Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 320 Review

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You have to respect a company that provides unparalleled quality across all price ranges. Turtle Beach understands that many gamers can’t afford the majestic Elite 800 or even the Ear Force Z60. Their latest Ear Force Recon 320 is a steal at only only $79.95, and delivers audio performance that rivals headsets two or three times its price. With an explosive bass, crystal clear audio across all frequency ranges, impressive 7.1 channel surround sound and remarkable comfort, the Recon 320 may be the most luxurious mid-range gaming headphones of 2014. 

Gamer-centric peripherals have gone from being atrociously designed to sporting streamlined construction. No more clunkiness with too many extraneous pieces. The Ear Force Recon 320 is a testament to Turtle Beach’s creative industry leadership. The 320’s artful conception can easily be mistaken for a pricey high-end model. Their modest size makes them perfect for on-the-road usage or tournament gaming. Both the volume control and mic mute controls are accessible via the headset cable, making it easy to regulate audio without taking the headset off.

Comfort is imperative when gaming over longer periods, and the 320’s don’t disappoint. The lightweight noise-cancelling ear cushions fit snugly without generating any heat, and the adjustable padded headband and flexible mic boom ensure optimal fit, regardless of head size and shape. Its detachable mic works surprisingly well, even rivaling the Z60. The overall build is sturdy and firm, although the shiny surface plates on the ear cups are a fingerprint magnet. Luckily, they can be replaced with personalized designs available on Turtle Beach’s site.  


"The Ear Force Recon 320 may be the most luxurious mid-range gaming headphones of 2014."

The Recon 320 is specifically designed for PCs and mobile devices, although it worked on our Playstation 4 console during testing. The set is immediately detectable, although the volume remains relatively low even at max settings when playing on PS4. This makes me wonder if a future patch could potentially offer full console compatibility?  
   
In order to get full Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound, users must download the free software via Turtle Beach’s product page. This means true surround sound is only available when using the Recon 320 via PC. But that’s not a real criticism, since 7.1 channels aren’t needed when using the headphones with mobile devices. Even without the surround sound, the audio is remarkable. Music sounds crisp and clear with deep, thunderous bass equaling the superb Ear Force Z60. The quality of dialogue and singing voices is particularly noteworthy. When reviewing the Ear Force Z60 a few weeks ago, it suffered from odd metallic echoing when characters spoke in games or movies or during live singing performances. The issue seems to have been resolved. The Recon 320 boasts natural voices unmarred by muffling or distortion. 


"It’s easy to pinpoint audio cues during multiplayer sessions, giving gamers unprecedented edge when competing."

Surround sound technology in headphones has come a long way and many of today’s high-end models can achieve stunning channel accuracy. The 7.1 surround sound is where the Recon 320 truly shines. Despite being significantly cheaper than most upscale headsets, the 320 packs a serious punch. HoudsAVProduction’s Digital 3D 7.1 Surround Sound Test is a great way to quickly demo what the headset has to offer. Recon 320’s powerful 50MM speakers provide rich low-frequency and high-frequency tones whether you’re surrounded by explosions in Call of Duty or listening for quiet footsteps in Splinter Cell. It’s easy to pinpoint audio cues during multiplayer sessions, giving gamers unprecedented edge when competing. Games like Sniper Elite III resonate with wide tonal ranges that thoroughly test the Recon 320’s capabilities. Hearing whizzing bullets cut through the air, followed by the shrill pitch of bursting bones in slow-motion as deep explosions envelop the war torn landscape is difficult to put into words. 


"The Turtle Beach Recon 320 is a small, affordable, comfortable and absurdly powerful gaming peripheral that blows its competition out of the water."

While advertised as a gaming headset, the 320 works just as wonderfully in movies and music. While it lacks advanced equalizer settings, the channels are professionally calibrated to deliver balanced performance across all media. Whether you’re listening to drum and bass or live acoustic shows, the 320 handles all dynamic ranges with tremendous precision.

This may be the most surprising headset of the year. The Turtle Beach Recon 320 is a small, affordable, comfortable and absurdly powerful gaming peripheral that blows its competition out of the water. Gamers unwilling to drain their wallets for high-end audio performance will be happy to know that the 320 is one of the finest mid-range headsets Turtle Beach has released so far. While its lack of console compatibility is unfortunate, PC and mobile users will relish in its unbeatable efficiency. At only eighty bucks, there’s no better option.     

Review by: Tin Salamunic

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