Can be used with Xbox, but only if you buy the adapter

Despite my hatred for blister packs, the one the Z2 comes in actually isn't the worst thing about the headset—that dubious honor belongs to the cable. Unnecessarily complicated and lacking adapters that it advertises on said hateful package, the 9.84 foot string of tangle-prone frustration is something that anyone could do without.

If it weren't for the cable, the experience of wearing the Z2 might be better than just "tolerable."

If it weren't for the cable, the experience of wearing the Z2 might be better than just "tolerable." However, being tethered to your console or PC by a cumbersome cable is unpleasant at best. If you're using these with a computer, you may want to find a way to wrap the cable's excess so you don't roll your chair over it accidentally.

Easily the best part of the Z2 is the microphone. Swiveling on the left ear cup and protected by a sheath of plastic, the mic will withstand even the most Jim Harbaugh-esque rage-quit.

Beyond all that, the Z2 is a very basic headset: It's a rather bland set of over-ears with a microphone. The foam ear pads are probably not the best choice for gamers (they let in a bunch of sound), but the remote allows you to adjust the volume on the fly—a necessary thing when you're trying to protect your hearing.

Tailored for FPS games

By any metric, the audio quality of the Z2 is poor at best, but that's not to say that it's without its uses. As we've seen before, many gaming headset companies will alter their frequency responses to give gamers a leg up when it comes to certain types of games.

This headset is almost exclusively geared towards shooting games with frequent firefights.

In particular, this headset is almost exclusively geared towards shooting games with frequent firefights: It deadens the most prominent sounds that can be found in any of the plethora of war-themed first-person shooter MMO games, but plays most other sounds at the same volume. While this is fairly awful for music listening, chances are good that you'll find the Z2 right at home on XBox Live.

If there's a flaw where the audio falls short—no matter what situation you put it in—it's the tracking. For whatever reason, sounds come in your left ear notably louder than the right, which can mean a premature end to your deathmatch if you don't turn around far enough to meet your foe head-on. It's not clear why this is the case, but this isn't the first headset we've seen this on.

Traps in heat, but the mic is good

While the audio falls far short of "good" if you're talking about the Z2 as a set of headphones, I have to admit the V2 does a fairly good job of lessening the strain on your ears in long gaming matches. The impact of sudden bursts of gunfire are lessened with the massive de-emphasis in the mid-range sounds, and will prevent a lot of pain (and potential hearing loss) in the long run. Be sure not to fall into the trap of turning up the volume to compensate, because it will be very painful.

The microphone comes in relatively clear—and has no trouble with volume.

If there's a bright spot with the Z2, it's the microphone. Even if the headset itself isn't all that impressive, the microphone comes in relatively clear—and has no trouble with volume. It can be somewhat molded to bend any which way you like, which is a plus: Just be sure to shape it in towards your mouth, and you'll be golden.

You may notice that the Z2 traps in a lot of heat, though it takes about 30 minutes for it to get really toasty. If you're in a heated match (or you don't have the AC on full blast), you may notice a rising level of discomfort when making liberal use of the Z2. For me, that discomfort centered around the texture of the fabric wrap on the ear pads. After about an hour, it got itchy and I ended up ditching the headset in favor of another set.

If you're considering buying the Turtle Beach Z2, you're probably someone who plays a lot of first-person shooters. If not, you may be in for a nasty shock if you are looking for a headset to replace a set of headphones for gaming and music.

I may sound a bit harsh, but really I want you to know that the Z2 is really best suited for one type of gaming, and can let you down if you want it to work with everything. Younger ears might not find the Z2's performance as problematic, but these are by no means a high-end gaming headset.

So if you like to paint the town red in PC or XBox shooter games and are looking for an affordable headset in a pinch, you may want to consider the Turtle Beach Z2. It's not going to work well for music or adventure games that require a different sound, but it has no troubles with the microphone—an extremely common problem with gaming headsets.
I've made mention of the fact that this headset is pretty much suited only for shooters, but what makes it that way? Much of this has to do with the frequency response, which I'll delve into below. However, there are a host of other issues that you should be aware of before buying a headset like this, as you may find that what you're looking for is very different than what jumps off the shelf at you.

Good for shooters, bad for... everything else

Were it not for that massive underemphasis in the 1.5-6kHz range, the performance here would be quite good. However, that is not the case, and this will definitely contribute to in-game music sounding a bit bizarre—this headset is meant for shooting games, and this deliberate performance point is strong evidence of that.

It's not surprising that Turtle Beach would cater to its audience this way. Most people who've been in an online firefight can probably attest that gunfire can not only be jarring, but also painful with most headphones—so this is a definite check in the plus column if you find this to be true in your games.

Beyond that, though, you'll find that the Z2 does a poor job standing in for a high-quality set of headphones. They are definitely not suited to replace all of your audio hardware if that's what you're looking for, and many users will find themselves turning up their volume only to have their teammates' voices become painfully loud.

Audiophiles, look away

All in all, the distortion levels on the Turtle Beach Z2s aren't that bad—they're mostly under 1% until you reach the lowest frequency sounds, which typically carry a lot of distortion anyways. You'll definitely hear some off-sounding explosions, but overall this is acceptable.

There really isn't much added noise to speak of either. If there is, it falls underneath the masking threshold, meaning you won't hear it even if it is there.

However, I should point out that the distortion climbs considerably if you turn up the volume. When you hit 90.8dB, you should be able to hear the distortion in just about all your sound, and that can really get annoying quickly. Granted, you probably shouldn't crank your tunes this loud, but many people do.

Leaky, poor noise attenuation

If you need your headset to block out all the sound around you, the Z2 is not your ideal wingman. Not only does it let in a very large amount of sound, but it leaks quite a lot through the porous ear pads as well. If you do end up getting this gaming headset, you'd do well to control your volume to prevent annoying other people in the room.


The rest of the tests showed mediocre results that are less important for gamers and generally only interesting to audiophiles. There's not much resonance or echoing, but there are some channel preference errors that could give you pause if you find yourself in a lot of melee situations in your games.

Meet the testers

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

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
Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

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

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