The Turtle Beach Elite 800X is a premium wireless headset that’s designed to work with the Xbox One and all your Bluetooth devices. It’s currently the only Xbox One wireless headset on the market and the only one that doesn't need that pesky Stereo Headset Adapter.
The Elite 800X sits at the very top of Turtle Beach’s range at £250, but it has a lot of features to warrant the asking price. DTS Headphone:X 7.1 simulates surround sound, audio presets tailor the aural experience to specific games and applications, Dynamic Chat Boost automatically amplifies voice comms...the list goes on. Then there’s active noise cancellation, which blocks external noise so you can focus on whatever it is you’re listening to.
The Elite 800X is a very well-made headset overall. It feels sturdy, but not too heavy, while the synthetic leather and memory foam earcups are soft and comfortable. It’s not an overly stylish headset -- it still looks closer to Turtle Beach’s other gaming headsets than a pair of Beats, but it’s one of the few gaming headsets that we’d wear in public without feeling too ashamed or self-conscious.
There are some fairly big issues with the Elite 800X though. The battery life of 10 hours means that the headset will need charging if you use it all day. Worse still, the headset is covered in buttons that are so easily activated it’s a real nuisance. But the biggest issue is that the Elite 800X doesn’t support voice chat on a PC or PS4, making them much less versatile than the older Turtle Beach Elite 800 headset.
See also: Best Gaming Headsets 2015
Turtle Beach has long offered headsets at the premium end of the market, but it really went back to the drawing board with the Elite series. The Elite 800 looked like a gaming headset, sounded like a gaming headset, and offered all the features gamers could ever want, but in a design that was closer to a pair of "real" headphones than Turtle Beach’s previous offerings. The Elite 800 had some flaws and it wasn’t cheap at £250, but we loved it when we reviewed it in February 2015, and since then it’s become our headset of choice for PS4 and PC gaming, as well as when we’re out-and-about.
The Elite 800 lacked one pretty crucial feature though -- it didn’t support the Xbox One, the second most-popular dedicated games console on the market today. Well, it did, but you needed Microsoft’s Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter and a bundled audio cable for it to work, which turned the Elite 800 into a standard wired headset. Enter the Elite 800X, which offers true Xbox One wireless compatibility out of the box.
The package includes everything you need to get up and running on an Xbox One, as well as other devices that have a Bluetooth wireless connection or a standard 3.5mm headphone jack (although not PS4, but more on that later). The transmitter box connects to your Xbox One using an optical audio cable and is powered using USB. Once you’ve paired the headset with the transmitter and configured your console to output a Dolby Digital Bitstream signal, you’re good to go -- the whole process took under five minutes for us from unboxing to playing.
See also: PS4 vs Xbox One
If you want to pair the 800X with a Bluetooth device such as a phone, tablet or laptop, there’s a Bluetooth button on the side of the headset that you hold down to pair. Your device should see the headset, and you’ll be able to use it for both voice and audio, so you can answer calls and listen to music. If your device doesn’t have Bluetooth (and at this stage it’s pretty much just the 3DS that falls into this category), then you can connect the 800X using a good old fashioned 3.5mm audio cable.
The simplicity of setup is really is one of the 800X’s main strengths. If you’re an Xbox One gamer who also listens to music or podcasts on their mobile device or laptop, then you can use this one headset for everything. The 800X will just about hold up to all-day use thanks to a 10-hour battery life, although it did die before we made it home on one particularly heavy day of listening. Thankfully, charging is a cinch because the transmitter doubles as a magnetic dock-- you simply drop the headset in and it begins charging. Smartly, Turtle Beach has also incorporated micro-USB charging so you don’t need the dock when you’re travelling.
But what if you’re an Xbox One owner who also has other games consoles or PCs? Well, you’re out of luck, quite frankly. We connected the Elite 800X to a PlayStation 4 and a PC, and while these systems outputted audio to the 800X, the headset couldn’t be used at all for voice communication. On the PC, the Elite 800X didn’t appear as an audio input device at all when connected over USB. If your computer has a Bluetooth adaptor then you can use that, but then you’re only going to get stereo sound, rather than the multichannel audio sent over an optical cable.
To be fair to Turtle Beach, the blame for all this falls directly at Microsoft’s door because of the Xbox One’s use of proprietary audio connectors. This issue has been giving headset manufacturers headaches for the last 18 months, and there’s still not one wireless headset you can buy that works across all major platforms. It’s annoying, archaic and desperately anti-consumer, but then again Apple has been employing similar tactics for many years and earning money hand-over-fist.
Sadly though, this situation makes the Elite 800X a lot less attractive to multiplatform gamers than the older Elite 800 headset. If you’re an Xbox One gamer who loves Microsoft’s console, doesn’t play games on PS4 or PC, and has no intention of ever buying those machines, then please go and buy the Elite 800X. However, if you ever dabble with other consoles or think you might do before this generation of consoles moves on, then we’d urge you to go for the Elite 800 instead. It works with PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, and it will work with Xbox One with the wired adaptor. Also, the Elite 800’s dark blue colouring is slightly less offensive than the Elite 800X’s bright green.
See also: Xbox One vs Xbox 360
The headphones themselves are very nicely made -- they look good, feel great, and they’re comfortable to wear for hours on end. The earcups and headband are padded with memory foam and covered in a soft synthetic leather. They’re incredibly luxurious, especially if you’re used to the fabric mesh that covers most gaming headsets. While the Elite 800X isn’t as stylish as a pair of Beats or Bose headphones, it feels nearly as well made.
