The PS4 has almost removed the point of platform-dedicated headsets thanks to the fact that you can route the entire system audio through the versatile headphone jack in the DualShock 4. It means you can pretty much use whatever you have handy so long as the headset in question you have has a dual-function 3.5mm jack. But if you're a serious gamer, you want comfort and performance and something that, and I'm guilty of this, looks badass.
Dr Dre understands. The day he makes a Beats headset fully compatible with PC and consoles (no, I'm not counting the Solo) will be the day that folks like Turtle Beach soil themselves.
Thankfully for them, that day is yet to come.
Turtle Beach like their branded stuff, it does pretty well for them, and a Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare headset was inevitable. Enter the appropriately hilariously-titled Sentinel Task Force headset. Wireless on Xbox One but, annoyingly, not on PS4, the STF arrives packing a removable microphone with variable monitoring and muting controls, adjustable Bass Boost, volume and mic controls on the detachable extender cable, and a dual-function 3.5mm on an undetachable cable linked to the headset itself.
The cups themselves are comfortable enough. I have a large head, helped expansively by the inches of fuzzy hair that get squished down by headsets like this, but the STF is a lovely fit -- snug without feeling crushing. The synthetic leather on the cups is firm enough to hold shape, but not as rigid as the sort of padding you'd find on the Tritton Kunai, for example. It must be said, however, that the cushioning doesn't exactly rival the luxurious pillowy softness of Razer's wares. If my ears could dream, their dreams would be filled with the Blackshark rather than this.
While we're on the subject of aesthetics, I have to talk about the look of the STF. Turtle Beach aren't going to win any points for styling, and although the branded COD plates are removable and replaceable, it doesn't really help the rather bland look of the headset. If I drop upwards of £50 on a headset these days, I'm expecting to use it for general music use as well. Stylistics are important, but the STF feels like a blunt instrument in this regard -- designed for aural impact and little else. It doesn't quite feel like a premium product either, the exterior feels cheap and plasticky, especially the band itself, although it does feel pretty sturdy.
There's nothing flashy to be had here, that much is clear. We're here to do a job, soldier.
Thankfully, it makes its mark on the audio front due to the impressive full-range 50mm speakers in each cup. I love the bass on this thing. The sound quality is good all-around, but the STF is at its best when actively trying to sync up your heart rate with whatever rock you have being pumped into the headset. You can vary things, of course, but the balance is perfectly equalised for an explosive rollercoaster like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. This was a headset built for explosions, and the bass boost ratchets up the low-end stuff nicely while maintaining clarity. Much of that has to do with the snug fit of the cups. What the headset sacrifices in comfort relative to some of its more expensive peers, and again this is not to say that the STF is in any way uncomfortable, it makes up for in sound retention, creating a synthetic leather-bound aural bubble that's clear, vibrant, and brutally powerful when it wants to be.
It's not exactly exceptional stuff, mind, and that might be a bit of a kicker when considering that the STF will set you back £79.99 (£78.74 on Amazon at the time of writing). On the PS4, considering you don't get a wireless unit or 7.1 surround sound, that's a bit steep.
I found that the volume was a little inconsistent using the headset with its full cable and in-line control remote, and I have to admit that, for the most part, I found myself unplugging it from the console unit, and simply running the sound through the DualShock 4 controller jack. The wires are annoying, it must be said, and the Xbox One unit is clearly the better choice in terms of convenience. It wouldn't be so bad if the 3.5 jacked cable to the set itself was detachable, but it isn't.
What we have here is a great mid-range headset priced £10-20 higher because of the game associated with it. The sound is solid, especially that bass, which is like strapping a subwoofer to your head, and it's perfectly tailored to Call of Duty's aural highlights. It's a comfy fit, solid if unspectacular. But it's a relative disappointment on PS4 compared to its Xbox counterpart, and its price puts it in the price range of surround setups like the Kraken Chroma. The other thing is that Turtle Beach do a comparable headset with 50mm speakers for significantly less in the PX22. If you're really serious about your sound, however, I'd go a little over budget and grab the Stealth P500 over this.
Still... that bass...
- Nice bass, solid audio
- In-line amp with plenty of variables
- Crisp, clear mic
- Snug, relatively comfy fit on my larger head
- Easy to set up
- Pretty pricey for a headset that doesn't offer wireless on PS4 or surround sound
- Slight disparity in quality between jack and USB
- Fairly hideous to look at
The Short Version: A solid, if unspectacular, headset perfectly tailored to Call of Duty's strengths, the STF is a good fit for bass hounds and its wireless features on Xbox One are pretty nifty. Seems like you're rather paying for the branding, mind.