The Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas over-ear headphones (MSRP $149.95) are compatible with Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
Unlike many Turtle Beach headsets to come before them, though, the Atlas over-ears have a removable boom mic and don't require USB power to play music. This gives them an interesting hybrid between desk-only cans and something you might take on the go.
As it turns out, deciding how to use them is easy.
Testing revealed that the Titanfall Atlas over-ears are a sub-par choice as traditional headphones. Time on the battlefield, however, suggests that they excel at providing a consistent, improved audio experience when paired up with the Xbox One and their namesake game. There are definitely better gaming headsets out there—only buy if you know you want the unique look or need the multi-platform versatility of the Atlas over-ears.
Ballistic mech combat isn't subtle—neither are these.
The first thing you'll notice about the Titanfall Atlas headset is that there's no single color scheme: While primarily black and white, these hard plastic cans are covered in symbols and insignias from the game's lore.
Unfortunately, the Atlas on-ears might be waging a war on comfort. The band is quite inflexible, and clamps the ear cups very firmly against your jawbone. Gamers with bigger ears might not be able to find a comfortable fit.
The clamping conundrum is made a little more bearable by padding along the inside of the band. The material of the ear pads feels rough, but provides cushioning around the ears nonetheless. Adjusting the arms to expand the fit is easy enough to do, and the ear cups even swivel, so that the pads lay flush when you store the Atlas around your neck.
The next thing you'll notice is WOW, there's a lot of accessories crammed into the box! Alongside the Atlas on-ears, Turtle Beach includes the many adapters you'll need to use these cans across all platforms: an in-line amplifier for Xbox 360 and PC, a controller adapter for Xbox One, a chat cable for the Xbox 360 controller, an RCA splitter cable for Xbox 360 audio out, and a Micro USB cable so you can update your Xbox One controller's firmware. Hey—nobody said it was going to be easy, soldier (Click here for a user guide if you're stumped.)
One of the coolest things about the Atlas on-ears, though, is that the flexible boom mic can be attached or detached—it isn't static. This means that you can wear them out and about without looking like a lost helicopter pilot. While they seem plenty durable, the inflexible plastic isn't the staunchest thing in the world, and the fabric ear pads could be easily torn or stained, so travel at your own risk.
All the musical grace of a rampaging robot
Turtle Beach worked directly with Respawn Entertainment, the developer of Titanfall, while designing and engineering this headset. The Atlas on-ears doubtless owe their lore-heavy appearance to Respawn's input, but they're also a mighty fine wingman when it comes to actually hearing the game around you.
For listening to music, though? Not so much. Testing revealed a very imbalanced sound, with huge emphasis on bass and very high treble notes compared to a swath of severely under-emphasized midrange sounds. That bizarre soundscape is compounded by the fact that the Atlas on-ears tend to heavily favor the left speaker over the right—you can hear it very clearly while listening.
Definitely don't buy these headphones as a primary means of listening to music. Buy them to use with your game of choice.
I booted up my Xbox One, popped in a copy of Titanfall, went through the (surprisingly easy) firmware update for the controller, and jumped into a few matches of Attrition. Right away, I noticed huge improvements to the overall sound: a fuller range; solid, chest-rumbling bass; and ample aural clarity, especially when compared to the sound during music playback.
One thing that strikes me as odd is how quiet the Atlas on-ears are. Even at max volume, they're quite bearable, though higher-pitched sounds still made me flinch a few times.
No matter the volume, though, I was always very aware of what was going on around me. The explosion of arc grenades, the rattling of the XO-16 chaingun, and the almost silent footfalls of the Assassin class stood apart starkly from one another, awarding me with complete aural awareness of the match.
While priced for many tasks, these are really only good for gaming.
Part of the Atlas over-ears' $150 price tag owes to their brand tie with Titanfall, there's no doubt. Just keep in mind that you're also paying for Xbox One/360/PC functionality, a slew of adapters and wires, and traditional headphone functionality. Unfortunately, these Turtle Beach cans really only do their duty when it comes to their role as a gaming headset.
That said, we recommend them as a way to enhance and improve your gaming experience. Getting the working with Microsoft's new Xbox One is quite painless, and provides a full aural soundscape that's miles ahead of TV speakers. They're definitely not on-par with some less flashy, less pricy options, but as a fan-focused product, the Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas on-ears pull their weight.
The Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas (MSRP $149.95) are not your usual pair of over-ear headphones—they're meant to reflect the complex, ever-changing landscape of a virtual battleground.
Unfortunately, these headphones don't handle music as well. Testing revealed a rather imbalanced sound that favors bass over midrange sounds, and what's worse, favors the left speaker heavily over the right. Really, these on-ears get the job done as a gaming headset, but are a far cry from decent headphones for listening to music.
A frequency response graph maps the volume that a pair of headphones allocates to each frequency band from 20Hz to 10kHz, which is the majority of sound that the human ear is capable of hearing. Each frequency is played and graphed to show whether the headphones over- or under-emphasize any portions of the range.
Testing revealed that the Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas headset tends to slightly underplay sub-bass sounds from 20Hz to 60Hz, and even low bass sounds through 100Hz. Things don't start to even out until 200Hz, which is approaching the midrange frequencies. Emphasis drops again around 800Hz, where the right speaker in particular plummets to about 60 dB—18 dB less than the signal volume.
The right channel struggles to be heard from 2kHz through 7kHz, a very wide range of high-mid and high frequencies that translate—in Titanfall, anyway—to sounds like machine gun fire, crackling electricity, and the ping of a kit recharging. Both channels peak to about 80 dB around 8kHz.
Overall, this frequency response is very imbalanced—far from ideal for music listening. Within the game, however, it tends to put emphasis on the highest and lowest sounds around you, emphasizing shotgun kickback and laser beams over more subtle sounds.
Our tracking test plays back a matched set of frequencies simultaneously within the left and right speaker channels. A head-and-torso simulator listens, and records the balance in volume between the channels.
This particular test revealed something that was already audible during music playback—the Titanfall Atlas on-ears favor the left channel over the right, no doubt about it. Things even out in volume between 200 and 500 Hz, but the low- and high-end frequencies are notably louder in the left channel—sometimes by as much as 20dB.
Our distortion test measures clipped notes and unwanted noise within a speaker during audio playback. While most headphone speakers exhibit distortion within the sub-bass frequency range (20Hz-60Hz), we generally expect to see less than 3% THD (total harmonic distortion) from 60Hz and up.
The Atlas over-ears faired alright here, but they weren't without some residual distortion in the bass range. Testing revealed as much as 4% THD around 100Hz—the heart of the bass range. This isn't something that's necessarily even audible while you're gaming or listening to music, but these are obviously not audiophile-quality headphones, either.
This result applies to volumes under 110.432 dB—and you shouldn't be listening to anything that loud, anyway.
Meet the tester
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews
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