Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen2 MAX - One For All
Despite its Arctic Camo pattern, the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen2 MAX definitely stands out. Picking the unit up reveals a heft that belies their appearance, the softness of the ear cups and band padding juxtaposed against the rigid plastic making up the rest of the unit. It’s an attractive piece of tech from first blush with a more compact and refined shape than many competitors.
I’d been looking forward to replacing my previous Xbox headset, a now incredibly aged pair of once-white Monster Inspirations, the worn and peeling ear cups barely concealing the pair of AAA batteries needed for its dated noise cancelling to function. Even better, a lack of wireless capability necessitated a cord running to the Xbox controller to function. The arrival of the Stealth 600 Gen2 MAX’s was joyous; there are few small rituals I enjoy more than laying an old piece of tech to rest before unboxing its replacement. The ritual was of course cut somewhat short when the box revealed little more than a USB dongle and the headset itself. After plugging the dongle into my Xbox Series X and turning the headset on, I was good to go. Funnily enough, despite being marketed as a “Designed for Xbox” accessory with an official license from Microsoft, the Stealth 600 Gen2 MAX will work across PlayStation, PC and even a docked Switch.
The headset itself is fairly tight when first worn, something I’ve come to appreciate as headsets tend to become looser over time and a snug fit little more than a memory. The design allows the cups to pivot just a hair over 90 degrees, much more than other headsets I’ve reviewed like the GSP 370, which serves two functions; allowing a better fit depending on head/ear shape and also allowing the cups to lie flat against the upper chest, a far more comfortable position when laying or sitting if the headphones are around the neck but not in use or removed when a play session might be interrupted. The cups themselves favour a fabric exterior as opposed to the leatherette many of its contemporaries have gone for. I’ve found myself increasingly preferring fabric as more and more of my headsets require replacement cups due to the flaking associated with wear and tear on leatherette.
The microphone arm sits at the front of the left cup, a small extrusion allowing the hand to lower it by simply running down it. It’s flip to mute function is handy but not always possible to engage during intense gameplay moments. On the underside and running up the back of the left cup are the LED power indicator, USB-C charging port, Power button, Mode button, Mic volume wheel and headset volume wheel. The mode button sits slightly higher than the Power button, a smart move which means users are unlikely to accidentally turn the unit off when trying to change the audio mode, although it does take some use to avoid confusing the Mic and Headset volume wheels. Testing the unit across Xbox titles including Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and DJMAX Respect, both of which heavily rely on their audio for different reasons, I was very satisfied with the quality of sound and the balancing although didn’t find there to be a huge difference between the four sound modes on offer: Signature Sound, Bass Boost, Bass+Treble Boost, and Vocal Boost.
A few other features help to set the Gen2 MAX’s apart, namely Turtle Beach’s proprietary ‘Superhuman Hearing’ setting and an extensive battery life. Touted as in excess of 48 hours, thus far the unit seems to be exceeding even that impressive claim. Much improved battery lives in hardware refreshes are something that’s become an expected feature with newer headsets and one I applaud – charging controllers frequently is bad enough, and modern consoles aren’t exactly generous with their front facing USB ports. The ‘Superhuman Hearing’ setting will be a boon for competitive online players but won’t necessarily turn users into Pro eSports players overnight. Turtle Beach tout the feature to increase user play time by up to 20% and improve their K/D ratio by as much as 40% based on studies they have commissioned, but these numbers would have to be much higher to make me a worthy adversary.
The 600 Gen2 MAX is a fantastically versatile unit, but it does have one slight deficiency which might be a dealbreaker for some; it doesn’t feature a wired option of any kind, so players won’t be able to make do with a dead battery in a pinch. That said, anybody who pushes through 50+ hours of gameplay without managing to charge their headset alongside their controller lives dangerously in a way I could never bring myself to.
For anyone happy to move a USB dongle around frequently, the 600 Gen2 MAX will cover almost every platform you throw at it, which can mean considerable savings over a number of years. Their functionality and comfort only enhance this proposition. A launch retail price of $219AU is competitive in the upper-mid level of gaming headsets but might price some users out if they intend to only use the Gen2 MAX with a single platform, even the Xbox Series X for which it’s primarily designed. That said, as an enthusiast with a multitide of use cases, the Gen2 MAX is just what I’m looking for in a new headset and is sure to make it’s way to every platform I own.