Turtle Beach Ear Force Z2 Review
Reviewed by: Indybird
Reviewed on: September 19, 2010
Headsets and online gaming have always had a special relationship. Headsets give you hands-free communication and in-game audio all in one package, making them ideal for people who are on a budget, can’t be too loud, or can’t afford a full speaker system. PC gamers have been using headsets pretty much since online gaming existed. Only with the advent of Xbox Live (or PlayStation Network) have console players been introduced to the use of headsets. Headset technology has not come very far, as they are typically not very complicated. You essentially have a pair of headphones with a microphone attached. For gamers however, some companies have added special features to tailor their headset to the gaming crowd.
Turtle Beach, a well-known maker of sound cards and gaming headsets, has introduced the latest in their line of PC gaming headsets: the Ear Force Z2. The Ear Force Z2 is your standard gaming headset at first glance but is touted with high-quality sound, rugged construction, superior comfort and a compact design for portability. What more could you ask for in a headset? Let’s see how this headset stacks up in market filled with competition.
The Turtle Beach Ear Force Z2 comes in a plastic clam shell package that displays the headphones and inline controller on the front. The front is otherwise kept simple with just the name and visible features. Around the back you are given more detailed pictures and information about the headset and its features. Despite being a plastic clam shell, the packaging was not that hard to open - all you have to do is rip it apart along the edge.
Once you open up all the packaging you realize there isn’t much to it - just the headset and the break-away in-line controller and audio connections.
Let's check out the headset itself.
The Ear Force Z2 is a pretty solid and rugged-looking headset. The body of the headphones are made of a smooth black plastic that feels fairly high quality. Each ear-piece has a chrome ring and glossy center with the Turtle Beach name, logo and model name. For transport, the headphones will fold up ear-to-ear. On the inside, each ear is simply padded with fabric. The top of the headband has the Turtle Beach logo and has some thin padding, which should help with comfort and the headset has standard “clicking” height adjustment.
The headset has a non-detachable, flexible microphone that is capable of 300-degrees of front-to-back rotation. The breakaway connector is two feet (60cm) down the cable from the headset.
The other section of cable with the in-line controller is ten feet (3m) long. The controller itself has a clip to attach it to your shirt, so it does not move around during gaming. Control wise, you have volume control and microphone mute. Also found on the controller is the Xbox 360 microphone output, which requires a separate 2.5mm cable.
Now let's see how they perform.
50mm, with neodymium magnet
Speaker Frequency Response
20Hz - 20kHz, >120db SPL @ 1kHz
Condenser Microphone Frequency Response
50Hz - 15kHz
9.5oz (0.27 kg)
- In-line volume control with mic mute and XBOX LIVE jack
- 3.5mm audio plug/ 3.5mm microphone plug
- Multi-pivot design with swivel ear cups
- Adjustable padded headband
- Oversized ear cups
- High-sensitivity mic with flexible boom
All information courtesy of Turtle Beach @ http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/pc-gaming-headsets/ear-force-z2.aspx
To test the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z2 I’m going to be primarily gaming, but throw in a little bit of music for pure sound quality testing.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD USB3
- Memory: Mushkin Blackline 996782 PC3 12800 2x2GB
- Video Card: Palit Geforce GTX 260
- Power Supply: OCZ 700W Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 750GB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD-RW SATA
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit
- Sound Card: Realtek Onboard
To test out the Z2's Gaming performance I started up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. As mentioned, setup was very easy, so I did not have to change anything from the in-game defaults. A quick in-game microphone test showed the microphone was picking up my voice fairly easily. Once I started playing, I noticed that the sound quality was pretty decent. Gunfire was very clear, and almost too intense. Explosions weren’t ultra-deep like I am used to with my speakers, but were very clear nonetheless.
Next, I put on various types of music to test the pure audio quality; some classical pieces, some 70s rock and some electronic music.
I started with Camille Saint-Saëns’ 'Samson and Delila'. The sound quality was overall pretty decent, as the headset was only slightly lacking in the ultra-highs and lows, which took away from the bells and bass and timpani.
Moving onto the 70s rock, I threw on 'Us and Them' from Pink Floyd’s 'Dark Side of the Moon'. While I was playing this song I realized that these headphones are heavy in the high-mids making voices such as the background voices in this song (and voices and gunshots in games) almost too prominent. Overall though, they performed fairly well here.
Lastly was some electronic, and for that I put on 'Propane Nightmares' from Pendulum’s 'In Silico'. This song has a lot of bass but has a generally full spectrum of highs and mids also. This song more than anything, brought out the slight bass-weakness. This was nothing major, but definitely noticeable if you are looking for it. The highs and mids came through quite clear, though.
I tested out the microphone with in-game audio in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and then with Skype. With the aid of a friend online I was able to confirm that my voice was fairly clear in comparison to others. During Skype no one had any complaints with my vocal quality. Lastly, I recorded myself using Windows Sound Recorder and I could happily say that Ear Force Z2 microphone is very clear.
During all of the testing these headphones remained reasonably comfortable. They are light-weight and well-padded and that definitely contributed to the comfort. The only comfort issue I had was with the fabric used on the ear-pieces; I found it to feel slightly rough after long gaming sessions.
After just under a week of use, I can honestly say that the Ear Force Z2 is one of the more solid stereo gaming headsets I’ve ever used. Physically, they do not feel cheap, and I am sure these could survive the heavy beating of LAN parties and everyday use. The audio quality was definitely above par, as gaming audio sounded great and when I switched over to music I was not too disappointed. The headphones were a little high-to-mid heavy and bass-weak in games and music, but some quick Windows equalizer work fixes that. According to other people and in my own tests, the microphone proved to be more than adequate, being described as “very clear” by my friends on Skype. Lastly, comfort was not a major issue with these headphones, as they were overall very comfortable, but the rough ear-piece fabric kept them from being perfect.
The Ear Force Z2 has definitely found a place in my online gaming setup, thanks to decent audio quality, good comfort and solid build quality, making this an easy recommendation to any gamer.
- Good build quality
- Good sound quality
- Solid appearance
- Fairly comfortable
- In-line controls are easy to use
- Ear-piece fabric is a little too rough
- Slightly lacking in bass
- Slightly strong in high-mid tones