After Turtle Beach acquired German peripheral maker Roccat back in 2019 many wondered if the gaming headset giant would influence the latter more, or the other way around. While best known for their exquisitely beautiful PC peripherals, like the 121 AIMO mechanical keyboard, the company also produces decent gaming headsets like the Khan Pro and Noz.
Or did make decent ones, anyway. Thanks to the Turtle Beach influence (and money) they’re about to graduate from decent headsets to great headsets – for those who want greatness on a budget, anyway.
Roccat’s Elo-branded gaming headsets are the first sign this new partnership is about to bear fruit with a trio of respectable options that blend Roccat’s signature styling and comfort with Turtle Beach’s game-enhancing proprietary features: the Elo X Stereo, Elo 7.1 USB and Elo 7.1 Air. We’ve tested each exhaustively, and we’re ready to share our findings.
This review focuses primarily on the Elo 7.1 USB Surround Sound RGB Gaming Headset, and you can find our reviews for the Elo X Stereo Cross-Platform Stereo Gaming Headset and Elo 7.1 USB Surround Sound RGB Gaming Headset.
How to best use this review:
Honestly, apart from different connectors and lighting, all three headsets are nearly indistinguishable from each other. All sport the same style, all feature the same self-adjusting, rugged (and very comfy) metallic/foam headband, all have the same removable microphone, and – most importantly – all sound fantastic. Overlap between the headsets means plenty of overlap between our reviews, and the only real differences really come down to compatibility, which is where things start to get wildly different.
We encourage those curious about snagging one of the Elo headsets to read through each review separately to see where each version differs significantly, if at all. We’ll include a handy comparison summary at the end of each review, with comments about each specific headset to help you make the best choice between them for your needs.
Design: Impossibly Comfortable
The Elo headsets not only look sharp, but they have a secret weapon to give you a competitive edge; they’re incredibly, almost impossibly comfortable. This is one area Roccat has excelled in other spaces and here their expertise is on full display thanks to a series of innovations that set the Elo headsets apart from most others.
The first is a self-adjusting headband, which looks strange at first but quickly makes itself almost indispensable. It feels bouncy at first, but latches onto your head with just the right amount of comfort with a secure, but not overly pressured, fit that’s both snug and satisfying. This means no fiddling with telescoping ear cups in a vain attempt to find the “perfect” fit; just put them on and let that magic headband do its work. Our testing found it conforms nicely to just about any size head (and we’ve got some big heads on the staff), so chances are you’ll have an equally nice, comfortable fit using them (though results may vary).
Both ear cups are encased in incredibly comfortable memory foam that manages to encase your ears in distraction-eliminating sound without the fatigue most mid-range gaming headsets leave after long sessions. Again, the Turtle Beach synergy continues with the inclusion of the ProSpecs Glasses Relief System, which means less suffering for spectacled users. The flexible microphone can be detached – and possibly replaced as it sports a 2.5mm jack.
Housed within those comfy cups are 50mm Neodymium drivers that help deliver exceptionally deep and impressive bass with little distortion and clean separation. These aren’t revolutionary or anything, but still manage to deliver the necessary BOOM! when you need it the most. Both the 7.1 Air and 7.1 USB versions offer slightly more BOOM! than the standard Stereo version, thanks to being powered, but not significantly more.
The Elo 7.1 USB is easily the heaviest of the bunch, coming in at a beefier 374 grams that’s still comfortable, despite the added weight of that massive 8 foot (!) braided USB cable. There’s not much in the way of controls, all of which are located on the left ear cup and limited to sound and microphone levels and a microphone mute button. Both the Elo 7.1 Air and 7.1 USB versions feature Roccat’s AIMO RGB lighting system, which means they should play nicely with other AIMO “living light” devices, which you can customize further using Roccat’s Swarm software, or just turn off completely. More on this below.
I really can’t say enough good things about how comfortable these Elo headsets are, which I felt were a smidge superior to Turtle Beach’s own (and pricier) Stealth 600/700 Gen 2 headsets. They really are that good.
