Turtle Beach Tactical Audio Controller

Posted on  by admin
Turtle Beach's Elite Pro hardware is the company's ultimate setup for eSports, combining a high-end headset with an external 7.1 soundcard/controller for fine-tuning everything and greatly expanding its connectivity. At $200 MSRP the Elite Pro are the company's most expensive wired headphones, and you can add another $150 for the external soundcard (both can currently be purchased as a bundle - (See it on Amazon) / (See it on Amazon UK).It gets even more expensive if you want cross-platform compatibility, so if you've got an Xbox you can toss another $50 into the pot for the optional Xbox One Elite Pro adapter or an additional $20 for the PlayStation 4 adapter, as well as the option to swap the included microphone with the $20 Tournament Noise-Cancelling mic. Once the smoke has cleared you're talking about quite an investment, and while it may seem crazy to drop this kind of cash for headphones and a soundcard—especially with so many quality headphones in the sub-$200 range—after using them together it's easy to see why gamers with deep pockets would want to splurge on them.

Design and Features

Right out of the box I could tell the Elite Pro Tournament Headset is a premium product just by sight. The frame is made with black metal and plastic, there's soft leather around the earcups, and the orange accents are tasteful and show attention to detail along with the desire to make the headphones attractive without going overboard. With the microphone detached, the Elite Pro looks less like a gaming headset and more like stylish music studio headphones.Their premium design isn't just skin deep either, as Turtle Beach includes a raft of features designed to make them comfortable too. The company calls it the "ComforTec Fit System," and it involves a fairly elaborate design for the frame, headband, and earcups. First, there are a pair of sliders across the top of the headband that attach to metal supports that let you adjust lateral tension so you can use to tighten or loosen the headset's grip on your ears, which is pretty unique. In addition to adjusting the clamping force there's also a flexible band underneath the headband to keep them snug on your head.

More Expert Tech Roundups

The earcups are made of foam that's infused with cooling gel, and covered in spandex with leather sidewalls to prevent sound from leaking. They are over-ear headphones, and since they cover the entire ear Turtle Beach has even added a "feature" you can deploy that creates a small indentation in the padding to make room for glasses. You just have to flip a tab and a groove appears for your specs, helping you avoid the obnoxious feeling of your glasses being pressed against your temples during gaming sessions. I don't wear glasses but tested it with a pair of sunglasses and it does indeed work as designed. I felt no pressure on my temples, and was able to adjust my glasses quite easily. Inside the earcups are the Turtle Beach's 50mm "Nanoclear" drivers.
For the earcups the left one features the Elite Pro's removable microphone and its lightweight, bendable arm, while the right one is bereft of controls or doodads. The bottom of the left cup includes a cable that connects to a 1.3-meter cord that includes a small inline control pod used for muting the microphone and adjusting the headset volume. At the end of the Elite Pro's cable is a 3.5mm connector, and since it used an industry standard connector you can plug the headset into just about anything (as opposed to a USB headset, which is limited to just a PC typically). However, to get the most out of the headphones (as well as 7.1 surround sound) you'll need to plug them into Turtle Beach's optional $150 TAC box.

The Tactical Audio Controller (TAC)

