Gaming headsets are, in many ways, similar to soundbars in that they offer users an immediately better sound space than stock display speakers. Even a mid-range gaming headset is likely to enhance your gaming experience over whatever tinny, bass-free speakers your fancy 4K HDR display comes with.
With the Stealth 600 Gen 2 Gaming Headset it appears Turtle Beach has taken their best-selling original and improved on virtually everything it could improve on, resulting in a considerably more comfortable, better sounding, and – dare I say it – more stylish headset that looks great dangling from your fancy new headset stand.
It’s available for both PlayStation 4 (version reviewed) and Xbox One consoles, though Turtle Beach indicates both headsets *should* work just fine with the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X next-gen consoles, meaning you might want to consider “upgrading” your future accessories sooner than later.
Those wanting a slightly more premium – and slightly more expensive – gaming headset experience can opt for the Stealth 600’s bigger brother, the Stealth 700, which nets you an enhanced version of the Stealth 600 with a 50 percent markup and more features. Individual tastes vary, but for the majority of gamers craving immediate audio satisfaction the Stealth 600 should do the trick, and do it well.
Design: Better, Svelter, Smaller
Let’s talk about the most obvious upgrade Turtle Beach made to the Stealth 600 Gen 2 headset, and that’s how it looks. The headband now sports a rounder, sturdier and more singular curve that not only looks much more stylish but allows users to more easily adjust both telescoping ear cups for maximum comfort. Powering the sound are dual 50mm speakers with Neodymium magnets with 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response, which translates into deep bass and pleasantly delineated sounds without blasting out your eardrums.
Speaking of ear cup comfort, both are covered in mesh material breathable enough to snuggly encase your entire ears yet allow you to comfortably wear glasses (because chances are you wear glasses). Both ear cups also swivel 90 degrees for better flexibility because, as we all know, heads come in all shapes and sizes.
All controls are located on the left ear cup, including the power/connect button, EQ mode button, and two volume wheels for audio and microphone levels. We’ll have to agree to disagree whether shrinking the larger power/mode buttons down to micro sized buttons was for the best, but the setup certainly looks modern. Also located on the left cup is the charge port, with a USB-C port (cable included) replacing the older micro USB to help synergize your evolving gaming setup with the USB-C revolution.
Turtle Beach promises an extra-long 15 hours of playtime per charge, thanks to a generous 900mAh lithium battery, and you’ll get no arguments here. In fact, there were times when the headset far exceeded 15 hours during robust testing on different platforms and playing different sound types like gaming, music, etc. Don’t be surprised if a brand new headset nets you over 20 hours of playtime per charge, which is really outstanding.
Another major design improvement is how the plastic microphone boom now docks nearly flush with the left cup, RoboCop style, easily accessible when you need it (and just as easily closable when you don’t). With only two available angles there’s not much wiggle room to position your trash-talking sessions, but it’ll get the job done. The microphone’s grafted-on placement on the older Stealth model was perhaps its biggest design misstep, so having it discreetly recede back into the earpad is a welcome change.
Apart from the console-specific color variants (Blue for PlayStation and Green for Xbox One) the only real difference between the two versions is that the PS4 version requires using a mini USB dongle while Xbox users connect via the console’s native wireless tech to enjoy their purely wireless amplified gaming. The PS4 version does have its advantages, however, as having a USB dongle lets it play nice with other non-Xbox platforms. More on this later.
Using the Headset
To be honest, the Stealth 600 Gen 2 headset is still, fundamentally, a gaming headset, which means it operates much like every other gaming headset out there – including other options from Turtle Beach. This means any review of it should focus primarily on two areas: comfort and ease of use and sound quality. As the Stealth 600 is primarily a gaming headset I won’t cover how it sounds listening to music or watching movies – just know it sounds great with both but that’s probably not why you’re here.