Compatibility: The Deal Maker/Breaker
More than anything, the only thing that really distinguishes between the three versions is compatibility, which gets a lot stickier for the wired and wireless USB versions. This is where you’ll want to pay close attention as choosing the wrong version could mean only moderate, if any, compatibility with your favorite platform or device.
Far and away the people’s champ of compatibility was the Elo Stereo, thanks to its legacy 3.5mm jack, which means it plays nicely with anything that will accept it (even Apple devices, if you have the right adapter). For consoles this means direct compatibility with every major platform when attached to their respective 3.5mm ports. The Elo Stereo worked great on the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Windows, Chromebooks, phones, tablets, etc. We even found the microphone worked great on most of them, too, though you might have to experiment if voice chat is a big deal.
In second place is the Elo 7.1 USB, which works perfectly with Windows (or any computer), PS4 and Switch. But there’s no Xbox One compatibility whatsoever, which wasn’t surprising. In last place is the Elo 7.1 Air, which kept Windows (and computer) and Switch compatibility just fine but working erratically, if at all, on the PS4. On Sony’s console it kept losing signal and when it did connect the sound output was mediocre to muffled, making it useless for play. Again, the Air doesn’t work with the Xbox One at all.
Another awkward issue was the inconsistency with volume controls across all the platforms. Despite having volume controls right there on the cup they don’t “all” work like they should, meaning sometimes the volume wheel changes volume levels, other times you need to adjust via the platform you’re using. Again, this wasn’t really an issue with the Elo Stereo, just the headsets using USB connectors.
Both the USB 7.1 and 7.1 Air feature 7.1 surround sound (it’s right in the names!), but whether this is an advantage over “normal” stereo sound will be up to individual tastes. I won’t get into the controversies over what “true” 7.1 sound output is (or isn’t), but to use 7.1 sound settings on the Elo headsets you’ll need to download and install Roccat’s Swarm software.
Once installed you’ll get a ton of customizable options to better tailor the headset as you like, from different EQ and microphone settings, including changing microphone sample rates from 44.1Khz to 48KHz, noise cancellation, and even modulating your voice through “magic” voice options. Fun stuff.
But the real point of Swarm is to activate and use 7.1 sound settings and change lighting levels. It’s here you’ll be able to enable 7.1 surround sound and modify EQ levels to your liking, or just switch to one of the genre-specific presets like FPS, MOBA, Racing, Action, RPG, or just create your own custom level and use that instead. You’ll also be able to adjust the RGB lighting, switching between Roccat’s AIMO “intelligent” lighting levels to more traditional breathing, blinking, or fully lit options. Best of all, you can even turn them off!
Using the Headset: Mostly There
The Elo 7.1 USB falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to compatibility, so we weren’t able to test it with every platform – phones, tablets, and the Xbox One are out. Also, because of the USB connection they aren’t portable, though a generous 8 feet of quality braided cable means you’ll have some room to move around. When they do work, however, they sound just as great as the other versions – and are just as comfortable.
Worth noting: the microphone is the exact same on all Elo versions, detachable and with the same compatibility issues of the headsets themselves. You’re probably not buying these to use it anyway – and shouldn’t be – so rest assured it’s a decent microphone that sounds good enough if you need it.
Movies like Trolls World Tour and Scoob! sounded great (even when the movies themselves weren’t), though bass fans will rejoice hearing – literally – every BOOM! in action classics like Terminator 2 and newcomers like Ashfall as nature intended. Music through Spotify was also superb; just having added bass and clean treble is enough to recommend this headset over most desktop or display speakers. If you’re going to use them to listen to content inside or outside the home, they do the job exceptionally well.
Of the three Roccat Elo-branded headsets the Elo 7.1 USB Surround Sound RGB Gaming Headset makes a compelling argument for those who want exceptional sound and comfort on a mid-range budget. Sound quality is outstanding, and you really can’t beat those comfy ear cups, and there’s 7.1 surround sound and lighting effects if you really want them. USB really limits its compatibility to a degree, but it still plays nice enough with most platforms (the notable exception being the Xbox One) to make this version worthwhile if Windows, PlayStation 4 and Switch are your favorites. You’re getting a lot of value here – if you don’t mind being tethered.