A good mid-range set of headphones, but will they last?
It seems every week we find a new set of headphones in the mailbox to review, and this month has been no exception; we have had no less than three sets from the team at Turtle Beach. This week's unit is from their mid-price range, and is designed primarily for the PC
The Z6A come in a good-looking box, which is complete with a window that shows off what a very good looking piece of audio equipment they are. Made primarily of black matte plastic, the earpieces are set off with silver chrome, while the outer area is accented with electric blue. The overall effect makes you look like a sophisticated gamer, shouting “ I'm full of style and technical cred” (we do not, however, warrant the units ability to pick up girls.)
The unit sports 8 amplified speakers (including sub woofers) to deliver 5.1 surround sound. Turtle Beach reckon that these speakers have been angled by their professional technician to deliver the best possible surround sound experience. The frequency response for both the speakers and the microphones are within the acceptable range.
The unit utilises a system of sidetone that allows audio feedback through the headset when using the microphone, so you can hear yourself speak. The headset weighs in at around 360 grams, and is powered by a 2M USB cable (once all the pieces are connected).
The unit is an all plastic construction, with a fabric cushion in the headband, and fabric (sweat absorbing) earpieces. The earpieces are large and encompass the ear, which cuts out a lot of background noise. In use, the unit sits comfortably on the head, with the control unit set at a distance that allows it to sit at desk level and in easy reach.
The microphone can be adjusted so that the unit can be worn with it either on your right or left side. Like others in the Earforce range, the earpieces can twist and lay flat when not in use.
When it come to robustness, this unit falls into the “mildly delicate” range. One of the potential weak points for headsets is where the earpiece connects to the headband. On this unit, it is definitely a major area of concern. The hinge is largely plastic and, rather than being solid in construction where the band meets the hinge, it is a two-piece construction with a seam. On our test unit, the glue at the seam had already failed, and the right earpiece had nearly sheared off completely (the bayonet fitting being the only thing giving it any support). This was a major let-down for us, as you will see the unit scores very highly on just about everything else.
The cable where it enters into the earpiece is protected with a soft rubber grommet that will ensure the cable will not perish at this other common weak point. We really like the feature of the breakaway connector on the control unit too (how often do you race off to answer the phone and either rip the unit from the back of your PC or are flung backwards as your head stops and your feet keep running?)
The unit is very easy to set up, with a split-cable system at the PC end. This includes the USB connector and the plugs for each of the outputs and inputs on your sound card.
The control unit has a volume knob, a feature we would like to see more of in similar units. This allows for positive and fine adjustment to the volume, rather than the horizontal slides that always seem to go from soft to oh my god my ears are bleeding
with nothing in between.
Also in the box are a set of cables to attach the unit to your Xbox 360. Again, one of our pet peeves is the lack of any container to store these in. We bet that within 6 months these will be consigned to our miscellaneous cable bin (not sure what they are for, but they must be important enough to retain in the mass of spaghetti in the bin.)
Sound Quality (Subjective)
There is no doubt the unit delivers a lot of audio depth. The 5.1 serves to deliver an enhanced gaming experience that would normally be the exclusive reserve of an expensive speaker system.
We like this unit a lot. Its very comfortable to wear and has a lot of great features. We were however deeply concerned about its robustness and you would need to take this into account when considering it as your headset of choice.