The TAC is essentially a USB soundcard that delivers DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound in addition to audio presets, expanded connectivity, and a smorgasbord of audio and mic adjustments. Most importantly however, it allows for PC chat as the headset by itself does not, and requires a $10 splitter cable, which is ridiculously not included with a $200 headset. The front of this small box lets you connect the headset as well as the optional noise-cancelling microphone accessory. There's also one more 3.5mm port for connecting newer Xbox One controllers for mic support (older models can utilize the previously mentioned Elite Pro TAC adapter for compatibility).
The back of the TAC is loaded with ports. There's a miniUSB connector for power along with a connection to a PC or PlayStation 4, as well as optical input and output jacks, a 3.5mm Stream Out jack for broadcasting gameplay and chat audio, and a microUSB port that lets the box talk to Turtle Beach's software (more on that below). Also crammed on the back is a small slider to designate what type of device is connected to the TAC as well as two Ethernet ports that let you daisy-chain other TACs directly at a LAN party for lag-free local chat.
With all the aforementioned ports on the Tactical Audio Controller, at least Turtle Beach supplies some cables. Included in the box are a miniUSB to USB, Digital Optical, 3.5mm, and microUSB to USB, covering most situations for which the TAC was built.
On the top of the TAC are sliders to adjust the game and chat audio balance, the amount of background noise, mic output volume, and mic monitor volume. Beneath the sliders is a large knob to control the master volume that can be pressed to mute the headphones completely, and a small mic mute button can be found in the bottom left corner. Above the sliders are a pair of buttons to toggle between four different DTS Surround Sound modes (game, movie, music, surround off) and there are four presets for each surround mode, resulting in 16 built-in audio profiles total. They range from Turtle Beach's Signature Sound and Superhuman Hearing modes to various movie and music settings. None of them are adjustable or configurable.
As if that wasn't enough options, Turtle Beach also has a software package named Ear Force Audio Hub that can be installed to give you access to a wide range of additional Equalizer settings and game-specific profiles to the headset. While it's nice to have so many options for a variety of listening situations, the overabundance of choices was frankly overwhelming. When jumping between movies, games, and various genres of music, I constantly had to refer to the TAC's manual to find the correct Surround Sound and preset combination. It's definitely an aspect where less could have been more. Fortunately, once tuned to the right settings, the Elite Pro performed consistently well.


With Game mode and 7.1 surround sound enabled, the Signature Sound and Shooter presets bring up both the bass and treble, amplifying the sound of doomed mechs and futuristic weaponry in Titanfall 2. The DTS Surround Sound was able to accurately keep track of pilots dashing across the battlefield and Titans duking it out in the distance. Footstep Focus and Superhuman Hearing, the remaining two Game mode presets, add emphasis to softer sounds like footsteps while ensuring that they aren't drowned out by punchy explosions. I found myself gravitating towards the profiles with more bass as they seemed to better fit the visual experience of games like Battlefield 1 with its noisy tanks and planes as well as the high revving engines of Forza Motorsport 3.
When listening to hip hop or rock, the Bass and Treble Booster preset with Surround Sound off made music fill the earcups with the sound of hard kick drums and clear vocals, while melodic jazz benefited from the more balanced Natural Sound setting. Bassnectar's 'Don't Hate the 808' was thunderously loud when paired with the Music mode's Dance preset. The Movie mode's Action preset did an excellent job balancing X-Wings, blasters, and character dialogue during the Battle on Takodana in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In each of the aforementioned settings, however, I would have preferred more rumbling bass like that of Sennheiser's PC 373D headphones.

More Comprehensive Headset Reviews

Since the Elite Pro utilizes a closed-back design, sound is very effectively kept in and out of the earcups. Sound was able to leak out at higher volumes, but because of the closed setup, music and movies can still be heard clearly at moderate levels since outside noises are kept away from your ears. Also, if used without the Tactical Audio Controller, the Elite Pro headset delivers a nicely balanced EQ that was versatile enough to use with a number of games and music genres, supplying just enough bass and treble without overpowering vocals or in-game chatter.
Listening to the Elite Pro's headset is a mostly positive experience, but wearing them isn't quite as satisfying. The headset is a bit on the heavy side, especially when compared to something like the Sennheiser 373D. The heft never caused any real issues, I was just always aware that I was wearing a large set of headphones. Additionally, I was unable to feel any noticeable difference when adjusting the "ComforTec Fit System" sliders across the headband meant to loosen its grip, which could have potentially offset the headset's feeling of weightiness. The gel-infused foam earcups, on the other hand, were comfortable to have around my ears even after hours of use. The cups are large enough that I wasn't able to feel them against my earlobes and, while they're not as breathable as an open-backed setup, the spandex fabric made sure it never got too hot after extended time with the Elite Pro.
As far as the uni-directional microphone goes, I found it to be lackluster despite being designed for eSports. To my ears it sounds similar to most headsets in that it's lacking bass and treble, and the overall quality of the audio transmitted simply felt run-of-the-mill. It certainly didn't sound like a microphone that should be included with a $200 headset designed for competitive gamers. At least there's no need to worry about the detachable mic accidentally disconnecting from the headset—it is connected so tightly and securely that it took both hands to remove and reattach it in testing.

Purchasing Guide

The Turtle Beach Elite Pro headset and Tactical Audio Controller Bundle usually sells for around $350, but it's available under $300 for the first time, as of current publish time: