Gaming gadget makers are rapidly embracing eSports, and Turtle Beach is the latest brand to hop aboard. The $199 Elite Pro is Turtle Beach’s first headset aimed specifically at professional gamers, with a cushy, highly tweakable design built for marathon comfort during long tournaments. The Pro offers crisp, accurate audio that highlights crucial in-game sounds, and it even has a special feature for accommodating gamers with glasses.
However, the Elite Pro is already expensive for a headset of its kind, and getting the most out of the device requires you to buy a robust but equally pricey audio controller add-on for $199. The Elite Pro's comfort and sound certainly live up to the headset's name, but it's a steep investment that only professional players and tournament organizers may be willing to make.
The Elite Pro isn't the most subtle or sleek headset out there, but it immediately gives the impression that it's built for heavy-duty gaming. The eSports-minded headset packs lots of moving parts into a black-and-orange design; I don't mind the color scheme, but it's eerily similar to that of the latest Call of Duty game.
The headset's left ear cup sports a bendable, removable microphone, as well as a dongle that lets you attach various types of mic cables and accessories (more on that later). Both cups swivel, making it easy to lay the Elite flat when you're taking a break from it.
I've never found Turtle Beach's headsets to be the most comfortable versions around, but the Elite Pro feels like a dream. The headset's thick, gel-infused Aerofit ear cushions have a soothing cool touch to them when you first put them on — like that of a frozen gel pack for a bruised knee, just with less freezer burn.
The Elite Pro features a suspension headband that automatically adjusts to your head, offering you plenty of ways to tinker with the size. Using the company's ComfortTech fit system, the Elite Pro's headband features two separate sliders that let you loosen or tighten, located on the left and right sides. If things still don't feel quite right, you can raise or lower each individual ear cup by about an inch.
Turtle Beach even kept gamers with glasses in mind when designing the Elite Pro. If you pop off either ear cushion, you can create a small indent that's meant to accommodate your specs. This is a nice touch, whether you wear glasses day to day or use specialized gaming eyewear such as Gunnar Optiks. I had one of my bespectacled colleagues wear the Elite Pro with this feature activated, and while he found the headset a bit too snug overall, he appreciated that it managed not to squeeze too hard on his temples.
As a headset designed for competitive play, the Elite Pro's sound quality squarely hits its mark. Sporting the company's 50mm NanoClear drivers, the headset did an excellent job highlighting my surroundings across a whole bunch of different games on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
If you play shooters, the Elite Pro is made for you. Whether I was tussling with other Spartans in Halo 5 or keeping an ear out for Overwatch's colorfully distinct cast of characters, the Elite Pro made it easy to pick out incoming footsteps and gunfire.
The headset helped to thoroughly immerse me in a massive Endor battle in Star Wars Battlefront. Everything from the lumbering footsteps of an AT-AT to the explosion of a distant thermal detonator sounded crisp and directionally accurate.
When I switched to the bloody brawling action of Mortal Kombat X, I was treated to thunderously impactful punches and kicks and a disgustingly rich amount of detail during the game's gory fatalities. Footsteps were once again easy to pick out, as were the sounds of each character's special moves.
Tactical Audio Controller
We reviewed the Elite Pro with Turtle Beach's Tactical Audio Controller, which is designed for the headset but sells separately for a whopping $199. The TAC gives gamers a wealth of neat extra options in the midst of battle, but it's hard to imagine anyone besides tournament organizers and professional gamers shelling out for one.
To be fair, you get a ton of controls and input options for the premium. For the most part, the TAC's interface is superintuitive, with dedicated sliders for adjusting the game/chat mix, cutting out background noise, boosting your mic and toggling mic monitoring. There's a mute button, as well as a massive volume knob that will completely cut game sound if you press down on it.
The TAC's port selection is just as impressive, with an aux-in port that lets you listen to music from your mobile device while you game, as well as a stream-out connection that allows you to broadcast your teammates' voices on your live stream. There are also two Ethernet ports that let you create a local chat network with multiple TACs, which is ideal for minimizing voice lag at in-person tournaments. Setting up the TAC is pretty simple on both console and PC; the included wires provide plenty of slack for using the controller from the couch, though the many cables required to get the thing working can get messy.
Turtle Beach's add-on allows you to toggle a variety of surround-sound presets, but as with previous Turtle Beach headsets, there are just too damn many to choose from. The TAC provides four distinct surround modes (Game, Movie, Music, Surround Off), each of which have four of their own submodes.
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They're also awfully redundant; for example, Game Mode features Shooter, Superhuman Hearing and Footstep Focus presets, which probably could have been combined into one submode. I was a fan of the Superhuman Hearing setting, which creates a clackety, treble-heavy sound that brought footsteps and gunfire front and center, while Footstep Focus was distractingly bass-heavy.
It's worth noting that the TAC is the only way of getting 7.1 surround-sound on the Elite Pro, which means you'll be paying a whopping $400 for the best experience possible.
Microphone and Extras
Communication is key to pro gaming, and the Elite Pro's TruSpeak microphone proved battle-ready throughout my time with it. My Xbox Live crew told me I sounded loud and clear while playing some Overwatch, and my personal voice recordings had no notable distortion or background noise. One thing to note: If you're using the TAC with your microphone, turning the background noise filter all the way up can actually create voice clipping.
If you want the best chat experience possible, you can plunk down an extra $40 for the Elite Pro Tournament Noise-Cancelling Microphone. Considering that the default mic is pretty crisp, though, you can probably do without the upgrade.
Rounding out the Elite Pro ecosystem are the $60 Tactical Audio Adapter for Xbox One and the $40 AMP for PS4. The Xbox adapter provides easy access to game and chat controls while offering Superhuman Hearing and Chat Boost; the PS4 amp beefs up the overall sound and adds in-mic monitoring. You'll also be able to buy swappable speaker plates down the road that feature popular eSports team logos.
Every Elite Pro headset includes a Turtle Beach Elite Membership, which includes a two-year warranty, a trial membership to Twitch's ad-free Turbo program, exclusive deals and a unique membership card.
As Turtle Beach's first headset built specifically for pro gamers, the Elite Pro largely succeeds. Its cushy ear cups and myriad of adjustment options make it a headset you can wear for hours on end, and its rich, spatial-accurate audio makes this peripheral ideal for spotting enemies.
The Elite Pro becomes even more impressive when you use it with Turtle Beach's Tactical Audio Controller, which features a wealth of controls for toggling surround sound and optimizing chat. However, the controller adds an extra $199 to the Elite's already high price tag, and you can find some of the controller's features on other headsets for less.
The $169 Logitech G933 is a good alternative for serious gamers, offering wireless 7.1 surround-sound and a wired option for both PC and consoles. If you like having a dedicated audio controller, the $299 Astro A50 costs less than the price of the Elite and the TAC combined. The Elite Pro is still an impressive peripheral for pros, but only the most dedicated need apply for now.