The Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 450 ($109) delivers fully wireless audio to PC gamers, and sounds pretty great to boot. This lightweight headset provides digital 7.1-channel surround sound, which, combined with a handful of useful presets, makes it easy to get lost in your favorite games — or get the jump on a nearby opponent. While it's not the coziest headset out there, the Stealth 450 is one of the better wireless gaming headsets in its price range.
Design and Setup
As its name suggests, the Ear Force Stealth 450's no-frills design will blend into your gaming setup pretty easily. The plastic headset is all-black, save for a duo of red stripes surrounding the ear cups and red Turtle Beach logos inside each ear.
The 450 sports a removable microphone, as well as swiveling ear cups that make the headset easy to lay flat. The peripheral's volume, mic and preset controls are all located on the right ear cup, and while they're easy to reach, it took me some time to differentiate between the game volume and chat volume wheels.
Setting up the Stealth 450 took seconds — I simply plugged the stick-shaped wireless transmitter into my PC's USB port, waited a few seconds for a driver to install and powered the headset on.
While the 450 is nearly identical in design to its Xbox One counterpart, the Stealth 420X, the two headsets differ in comfort a bit. The 450's mesh ear cushions don't feel quite as nice as the 420X's faux-leather covers, and while I found the headset to be a bit too snug, it felt slightly more forgiving on my dome than the Xbox version did. I ultimately got used to wearing the 450, but it's far from the coziest headset I've tested.
Fortunately, the Stealth's somewhat tight design is offset by its lightweight 11-ounce construction, which made it easy to wear the headset while walking around the office. Corsair's wireless H2100 headset ($89) is notably heavier at 22 ounces, though we found its large, well-padded ear cups more comfortable.
The Stealth 450 offers digital DTS 7.1-channel surround sound, and it makes a big difference when gaming. After enjoying rich, immersive sound while punching, swinging and shooting my way through a handful of games, everything I played sounded shallow with it turned off.
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Turtle Beach's headset was an excellent sidekick for Batman: Arkham Knight, highlighting the small details of Gotham City's rainy ambiance while simultaneously making the Batmobile's revving engines sound menacing. Combat sounded especially satisfying — the headset's Bass Boost preset made every punch and kick sound meaty, while Bass and Treble mode provided more of a sharp, bone-cracking sensation.
The Stealth 450 proved just as useful for adventuring through the massively multiplayer open worlds of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The game's iconic orchestral score sounded full, and the headset's surround sound made it easy to hear the blaster fire that surrounded my budding Jedi.
Good sound is especially key for shooters, and the Stealth did its duty and then some when blasting through soldiers and mechs in Titanfall. I had no trouble pinpointing where enemy fire was coming from, and the sound of a robot exploding from a well-timed missile was appropriately booming.
Aside from its four sound presets (Natural Sound, Bass Boost, Bass and Treble Boost, Voice Boost), the Stealth also offers Superhuman Hearing — a special setting that's meant to highlight subtle noises such as footsteps and weapon reloads. The feature worked well in my testing, allowing me to hear gusts of wind and drops of rain that were otherwise quite quiet with it off.
If you play PC games in the living room, the 450's wireless range should suit you just fine. I used the headset while walking around our roughly 15-by-15-foot testing lab, and never lost the signal once.
My only gripe with the 450's in-game performance is that sound tends to bleed out. A co-worker a few feet away was able to hear the gunfire and in-game chatter of Titanfall coming from the headset, meaning you might not want to crank the Stealth at full volume if anyone is asleep nearby.
The Stealth 450 doubled as a perfectly suitable pair of headphones, blasting everything from the crisp, sunny guitar-rock of Yellowcard to the thumping bass of Kendrick Lamar tracks with impressive clarity.
The headset includes a handy 3.5-inch mobile cable for listening to music on your phone, but its functionality is a bit limited. The cable only works when the Stealth is powered on, despite being an analog connection. The cord also lacks an inline remote for pausing tracks and answering calls — a strange omission, considering that the 420X's mobile cable has one.
The Stealth 450's removable microphone is impressively flexible, and is almost too good at picking up sound. A friend was able to hear me clearly as we chatted over Skype, but she also mentioned that the chatter of my nearby colleagues was noticeable. I appreciate that the 450 has mic monitoring — which lets you hear your own voice to prevent you from shouting — but the feature created a constant hissing noise whenever I left the mic unmuted. Fortunately, the background static wasn't very noticeable while playing games.
The Stealth 450 promises 15 hours of battery life, and based on my testing, it should have no problem living up to that claim. So far, I've used the headset throughout roughly 7 hours of gaming and music listening, and haven't come close to receiving a low battery warning. It's worth noting that the 450's Xbox One counterpart, the 420X, lasted well over its 15-hour claim in my tests.
The $109 Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 450 offers impressive wireless gaming audio for a good price. Its immersive surround sound and bass-boosting audio presets bring out the smallest details in games, and the headset's strong wireless range and long battery life make it ideal for those who like to play PC games on the couch. The $89 Corsair H2100 is cheaper, cozier and more customizable, but the smaller and lighter Stealth is more travel-friendly, and is one of the strongest overall wireless headsets we've used.