Easily the least impressive audio aspect of the Stealth 600 Gen 2 is microphone quality, which isn’t terrible but it’s hardly presentation quality. Those thinking about streaming professionally using this headset should consider getting a superior standalone microphone – but I’d make that same recommendation about most gaming headsets anyway. That’s all we’ll say about the microphone.
As I mentioned above, the slight restyling of the Gen 2 makes it a superior choice not only over its predecessor, but over most less-expensive mid-range gaming headsets out there. There’s a reason why the Stealth series has been Turtle Beach’s best-selling gaming headset – offering outstanding audio output quality at reasonable prices – and that lineage continues in this updated version. If you just want high-quality performance without much hassle, it’s hard to do better than this.
Housed within the two comfy ear cups are powerful 50mm Neodymium speakers that sound fantastic, and there’s a nice selection of EQ presets available to enhance output (mostly) that can be cycled through by pressing the “EQ Mode” button: Signature Sound, Bass Boost, Bass + Treble Boost, and Vocal Boost, each adding their distinctive flavor to different gaming genres.
A quick-press of the “power/pair” button activates “Superhuman Hearing” feature, amplifying sounds that are typically lower-level (i.e. faint voices) to an incredible degree of usefulness. I was shocked to hear how much of a difference this made while playing The Last of Us 2, especially as typically unheard voices (in stealth mode) transformed the experience from spooky to terrifying.
Compatibility: It Depends
As mentioned above, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the Stealth 600 Gen 2 connect wirelessly, but each does so in different ways. The PS4 version requires the use of a mini 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle that comes pre-paired for out of the box play while the Xbox One version uses that console’s native wireless tech to connect directly. Fans of both platforms won’t be surprised by this, but each version of the headset offers more compatibility if you’re willing to experiment a little.
The PlayStation 4 version is easily the most platform friendly, again, thanks to that dongle. This means direct compatibility with just about anything you can stick the dongle into, including the Nintendo Switch, Android phones and tablets, even Windows 10 machines. Regarding the Switch, Turtle Beach says it’ll only work when docked, but this wasn’t true – the Stealth 600 ran just fine even in portable mode (as long as you have a USB-C to USB 3.0 adapter).
Turtle Beach claims that even the microphone works on compatible Switch games, but given the fractured nature of how the Switch handles multiplayer chat I didn’t bother testing it. I also found that Windows 10 compatibility via the PS4 dongle was surprisingly robust and everything – including the microphone – worked great without the need for any additional drivers.
The Xbox One version is a slightly different beast because it lacks the handy dongle of the PS4 version. If your Windows 10 machine supports direct compatibility with Xbox One peripherals, you should be all set and the Stealth 600 should pair nicely. If not, you’ll need Microsoft’s own Xbox One Wireless Adapter to get things working right.
As nice as the design and comfort improvements are, one thing the new Stealth 600 doesn’t handle quite as well (or even as well as the original) is one-handed usage, especially when in the thick of battle. This is especially true with the newer, smaller power/pair and EQ mode buttons, which blend into the left cup so well they become difficult to fiddle with quickly. There’s a good chance that you’ll accidentally hit the “pair” button when you meant to hit the “mode” button, which only activates the “Superhuman Hearing” feature and risks unpairing (or turning off) the headset.
This fumbling happened more than I’d like to admit and made trying to calibrate and fine-tune the settings a game of Russian Roulette. True, with time and patience your muscle memory is likely to take over and you’ll be switching and adjusting through these functions without a hitch, but it’s still an awkward learning process.
Conclusion: The New Mid-Budget Standard
With the original Stealth 600 just shy of three years old (in gaming years it’s practically ancient) it was time for an upgrade, and upgrades are exactly what you’ll get with the Stealth 600 Gen 2 Gaming Headset. It looks, feels and (mostly) functions better than its predecessor, offering a huge advantage over enjoying your games through display speakers and a tremendously big advantage over playing competitively. With support for the upcoming next-gen consoles – and compatibility with other devices (on the PS4 version) I’d go so far to say this upgraded Stealth 600 is the new standard for mid-range priced gaming headsets, and should be for quite some time.