Turtle Beach Ear Force i60 Wireless Headset
Turtle Beach has sent us their i60, a headset with an unexpected design from the likes of a company most well known for their video game console headsets. The Ear Force i60, with its aluminum and white accents, is designed and stylized to match and be used with Apple products such as Mac systems and iPhones. It also has a list of features including Dolby Headphone virtual surround and wireless connectivity. Usage of the i60 is limited to PCs, Macs, and mobile devices – this headset is not compatible with game consoles.
The i60 can be purchased online from two vendors, at the Apple Store and directly from Turtle Beach, for a hefty $399.95. We'll have to see how serious this headset pushes its boundaries before we make any final judgments.
Turtle Beach Ear Force i60 Features
- Your Complete Apple Solution: A complete headset audio system that multi-tasks between your Mac and iOS devices for movies, music, games and phone calls.
- Unparalleled Control: Groundbreaking desktop control unit, discreet headset controls, OS X and iOS apps combined with customizable audio presets give you complete control.
- Incredible Sound: Immersive DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound lets you experience audio from your Mac like never before.
- Professional Grade Audio: Massive, powerful speakers with acoustically tuned drivers and uncompressed dual-band wireless audio deliver professional grade audio performance and clarity.
- Invisible Microphone: Multiple built-in microphones with breakthrough noise filtering technology provide outstanding voice pick up.
- Superior Construction: Ultra lightweight cast metal headband and aluminum headset arms provide long term durability
- Designed for Comfort: With luxurious memory foam ear cushions and a soft leather headband, you'll almost forget you are wearing headsets.
- Maximum Versatility: Designed to seamlessly work with your Apple products, PCs and virtually all mobile devices.
- Tap Functionality: With a simple tap you can take calls or talk to Siri® on your iOS device.
Turtle Beach Ear Force i60 Specifications
- Speakers: 50mm Diameter Drivers
- Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz
- Bluetooth: 3.0
- Battery life: >10 Hours
- Headphone Amplifier THD: <1% THD
- Rechargeable Battery: Lithium Polymer
- Transmission range: Up to 30 feet
- Digital Input: USB 2.0
- Power: USB Power (5V DC @ 180 mA max)
- 1-year warranty
Let's move along and take a look at the retail packaging and what you get with the Ear Force i60 Wireless iOS Media Geadset
Turtle Beach Ear Force i60 Wireless Headset Retail Packaging
For the i60, Turtle Beach has stacked the contents in layers within the box, which itself is hidden behind the cardstock sleeve.
Lifting the flap, we come across another flap with a foreword. The meaning of "first media headset" is a bit fuzzy here, but in any case, this packaging is getting fancier already.
Behind the second flap is a sleeve holder with papers. Included there are a quick start guide, a more detailed quick start guide, RMA notice, and Turtle Beach stickers. The full user guide is available on the i60 product page and you might need it if you like having things spelled out.
We can also see the i60 headset and the carry pouch rolled up in the center.
Lifting the tray holding the i60 headset, all we see left is the desktop wireless transmitter and a peek below that at the cables and connectors.
The most interesting connector is for the dual jacks found on airliners. The rest of the cables and connectors are standard which are the USB charge cable for the headset , the USB power cable for the transmitter, a male-to-male 3.5mm 3-pole cable, and a 6.3mm adaptor plug.
Looking around the Turtle Beach Ear Force i60
The Turtle Beach i60 is a full-sized circumaural closed-back headset constructed mostly from metal to form a lightweight, but sturdy frame. The microphone is built into the headset adding to the clean appearance. The battery is rated in excess of 10 hours on a single charge, quite impressive for a headset that also carries a controller with buttons onboard while maintaining a moderate weight.
Turtle Beach has added a smart power saving feature that if no audio is played through the headset or if no movement is detected, the i60 will automatically turn off.
The headband is fully adjustable as the earcups are secured to the headband by sliding tracks. The red oval on the left earcup is touch sensitive and acts as a button to receive phone calls when the i60 headset is paired with a smartphone.
The rectangular earcups and headband are wrapped in stitched black leather. The foam padding on the earcups is spongy and forgiving, but the padding on the headband is more rigid. Overall, this headset is comfortable to wear even for several hours.
