Turtle Beach Ear Force Spectre Headset Review
A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to try out the new Call of Duty: Ghosts branded Ear Force Shadow headset from Turtle Beach. Whilst very definitely an entry-level model, I was quite impressed with the sound output and level of comfort that the headset provided, though I was a little disappointed by the lack of any particular bells and whistles that can be expected from other wired headsets. Alongside the Shadow, though, Turtle Beach is also releasing the Ear Force Spectre that comes similarly branded with Call of Duty: Ghosts decals, which looks and feels like a premium version of the Shadow. The Spectre still comes wired, but boasts a couple of features that perhaps make it a more attractive prospect for those in the market for a headset, or for an upcoming holiday gift for any Call of Duty fan.
The first thing that I noticed when taking the Spectre headset out of the box (aside from the fancier packaging), is the fact that this headset both looks bigger than the Shadow, and also feels a little heavier. Despite this, I actually found the Spectre to be more comfortable than the Shadow, particularly after long periods of play. This is in partly due to the better cushioning on both the bar connecting the earpieces, and the cushioning on the earpieces themselves. Honestly, after only a couple of minutes of wearing the headset, it was easy to forget that I was even wearing a headset at all. The extra cushioning on the earpieces has another effect, in that it does a better job of blocking out external sound sources, allowing players to become truly immersed in their gaming experience.
Aesthetically, the Spectre headset makes no bones about the fact that it is a Call of Duty: Ghosts headset with large Ghosts motifs featured on the outside of each earpiece. This isn’t an unattractive or shame-worthy headset by any means, and for those who want to proudly display their Call of Duty allegiance in public, the headset’s boom-mic is detachable, making it a feasible proposition to wander outside whilst using the headset to listen to music. The only issue that I did find is that some of the wires can be a little unwieldy and perhaps too long to comfortably take outside, but on the flipside, these wires are a great length for trailing across your living room, or wherever you partake in gaming, as they should be long enough to deal with most distances that people sit from their televisions. On a similar note, I did notice that the excess of wires included with the headset makes the initial setup a little more complicated than some other headsets, but the whole process still shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.
In terms of customisation, the Spectre features much the same options as the Shadow, which is a little disappointing. The in-line mixer is identical to the one included with the Shadow, and allows users to fiddle with chat/game volumes mixes, or adjust the levels of bass and treble, but that’s about it. One cool feature of the mixer is that you can connect your cell phone to it through the headphone jack on your device, which allows you to receive notification sounds through the headset. This comes as a great a relief if you’re expecting an important call or email, but still want to use your headset. The Spectre similarly doesn’t feature 7.1 or even 5.1 surround sound, which, with a wired headset, is personally a deal-breaker, but the sound-balancing that is present is quite good, and the headset still does a good job of allowing you to differentiate between audio from the left and right, and even forwards and backwards to a certain extent.
Though the lack of surround sound is disappointing, the audio quality delivered by the speakers is of a high standard, and left me quite impressed. Speech is clear and crisp, music is soaring, and gunfire and explosions have a definite depth to them. In fact, perhaps the best way to explain the overall sound delivery with the Spectre is that all the audio feels as if it has depth, as the speakers within the earpieces sound as if they are of a high quality. Frankly, if you’re not that bothered about surround sound, the Spectre features one of the best audio experiences that I’ve had with a wireless headset recently, and should be well worth a look.
So, you’re in the market for a new headset this holiday season, and you come across the Turtle Beach Ear Force Spectre. Is it worth you picking it up? Well, ignoring the furore around headset compatibility with next-gen consoles, the Spectre is well worth your time, so long as surround sound isn’t a huge deal for you. It’s a versatile piece of kit, working on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac, Phones and Media Players, and is quite pleasing on the eye too, particularly if you’re a Call of Duty fan. Obviously, if you’re a gamer in the Battlefield camp, then the Ghosts decals will hold no appeal to you, but overall the headset is pretty attractive. Though it may not offer all the fancy extras of some top of the range headsets, you could do much worse than the experience presented by the Ear Force Spectre, and it would surely be a welcome gift for a Call of Duty fan that’s difficult to buy for.
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