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.
The Stealth 700 Gen 2 Gaming Headset takes everything that was already great about its predecessor and makes them even greater, improving everything that could have been improved over the past three years. This means a better styled, better sounding and more comprehensive gaming headset that looks impressive dangling from your fancy new headset stand. There’s a good chance it could become the de facto go-to gaming headset for some of you, but probably not all of you. As with any premium-priced product you’ll definitely get a premium experience, though whether the extra experience merits the extra price will depend entirely on your needs.
Those not wanting to shell out premium bucks for a premium product should take a closer look at the Stealth 700’s smaller brother, the Stealth 600 Gen 2, a less expensive option that delivers almost every major feature of the pricier Stealth 700. You won’t get the comfy imitation leather cups and there’s no Bluetooth connectivity, but you’ll still get an excellent Turtle Beach wireless headset that does its job very well.
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.
Design: Bigger, Comfier, Heavier
Let’s talk about the most obvious upgrade Turtle Beach made to the Stealth 600 Gen 2 headset, and that’s how it looks. Whereas the original Stealth 700 was almost toylike in its design, the Gen 2 version is infinitely more refined and sophisticated. Side-by-side they look like entirely different headsets, the Gen 2 eschewing virtually all the colorful markings and trim of the older model (even the color Turtle Beach logo is grayed out). “Premium” means less colorful and playful, apparently.
The headband has reinforced metal for extra sturdiness and support – and heft, as the Stealth feels slightly heavier than the Stealth 600. with smoother cups and a more angular aesthetic that swivels 90 degrees for better flexibility because, as we all know, heads come in all shapes and sizes. The cushions themselves can be removed to adjust access levels for glasses-wearing gamers using Turtle Beach’s ProSpecs Glasses Relief System, or just to gaze at those beautiful speakers. A quick look and you might think it was a Sennheiser headset instead of a Turtle Beach headset, which really says a lot.
Powering the sound are dual 50mm Nanoclear neodymium drivers with 20Hz – 22kHz frequency response, which translates into deep bass and pleasantly delineated sounds without blasting out your eardrums. Speaking of ear cup comfort, both are fitted with Aerofit gel-infused ear cushions that are simultaneously soft yet manage to seal out a noisy world. The material itself is imitation leather that feels comfy, but not substantially so from the standard meshed cups on the Stealth 600.
All controls are located on the left ear cup, including the power/connect button, EQ mode button, two volume wheels for audio and microphone levels, and a Bluetooth pairing button. 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 a fantastic 20-hours of playtime per charge, thanks to a generous 1000mAh lithium battery, but the real news is better. In fact, there were times when the headset far exceeded the theoretical 20 hours during robust testing on different platforms and playing different sound types media like gaming, music, etc. Don’t be surprised if a brand-new headset nets you well 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.
Unlike the Stealth 600 variants there’s no color differences between the PS4 and Xbox One versions, meaning the only real difference between the two versions is 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. Both offer Bluetooth, but don’t think that means you’ll be able to use the Xbox version on your PS4, or vice-versa, because that doesn’t work. 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
The Stealth 700 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 700 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 700 Gen 2 is microphone quality, which isn’t terrible but it’s hardly presentation quality. While the 700 offers enhanced noise gating (via the app) those thinking about streaming professionally using this headset should consider adding 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.
The restyled Stealth 700 looks and feels better than its predecessor, and there’s a reason why the Stealth series has been Turtle Beach’s best-selling headset – offering superior audio output quality at reasonable prices – and that lineage continues in this updated version. Generally, the Stealth 700 offers similar audio enhancements of the Stealth 600, but with better bass and cleaner trebles thanks to its superior speaker drivers and precision cups, though whether you’ll feel faux leather cups enhance the audio experience is entirely subjective.
Housed within the two comfy ear cups are powerful 50mm Nanoclear neodymium speakers with 20Hz – 22kHz frequency response time. They 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 and audio genres.
The Stealth 700 goes a step further by letting you customize virtually everything using the Turtle Beach Audio Hub app, which pairs to your phone or computer. Here you can create custom EQ levels, adjust individual bass/treble levels, add noise gate settings to your microphone and much more. I initially had trouble getting the app to work (hint: turn the headset off and back on) but once synced the options are mostly straightforward.
Honestly, I found the Signature and other EQ presets sounded pretty great already, but it’s nice to see a premium product offer premium customization options.
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 700 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. Both versions include Bluetooth connectivity (absent on the Stealth 600) and both versions offer more compatibility if you’re willing to experiment a little.
The Stealth also lets you use the dongle and Bluetooth simultaneously, meaning you can pipe in your own music or even phone calls while gaming. A cleaner voice announces the battery level and Bluetooth pairing, which was also nice.
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 the headset only works when in docked mode, but this wasn’t true – the Stealth 700 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 was surprised that Windows 10 compatibility sounded much better via the PS4 dongle over Bluetooth 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 700 should pair nicely. If not, you’ll need to connect via Bluetooth or use 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 700 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.
The Stealth 700 complicates this a bit further with the added proprietary Bluetooth button, which is also tiny and located just under the flush power/pair button. Everything that applies to accidental presses and disconnects applies here, too. This fumbling happened more than I’d like and made calibrating 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: A Higher (But Better) Standard?
The Stealth 700 Gen 2 Gaming Headset is a great gaming headset, delivering on just about every level that matters – and exceeding on others. It’s everything the Stealth 600 is, only better and more expensive. Which leads to the real question: are comfier ear cups, better bass levels, customizable EQ levels and Bluetooth worth the extra $50 over its smaller brother? For those who love the previous Stealth 700, absolutely, because the Gen 2 is superior in every way that matters. But not everyone will appreciate (or need) the more sophisticated stylings and sound of this pricier model, in which case the Stealth 600 Gen 2 is a more than acceptable alternative that’s pretty great, too.