Turtle Beach Call of Duty: Ghosts Ear Force Shadow Review
Call of Duty and Turtle Beach have been bedfellows for a couple of years now, with both Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops II receiving branded products from the headset manufacturers. The partnership has continued this year, with a series of Call of Duty: Ghosts headsets, and I recently got the chance to try out one such product: the Ear Force Shadow wired headset. With the Ghosts motif emblazoned on each earpiece, and the Call of Duty: Ghosts logo featured prominently on both the headset and the amplifier, this product is sure to draw the attention of any fan of the hugely successful FPS series. The questions remains, though, does the Call of Duty endorsement make this particular headset a worthwhile purchase for those in the market for such an item, or are you better off looking elsewhere?
The short answer to this question is that while the Ear Force Shadow doesn’t do much wrong, and serves admirably as an entry-level headset for a basic setup, it doesn’t feature a lot of the bells and whistles that other headsets on the market currently do, particularly when you consider that the Ear Force Shadow is wired. On a personal level, I tend to avoid wired headsets unless they offer a significant feature upgrade over most wireless headsets, as the sheer number of wires trailing through my living room is already at a pretty high level. The Ear Force Shadow fails on this point, due to the fact that it doesn’t offer up any sort of surround sound capabilities, and the options that is does present are quite common. The in-line amplifier allows you to control the volume of the game, the microphone, and the chat levels, and also lets you control the bass and treble levels, but that’s about it. There are a couple of LED lights which change colour depending on the microphone status, which makes for easy recognition, but there aren’t any options of saving preset volume levels or creating a personal sound experience.
Thankfully, the sound that comes out of the Ear Force Shadow is pretty good, though there are a couple of issues that cropped up with extended play. I spent most of my time with the headset playing a mixture of FIFA 14 on the PlayStation 3 and Grand Theft Auto V on the Xbox 360, and I was particularly impressed with how well the headset delivers the small audio touches that you wouldn’t otherwise notice through your TV speakers, such as the sound of a ball being kicked, or the ‘swish’ as a football gently nestles itself in the back of the goal net. The headset also performed remarkably at picking up the sounds of walking on broken glass in Grand Theft Auto V, and character voices were always crisp and clear. What’s more, throughout both titles, the music was delivered spectacularly, and the fact that you can adjust the levels of bass and treble means that songs can come across as you wish, either as its intended background music, or as full, in your face, bass-pumping monstrosities that overpower the games you play. However, after a while I began to notice a sound which can best be described as both mushy and crunchy repeating itself in the right earpiece, at intervals of every couple of minutes. It wasn’t enough to entirely ruin the experience, and it may have been unique to my particular unit, but I still would be pretty disappointed bringing a headset home and experiencing this issue.
In terms of physical form, the Ear Force Shadow feels solidly built and is incredibly comfortable to wear to the extent that after a while, it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing a headset. While the size adjusters and earpieces themselves are made out of plastic, and don’t feel particularly luxurious, they don’t feel flimsy either, and it seems as if they could take a good deal of wear and tear. The bridge that connects the two earpieces features woven material, which sits comfortably on the top of the head, and the cushions on the earpieces are soft and don’t pinch or feel as if they’re squeezing your head, a problem that I’ve experienced with other headsets before. Visually, the headset is a decent grey and black combination, though the Ghost motifs on the earpieces are perhaps the best feature. To be honest, without the Call of Duty branding, this motif could transcend the game itself and make the headset look pretty badass on its own. Another strong feature users will appreciate with the amplifier is that the jack, which is connected to the headset, is actually cradled in the amplifier, with the sheath as well as the jack resting inside the amplifier itself. This minimizes the chance of the wire slipping out, ensures that the connection is always solid, and that you’re not damaging crucial parts of the equipment.
So, is the Ear Force Shadow headset worth a purchase? As with many headsets, it depends on what you’re looking for. The Ear Force Shadow is clearly a product that isn’t aiming for the top of the market, and as such, I’d expect its price to lie somewhere around the lower end of the headset scale. It does offer great sound for the most part, sits comfortably on the head, and is easy to set up, yet it’s very much an entry-level item. The lack of surround sound, programmable presets and fancy bells and whistles will deter those looking for a top-notch audio setup, but if you’re looking for something basic, particularly if you’re a Call of Duty fan, then the Ear Force Shadow headset is a solid choice.
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