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Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Review & Rating

Turtle Beach’s Atlas line of gaming headsets is designed for PC gaming enthusiasts, and the Elite Atlas sits at the top of the heap. This $99.99 wired gaming headset looks and feels a lot like the company’s pricey Elite Pro Tournament Headset (one of our favorites), but for half the price. As part of the Atlas line it features drivers that emphasize higher frequencies over bass, shunning typical gaming headset audio balance for a more tactically beneficial sound. The result is an excellent headset for gaming, though the heavily sculpted sound means it isn’t as good for to music as its more expensive sibling.

Luxurious and Comfortable

The Elite Atlas looks and feels a lot like the Elite Pro Tournament Headset. The dark orange accents are gone in favor of gunmetal ones for a darker, more neutral color scheme, but the headset has the same classy memory foam earpads covered in faux leather, with a glasses-friendly strip of softer foam at the temples. It also has the same suspension design that combines a solid metal headband with a padded, springy band mounted under it to hold the metal above your scalp, and the same 50mm drivers.

The boom mic is different, with a rubber cover over part of the flexible metal arm and a trapezoid-shaped capsule covered with a much smaller filter. The mic is also removable, snapping into a 2.5mm port just in front of the 3.5mm port used for the included cable.

The headset comes with a relatively short 40-inch cable that terminates in a four-pole 3.5mm plug for mobile devices and handheld game systems like the Nintendo Switch, and a 75-inch extender cable that terminates in two three-pole 3.5mm plugs for connecting to the headphone and microphone jacks on a computer. The shorter cable has an inline remote with a mechanical volume dial and a sliding mic mute switch, and always plugs into the headset first. The extender then connects to it if you need to run it into a desktop computer or any other system with two separate ports. The first cable is just long enough to use comfortably if you plug it into a notebook with a headset port (like the Razer Blade Pro), but you won’t get a ton of slack if you try to lean or roll back from your desk.

Turtle Beach Elite AtlasThe microphone on the Elite Atlas sounds excellent once you position the flexible boom properly. The small wind filter makes the mic a bit susceptible to sibilance, but when you find a sweet spot your voice will come through clearly. It lacks the slight fuzziness of the Atlas One, and sounds clear enough for podcasts if you don’t have a dedicated microphone (which we recommend doing, and have a helpful guide for finding the right one).

Tuned for Gaming

As a stereo headset, the Elite Atlas doesn’t have any built-in simulated surround sound. However, it can work with Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos for Headphones, and any other software-based simulated surround system available on PCs and game consoles. Regardless of the technology, simulated surround sound on headphones can only provide effective lateral imaging, mixing the left and right channels to give a sense of how far or close audio sources are between your center and sides. They can’t accurately indicate if something is in front of or behind you.

The ethereal, synth-heavy, atmospheric audio of No Man’s Sky sounds full through the Elite Atlas. A pronounced high-frequency response gives the sound of mining lasers and thrusters a particularly strong edge that makes them stand out against the rumbles and wooshes of space and atmospheric flight. Engine sounds on freighters and space stations don’t have much low-end presence to turn the white noise into a calming, almost ocean-like sound, but that’s a small matter of taste compared with the ability to pick out beeping and chattering around you.

Fortnite sounds detailed and punchy on the Elite Atlas, thanks to the high-mid and high frequency sculpting. Bass is emphasized more than sub-bass, so gunshots boom without sounding thunderous, and the different sounds of footsteps and reloading come through cleanly, making it easy to pick out when opponents are nearby.

Overwatch’s dense, bass-heavy soundtrack is served very well by the headset. The swooping, epic rumble of the orchestral score comes through, but the sculpted high-mids and highs really bring out the punch and texture of the game’s sound effects on top of it. Lucio’s bass-heavy blasts stand out without completely overwhelming the surrounding action, letting every nearby character’s weapon sounds and voice clips be clearly heard and located. Different weapons, like Bastion’s guns and Junkrat’s bombs, all get plenty of edge to make identifying them in a fight easy.

Not Quite as Tuned for Music

The Elite Atlas has a very sculpted sound, providing generous bass with tuned higher frequencies to satisfy the tactical needs of PC gamers. The higher frequencies include sound effects that can give away nearby threats and help bring out voice chat more clearly, so they’re useful in games. This translates into a decent but very sculpted sound when listening to music.

Turtle Beach Elite AtlasOur bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” shows the Elite Atlas’ range in both the lows and highs. It doesn’t distort at maximum (and unsafe) volume levels, and the bass synth and kick drum hits sound very powerful but don’t quite reach into the low-end enough to be really head-rattling. More interestingly, the shaker that backs the track comes through more clearly and prominently than any other headset and most non-gaming headphones I’ve tested. It’s a demonstration of extremes, with less of a focus on sub-bass than most gaming headsets.

This sculpted sound is apparent in Yes’ “Roundabout” as well. The opening acoustic guitar plucks have lots of string texture, and when the electric bass kicks in, the acoustic strums and high-hat still get plenty of attention in the mix. The bass doesn’t sound weak or tinny, but the higher frequency instruments definitely get emphasized.

The Coup’s “The Magic Clap” sounds very good on the Elite Atlas, though the lack of sub-bass presence keeps the sculpted sound from really being faithful to the track. The clapping in the background is distinct and clear without taking too much attention from the rest of the mix, and Boots Riley’s voice keeps center stage with plenty of force and high-frequency edge. However, the drums sound a bit hollow without significant low-frequency resonance to make them really drive the track with rounded, rumbling force.

For the Gamers

The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas is a comfortable headset that sounds excellent for playing games thanks to some very aggressive audio engineering with the tactical needs of gamers in mind. It’s also half the price of the Elite Pro Tournament Headset while offering a nearly identical fit and feel. Its only weakness is that the extreme sculpting makes it less suitable for music and casual listening than the Elite Pro, thanks to the tweaked bass with less low-frequency presence. If you want a wired headset purely for gaming, with excellent audio for spotting sound effects and an excellent mic for voice chat, the Elite Atlas is one of the strongest picks you can find for $100.

For all-around sound performance, including listening to music, the Elite Pro is still a superior headset, and the much more expensive Beyerdynamic MMX 300 stands over both with its audiophile quality. If you want to spend a bit less, the Astro Gaming A10 offers excellent all-around performance, but not nearly as nice of a build quality, for just over half the price of the Elite Atlas.


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