Game-branded licensed headsets have been cropping up in the gaming headset market more and more recently, these products presumably representing the attempts of manufacturers to tap into the growing proliferation of e-sports and the market that this engenders. Most often, these headsets are tied in with the big boys of the multiplayer FPS genre, and the set we’re bringing you the review for is no different, clambering onto the back of Titanfall’s hugely successful marketing campaign. Here is the Ear Force Atlas headset from Turtle Beach. Read: Titanfall cans for IMC veterans and fidgety Militia upstarts alike, so you can really hear the metal hit when taking another face full of lead for the umpteenth time.
Launched in unison with the most recent series of sets from Turtle Beach, designed explicitly with the Xbox ONE in mind, the Atlas set appears strikingly similar in its physical build to Turtle Beach’s XO Four model, its gaudy Titanfall-themed racing stripes aside. On the face of it Titanfall fans seem to be facing a fairly hefty price mark up in choosing the Atlas set over the XO Four, shelling out for a far from slimline £119.99 RRP over a more manageable £89.99 RRP for the XO Four. After some direct comparison, however, it’s clear that the Atlas set comes with more extensive compatibility than the cheaper model, including an inline amplifier and the whole host of cables necessary to give the set cross compatibility with Xbox ONE, Xbox 360 and PC – all the platforms Titanfall is getting a release on.
Though justification for the increase in cost will depend entirely on each player’s individual needs, it’s evident that Turtle Beach are gunning for the fanboys with this one, emblazoning the off-white shell with a blue, red, grey and white livery inspired by the game’s art. For any proud owners of the Titanfall Xbox ONE controllers out there, this headset will of course complete the look, the two designs complementing each other brilliantly.
For the superfans, there are little nods towards Respawn’s involvement in the design process, with “Lastimosa Armory’ printed around the rim of one of the ear cups, Ryan Lastimosa being an artist, or ‘digital armorer’ as he calls himself, over at Respawn. Accompanied by a message noting that the hardware is for ‘colonial military use only’, these little snippets are evidence that the team were having a bit of fun with their themed hardware and again, though completely irrelevant to the functional capabilities of the headset, these little snippets show that this union of Turtle Beach and Respawn is targeting the most hardcore of Titanfall fans.
Now to the brass tacks: the sound quality is reasonably high with the Atlas headset, straightforward audio being delivered crisply and with a decent level of fidelity, special emphasis being heard on the lower end of the audio spectrum with gunshots echoing in between the ears and explosions almost liquefying the brain at higher volume settings. While the sound is well designed for games, particularly shooters, using the set to listen to other media, particularly music, might demand a little bit of EQ-fiddling for the benefit of the discerning listener, though obviously this can hardly be held against the Atlas headset too strongly, a headset designed for the battlefield, not the bus journey.
Some issues arise with the consistency of the audio, delivered to the headset via the Xbox ONE controller and the Xbox ONE audio adapter, the sound occasionally clipping at particularly chaotic moments of explosive exuberance and dropping in and out over spans of consistent quiet. This becomes more of an irritation if watching films or listening to music on console, though the issue is likely to be a fault with the Xbox ONE adapter / controller firmware, which is being investigated by Microsoft and likely to receive remedial updates.
The Atlas headset does have some weight to it, and over extended sessions can begin to feel rather cumbersome, though the firmness of the frame and the reassuringly tight fit against the ears offers the dual benefits of eliminating the discomfort of a loose headset and of being impressively effective at cancelling out the noises of the outside world; when you’re locked in for a Titanfall sessions with these bad boys, not even a minor earthquake need tear you away from the fight. The meshing over the ear cups makes the set breathable, preventing cases of the old swampy gamer ear from setting in and the padded, leatherette-finish layer lining the underside of the headband serves its purpose in protecting the top of your dome from rubbing in extended marathons.
The breadth of compatibility makes the Atlas a great headset for cross-platform gamers, and its inclusion of all the hardware gubbins necessary to yell at foes whatever device they’re playing on somewhat justifies the price hike, however RRPing at just £10 less than the XO Sevens, Turtle Beach’s top of the line offering for Xbox ONE, the latter might prove a wiser investment for players who keep their gaming grounded firmly in the realms of Xbox ONE play. For Titanfall fans, self-proclaimed ubergeeks and cross-platform gamers who can afford to spare a little more cash than the average for a headset, the Ear Force Atlas is a fantastic piece of kit that pleases both the ear and the eye.