It’s beginning to get somewhat difficult to review Turtle Beach headsets. It’s like if I were to review every Ferrari since the F40 launched in 1987; am I really going to say that one was terrible? Not likely.
That’s the issue I’m faced with as I sit here reviewing the PX51 and XP510. Turtle Beach has created a large selection of headsets with a wide range of price points. The problem is, they’re all good (at least the ones I’ve used)! The most recent unit I reviewed was the XP400, and I loved it. To my ear, the two sets I checked out this time were just as good.
So why should you buy a PX51 or XP510 over any other Turtle Beach headset, or any other headset out on the market? As of right now, my headset of choice for nearly everything is not a Turtle Beach headset. Is there really that big of a difference?
In short; yes, there is a HUGE difference, but it really comes down to what you’re looking for in a headset. If you’re an audiophile who can pick out the slightest variances in sound quality and anything less than the best is to be shoved to the trash, then these two products are for you. If sound quality is important to you but you don’t HAVE to have the best of the best, then it probably wouldn’t kill you to look into these headsets and maybe have one of them as something to save up for. For everyone else, I find it hard to come up with a reason to buy one of these other than to say “I have a Turtle Beach headset, brag, brag, brag.”
As it stands, both the PX51 and XP510 are jam packed with features, and the build quality of both is top notch. Honestly, I’ve come to expect nothing less from Turtle Beach. If you’re going to spring for something high end, these would be a great way to go. The two models are essentially the same thing form a spec standpoint, with only a handful of connectors to differentiate one from the other. Both are wireless headsets compatible with Xbox 360, PS3, handheld systems (with Bluetooth for those that are compatible), and mobile devices. Both come with a separate receiver that plugs into your console of choice, and both come with a bevy of preset profiles and ones that you can make yourself via the Advanced Sound Editor.
Both the PX51 and XP510, like the other TB headsets I’ve used in the past, come with a comfortable head frame which molds to your head shape, and ear cups made of a nice, cushiony, memory foam. For a headset this size, it’s surprisingly lightweight, though if you’re someone who wears glasses, the size of the ear cups could potentially conflict with the glasses frames. I ran into this issue, but it certainly is not a dealbreaker…just something I noticed. Overall, it’s a very comfortable fit.
One of the things I like about this headset is the ease in setup. There’s a ton of stuff in the box, but don’t worry; setup is a breeze. Once you hook up the receiver to your console of choice (via optical digital out cable and USB power cord), you’re ready to go. Simply flip your headset on, pair using the pairing button, and enjoy.
Pairing with the PS3 is slightly more work, as you have to go into the setting menu and set the audio to go through your headset as opposed to the default audio device (which is probably your TV or a set of speakers). Again, it’s not too incredibly time consuming, but it is a slight hiccup, especially if you aren’t going to be using the headset 100% of the time.
Performance-wise, the PX51 and XP510 both impress…but only with the console pairing. I also tried both of them with my phone, tablet, 3DS, and Vita, and with these handheld devices, the quality is lacking. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that it isn’t paired with the receiver and therefore you don’t get all the options to play around with, but the range of sounds when used with mobile devices is pretty poor. I tested out a variety of mobile, Vita, and 3DS games and also listened to some music, and with each I noticed that the sound quality was much worse than even my earbuds. It’s not the sound isn’t clear; it’s just that everything sound kind of muddled; there’s no distinction between high trebles and bass, and definitely no surround sound.
However, to be fair, it DOES say on the box that these headsets are for Xbox 360 and PS3, and when connected to either console, the results are supersonic (for lack of a better description). Perhaps it’s been so long since I have been able to listen to a movie or game at full volume. Perhaps even when I did, I never had my speakers set up incorrectly. Whatever the case may be, using both the PX51 and XP510 is nearly a sublime experience. Each headset has 360 degrees of Dolby Digital Surround Sound pumping out of a 50mm speaker in each ear cup. The angles of the virtual “speakers” can be adjusted so the sounds can come from whatever angle your heart desires. You can even download presets online to put onto the headset or even create your own by downloading the Advanced Sound Editor. The degree of freedom that you have in customizing your audio experience is awesome, and that’s what we all want, right? The ability to be able to tweak and tweak until we get something that we like.
