• Related content

A comfy pair of headphones with a few features geared towards gamers.

When you first throw the s on your dome, you'll notice that not only are they light on the ears, but they also don't move around a whole bunch, which is just about as much as you could ask of them. The band is very plush, and doesn't trap heat all that much. Additional comfort will come for the fact that this gaming headset comes with a 16 foot cable that uses a USB connection to power the headphones, and a 3.5mm plug for both the microphone and headset. It can be a little awkward, but you should be fine with the USB connection and your console, provided you’re not doing much co-op.

The overall look of the headset feels rather appropriate for the console (especially if you have the elite edition 360).

Given that these cans are molded from plastic, it’s no surprise that you really shouldn’t toss these around in the heat of a ragequit. Not only that, but you can easily damage the microphone if you do this. Still, they are reasonably well-made; just treat them well.

Harkening back to design elements (mainly the color scheme) of the original XBox, the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12s sport lime green mesh on the backs of their cans, as well as a rather prominent TB logo. While the most of the guts of the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12s are ensconced in black plastic and polyester, the overall look of the headset feels rather appropriate for the console (especially if you have the elite edition 360).

The puts a heavy emphasis on bass tones while neglecting other areas.

Because the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12s have a feature that allows you to control bass and sub-bass emphasis, we tested the Ear Force X12 several times to see how it affected the sound of the headset, and found that it works more or less as advertised, with a few minor consequences. With the “bass boost” on, the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12s indeed have emphasized bass, as well as very few ranges of de-emphasis, like gunshots and high-mid tones. When you turn the bass boost all the way down the response isn’t too different outside of the fact that bass seems to be less prominent, which could be a good thing if your games feature a lot of loud, booming explosions.

While it’s price point is decidedly very “entry level”, this is not a set of headphones you will probably want to listen to music on.

While the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 certainly has its high points, this is a low point that is about impossible to ignore. With the bass boost on, distortion was off the charts in the low end, and abysmally bad in the rest of the range of frequencies audible to the human ear. Considering that voice chat clients like the one used by Xbox Live are getting better, this level of distortion will start to get more noticeable as the years go by. While it’s price point is decidedly very “entry level," this is not a set of headphones you will probably want to listen to music on, nor will you get the best experience you can with a headset if sound quality matters to you.

Related content

They’re not perfect, but this entry level headset could be worse.

All in all, the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12s are exactly what they’re billed as: an affordable (primarily) Xbox gaming headset. It doesn’t stun, and it doesn’t disappoint either. While the distortion problem is real, and certainly more than a little annoying, the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12s are still better in this regard than some of the lower-end headphones not suited for games.

Aside from the distortion issue, consumers will have to make choices in terms of which aspects of gameplay are important to them. For example, for a first-person shooter, the distortion may not be that much of an issue at all, and the only thing needed is a headset with a fair audio performance and a microphone. Sure, for the avid RPGer, these may not be the best, but different ’sets work for different people.

If you’re looking to save some coin, and you’re itching to get your deathmatch going on Xbox live, these may be a decent pickup for you if you just need a headset quickly. Just keep in mind the shortcomings of the headset and you’ll be fine.

Happy gaming.

With an MSRP of around $60, the sits low on the audiophiles's price ladder. Being a gaming headset, this product has a fair balance between its chat and sound aspects. Ultimately, it manages to do both fairly well, but never really excels at either. Due it is entry-level design, this headset probably won't age well as chat and game clients become more advance.

With a dial labeled "bass boost" you can image what the puts an emphasis on.

Because this headset has a couple frequency response options, we'll run down each real quick. With bass boost turned all the way up, this headset had a greater affinity for the lower end of the sound spectrum. However, frequencies in the 3-6.5kHz are weakened. The situation became more balanced as we turned off the bass boost, as the difference wasn't huge, but it is still slightly emphasized.

High fidelity is not the 's strongest point.

The distortion in the low-end of the frequency spectrum is abysmal, though this may or may not be a big deal based on the type of game you play. However, as shooters don’t really require high sound quality when firefights get intense, you can't often hear the music over the chatter of a fully automatic weapon. If you like expansive RPGs with impressive orchestral pieces, on the other hand, you may want to forget this headset exists. On the plus side, the won't pass the noticeable 3% threshold until you turn up the volume to 113.11dB, but if you crank it up that high, you're going to have worse problems than distortion.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

Shoot us an email