Xboxaddict.com Article


Turtle Beach Stealth 500 Headset Review

by Adam Dileva


Turtle Beach Stealth 500


Features/Specifications
Connectivity: Wireless, Bluetooth
Drivers: 40mm
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Microphone: Omni-Directional, Flip-to-Mute
Ear-cushion Material: Plush Leatherette, Memory Foam
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
Wireless Transmitter: Xbox Series X|S & Xbox One
Bluetooth: iOS, Android, PC*, Nintendo Switch, & other Bluetooth Equipped Devices (*Windows 10 & up, USB 2.0 or higher)

Included in the Box
Turtle Beach Stealth 500 Wireless Gaming Headset
USB Wireless Transmitter
0.7m / 2.3ft Charging Cable (USB-A to USB-C)
Quick Start Guide
Turtle Beach Stealth 500


I don’t factor in the unboxing experience into my final thoughts and scores, but there’s something to be said for opening a new product box and having that ‘wow’ factor. Whether it be some slick packaging or something inside that gives that premium experience, an unboxing can be just as exciting as your new product. Premium unboxing is generally reserved for higher end items, and given that the Turtle Beach Stealth 500’s are your entry level headsets, don’t expect much of that ‘wow’ here opening the box. The mostly white box gives you all the info you need on the outside about its main features and showcasing the headphones on the front and back. Opening the box you’ll mainly see the headset in a bag (for protection, not a carrying case) with the Turtle Beach logo all over it. There’s a small bag with the included USB transmitter, notoriously short charging cable, and Quick Start Guide.



Stealth 500

I’ve had a number of different Turtle Beach headsets over the years, using my last pair for a number of years until they literally broke, so I have a good baseline knowledge of their offerings. They’ve been busy lately, releasing three new headsets at practically the same time, though today’s review will focus on the entry level Stealth 500’s. If that model sounds familiar, their Stealth series have been around for a while, as were previous 500 versions, but this latest generation is by far their best to date.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500

Priced at an MSRP of $99.99 CAD / $79.99 USD, they are certainly more than their entry level line, but I was quite surprised at the features included at this price point. Usually at this price range you can certainly find a wireless headset, but it won’t have a lot of extra features, being quite a basic headset. This wasn’t acceptable for Turtle Beach. The Stealth 500’s is a wireless headset that can be used across nearly any device, includes Bluetooth capabilities, has a 40 hour life battery, and is actually quite comfortable to boot. Usually a wireless headset with all these ‘extras’ cost a bit more, so it’s great to see their lower end headsets having so many features at this cost.
Turtle Beach Stealth 500


People are going to put a value on different features more than others. I for example place a heavy emphasis on how comfortable a headset is and battery life, especially since I’ll play for quite a few hours at a time when I’ve got a good game going. Others will value a good sound, which is probably why you’d be purchasing a headset anyways, while some simply want a good bargain on the price. The Stealth 500’s checks all of these boxes, being quite comfortable with its interesting floating headband and soft ear cups, a great 40-hour battery life complete with quick-charge, and being in that affordable $100 CAD range, more so for being wireless as well. An entry level headset that isn’t shy of having premium features.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500Design and Comfort

Upon taking out the 500’s from the box, the first things I noticed was how light it was and the floating headband. Of course I did an inspection of the volume wheels, ports, buttons, and flipped the mic out before trying it on. Being quite light, I could barely notice it on my head. This is probably for a number of reasons: the lightweight plastic materials, the 40mm drivers (as opposed to larger 50mm), and the floating headband. The elastic headband makes the headset sit on your head in a natural way and evenly distributing the weight on the top of your head, so no need to constantly fidget with each side of the ear cups to find that perfect length for each ear.

There are some notches on the inside of the band where you can make some adjustments if needed to the tension of the strap itself. I left it as the default, as I had no issues, but trying to take them out of the notch to adjust, I was a bit wary, as there’s no instructions for doing so and I was worried I would snap the small anchor piece on the band. While not the first headset to have such a design, I was surprised at how comfortable it was, even after hours straight of playing. The foam cups were equally as comfortable on my ears and never became sweaty after binging a season of some show on Netflix as well.
Turtle Beach Stealth 500While all black, the headphones have a matte finish and the subtle Turtle Beach branding gives it a premium appearance, even if it does feel quite 'plastic-y'. This lightweight plastic also allows for durability, as I would purposely toss down my headset after use to see if it held up to some regular wear and tear, and so far no complaints. All of the controls, wheels and buttons are on the back and bottom of the left ear cup. I’ll admit, even after a few weeks of use I’m having to briefly take off the headset to look at which button I’m wanting to press, but I’m slowly memorizing which is what and where. With the buttons being quite small and together and no real tactile differences, it can be a little confusing at first. I do wish that the wheels or at least one or two of the buttons were split across both ear cups instead of all being crammed on the same side. The microphone is integrated into the design on the same left ear cup as well, able to flip out and adjusted when needing to communicate with friends, and then flipped back upwards for storage and to mute yourself when not required.

