GET THE PC YOUR GAMES DESERVE
Are these new headsets worth your hard-earned cash? by Alex Castle
There’s a lot to love about a 5. 1 speaker setup for PC gaming— there’s the immersive surround sound, the heavy, thumping bass, the incredibly loud background music making it impos-
sible to use a microphone, the sternly-worded letters of complaints
from your upstairs, downstairs and next door neighbors…
Alright, so maybe some of those things aren’t so great. That’s why
every gamer needs a decent headset, and because your headset is
going to interpret how you receive half of the sensory input from your
games, it’d better be a good one. As such, we’ve put two new sets
through their paces, and we’ll tell you which one’s best for you.
Ear Force Z6A
Turtle Beach has been cranking out high-quality soundcards and headsets for gamers for a while now—long enough to know that the only way to really nail down
surround sound in a headset is with multiple
drivers, like those you’ll find in the brawny Z6A.
Its big, heavily-padded earcups swivel and rock
freely, so they fit perfectly over your ears no matter
how abnormally-shaped your head might be. The head-
band isn’t super cushioned, but it’s flexible, so it’s
comfortable during extended play ses-
sions. The mic boom is awesomely
long and bendy, so you can
get it just where you want
quality is good,
and when you
The amplifier dangles
at waist level.
Hinges allow the Z6A to fold up
into the headset equivalent
of the fetal position.
headset in your hands, you feel like you’ve gotten
your money’s worth.
Although the set itself is well-built, it’s not
Sound off like ya gotta pair!
without its problems. Chief among those is the
way it connects to your computer. The Z6A
Additionally, the cable on the other side of the amplifier breaks
into five connectors—three analog cables, a mic plug, and a USB
cable for power. The analog plugs are necessary for the non-sim-
ulated 5. 1 surround sound, of course, but it’s a pain to manage
and means you can’t use the set in full 5. 1 mode with a PC that
doesn’t have the required surround audio ports (this includes
most gaming laptops). Fortunately, Turtle Beach’s website offers
a variety of adapters to suit any audio setup.
I’m all about comfort and convenience, but it’s the sound quality
that’s most crucial. In that respect, the Z6A seesaws between fantastic and questionable. The mids and highs are clear and sound
great, making it easy to hear the distant gunshots and crunching
footsteps that can give you an advantage in games like Modern
Warfare 3. The four drivers in each ear enhance the direction of
all sounds—another boon for competitive gamers.
Unfortunately, the set’s bass response is lacking, and the associated lack of depth and warmth makes these cans less ideal for
music and movies. The Z6A is marketed as a
gaming headset first and foremost, so I can’t really
fault them too much for it, but if media usage is a
big part of your PC, you can get a more well-rounded headset for the money. n
◆ $100 ◆ www.turtlebeach.com ◆ Category: Mid