Gaming headsets, at first glance, might seem like the sort of thing that aren't of interest to most people unless you're a hardcore gamer. But we've been using the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22 for a while now, and we have to say, we think there's a lot more to these headphones than just the gaming angle.
First and foremost if you are a PC gamer then these headphones will be ideal for you as there's a lot of helpful features on board. But even as more general headphones they're incredibly useful too. With a relatively affordable price point, what can the Ear Force Z22 do for our lives and are they're worth buying?
Comfort and design
Headphones need to be comfortable for long use, and it seems Turtle Beach has got this covered in the Ear Force Z22. We've been wearing these cans all day, on a regular basis, and we're blown away by the level of comfort. They seem to grip the head just enough, their weight is perfect and they just stay put. This is the holy grail of headphones, because it's hard to balance all three successfully. Given that gamers can spend hours and hours on their rigs, this is important.
From a design perspective the Z22s are great too. They're made of solid materials that feel like they'll last a decent amount of time. The fabrics are comfortable, but they feel hard-wearing too. Presumably, years of abuse from gamers has taught Turtle Beach a thing or two about longevity in its hardware. But at this price point that's impressive - there are headphone brands that charge a lot more for similar build.
The Ear Force Z22 also have a microphone boom too, which can be folded up if you're not using it. The boom has a lot of flexibility, which is great for getting your voice to sound right, with no nasty pops or wind noise when you breathe. Unless that's your style.
How it works
In addition to the headphones you also get a USB pack in the box for supplying power and also acting as a soundcard. This is brilliant, because it gives control over the output to hardware, rather than needing a software control to adjust sound settings, thus giving easier sound control in games.
You can adjust the bass, treble, headphone volume, mic sensitivity, along with muting the microphone, or switching to your mobile phone. And that's the other great feature - you can hook up a smartphone to the Z22 and use it for music playback, or even to make calls. You just need to connect it with a cable, and you're good to go.
One thing we didn't truly expect of the Z22s was the quality of sound reproduction we got. Sound quality was great no matter what we did, but with the addition of bass and treble controls on the USB breakout box we could adjust good sound to even more suit our personal taste. At this price point the sound quality is really great.
Interestingly the Ear Force Z22 has an almost flat sound, which reminds us of far more expensive headphones. They're very good at reproducing everything from explosions to speech. For gaming they're ideal, but we've also used them as general purpose headphones, minus the boom, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We'd say that an audio brand could charge £150 for these cans and get away with it, so the value prospect here is exceptional.
Also impressive is the quality of the microphone. We've done tests recording our voice and we even used it to record voice-overs for some videos, and the quality is also superb. It's perhaps a little thin and concentrated in the high-end frequencies, but the clarity is great and the overall sound is ideal for not just gaming, but also phone calls and anything else you fancy doing - although probably not singing.
You also get the sound from the microphone fed back to the headphones, which is crucial for comfort, because it allows you to hear not only what others are saying in-game, but also is incredibly useful for Skype, mobile or other VOIP calls. Put simply, this feature is missing from too much stuff, but the feedback from hearing your own voice is an essential positive not to be overlooked.
Super-light, super-comfortable and with super sound quality, there's pretty much nothing not to like about the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22. The price is very reasonable indeed, and we've heard headphones that cost more but don't sound anywhere near as nice.
Add to that a really good quality microphone and you've got one of those products that's worth every penny of its £70 asking price. If we had to be picky, perhaps we wouldn't design the volume and control box in quite the way that Turtle Beach has, but we're honestly grasping there because everything works brilliantly, and having inputs here for smartphones and music playback with their own controls is amazing.
Considering how expensive headphones can be, this Turtle Beach package is remarkable. If you're a PC gamer, or even a video producer or podcaster, there's plenty here to make you very happy.