Initially released to market just after the thawing of the last ice age, the Recon line from within the range of Turtle Beach headsets has offered reliable gaming audio through the ages at a price point that’s kept them attractive to the mainstream, even being some of the best gaming headset contenders. And no, this isn’t the 500th model revision. It is pretty momentous though.
You see, the Recon 500 introduces a new driver, and thus a totally new tonal character. It’s a combination of specs that would ordinarily send a whole clown’s sleeve worth of red flags to the headset expert: massive drivers, dedicated woofers and tweeters within one earcup, befuddling trademarked terms like Eclipse and AccuTune... and yet against all odds, these headphones sound absolutely wonderful.
Design & Features
Pointed squarely at the $100/£100 and under market, the design and finish of these Recon 500s aren’t that of pricier Astro headsets or EPOS/Sennheiser gaming headsets - nor Turtle Beach’s own range-topping Elite cans. There’s a lot of uniform matte finish plastic throughout, and it’s of the same lightweight feel you’ll get a lot of at the sub-$100 end of the market.
There’s little to distinguish the 500 visually from other Recon models or the rest of the market; this is the very epitome of playing it safe, and while that precludes it from high praise for its overall aesthetic, it also means an inoffensive style that’s blessed by an absence of garish ‘gamer’ flourishes.
Controls on this wired model are minimal: a large mic mute switch on the lefthand earcup and a volume dial at the lower-rear of the same lefthand cup (let this henceforth be known as the Arctis configuration). The flexible rubber finish mic arm is detachable, and stays in a handy position when you place it.
Onto the main course: these drivers sound fantastic for the price. And that’s especially surprising considering they’re built to a massive 60mm spec. Many readers will remember the 50mm driver fad several years ago, and the hopelessly muddy bass response we were treated to as a result. But times change, and these 60mm Eclipse drivers are tight and precise.
Dedicated woofers and tweeters in each cup, too, sounds worryingly close to an ill-fated dalliance with true 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound which gaming headset manufacturers brought to market in the twenty-teens. But again the Recon 500 deftly sidesteps those prior pitfalls. Maybe it’s the AccuTune wood composite-injection technology, a similar technique to that employed by studio monitor manufacturers like Dali. Truthfully, this reviewer has no idea why it works, just that it does.
Overall - should you buy it?
Let’s underline the caveat here: this is a very impressive sounding headset for the money. We haven’t found an Astro A50-beater at a fraction of the cost, but what Turtle Beach has delivered is a reimagined Recon whose sound is powerful enough to sell the bombast of battle royales, yet flat enough to render the little details of Spotify old guard. And at max volume, there’s not a whiff of distortion, which speaks for the quality of these new drivers.
Combine that quality with it being a wired model, and this can, naturally, turn its hand to everything, thus becoming a top contender for your next PC headset for gaming, PS4 headset, Xbox One headset, or an underrated contender for best PS5 headset or best Xbox Series X headset.
Replete with fancy features this is not, but the sheer sound quality of Turtle Beach’s remixed Recon elevates it above the vast majority of budget headsets.