Recon 500: Wired for Sound Review

Compatibility: Universal wired 3.5mm

Test Time: 10 hrs Xbox, 10 hrs PS5, 10hrs PC.

Price: $129rrp(AUD)


Beach Chungus

60mm 2 way driver. 60mm... That's a big unit. And according to Turtle Beach, their "Eclipse" design (nothing to do with the Car Audio company, but more to do with the Dual Driver resembling that of a moon over a sun kind of dealio - image attached) is officially the first of that size in market. Hyper X previously at 53mm single driver were the largest I knew of until now. Don't get me wrong, smaller drivers have their place in gaming headsets as they are more focused on high response mid to high level frequencies for the important gaming stuff like footsteps, gun fire, positions and the like, as well as keeping the build weight down. I imagine though that TB are aiming to provide crisp highs alongside the booming lows with this Eclipse unit for a large range of uses. To add to the fancy marketing terms, the drivers are engineered using wood composite injection called 'Accutune' for a warmer more authentic sound. So by rights, we should have ourselves a well balanced, heavy hitting gaming and media headset on our hands. So do we? Who knows, that's why I write these 'Review' things right? (and that's not an invitation to skip to the summary at the end, but you do you boo.)


Design

I'll admit, I've never invested much personally in Turtle Beach. I've seen many of the earlier cheaper models turn out to be quite flimsy and 'plastic' with fragile cup joins. They have however improved their line-up recently with a more sturdy Gen 2 Stealth series and now the Recon 500s which is promising for their future releases.

So how do the Recon 500s stack up in design features? To start, they sport a non removable 1.3 metre fabric hardwired 3.5mm tipped cable. This sometimes isn't ideal as it means any cable damage deems the headset a write off, which is always a possibility if you're marketing to a younger generation. Ignoring this small oversight, we move onto the main attraction. The closed back cans are big and spacey, which I'd expect from a 60mm Driver setup. The cushions are nice and thick with plush memory foam wrapped in sports weave breathable fabric. This makes them cozy and ideal for long sessions in warmer temps, something I personally find valuable when running alongside these new heat pumps we call Gaming PCs and Next Gen consoles in the balmy climate of Queensland.


The headband insole is again memory foam but encased in leatherette. The headband is constructed mostly out of plastic but with a steel sliding runner. The tactile notches on the runner as you slide for band adjustment is firm and grippy giving it a little more secure and durable feel than the baby brother, the Recon 70s.



I did find there's a little bit of wobble room even once the ideal clamp has been set, but its nothing that would affect wearing unless you really were head banging out to some heavy beats, or you're some overly animated twitch streamer. The cups also twist inward for around the collar resting when you're not using them, though I find this more beneficial in wireless models, it still allows for more comfortable 'downtime' if you need to take them off momentarily. I did find with all the pivot points and its glasses friendly channels, the fit is quite well done.


Controls are on the left cup with a simple volume wheel on the bottom and a mic mute button on the centre of the cup. The microphone is a removable 2.5mm tip rubber flex wand type.


Overall they're better in design and frame than the Recon 70s, Razer Krakens and similar headsets within the same price points. With a fair bit of flex in the headband and twistable cups, they should hold up to some man-handling.



Audio

Given the driver situation, I wanted to kick it off with some music first. Listening through Tools Fear Inoculum (my control test for music on my reviews) the double kicks hold firm without impeding on vocals or guitar. On other headphones it can sometimes get a bit condensed or muddied with so many things processing at once, but I feel the dual driver setup really does hold strong here when it comes to music, especially on a $129 headset.


When it comes to games, the voluminous speakers still work their magic. There IS a caveat however. These have no Turtle Beach based equalizer or frequency management software. On PC and Xbox, there are options, and that option comes in the form of "Dolby Access" which allows for Dolby Atmos for headphones. I feel this is what is required to really squeeze these headphones for what they're made of for gaming and video media. Don't get me wrong, at default settings, its still a hard hitting unit, they just come across a little flat in comparison to Atmos doing its thing, but to be fair I feel that's the 'Natural' element of the Accutune wood pulp composite driver material. It is unfortunate in the sense that Dolby Access is a paid service, but by god, changing the settings to the appropriate format really reorganized the soundscape for the better in my opinion.


Playing through Deathloop on PC, I decided to Alt-Tab constantly to switch Dolby processing on and off, and you really can feel the Dolby Atmos do its thing with positional clarity on these bad boys. Turning it off, there's definitely still solid audio coming through, its just not as dynamically accurate without the assist from a audio processing system. But again, I feel these are almost designed to be more a 'monitor style' headset where frequency range in stereo is a priority.

Microphone setup is the aforementioned 2.5mm tipped removable flex wand type. This is sporting Turtle Beach's 'Tru Speak' uni-directional noise cancelling technology. Designed for voice pickup and background noise cancellation passively (as there's no digital or powered element in the headphone) it does a damn good job for the price. Its clean and flat, it's not overly bright, or trying too hard to over-process voice. Team mates should have no issues hearing you, and even on Zoom or Teams calls, these would suffice for work meetings and not irritate anyone on the other end. The mute button is an analogue button on the left ear cup. This does create a small bit of 'on/off' feedback when pressed, but not a huge issue. Also no on mic visual mute indicator, but being a 3.5mm non powered headset, that's to be expected.


Connectivity

Simple braided 3.5mm Universal cable connection. Unfortunately though, as previously stated, it is hardwired into the cup on the headset end, which makes it a little less child friendly, but that's just a matter of teaching them to not torture their gear. Also, there is no included 3.5mm splitter for those who still run dual output/input ports on their PCs. Though, I do feel this is because Turtle Beach are still aiming this headset more at the console market.


Price

Kudos to Turtle Beach for refining a headset as well as they have at this price point. They've gone a little left of field from their usual builds and its paid off. For $129, they've done an exceptional job. Don't get me wrong, they've still got hot competition with say, the RIG500 floating around the same price point with 50mm drivers, a 2 year Dolby Access Card included, flip to mute mic and such, but the sound on the Recon 500 is what wins the day against others in the price range.


Beached as Bro

To wrap up, you've got booming yet clear Eclipse dual driver speakers with Accutune wood composite injection, Tru-Speak uni directional microphone, on-ear cup controls, breathable mesh cups with 'Pro Specs' glasses relief design (now I think I've exhausted all of Turtle Beach's marketing terms), durable headband, flexible clamp pressure, and are easy to wear for long sessions. If your budget is the give or take $100 mark, 3.5mm universal connection is going to suffice, and your purpose is a mixed bag of movies, long gaming sessions and music, these should definitely be on your top 3, if not 2, short list.


 

Written by

Nathan Fischer

Nathan is a Gamer, Collector and an Electronics Retail Lifer/Employee. He can't commit to a favourite game, but the Hitman Saga is up there and you'll find him on twitch.tv/nateoriousfox casually playing Rainbow Six Siege. His dedicated hardware reviews and other critical thoughts can be found at technatelogic.com (coming soon).