The Turtle Beach 800X wireless headset ($299 on Amazon) is built for serious Xbox One gamers, offering rich 7.1 surround sound and fully wireless chat within a pleather-coated, premium-looking design. The Elite offers a wealth of sound presets -- including Superhuman Hearing for getting the jump on your enemies -- and doubles as a Bluetooth headset for mobile devices. However, it faces some stiff competition from the excellent $299 Astro A50.
The Turtle Beach Elite 800x is a gaming headset aimed at the classy crowd. Instead of assaulting wearers with bright colors and bulky shapes like most of the competition, the Elite sports an elegant, curvy construction that could be mistaken for a high-end pair of headphones.
The Elite's all-black design is highlighted by strips of silver on each side of its soft-touch band, which can be raised up to about an inch for bigger heads. A subtle stripe of Xbox-green wraps around the headset's pleather-coated ear cups, which can rotate 90 degrees to be laid flat on a table. The headset's microphone is built into the ear cups, which adds to the Elite's pleasingly seamless design.
The Elite's outer ear cups are host to an array of on-ear controls, with switches for adjusting mic volume, muting the mic and changing sound presets on the right side, and ones for volume control, power and Bluetooth on the left. The controls are laid out in diamond formation on each ear, with tactile arrows next to each function that make them easy to find while wearing the headset.
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The Elite's glossy, reflective ear cup covers are prone to fingerprint smudges, but you don't have to keep the ones that come out of the box. You can swap the covers out for any of the extra speaker plates that Turtle Beach sells for $13 a pop, allowing you to slap on anything from Darth Maul's face to Captain America's shield.
Turtle Beach's headset connects wirelessly to your Xbox One via a transmitter box, which doubles as an attractive charging stand.
The Elite's synthetic leather, memory foam ear cups and inner headband are generally cozy, but I had to give my ears occasional breaks from them during long sessions. The over-ear cups are snug enough to fit firmly and seal in sound, but, even after adjusting the headset, they felt just a bit too tight against my head.
This was especially evident after wearing the Elite for hours at a time, as I felt my cramped ears expanding back to their normal state every time I took the headset off.
While the 13-ounce Elite is the same weight as the $299 Astro A50, it didn't feel nearly as lightweight on my head. I also prefer the A50s plush ear cups, which gave my ears far more breathing room than the Elite's pleather ones.
Offering 7.1 channel surround sound with active noise-cancellation, the Elite provided the spatial audio I crave for multiplayer games and immersed me in solo experiences, all while blotting out the pesky sounds of the real world.
The Elite made an excellent competitive companion for my Halo: The Master Chief Collection shootouts. I could pinpoint exactly where enemy gunfire, grenades and footsteps were coming from. The sounds of flying bullets and bomb explosions were punchy and detailed, and I could easily make out background noises, such as blowing wind and running water.
The Elite's slick sound distribution translated well to the atmospheric action-adventuring of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. I could clearly hear my orc adversaries talking smack from a distance. When I got the jump on them, the sounds of stabbing and slicing them to oblivion was mighty satisfying.
The headset continued to impress when I switched gears to the high-speed racing of Forza Horizon 2: Fast and Furious. Every sound produced by my reckless driving was ear-pleasingly crisp, from the screeching of rubber to the revving of my engine to the thud of my car hitting a street light.
When I had to put my controller down to do some dishes, the Elite 800X became a dependable pair of Bluetooth headphones for my iPhone. The Elite highlighted the furious distorted guitars and aggressive vocals of heavy rock tracks from Silverstein, and gave some serious bounce to the thumping bass and raspy rapping of Kendrick Lamar's "King Kunta."
Sound Presets: Too Many Modes
The Elite offers a total of 18 sound presets across four modes. Some gamers might love such a wealth of options, but I was a little overwhelmed by them, especially when some presets didn't seem necessary.
The headset's Game Mode consists of six presents: Signature Sound (Turtle Beach's default offering), shooter, racing, sports, Superhuman Hearing and Footstep Focus. Superhuman Hearing is the clear star of the show here -- when playing Halo, the preset amplified the sounds of faraway gunfire and enemy movement that would normally get lost in the more bass-heavy Signature Sound mode.
