Turtle Beach Disappoints, Again
Last night my headset broke. The cause? Plastic fatigue. Stress caught up at the flex-point where the earcup attaches to the headband and the whole thing cracked and came apart.
What really sucks
, though, is that this is my third
Turtle Beach headset to fail in exactly the same way
. Even worse, this was my Elite 800X headset, which has a different structural design than the older headsets. It looked more robust. I thought it would hold up. It did not.
Couldn't Handle the "Ear Force"
The first time I had a headset fail it was a set of XP400s
that I was using on 360. As with every other case, the plastic gave way while I was wearing the headset.
The failure starts with the odd feeling that the headset isn't fitting right--because it isn't. As the plastic weakens, the earcup flexes more and more, putting ever more stress on the weak point. Once it starts to go, complete failure is pretty rapid. The headset feels like it just peels apart until the break is complete and you're left with one earcup loosely dangling by the wires that run to the speaker. It goes from "something feels off" to completely broken in a matter of seconds.
Turtle Beach took good care of me with the XP400s. I emailed their support, swapped a few messages and got an RMA number. I think I had to pay for shipping, but they ended up sending me a brand new XP400 headset rather than a repair or refurb!
Meanwhile, since I hated to be without my wireless headset for any amount of time, I picked up a set of Black Ops II Tangos
while I waited for my XP400 service. The Tangos are a step up from the 400s--both are completely wireless, but the Tangos allow streaming music over a Bluetooth connection.
TB had a few different models that all offered roughly the same features. The XP510s
seemed to be the "generic" version, and there were several clone models co-branded with Call of Duty titles and whatnot. I got the Black Ops II version because I found that model on sale.
All was well with the Tangos ... for a while. Since they were an old model, the pair I got had an old/bad battery that wouldn't hold a charge for long. I could live with that, though--the headset came with a long USB charging cable, so it wasn't uncomfortable to play tethered to a power source most of the time and simply unplug if I needed to wander around.
Unfortunately, that headset broke, too--in exactly the same way as the XP400s! It turns out this is such a common problem that someone created a clip-on brace for broken Turtle Beach headsets
! Go figure....
This time I didn't get any help from Turtle Beach. They claimed they couldn't help because the Tangos were a discontinued model. They did say they'd "put in a request to get approval to replace my Tangos with a comparable model," but I never heard back. So that headset is still sitting in a corner somewhere, busted.
Since everyone has more or less moved on to the One for gaming and 360 parties got unreliable anyway, I decided not to replace that headset. It was time to upgrade to a headset for the One.
Elite 800X: The Perfect Gaming Headset ... With Fatal Flaws
New Design, Same Crappy Plastic
It wasn't long after my Tangos died that Turtle Beach launched the Elite 800X
On paper, at least, this headset is perfect
. It has every feature that I'd come to find indispensable for gaming: it's 100% wireless. It pairs with my phone so I can take calls while gaming. It supports music streaming over Bluetooth. It does away with the annoying "puck" that the 360 models required you to plug into your controller for wireless chat. It has a myriad of audio tuning options; if you're so-inclined you can create your own custom audio presets with a PC app. Even the transmitter doubles as a cool magnetic charging base!
The audio quality of the headset is superb. The bluetooth pairing works with my iPad, my Android phone and my Win10 laptop. I can stream YouTube solutions or music while I'm gaming and hanging out in a party. I can even join parties through the XBox app on my laptop! Best of all, the headset itself has been redesigned and appears to offer greater structural strength that the old design that was prone to failures.Appears
to offer greater structural strength. Obviously, appearances can be deceiving.
The Elite 800X also has a "seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time" boomless mic. It sucks. It doesn't work well at all. It's a hole in the earcup that fails miserably at clearly picking up your voice. If I had a nickel for every time someone in party asked me to adjust my headset because they couldn't hear me well I could afford a lifetime supply of replacement 800s.
Almost immediately after launch, Turtle Beach released a firmware upgrade that increases the sensitivity of the mic to help with audio problems. It didn't really help. You still sound like you're on a cheap speakerphone to everyone else in your parties. But, hey, at least everything is peachy on your
end, right? Well, right up until the POS plastic breaks and your state-of-the-art gaming audio solution becomes a sad, broken pile of expensive junk.
I sent an email to TB through their website and now I'm waiting to hear whether they're going to do anything to help. As I wait, it occurs to me that for my last two broken headsets I had to get on the phone and call them before anyone answered my initial email, although after the initial call email communication worked pretty well. I'm not feeling too much like calling yet, though. I'll give it a day or two, and then
The 800s did last longer than the last two headsets. Although that could be something of a problem. I purchased them direct from TB in June, 2015, and the warranty was apparently only one year long. I'm 10 months out of warranty, then. So what does that mean? They're under no obligation to repair or replace this headset, but will they offer me any solution other than "if you want another one you can go buy another one"?
I'm still feeling disappointed and pessimistic from my experience with the Tangos, so I don't want to get hopes up about a possible repair or replacement. And to be honest, after losing a 3rd Turtle Beach headset to shoddy materials, it's hard to feel much enthusiasm at the prospect of using a 4th. The mic will still suck, and I won't be able to get beyond the thought that the new ones are already on their way to an early demise.
Unfortunately, I don't know if there are any other better--or even comparable
--alternatives available. I know there are a couple other reputable high-end headsets for wireless gaming, but I've yet to see another manufacturer offer wireless XBox One headsets with Bluetooth for both phone calls and general media streaming. If I take a chance that one of them will be more durable I'll have to give up an amazing, unparalleled feature set.
I just wish TB could create a physical headset of comparable quality to their audio and electronics! As it stands, I'm not sure what has a lower life expectancy--their headsets, or real turtles on real beaches
Posted by SpeleoFool
on 13 April 17 at 01:02
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