Most of the headset's controls are kept onboard with lots of buttons that need figuring out and few functions on the transmitter. This allows the headset's built-in codecs to be used when paired with other devices. In no particular order, the buttons can mute the microphone, rotate between the preset equalizer profiles, power or pair Bluetooth, rotate between the microphone voice morph profiles, and change the volume on the Bluetooth connected device.Looking at the ends of the earcups are two different connectors – one for the USB charging cable and the other for the 3.5 analog connector.The desktop transmitter in ways bears vague resemblance to the Mac Mini. Only three controls are provided – audio volume, audio mute, and microphone volume. Several light indicators will indicate what functions are active including power state, microphone mute, and surround sound. A ring of white LEDs around the volume wheel indicates the volume level.
The desktop transmitter interfaces and is powered by a computer through USB. Both Windows and Mac systems are supported out of the box without the need for special drivers.
Four rubber feet at the corners underneath the transmitter keep from sliding around needlessly.
Subjective Listening: Music, Movies, and Games
Not everyone hears the same as each other. People's ears are different and preferences dictate our style. The subjective listening tests in our reviews not only compare the product with other gaming headsets, but also audiophile-grade headphones. Those who don't regularly listen with higher-end equipment may not notice the sound quality deficiencies we are able to notice.
When connected wirelessly, the i60 sound character has a distracting midrange peak at around 800 MHz that was creating too much reverb. Equalization significantly improved the experience revealing a headphone that was quite detailed and energetic though not as crisp as we would expect from something that costs $400.
Plugging in the 3.5mm analog cable gave a different result. The headphone sounded hollow and undetailed. Using the wireless connectivity options is preferred. We were hoping that bypassing audio processing directly to another dedicated source would improve upon the sound and work around any if any limitations the Ear Force i60's own built-in processing might have had.
As when noticed while listening to music, the i60 sound character didn't accurately reproduce movie audio. The midrange peak works against the sound quality by detracting from the impact and energy. However, the stereo soundstage is wide and sound effects that move from ear to ear have a sense of direction and distance. The "fun" virtual surround sound preset profiles on the other hand, such as the super human hearing setting, are far from fun and negatively impact sound quality.
Gaming is what the Ear Force i60 is best suited for which is surprising since this headset isn't pushed foremost for games. While it lacks the tuning for serious competitive gaming, this headset does have some respectable positional audio recreation and the characteristic emphasizes many of the critical noises in multiplayer gaming.
The boom-less microphone is well implemented on the i60. Expectedly it’s omnidirectional because it’s not attached to a boom and it is sensitive enough to record keyboard keystrokes and mouse clicks. Voice recording quality is more than good enough to render the user recognizable to others over voice chat applications such as VoIP and multiplayer gaming. There are several voice morpher profiles which are High Morph, Low Morph, and Reverb, though we didn’t find any meaningful use for them.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The Ear Force i60 does well on every front and is a passable headset. At the very least, it's comfortable to wear, it's solidly built, and the sound quality is good. The numerous features are the biggest selling point for the headset, catered to those looking to wirelessly connect to multiple devices such as a computer and smartphone, even simultaneously. We've seen one headset before, the Plantronics RIG, which achieved that with wired connectivity and was intuitive to operate. The Ear Force i60 on the other hand takes some hands-on learning because the unlabeled buttons are on the headset and therefore on your head where you can't see it while listening. We feel the Ear Force i60 was inspired by the commuting office worker and that's not just because that's what is depicted on the back of the box. The headset has a refined, but controlled appearance and the wireless syncing between a home or work computer and commuter device allows one headset to unify one's audio.
All those features are interesting to see on a headset, but has Turtle Beach gone too far by including them? The "fun" surround sound profiles and the "fun" microphone voice morpher profiles seem unnecessary for the most part. As for core functionality, the headset is comfortable and well-built. The sound quality is good, but it's not excellent, even when improved upon by equalization. The Ear Force i60 performs nowhere near its $400 price point, but closer to something that costs half as much. This is definitely not a headset for an audiophile or headphone purist, but rather for the mainstream consumer seeking the same kind of high-end audio lifestyle pushed by the likes of Beats Audio and Monster. The Ear Force i60 is certainly a worthy buy if it caters to your standard.
Legit Bottom Line: Though sporting more style than substance, the Turtle Beach i60 offers an interesting kit with lots of features.