While the Elite 800X addresses a lot of the complaints we had about previous headsets from Turtle Beach, there’s one area where the company just couldn’t help itself -- it’s absolutely covered in buttons. Each of the ear cups is a rocker-style switch which moves in four different directions, offering eight buttons in total. It’s a lot to remember when you first get the headset, and you’ll probably find yourself pressing the wrong buttons as you learn the location of everything -- like turning the mic off when you mean to change an audio preset.
But the biggest problem with these buttons is that they’re so sensitive they get pressed by accident all the time. If you rest your head against anything, as you would on a plane, you end up pressing a button and changing a setting. If you throw the headset in a rucksack, chances are you’ll accidentally turn the headset on, and as you move around you’ll end up controlling your mobile. It’s frustrating because it would have been so simple to put some sort of “lock” button or switch on the headset to stop this. We’ve been using the Elite 800 headset every day for the last few months, and while we love it overall, this issue is also major annoyance on the Elite 800X.
If you want to add a bit of customisation to the Elite 800X, then the ear cups themselves are replaceable. You can buy new ones from the Turtle Beach website, but the Elite 800X comes with a membership to the Elite programme, which allows you to order two new sets for free (as well as some other free stuff, like a t-shirt and an extended 2-year warranty). However, a lot of these ear plates are a bit tacky and don’t fit with the style of the Elite 800X, especially the free ones. They also don’t have the buttons labelled on them, so you really will need to dedicate those button layouts to memory.
While there are a lot of little annoyances about the design of the Elite 800X, there’s one area where we don’t have any complaints, and that’s audio quality. This is the best-sounding gaming headset on the market, with ear-shattering volume levels, rich detail and thrilling bass. It’s a headset that’s arguably most suited to games, but it’s no slouch with movies and music either, particularly because Turtle Beach has created specific audio presets for different types of media. If you want a premium audio experience, then the Elite 800X is the headset to go for -- you can really hear the difference when you go back to using budget models.
The Elite 800X is no slouch when it comes to features, either. Active Noise Cancellation is the feature that we like the most, because it can really make a difference on public transport or in a busy office. The Elite 800X actively monitors outside noise and filters it out, allowing you to focus on your game or the music you’re listening to. Turtle Beach’s Noise Cancellation technology has really improved on its Elite range -- it doesn’t create the sort of pressure that we got used to on previous generation headsets and instead sounds natural and comfortable.
See also: Best Xbox One Games 2015
The Elite 800X also offers virtual surround sound when you’re using the transmitter with a Dolby Digital signal. Whether you like it is a matter of personal taste -- we found DTS Headphone:X 7.1 works best in action movies where you really want that wide sound stage. Some gamers may also like the fact that they can pinpoint gunfire or incoming grenades using the virtual surround modes. However, we thought the Elite 800X sounded best in its standard stereo setting when combined with Turtle Beach’s “Signature” sound preset.
Turtle Beach has worked with a lot of game developers to create presets for their games. You can load preset audio settings for individual games using Turtle Beach’s Ear Force Audio Hub software on PC or Android. That’s great if you own those devices, but nearly six months on from the launch of the Elite 800 headset, there’s still no support for iOS, which is a sorry state of affairs.
The in-built microphone on the Elite 800X is good, but not as great as on Turtle Beach’s other headsets with a dedicated boom mic. On the Elite 800X, the microphone is tucked away into the headset itself, so your voice isn’t quite as clear to other people as it is on other headsets we’ve used. However, it was the right design choice for Turtle Beach to make for this headset, as it keeps everything neat and tidy. One of the better vocal features is dynamic chat boost, which means that incoming vocals are boosted, so you don’t lose track of what your teammates are saying if a grenade goes off next to you in Battlefield.
Wireless range from the transmitter is excellent -- we were able to continue listening to our game from a different floor of our house (although why you would want to is another matter). One great feature is that the transmitter has optical audio passthrough, so you can still supply your speakers or amp with the audio and other people can hear the game even as it’s coming through the headphones. Bluetooth range is less good, but that will depend on the quality of your adaptor -- as a guide, we were able to get around 20 feet away from our Macbook Air before the audio started cutting out.
See also: Upcoming Xbox One Games 2015
The Turtle Beach Elite 800X absolutely nails the fundamentals of good headset design. Sound quality, comfort and features are all best-in-class, and while you’d have every right to expect that from a headset costing £250, it’s still beats out its high-end competition such as the Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 9.
For dedicated Xbox One fans, the Elite 800X is great. Setup is a breeze, wireless performance is excellent, and the magnetic charging station is a simple and elegant way to recharge your headset at the end of the day. If you’re a frequent traveller, active noise cancellation is a luxury that soon becomes a necessity.
It’s all the more jarring, then, that the Elite 800X has many small annoyances. The headset’s buttons are way too sensitive, meaning you end up changing settings or turning it on accidentally. Battery life is only just acceptable at 10 hours, meaning it’s possible to run out of power before the day is out.
The main issue for potential buyers to consider though, is the Elite 800X’s limited console support -- it’s great for Xbox One, but PC and PS4 chat support is completely omitted. We really wish the Elite 800 and the Elite 800X were one product -- an ultimate high-end wireless headset that would work with every major console and device. Right now though, the Elite 800 is a much better option for anyone who also games on a PC or PlayStation 4.
The Turtle Beach Elite 800X is a great Xbox One and mobile headset, but the standard Elite 800 is the more versatile offering.