Trying to choose the right gaming headphones is like shopping for proper running sneakers. The options seem endless, but finding the right pair can make all the difference. At a fairly priced $119.95, the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60 deliver superb audio performance, unprecedented comfort, durability and an explosive bass. The simplistic plug-and-play approach makes the Z60 easy to use across various platforms without needing downloadable software. Being able to enjoy FPS titles like Battlefield or Call of Duty in glorious 7.1 surround sound is incomparably immersive and can significantly impact one’s gameplay strategy. The Z60’s quality and value easily outclass other options in the same price range and their thunderous bass is something that has to be experienced firsthand.
"The Z60’s quality and value easily outclass other options in the same price range and their thunderous bass is something that has to be experienced firsthand."
The Ear Force Z60 are ready for use right out of the box. The Z60 switch between PC, Mac and console platforms without a hiccup, as long as they’re set as the default device and 7.1 is enabled via control panel (PC). Unlike SteelSeries’ Siberia line, there’s no need for additional software since all features and drivers are included within the powerful surround sound control unit. This makes controlling the volume and switching between different surround sound modes externally a breeze. However, the lack of a customizable equalizer means users are stuck with only three factory presets and a flat EQ. Fortunately, each mode is professionally calibrated and suits corresponding media extremely well. The gaming mode intricately balances fine details and heavy explosions while both the movie and music modes emphasize dialogue and singing clarity without distorting instrumental quality.
The roaring 60mm speakers are fantastic. The riveting deep bass makes first person shooters and racing games come to life and the 7.1 surround sound emulates dimensionality nearly flawlessly. Music and movies are equally impressive, although voices tend to have a slightly hollow, or rather metallic, quality to them. Regardless of the setting, there’s very subtle echoing when listening to characters conversing or singers performing. It’s not a major issue by any means, especially in films or cartoons where there’s always a lot of environmental noise, but it can be off-putting when listening to acapella. Then again, that’s not exactly what the Z60 is designed for. When it comes to metal, hip-hop and electronica, the Z60 is outstanding.
"The riveting deep bass makes first person shooters and racing games come to life and the 7.1 surround sound emulates dimensionality nearly flawlessly."
To fully test the Z60’s 7.1 channel accuracy, we used QSound Labs’ Virtual Barber Shop. It’s a five minute sound clip designed to showcase the ears’ ability in tracing sound to location, and it benefits from using proper surround channels for best results. The Turtle Beach Ear Force Z60 performed exceptionally well, although it couldn’t quite match the auditory efficiency of SteelSeries’ Siberia V3 Prism. Nearby sounds were crisp and clear with a distinct richness in detail that wonderfully demonstrated the Z60’s surround sound capabilities, but it’s the small distant sounds that muffled in comparison. Fortunately, the same issues don’t translate to gaming. The DTX Headphone:X surround sound technology delivers precise and realistic amplitude without sacrificing minuscule tones. When running around during frantic multiplayer matches, it’s easy to hear where enemy gunfire and approaching footsteps are coming from.
The Ear Force Z60 comes with a high-quality detachable microphone that performs surprisingly well. While not as crystal-clear as the Elite Prism mic, it’s perfect for chatting with fellow gamers and talking via Skype. The Z60 control unit also comes with a Dynamic Chat Boost, which is handy when in-game sounds become too overpowering. Voice reproduction is clear and the mic does a great job of cutting out background noise like keyboard strokes and mouse clicks.
"The DTX Headphone:X surround sound technology delivers precise and realistic amplitude without sacrificing minuscule tones."
When it comes to gaming headphones, durability and comfort are just as important as the audio quality and the Z60 is built to last. The headband is rock solid and the breathable mesh ear cushions provide coziness during long gaming sessions. The over-the-ear design isolates external noise without generating any heat and the headphones are so light, it’s easy to forget they’re even there. Furthermore, the cable is nice and long, which is a godsend for gamers who have their couch further away from the entertainment center.
The Ear Force Z60 gaming headphones boast remarkable audio and unrivaled bass performance. The 7.1 surround sound makes games, music and movies unbelievably immersive and the external sound control unit allows effortless switching between different equalizer modes. While vocals tend to suffer from light hollowness when listening to certain music genres, the Z60 pack a real punch when playing video games...and that’s what they are ultimately designer for.
Review by: Tin Salamunic