you'll find the mic volume and audio volume dials (unhelpfully right next to each other; you are guaranteed to toggle the wrong switch at least once), the power button, the micro-USB charging port, the 3.5-millimeter audio jack and the removable mic port.
There's also a mic mute button on the outside of the ear cup and a programmable extra button between the power button and volume dial. By default, this activates Turtle Beach's signature Superhuman Hearing mode, which maximizes high frequencies and minimizes lower ones for better directional sound in FPS games. But you can use the Turtle Beach Control Studio software to swap out the mode for any other function you like.
There's no doubt that the left ear cup feels crowded, and it takes awhile to learn to navigate it by touch. The volume wheel is also a little on the aggressive side; even a light tap will make what you're listening to much louder or quieter. But generally speaking, the headset has an excellent design. It's large but not too heavy, and it folds flat for easy transportation. Splitting the difference between an automatically adjusting headband and notches on the side also makes it pretty easy to get a good fit.
Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero comfort
One of the very best things about the Elite Atlas Aero is that it's simply very comfortable. I was able to wear it for hours on end, whether I was playing games, watching movies or listening to music at work, and I never felt like I had to take it off. Like many other Turtle Beach headsets, the Aero boasts "pro specs" technology, which lets bespectacled users create a small channel for their glasses, but I didn't even find this necessary. The ear cups are just very plush.
I handed off the Aero to a co-worker, who agreed with me entirely. He thought they felt light, considering their size, and also loved how much give the ear cups had. Considering how much praise the Tom's Guide office had for the original Elite Atlas, this is not that surprising.
Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero gaming performance
The Elite Atlas Aero is primarily a PC gaming headset. With a PC, you get full wireless connectivity, on-ear volume controls, programmable settings, equalization options and so forth. As such, I focused most of my attention on PC games: Overwatch, Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, GreedFall and Final Fantasy XIV.
Across the board, the sound quality was top-notch. Activating superhuman hearing and surround sound in Overwatch helped me hear where my foes were coming from. Switching back to stereo sound for Final Fantasy XIV and GreedFall helped me enjoy the orchestral soundtracks and quest-related dialogue. The soundscape felt balanced in Age of Mythology, letting me focus on building up an army and assaulting enemy strongholds.
It's also worth pointing out that while the Elite Atlas Aero is not optimized for other consoles, it does work just fine with them. You can use it wirelessly with the PS4 or a docked Switch; in fact, with a docked Switch, you can even use the volume dial, as I learned to my delight during a dungeon crawl in Link's Awakening.
You can also use the 3.5-mm audio connection to plug into an Xbox One controller, undocked Switch or mobile phone. My only complaint here was that the built-in mic in the included cable often rubbed up against my shirt, creating some unpleasant feedback. But for $150, you can have a headset that works with just about every system you own, half the time wirelessly, and that's not too shabby.
Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero features
The Elite Atlas Aero runs on the robust Turtle Beach Control Studio software (on PCs, at least. You won't be able to access all these fancy options for console play). Here you can tweak equalization options, reprogram buttons, toggle surround sound and set up profiles for individual games.
First off, there are a ton of audio options at your disposal in this program. You can adjust options for volume, game/chat balance, mic pickup, 3D sound, equalization settings, macros and more. To detail every option would take too long; suffice it to say that audiophiles will probably find what they're looking for, while more casual fans can simply tweak a few settings and hit the ground running.
In fact, I wish there were a few more presets for fans who don't want to spend too much time setting up their own profiles. While the 3D sound setting has options for movies and music in addition to games, the stereo presets are pretty tame: bass and treble boosts, or a flat profile. It seems almost churlish to ask for more options in a piece of software that's already jam-packed with them, but I would much rather have an EQ profile designed by a pro than try to construct one from scratch myself.
There's also the mic, which is crisp and clear: perfect for competitive games, Discord chat rooms or however else you like to communicate online.
Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero music performance
Whether you're listening to music via the USB dongle or the 3.5-mm cord, the music quality is surprisingly good. The bass is strong (sometimes a rarity in a gaming headset), the vocals and instruments are balanced, and the soundscape is rich, whether you choose to listen with stereo or 3D sound. I sampled tracks from Flogging Molly, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Rolling Stones and G.F. Handel, and the Elite Atlas Aero made each artist sound rich and vibrant.
The headset is also unassuming enough that you could wear it out of the house, although you'll need a USB Type-C adapter if you've got a newfangled phone without a headphone jack.
The Elite Atlas Aero isn't the last word in wireless PC headsets, but it's pretty close. In spite of an overcrowded ear cup and software shortcomings, the headset is extremely comfortable, sounds great and works well with a variety of platforms. It's hard to ask for more than that.
In the same price range, it's worth checking out the $150 SteelSeries Arctis 7, which offers similar features with a slightly more comfortable fit. But the Elite Atlas Aero is a good reminder of how Turtle Beach became such a powerhouse in the gaming headset space.