While Superhuman Hearing definitely serves its purpose, I couldn't help but think that some of the other settings should have been combined. Shooter, Superhuman Hearing and Footstep Focus modes do have their differences -- shooter mode amps up low-end sound while Footstep Focus, as its name suggests, highlights footsteps -- but I wish they could have been combined into a single preset for giving players a competitive edge.
The preset options for the headset's Movie and Music modes are more straightforward by comparison, each offering a version of Signature Sound in addition to genre-specific profiles. Movie mode's action, horror and drama presets are built to highlight explosions, faint noises and dialogue, respectively, while Music mode's stadium, acoustic and dance presets are designed to accommodate live music, intimate tracks and club songs.
You can also opt to disable surround sound in stereo mode, which includes options for boosting bass, treble and voice. You can even long-press the mute button to toggle the mic presets, which include settings for quiet, normal and loud rooms, as well as for outdoors.
While there's something for almost everyone across the Elite's stack of presets, it just feels like too much, especially when navigating between them requires you to perform a series of long and short presses on the headset's right ear cup. The Astro A50 provided similarly satisfying sound using a choice of just three presets: Pro mode for competitive gaming, Core mode for solo play and Media mode for entertainment.
Microphone and Battery Life
Since the Elite has no protruding mic, I wasn't totally confident in its ability to capture chat clearly. Fortunately, the headset's ear cup-integrated microphone did a fine job, allowing me to converse with a colleague over Skype without having to repeat myself or raise my voice. My co-worker did note that the lack of a traditional mic was noticeable, as there was a bit of distance and distortion to my voice, but said that it wasn't enough to make my voice incomprehensible.
Aside from offering dependable clarity without a protruding mic, the Elite stands out by letting you chat completely wire-free. While both the Astro A50 and the Elite offer wireless game audio, you'll have to plug Astro's option into your controller if you want to talk to friends. With the Elite, simply sync up and you'll be good to chat.
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The Elite promises a lengthy 10 hours of battery life, according to Turtle Beach, and, in my testing, it delivered just that. Turtle Beach's headset endured about 10 hours of mixed use (Xbox One gaming and music playback, sometimes both at once) across the span of two days on a single charge, outlasting the 8.5 hours I churned out of the Astro A50.
Aside from Xbox One, the Elite 800X works wirelessly with Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices. There's also an included wire for connecting the Elite to any device with a 3.5mm jack, which works even when the headset is out of battery power. I especially loved the ability to pair the Elite to my Xbox One and iPhone at the same time, as I was able to play music off my phone and receive notification sounds while gaming.
The Elite's wide compatibility range gives it a big edge over the Xbox One version of the A50, which works only with Microsoft's console. PlayStation gamers can get the same feature set on the $299 Elite 800, which is designed for PS4, PS3 and mobile.
The $299 Turtle Beach Elite 800X is a feature-rich premium Xbox One headset that lives up to its name. The detailed 7.1 surround sound satisfies for both solo and competitive play, especially when you kick on Superhuman Hearing mode to amplify your surroundings. Its slick, mic-less design makes it one of the most attractive Xbox One headsets around, and its ability to double as a Bluetooth headset for your phone or tablet -- even while playing games -- gives it tons of added value.
I do find the Elite's staggering amount of presets a bit overwhelming, and I still prefer the plushy $299 Astro A50 in terms of pure comfort and ease of use. Still, if you're seeking an attractive, high-end Xbox One headset for both gaming and media with fully wireless chat, the Elite's versatility is hard to top.
Turtle Beach Elite 800X Specs:
- Speakers: 50mm with Neodymium Magnets
- Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Ear cup Design: Around-Ear (Closed)
- Ear pad Material: Synthetic Leather (Black) with Memory Foam Cushion
- Microphone Design: Dual Hidden Noise-Cancelling Microphones
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth Radio with Dual-Pairing Mode and A2DP Compatibility
- Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
- Weight: 13 ounces