Turtle Beach is no doubt trying its best to create waves in the video game world with its line of headsets. You only need to look at the Call of Dusty Ear Force Sierra to see hard evidence. Packing a programmable control unit, voice morphing and optimised audio presents, the unit is a beast that longs to be utilised within the professional gaming scene. But what about the rest of us? The gamers who want a high-end PC headset without needing to orchestrate a series of elaborate bank heists? The Turtle Beach Ear Force Z6A would love to be the answer to your prayers, but is it?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s go through the finer details of the Z6A:
|Feature||Turtle Beach Z6A|
|Front and Surround Channel Speakers||30mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets|
|Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz, >120dB SPL+3dB/mW|
|Centre Channel Speakers||30mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets|
|Speaker Frequency Response: 80Hz – 16kHz, >110dB SPL+3dB/mW|
|Subwoofer Channel Speakers||40mm diameter with high-impact magneto-resonant vibration coil|
|Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz – 500Hz|
|Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz – 15kHz|
|Weight: 13.6 oz. (380g)|
|Surround Sound Amplifier||6 independent amplifiers|
|Frequency response Sub Channel: 20Hz – 200Hz|
|Frequency response (Front, Surround and Centre channels): 20Hz – 20kHz|
|Amplifier power (all 8 channels): >100mW rms @ THD <1%|
|3.5mm stereo line input jacks x 3 (Front, Surround, Centre/Sub)|
|3.5mm microphone jack|
|Maximum analogue input level with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mV rms)|
|2.5mm XBOX 360 controller input jack|
|Dimensions: H: 0.8in (2.0cm), W: 3.9in (9.8cm), D: 1.5in (3.9cm)|
|Weight: 4 oz. (120g)|
Look and Feel
It’s hard to deny that Turtle Beach makes attractive hardware and the Z6A is no exception. While the unit shares similar design stylings of the company’s other products, that’s not entirely a bad thing. The frame is expectedly sturdy across the board, and while extra shiny black surfaces will inevitably attract a hoard of fingerprints, the splashes of the vibrant blue definitely help add some visual flair.
With durability however, comes added weight, so while the Z6A might feel comfy to start out, after a few hours of intense gaming it can start to feel a little heavy on the head. Still, the padding is always mighty comfy, particularly around the ear cups. Should you want to look like a cool kid, you can also turn the cups so that they rest flat against your body – even though it’s a little impractical.
My one major gripe with the Z6A’s design is the placement of the 5.1 amplifier. Attached to the main cord, this fairly bulky contraption often inconveniently hangs in mid air. Its placement isn’t low enough to rest on a table beside your keyboard, leaving you to either constantly knock it off into dangle-land or clip it onto your clothing and become annoyingly uncomfortable.
On the other hand, the microphone is well placed and thankfully out of the way. It can’t be disconnected from the unit itself, but simply swing it up and it will never become too much of a problem.
The main draw card for the Z6A is its 5.1 surround sound capability. With eight amplified speakers placed throughout the ear cups, including dual sub-woofers, this is this true 5.1 audio without all the hassle. Results obviously won’t match your average sound system, but you’ll still get a decent amount of audio depth, especially for games like Call of Duty.
The big issue here however, is that getting the 5.1 settings perfect is a mission in and of itself. Using the 5.1 amplifier to manage levels can quickly become a struggle as you go about your daily tasks. I myself had to constantly fiddle with controls as I alternated from playing games to watching movies. This time-waster might not annoy some, but the lack of one permanent solution is still fairly irksome.
Switching to stereo of course removes all these issues by providing standard sound, but doing so negates the point of buying a 5.1 headset in the first place.
Setting everything up is easy enough, and for those of you still wanting to access your PC speakers and sound system, a splitter is thankfully provided for your convenience. Your desk will transform into a forest of cables running about, but you won’t have to worry about cables so honestly, it could be worse?
Plus, for those that like to avoid cord-based strangulations, the Z6A can be detached from the main cable simply and quickly without having to remove the main bulk from the PC. It’s a nice touch, but is a feature you’ll be unlikely to make use of all that much, unless you feel like storing the main headset in a separate location. You can also connect the Z6A to your Xbox as an added bonus; however it will require the purchase of a separate cable to get the whole thing working.
For anyone left wondering about the bass levels, rest assured that thanks to the dual sub-woofers and multiple speakers, there is a substantial amount of depth on offer for a primarily gaming-centric device. It can get a little distorted at times, especially if you muck about with the amplifier, but for the most part, the unit’s performance is admirable.
Rounding things out is the Z6A’s microphone monitor. With this nifty contraption you will be able to just barely hear yourself in the headset, removing any need to shout in the midst of a ragingly-loud battle. Speaking of the microphone though, voice quality with others via clients like Skype is top notch, as is the microphone itself.