Turtle Beach Elite 800X Wireless Noise-Cancelling Surround Sound Headset Xbox OneOverview -
In 2014, Turtle Beach introduced the PS4-focused Elite 800 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headset, which, while awesome, left Xbox One owners in the cold. (More on the Elite 800 and the Xbox One later.) In 2015, Turtle Beach announced and released the Xbox One-focused Elite 800X Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headset. Due to the special intricacies of the Xbox One, the Elite 800X is one of the very few headsets on the market that offers fully wireless Xbox One support.
There is much more to the Elite 800X feature set. The rechargeable wireless headset sports DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Channel Surround Sound as well as Bluetooth connectivity for both app-based controls and Bluetooth device support. The headset features a full suite of EQ and surround modes, which can be changed via the Ear Force Audio Hub app. There is also active noise-cancelling, mic montoring (variable), and superhuman hearing features, and this is all done with an invisible mic set-up. Beyond that, the headset has its own combination USB transmitter and magnetic charging stand. Finally, those who purchase the Elite 800X are granted membership into Turtle Beach's Elite Membership program, which among other benefits, yields the user a 2 year warranty for the Elite 800X.
Thus, on paper, the Elite 800X has a long list of substantial features. Now it's time to see what it's like to use the headset.
The Elite 800X
Full disclaimer, I reviewed that Elite 800 last year (see here), and if anything, I like it more now than when I first reviewed it. I first got my hands on the Elite 800X at CES 2015, and it didn't disappoint. When I got my own unit, I ended up spending months with it. I played the 'Call of Duty: Black Ops III' multiplayer beta with it. I played 'Forza 6' online with the guys at Turn 10 while using the 800X. I even raced the Vicarious Visions guys in 'Skylanders SuperChargers' using the 800X. And that's not the half of it.
I've taken the 800X from teleporting zombies in 'Advanced Warfare' to the gathering storm in 'Life is Strange.' And while I was doing all of this Xbox One gaming, I've had a phone connected via Bluetooth.
Simply put, the 800X is one of the most comfortable and pleasant headset gaming experiences available in the business right now. I can be connected to the Xbox One and to my phone without a single wire going to the headset. I can do this for hours on end, and afterwards, set the 800X in its magnetic cradle on top of my Xbox One, leaving it ready to go for another marathon.
Anyone who has owned and used the Elite 800 on the PS4 should know what to expect from the 800X. Beyond the Xbox One focus, there are only a few slight differences, which I'll come to.
Even after the reveal of multiple new gaming headsets from some of the industry's biggest makers, as it stands now in 2015 and the foreseeable future, Turtle Beach is the only headset maker to offer a fully wireless Xbox One headset. Along with the Elite 800X, the Ear Force Stealth 500X and Stealth 420X are the only options when it comes to being fully wireless on the Xbox One. It's a cabled chat connection that is forced on most other wireless headsets, and it's worth pointing out why this is a big deal.
The Elite 800X is positioned as a home theater warrior as opposed to the kind of headset that gets thrown in a bag and taken to a tournament. With the Elite 800X's long battery life, excellent wireless performance, surround sound, simultaneous Bluetooth phone capability, passive and active noise cancellation, and overall wearer comfort, it's the kind of headset that can be worn and used in the home environment for hours on end. Want to play from midnight to noon with a group of friends online? Then the Elite 800X is perfect. Such sessions mean (for me anyway) having to run to the kitchen and other parts of the house every once in a while, and beyond just the normal joy of being untethered, it's always appreciated that a quick run to the fridge does not require either removing the headset or carrying the controller around. Indeed, if desired I can continue talking to my party while walking around. If I reach the limit of the 800X's range, it's not really problem, there' no harsh noise or connection penalty. Just walk a back into range and keep going without missing a beat.
Technical & Tactile
Using the Elite 800X is great. When the cradle is connected via USB, the Xbox One always powers on with a "Headset Assigned" message for my Gamertag. The Xbox One has a separate setting for the optical port, which means I can have the HDMI going to my receiver in LPCM while the optical is Bitstreamed out in Dolby Digital, which funnily enough, is necessary in order to take advantage of the DTS Headphone:X surround sound. So basically, whenever I want to use the headset, I pick it up off its cradle, power it on, and mute my receiver. That's it. (The transmitter does have optical passthough for anyone who needs it, say for a sound bar or older AVR.)
If the Bluetooth is on the headset or I turn it on, it automatically pairs with my LG G4, and I'm connected to both the Xbox One and my phone. Like many users, I tend to set the game volume and chat volume levels right where I like them and leave them there, and the 800X remembers these settings. Sometimes though, I need an adjustment. For example, when playing multiplayer with developers as part of game review, it's important to focus on what their saying as it's a good time to ask questions. With the 800X, I just reach up and turn the chat volume up, and if necessary, I turn the game volume down. Being able to adjust the volume levels independently is the king of finite setting that I need. (There are plenty more volume setting to be found using the app.)
