Turtle Beach Ear Force Z2 Review
Popular headset company Turtle Beach offers entry-level consumers a strange headset in the Z2.
Entry-level headsets are a mixed bag, and today we examine a rather popular model, the Turtle Beach Z2 ($69.95). Definitely tailored for the large number of gamers who spend time on games like Call of Duty and other shooters, this headset deliberately downplays high-mid sounds to preserve your hearing when it comes to a firefight. Consequently, gamers who prefer other genres may want to steer clear of this particular set of cans.
Design & Features
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." 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.
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.
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.
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