The Z300 is one of Turtle Beach’s models aimed directly at PC gaming. It attempts to combine wireless technology, virtual surround sound, and the comfy padding of Turtle Beach headsets into one model for desktop gamers everywhere to adopt. It may appeal more to casual players than to eSports fans (TB has another line for those types of players), but don’t mistake this feature-loaded headset for anything but ambitious.
However, does the Z300 succeed in its PC-focused goals? Well, it certainly works at it, but one or two issues may give you pause: Read on to find out the details in our Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 Review.
Price: $200 on Amazon
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Comfortable ear cups, game-on-the-go options, and affordability.
What We Liked
- A new discounted price
- Compact design, especially considering the 50mm drivers
- The reliable Ear Force audio customization
What We Didn’t
- Surround sound compatibility issues
- Some awkwardly placed buttons
- Wireless range could be better
Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 Specs
|7.1 Surround Sound||Only available through Windows 8. Not available on Windows 10/Mac.|
When it comes to comfort, there’s no room to complain with the Z300, which has surprisingly small earcups for its driver size and sits with relative ease. One of Turtle Beach’s classic design strengths is the headband, and here that extra cushioning helps significantly with comfort. The ear cups are easy to adjust and during my review session they felt neither too tight nor too loose.
The mic design is also strong – as long as you are careful. This mic you can plug and unplug as needed, and it’s highly flexible, which means you’ll need to treat it with caution to avoid damage. Microphone monitoring is in place and works well enough. The mic is flexible enough that you will be able to find a receptive position that works for you: The tough part will be keeping it that way over time.
Turtle Beach has also outfitted this headset with an array of on-headset control buttons. Some work well, and others run into problems. The separate volume scrollers for sound and chat volume were appreciated, once I grew used to them. There are also several side buttons for controlling mic muting, sound compression, Bluetooth, and EQ audio modes. These were hit or miss – often literally, because I accidentally hit one of them almost every time I adjusted or removed the Z300. At least they are large enough to quickly find with your fingers, and hopefully the clumsiness fades over time.
The Ear Force Z300 is designed almost entirely for PC use, but it still manages to include versatile hardware. The USB dongle is used for wireless connectivity, but there’s also a cable line for plugging into your laptop or your mobile devices. You can take calls, stream music along with your games, and generally use these headphones for any computer-related activity. The consensus on range is that these headphones are good for around 20 feet, which I found to be an accurate estimation: Walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, for example, and sound is likely to cut out.
The speakers themselves are home to 50mm drivers with the expected neodymium magnets. The earcups and the headband are made with a fabric over foam cushioning model – it doesn’t give a lot of traction, but it does create a good fit and some very useful passive noise cancelling.
Note that the Z300 also comes with its own miniUSB recharge cord in addition to the 3.5mm cable and mic. Since all of these are fully detachable, you’ll want to make sure you don’t lose any of pieces!
Down to the big sound question: How does this Turtle Beach model perform? Sound quality is very good, although I didn’t find it quite as good as console headsets produced by Turtle Beach. Perhaps this is due to the wireless features, although I also didn’t noticed any latency issues during my time putting these headphones through their paces. The 50mm drivers ensure that deeper, stronger sounds have plenty of power, and distortion is minimal, even at higher volume levels.
However, here problems emerge with the Z300 – once an excellent gaming headset – failing to keep up with times, particularly when it comes to surround sound: The Z300 doesn’t come equipped with surround sound out the gate – you have to visit the Turtle Beach website and download the right driver software. That’s fine…but the Z300 software hasn’t kept up with operating systems, which means the Dolby Surround Sound driver that the gaming headset is meant to work with cannot work with Windows 10. This leaves pretty much all modern gamers stuck with stereo sound and makes a big feature of these headphones useless until Turtle Beach provides a modern OS patch for PC players.
Additionally, a note on playback: Several times, the sound on the Z300 cut out to one side of the headphones. This isn’t uncommon for wireless headphones, especially when setting up connections or downloading updates, and tweaking the on-screen volume solved the issue each time. It wouldn’t be worth mentioning, but this kept happening every two hours or so, turning a minor hitch into an ongoing annoyance that ultimately lessened the experience.
Turtle Beach supplies its Ear Force Audio Hub to create audio presets and tweak sound settings after you download the app from the site. Not only is this necessary to get all the updates to the headset, but it also gives you an excellent set of audio control options. Turtle Beach has been working on the Ear Force Hub for years now, and the result is an audio control app with a great interface, easy-to-understand headings, and the ability to change just about everything you want. If you already have an Ear Force headset, you probably know what to expect here (although interfaces do shift between models). Bottom line: Don’t worry about your customization abilities here, it’s everything you could want.
Officially, the Z300 rechargeable battery is supposed to last up to 15 hours. During my time with the headset I found that a little generous – the headset lasted about 10 hours before giving me the “low battery” voiceovers telling me to plug it in. The recharge cord is definitely on the short side, but most gamers have a USB port within a couple feet of their gaming chair, so that shouldn’t pose a challenge.
Turtle Beach Ear Force Z300 Review: Wrap Up
In my experience, the further Turtle Beach gets away from consoles the harder time it has competing with other top gaming headset products. Of course, this isn’t a given rule – the company has some very interesting iOS and Recon models that I haven’t tried yet, and they could reverse the trend. However, for now the PC models just don’t seem to have the same track record. Aside from the sound cutting out and the lack of usable surround sound, the Z300 is a solid pair of headphones…but they have trouble standing above the crowd without updated compatibility.
If you are a big Turtle Beach fan and don’t want to switch brands for your PC gaming, the Z300 is a fair recommendation…especially if a Windows 10 patch ever emerges. Otherwise, explore your alternatives.