I'm a huge fan of DTS Headphone:X surround sound. As with surround in the home theater, it isn't always exactly the key to a competitive advantage (which is why SuperHuman Hearing and Footstep focus can be turned on). But the joy of trying to pick out where a rival driver is coming from (left or right shoulder) by way of engine noise, is more than just a concern on competition. It's really about that often cited, but often missed sense of immersion. We have $100 million games with incredible 3D soundscapes that mix ambient, chatter, soundtrack, dialog, and SFX in one alive package, why not let that audio richness play out?
Because of the Elite 800X's excellent passive noise cancellation, that is, the sound pocket around the ears, the audio reproduction from the 50mm doesn't need to compete with much and can be enjoyed.
For me, the Elite 800X fits so well, and is so balanced weight wise (it's not light but neither does it push down on my ears or soft spot), I can wear it for hours without the typical headset discomfort, and with the audio performance, can play without really thinking about the headset.
Active Noise Cancellation
As I said, the Elite 800X has great passive noise cancellation, but one of its big features is active noise cancellation. I have to admit, this is a feature that is lost on me. Every once in a while, there will be the whine of a nearby lawnmower that I'm happy to drown out, but otherwise, I don't tend to need ANC in my home and home office the way I do on an airplane. Fortunately, it's easy enough to toggle on and off, and unlike many ANC headsets, the 800X recalls that selection. (The ANC stays off the next time I turn the headset on.)
I mentioned how nice it is to use the 800X and be untethered. It's similarly comfortable to have dual invisible mics. With the 800X mix set-up, I never have a mic in my face that I have to adjust or worry about my breathing sounds, and I can just be. Again, this wouldn't fly in a warehouse tournament, but gaming at home it's perfect. In fact, due to how the mics are designed to pick up sound from the wearer's mouth, I don't have to worry that a crying cat will be picked up by the mic. That's a big plus for me, and for anyone in my party.
Although the 800X is easily my go-to for the Xbox One, it does have some issues. The chief issue is that it's really only for the Xbox One, or at least only fully wireless with the Xbox One. To be clear, the 800X can be connected via the included 3.5mm cable to just about anything, such as a tablet, a laptop of the Wii U. Even better, the 800X can be used with the PS4 in a roundabout manner.
This basically mirrors the way the Elite 800 can be used with the Xbox One. The Elite 800X transmitter cradle can be connected via optical to the PS4. (The PS4 then needs to be set to bitstream out Dolby, and to send only Chat audio to the DualShock 4.) Then the Elite 800 headset can be connected via the included 3.5mm cable to the DualShock 4. This isn't ideal, but it still works well enough, especially on the surround side.
One of the few key differences between the Elite 800 and 800X is the transmitter cradle. The Elite 800 has two micro USB ports, while the 800X only has one. This is because the 800X transmitter cradle is a bit more refined. It combines the older Program Only port and main USB port into one.
I wish that Elite 800X was completely wireless for Xbox One and PS4, but with the way the consoles are designed that's not something users can expect for a long time, if ever. (In fact, it's something of a lark that the Elite 800 and 800X have been priced the same. The 800X has a little more to it, and could have be priced higher).
Other light trouble spots for the 800X include the controls and control notifications. The eight buttons on the headset are not great, and that's due to the speaker plates. It's too easy when setting the headset down for a second for the surround mode to be changed. Fortunately, unlike the 500X, it's very easy to toggle through and know which surround mode is in use thanks to verbal audio cues. Another method would be to use the Ear Force Audio Hub app, but while the app is great for some things, (occasional tweaking), it's not stalwart enough to be used all the time.
Bizarrely, while verbal audio cues are sued for most things, the mic mute is a high tone/low tone set of cues. Turtle Beach probably has a reason for this, but I would prefer "mic on" "mic off" cues.
One other issue I had was a mic echo during phone calls. This may be s bug having to do with mic monitoring (which can be turned off via the app), but fortunately it wasn't a big enough deal for me to track down the cause. It's possible that future firmware update will fix the issue.
I mentioned the less than stellar buttons that are integrated into the speaker plates, and here again, I think the speaker as a whole look a little less premium than I would like. The blue ones that came in the mail are particularly chintzy.
I do like the headband (much like I did for the Elite 800). The green highlights are brighter than I would have chosen.
Turtle Beach Elite Membership
One of the big benefits mentioned for both the Elite 800 and Elite 800X is free access to Turtle Beach's Elite Membership program. The main benefit there is a 2 year warranty, but there are several other bonuses (a special support number, a free Twitch Turbo trial membership). The most tangible of these bonuses is an article of clothing and two sets of speaker plates. The user gets to pick from a small selection.
I picked a hoodie/t-shirt hybrid, blue speaker plates, and the Elite branded ones back with the Elite 800. It took a long time but they did eventually show up. Again, I'm not a big speaker plate person, but free is always nice, and I would recommend considering the Elite Membership a free bonus. It's really the warranty that's a big deal.
For everyone playing at home or in an office, the Elite 800X is the headset of choice for the Xbox One. There are some very minor issues, but with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound, completely wireless headset use, Bluetooth device functionality, and expertly comfortable design, the Elite 800X is in a class of its own. While the active noise-cancellation feature is unnecessary for my use, others might really appreciate being able to block those outside distractions. By the looks of it right now, buyers needn't worry that any other headset will challenge the Elite 800X anytime soon.
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