When people ask me about gaming headphones, I respond with the exasperated sigh and bitter look of Marcus Fenix. The atrocities I've heard under the banner of capital-G Gaming have almost completely put me off from the category. However, 2017 is doing a lot to draw me back. First there was Logitech's excellent wireless G533 in January, and shortly thereafter I got ahold of — deep breath — the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Gaming Headset. The promises surrounding this $170 pair of gaming cans were as bombastic as those for any other piece of gaming gear, but I'd heard good things about Turtle Beach before, so I decided to give them a chance. I'm very glad I did.
I'll spare you the excessive marketing talk and just sum up why I think these are a standout pair of headphones for their category.
First up is comfort: I've worn the Elite Pros for entire days of grinding through games like Diablo and Mass Effect: Andromeda, and they haven't troubled me once. No soreness around the ears, no pressure point developing at the top of my head, just a very solid and comfortable fit. The headband is adjustable and has just the right clamping pressure to ensure the headphones stay securely on my head. The pads are large and thick, providing enough depth for my ears to sit inside them without touching anything. I can't guarantee that everyone will find quite such a perfect fit, but I've handed this pair of headphones to friends and received similar feedback. The design of the Elite Pros is just very well judged and balanced. Turtle Beach has even built in a system to accommodate the frames of glasses, for those who wear them, without spoiling the fit or sound of the headphones.
Sound is the other exceptional thing about the Turtle Beach Elite Pro. I'm quite content listening to music with these headphones, which is an impressive feat when you consider I spend most of my time plugged in to audio equipment that costs (and weighs, in the case of the Audeze LCD-X) multiple times their price. The Elite Pros provide a clean and coherent reproduction of music, games, and movies. It's hard to find gaming headphones with such an untarnished, faithful presentation. You still get a nice bass boost, but again, it's clean and precise, not the loose and boomy noise that you'd get from other purveyors of gaming gear.
I freely admit to not using Turtle Beach's bundled microphone. I'm sure that's an important element to other gamers, however I have a Blue Yeti at home, and I know of a bunch of options, such as the ModMic, for getting better audio out if it matters to you. To me, the mic is not a reason to buy (or not buy) a pair of headphones, gaming or otherwise. The two major keys to headphone success are comfort and sound, and Turtle Beach's Elite Pro headset is a winner on both fronts. Yes, I would recommend it to professional gamers, and hell yes, it counts as elite in the still poor category of gaming headphones.
Could improvements be made? Sure. The plastic ear cups could be fashioned out of a more durable material, and the design could perhaps be made collapsible so the Elite Pros don't occupy an elite amount of space. In truth, my biggest headache with them has been how and where to store them, which would also be helped by Turtle Beach providing a nice storage case. But those are minor quibbles. I'm just here to tell you that if gaming headphones are the thing you're after, my top pick is the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Gaming Headset, and I don't care how daft that sounds.