Connectivity

The Stealth 500’s gives you plenty of connectability options depending on what device you’re playing on. While I primarily used the 2.4GHz wireless dongle, Bluetooth 5.2 is an option as well. The dongle itself is quite small, about half the length as their previous generations, which is always welcome. This combination means you can connect it to virtually any device, mobile included if you want to take the headset out with you. Regardless if you’re planning on playing on your Xbox, Playstation, Switch, PC or mobile device, you’ll have a way to connect and reconnect to a different one when needed. Not being locked into one ecosystem is great and the Bluetooth functionality gives you even more options.
Turtle Beach Stealth 500Using the headset in wireless mode on console but want to quickly swap and change to Bluetooth mode to take it on the go with your phone? There’s a QuickSwitch button on the earcup that allows you to seamlessly swap when required, no hassle plugging in the dongle to another device or re-pairing. I didn’t think I would use this feature much, but having the option made me use it more than I expected, though I do wish it had simultaneous connections so I could listen to my music from my phone while playing on my Xbox and getting game audio. For a headset in this price range though, it’s not to be expected.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500

Loud and Clear

As mentioned above, the microphone is integrated into the headset itself, able to be flipped up for storage and muting, and flipped down for when you need to talk to teammates. It’s rigid and has a set "L" shape, but once you lower it, you can angle it slightly closer towards your mouth if needed. You can enable Mic Monitoring to check how you sound and volumes, and all the Discord and Xbox party chats I was in, everyone noted that I sounded slightly different than my normal dedicated microphone setup, but clear. The Omni-Directional mic picked up my voice no problem, while also ignoring a decent amount of the noisy background in my apartment.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500
But How’s It Sound?

Sporting smaller 40mm drivers, this is partially responsible for the lighter overall weight. If you’ve had a Turtle Beach headset in the past few years, you’ll generally be familiar with their audio settings and options, returning here as well. You have four different EQ modes to swap to on the fly with a simple press of a button on the cup, depending on your preference and source type. Choose from Signature Sound, Treble Boost, Bass Boost, and Vocal Boost. I opted to keep it set to either Signature Sound or Bass Boost for my gaming and Netflix bingeing. My main complaint is that each mode doesn’t announce which one it is when you press the button to swap, instead supposed to somehow know what 1-4 distinct beeps are supposed to represent which setting.  The long integrated Superhuman Hearing mode is also present if you enable it, allowing you to hear smaller details in your games much clearer and louder by cranking up certain audio cues, like footsteps of enemies creeping nearby or a weapon being reloaded.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500
As for the actual audio quality, it’s acceptable in both wireless and Bluetooth mode. I wasn’t blown away by any means, especially since I have high end headsets and can notice quite a difference, but taking into account this headset is under $100 and wireless, it’ll do the job. For gaming it will sound just fine, as I tested it with a handful of different games, even the latest audio masterpiece, Hellblade II, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything drastically. There is a noticeable lack of bass though. While I don’t expect a entry level headset to shake my ears, it sounded a bit flat overall when it came to specifically listening to music. Songs that I’ve listened to hundreds of times sounded different than I’m used to with a lack of bass. Even with the Bass mode and playing with the EQ settings, I had to turn up the volume quite loud to get any of the rumble I enjoy. This may be due to the smaller 40mm drivers. The overall sound stage will get the job done, and you shouldn’t have many complaints unless you love heavy bass like I do.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500


SWARM II

Like any new hardware device I get, I check to see if there’s a firmware update for it, which there was, as the QuickStart guide told me to update. This was done through the new Turtle Beach Swarm II app on my phone. Having the dongle plugged into my PC, the app found the headset right away and proceeded to update. For whatever reason it did give me an error near the end of the update, but I just retried and had no issues the second time around. The Swarm II App comes in two different formats, a desktop and mobile app, and while they’ll do virtually the same thing, the desktop version does have a bit more functionality for customization. Primarily using the mobile version for ease, it’s a lightweight app that allows you to change some basic settings like master volume, enabling chat boost, superhuman hearing controls, game/chat mix, which sound stage to use, microphone sensitivity and monitoring, and checking the battery life. It’s a simple app that isn’t bloated, making changes quick and easy.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500

The desktop app however gives you even more options, like an advanced 10-Band EQ where you can really customize how the audio sounds. The desktop app also will allow you to change and map the buttons on the headset itself to something else. If for some reason you really wanted to swap what the buttons did on the left can, this is how you can customize it. I wish I could comment further on the desktop app, but I’ve had issues getting it to sync with my headset for some reason. The app itself installs fine, and it recognizes that I have the wireless dingle plugged in and which headset its for, but it prompts for an update. Sure, no problem, except the update doesn’t happen. Eventunally getting it to update the desktop app now no longer sees the headset. I’ve looked up what I could online to try and troubleshoot the issue, and it seems there’s a few others with the same problem. I’m sure a software update will fix this, but I have to be content with simply using the mobile app for the time being.

Turtle Beach Stealth 500Verdict

Generally when I review a lower end headset my expectations are usually tempered, as certain qualities or features need to be cut to make it a less expensive price point. For a headset under $100 CAD, the Turtle Beach Stealth 500’s are packed with plenty of features. A wireless headset, comfortable form fitting floating headband, 40 hour battery life, different sound presets, and being able to connect to almost any device, including Bluetooth, makes for a good value. While the overall soundscape lacks some punch with the lack of bass, it sounds just as I’d expect in a headset in this range. There’s a small trade-off of sound quality for versatility and comfort, one I’d usually choose at this price point anyway. A great deal overall.

**Turtle Beach Stealth 500 Headset was provided and reviewed on an Xbox Series X, various consoles, PC, and mobile**

Overall: 8.5/ 10




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