[Originally posted to my PC Gaming column at Examiner.com]
The Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas gaming headset boasts excellent audio, but it’s also a big letdown.
The multi-platform Titanfall Atlas headset puts out high-quality stereo sound as big as its licensed-inspirational namesake. But it’s also not particularly comfortable and it looks—and feels—like a headset that should sell for about half of its asking price.
It short, the Titanfall Atlas is another victim of “licensing gone wild”, in which design and function take a back seat while price increases disproportionately to a) cover the cost of licensing; and b) gouge ‘fan boys’ that have to have licensed peripherals.
Turtle Beach Titanfall Atlas headset features and specifications
Note that the Titanfall Atlas includes attachments for the Xbox One, but (naturally) I’m only reviewing it as a PC gaming headset.
- 50mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
- Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz, <120dB SPL@1kHz
- Speaker Impedance: 16Ω
- Signal to Noise Ratio: >58dB
- Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 100Hz-10KHz
- Microphone Design: Removable Omni-Directional
- Ear cup Design: Around-Ear (Closed)
- Headphone Amplifier:
- Stereo DC-coupled, 35mW/ch, THD<1%, Frequency Response: DC – 30kHz
- Mute switch: Mic mute switch
- USB connector for power: 5VDC @ <60mA max, mic connection and stereo audio
- Line output: 3.5mm plug for line output
- Output jack: 2.5mm mic output jack
- Bass Boost fixed: +6dB @ 50Hz
- Weight: 10.6 oz/301g
- Cable length: 3ft (.9m)
Comfort & Design
Unlike some of Turtle Beach’s other (very comfortable) headsets such as the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z2 and Z6a, the Titanfall Atlas has small and very tight ear cups. They aren’t painfully uncomfortable, thanks to about a half-inch of cloth-covered memory foam, but they feel cramped when compared to the Z2 and Z6a.
The Titanfall Atlas ear cups do a good job of cancelling external distractions—especially combined with the Atlas’ thundering audio capabilities—and they also rotate 90 degrees for added comfort when resting around your neck.
The microphone is a simple snap-in design with minimal flexibility. It does its job well enough, although it would be nice if it could be rotated upward and out of site when not in use. This isn’t a critical flaw, but for some reason I found the Atlas’ microphone more obnoxious than most, probably because of its giant poofy head. Yes, that’s the technical description.
The inline controller is decent, being exceptionally large with independent volume controls for chat and game audio—an increasingly popular and common option on gaming headsets. An LED lights when the microphone is muted, but additional LED lighting would have been appreciated. We do tend to game in the dark after all.
Construction is a notable weak point. If the Atlas were a $79 headset I might be more forgiving, but the the Atlas is made from relatively cheap plastic construction. And even if it’s expensive plastic construction, it still looks and feels cheap—more like a toy than a $150 high-end gaming headset.
And to be honest, even the Titanfall-themed design is pretty uninspired. For $150 you should get some external LEDs and better artistic treatment.
The Titanfall Atlas delivers good sound clarity and strong bass, and at (almost painful) maximum volume levels I couldn’t detect any distortion, crackling, etc. The Titanfall Atlas 50mm drivers and built-in amp delivered great stereo audio for games and a selection of raucous, bass-heavy rock ballads and other tunes.
Overall sound quality is very good. Mixer controls (bass/treble) on the inline controller would have been a nice touch.
Overall: 3/5 stars
The Titanfall Atlas is a good headset and delivers excellent audio, but it falls short because it’s not very comfortable and suffers from enough shortcomings (albeit relatively minor ones) to make it difficult to recommend at $150 price point. (At half the price I could probably be more forgiving.)
The Titanfall Atlas isn’t a ‘bad’ product, but it’s inferior to many of Turtle Beach’s (and competitors’) less expensive and more capable headsets.
The real lesson is this: Be wary of licensed peripherals.
Some are perfectly fine “re-skins” of existing products, and in some cases even offer modest improvements over the base model they are based upon—case in point Razer’s League of Legends Naga Hex, which Razer improved over its predecessor by replacing glossy plastic with soft-touch material.
But some licensed products are straight-up lousy products—another case in point, Razer’s TRON mouse.