Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas Review
Prepare for Titanfall.
The Insides That Count
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.
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