Turtle Beach
Ear Force XP510

By Jorge Figueiredo - September 13th, 2013


It’s pretty obvious from the seemingly never-ending parade of reviews that there is plenty of choice when it comes to headphones and headsets. In the end, as users of technology, all we can do is make our choice based on the middle ground between what we want and what we need. as the offerings become more expensive, that middle line tends to disappear. Turtle Beach’s Ear Force XP510 headset is one such piece of tech. It is expensive, to be sure (maybe even slightly over-priced); however, what it presents to the user is definitely more than just the sum of its parts.

The XP510 is impeccably packaged; while one should not base their opinion of the contents based on the package (other than the item list, of course), one cannot help but notice that Turtle Beach wants you to know that this headset is serious fun. Contained within the packaging are: the headset, the base unit (RF Transmitter), an XBA Bluetooth adapter, product literature and a number of cables1. The XP510 is well-constructed; the bulk of the materials are plastic, but everything fits together nicely, giving the unit a solid feel. A padded, adjustable headband, and large, padded earcups allow the unit to fit nicely – and a cursory study of the unit’s range of adjustment shows that it has been made to fit on a melons of all shapes and sizes. The XP510 is a little on the heavy side, but thanks to the comfort level, you’ll barely notice the weight. I used this headset extensively, and even after an hour and a half of wearing them, I didn’t feel the need to remove or adjust them; the fit was always snug.

This headset has a little bit of a learning curve, as there are a total of ten buttons and knobs on the earcups that offer a number of ways to control your audio. That sounds intimidating (most headsets don’t have that many controls); but you can rest assured that it doesn’t take long to learn where everything is. Everything is within easy reach; buttons are large and the dials are grooved and provide good traction for your fingers. The boom microphone is detachable, and the can also swivel; so you can either detach it completely, or move it out of your way. All of these features just show that Turtle Beach really did a great job in the design of the physical interface. Why, even the RF Transmitter can be used as a stand to store your headset when not in use. Brilliant!

Cool tech. Practical stand. ULTRA COMBO!

The XP510 uses dual-band Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity to the base (which uses optical connectors to your console), offering a fairly powerful connection to the transmitter. In terms of sound quality, the XP510 is impressive in its range. There is a fairly good balance of sound all through the audio spectrum. Audio from practically every videogame that I tried out (as well as a few movies) sounded pretty fantastic through these cans. However, to be fair, the bass could be a little bit more powerful. Given how solid this headset feels (as well as its substantial weight), the lack of bass registers on a psychological level. It’s a shame to hear fantastic representation of sounds like gravel crunching beneath a spinning car tire, or a long-range rifle reloading – while at the same time suffering mild disappointment at the lack of power behind explosions and other low-end noises. It just takes a little bit away from total immersion.

Luckily, the XP510 makes up for this small deficit with audio profiles (both preset and custom), as well as a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound treatment. The audio profiles that come pre-loaded allow you to switch between the now-familiar triumvirate of gaming (which comes with several sub-profiles), music and movie modes. Turtle Beach has also given the user the option to create their own sound profiles; while not as accurate as my home theater set up, it does a decent enough job conveying the approximate position of audio sources in the sound field.

The XP510 also features built-in Bluetooth, giving you the ability to pair it with another device (like a smart phone, or a tablet) so that you can listen to your own music, watch movies, or enjoy good audio from your hand-held games. Like the Soundblaster Evo Zx, the XP510 can also be connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device as well as the RF Transmitter, providing you with your own personal soundtrack (or allowing you to answer phone calls) while you are using the headset for gaming. This is a feature that I never really thought about before trying out gaming headsets – now it’s a feature that I look for. Incidentally, my earlier bass-related disappointment is definitely kept at bay not only by the surround performance, but also by the clarity of audio using Bluetooth.

Incidentally, the Bluetooth chat on this headset is also impressive, thanks to the high-quality microphone. When listening to chat audio through this microphone, I noticed that my voice wasn’t flat (unlike other Bluetooth microphones, that make one sound like they are trapped in a cargo container). Voice quality was high – both easy to hear and understand, even when speaking quietly. On top of this type of reliability, there are some fun chat audio presets that can be utilized which make things a lot more interesting (seriously, you can sound like a robot).

Box contents.

In terms of range, I found that I could walk anywhere in the room without losing my connection to the base; however, once I left the room, and put a wall or two between myself and the RF Transmitter, sound would cut out or disappear completely. The range for the Bluetooth connections (with a few different devices) was about the same as the RF. This really didn’t affect my positive opinion about the XP510, though. Not many people leave their hand-held devices so far away from themselves; and there is no point in using a headset for playing games on your TV if you’re not even going to be in the room.

Turtle Beach has stated that the rechargeable battery in the XP510 provides up to 15 hours of continuous play. I did not put this claim to the test – at least not directly. I did notice, though, that after days of intermittent gaming, I didn’t have to recharge it once. That kind of battery life is impressive, especially considering all of the features that it is loaded with. It didn’t matter whether I was using it with my Playstation 3, or with my Xbox 360 (which is freed from the dreaded controller wire by a clever Bluetooth adapter) – it did the job, and it did it for days on end.

The Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510 is a fairly impressive piece of hardware. A great dynamic range of sound, solid wireless performance, customizable sound profiles and a long battery life make this headset a worthy purchase. The price is a little steep at almost $300, though. Realistically, I think this should be about $20 or $30 less, mostly due to the bass deficit and the unit’s inability to decode DTS (you have to turn this off on your PS3 for the XP510 to work with your games).

Click here to check out the Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510 unboxing gallery. ยป

1 – Mobile device cable, headset charging cable, digital optical cable, USB transmitter power cable and a USB data cable.

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