There are a number of features for both headsets that are specific to games. The Sonic Lens + Sound Field Explorer is a feature that puts the focus on audio cues that might be a bit more difficult to hear, like enemy footsteps and other such peripheral sounds. These sounds effects stick out more under this feature, but I have to be honest with you, it’s not something that really noticed. It doesn’t make such a huge difference that I would miss it in the future. It’s nice to have I’m sure, but hell if I was able to pick it out individually.
There are also a few features that make in-game chat a bit more accessible. For chatting on the Xbox 360, I use the headset that came packaged with my 1st run launch unit way back in 2005. The ear foam has long fallen off and the mic boom is pretty disgusting as well. For my PS3, I use my phone’s Bluetooth earpiece. Neither one is ideal, but they get the job done. Using both the PX51 and the XP510 is like going from a Toyota Tercel to a Lamborghini Aventador. There’s no comparison. The headsets use a system called Dynamic ChatBoost, which will increase the chat volume as the action on the screen heats up and gets louder, then bumps it back down when the game quiets. It worked pretty well most of the time, though I noticed in some particularly firefight-heavy multiplayer matches, the voices just stayed loud the whole time. Perhaps I was doing something wrong on my end, but it wasn’t too bad. Both headsets also feature Sonic Silencers to eliminate background noise from the mic so your voice comes through clearer.
For someone who doesn’t really put too much of an emphasis on chatting, these things didn’t mean a lot to me…at least not on paper. It was the sort of thing where I looked at the fact sheet and thought to myself “Great. That’s nice.” But the actual experience of using these headsets and chatting in-game is such a superior experience to using the stock head pieces. All these “techy” sounding features translate to an incredibly clear, crisp chatting experience. To say that I didn’t notice all the features is the biggest compliment I can give Turtle Beach; it all just sounded great. I had no trouble hearing my friends, and not once did anything get lost in the background noise or any sort of interference. This is how online chat SHOULD be.
Both headsets have dual Bluetooth pairing for true wireless chatting. You can answer phone calls and stream music to your headset while gaming without missing a step; however, the Bluetooth function works a bit differently between the PS3 and 360. Since the PS3 is Bluetooth enabled, all you have to do is set up the feature under the Settings menu. With the 360, only the XP510 comes with a Bluetooth adapter that you plug into the bottom of the controller. The PX51 does not have the Xbox 360 bluetooth adapter, instead forcing you to plug in a cable going from the headset to the controller in order to enable chat. With both sets, however, you can connect via Bluetooth to your phone without any issues. The same goes from connecting to a PS Vita. For mobile devices without Bluetooth, you can simply use the mobile cable that comes with both, which is what I used for my 3DS for this review.
Finally, each receiver has dual band wifi for those homes that have many devices hooked up to their in home wifi network like mine. I had no issues with the reception, which is a good sign considering the number of devices I have connect to both my 2.4 and 5GHz bands. Whew.
By now you’re probably wondering to yourself, “What’s the difference between the PX51 and XP510? Why is the PX51 $269.95 and the XP510 $289.95? What does the extra $20 get me?” Honestly, not a whole lot. I’d say if you had the money to afford either headset, you might as well spring for the extra $20 and the XP510. With the PX51 , you get the additional Xbox 360 Talkback cable (not really sure that’s a GOOD thing). However, with the XP510, you get everything that comes with the PX51 (minus the Xbox 360 Talkback Cable because you don’t need it) and you also get the Xbox Bluetooth adapter (hence the lack of talkback cable) and an additional USB programming cable. If you were looking for differences in quality and performance, don’t bother; I could not find any. Both are great headsets that sport identical specs; one just has a couple more connectors. In fact, I put both boxes side by side and asked my wife which one she would get if she were buying one for me as a gift. I asked her to pick the “better” one just by the features on the box. After a few minutes and looking the box descriptions over and over, she said to me “Tony…these are the exact same thing.”
I rest my case.
This makes reviewing each of these headsets a cinch, however. Both are fantastic in terms of build and quality. Both make in-game chatting a breeze with no interference or issues with volume. Both offer the same degree of freedom in terms of setting presets for games, movies, music, etc. And both have done Turtle Beach’s ultra-high standards proud.