Like a lot of the company’s gaming products, the Turtle Beach Recon 200 gaming headset is aimed at people who don’t want to spend a lot to cover the necessities. This headset offers pretty much just the basics—stereo sound, a built-in microphone, a couple control options—but this part of the market is very competitive.
Editor’s note: This article was edited on October 26, 2020, to address the FAQ regarding the best cheap gaming headsets.
Who is the Turtle Beach Recon 200 for?
- Console gamers looking for something simple they can use on every platform.
What is it like to use the Turtle Beach Recon 200
Given its feature set, the Turtle Beach Recon 200 should be a very straightforward gaming headset to use. However, a few rather befuddling features complicate things a bit. This is a stereo gaming headset (primarily), and it uses a 3.5mm connection, so it’s compatible with PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and whatever else comes out in the future with a headphone jack.
The headset has a no-frills approach, and that’s reflected in its build. It’s made primarily of plastic, with a metal strip running through the band. The Turtle Beach Recon 200 sport hinges that rotate to flatten, as well as tilt a little bit. The ear pads and headband cushion are made mainly of leatherette, though a mesh fabric lines the inside of the each earcup, no doubt to manage heat.
The Turtle Beach Recon 200 is a pretty comfortable headset, thanks to the mesh inner layer. Heat isn’t an issue, and getting a decent seal is pretty easy too. People with glasses will struggle a little more due to the firmness of the leatherette, but that’s unfortunately par for the course.
Using the headset isn’t complicated. The attached microphone mutes when it flips up, and there’s a power switch and volume dials for game and mic audio on the back of the left headphone. The Turtle Beach Recon 200 works as advertised, and takes no time to get used to.
Why does the Turtle Beach Recon 200 have a power switch?
That’s right, despite the low power requirements of a 3.5mm headset, the Turtle Beach Recon 200 is a battery powered gaming headset, and it’s not immediately apparent why. According to Turtle Beach, the Recon 200 features “amplified audio” and an always-on bass boost function.
If reading “amplified audio” confused you, because all audio output is by its nature amplified — you’re not alone. Even after using the headset for multiple multi-hour gaming sessions, and running it through our battery of tests, I’m still not really sure what the point of these features are. There’s no way to turn the settings off, or really interact with them at all, and there’s nothing about the headset that really behaves any differently than any other comparable product on the market.
Basically, this is a normal stereo headset, with the same array of features as the products with which it competes, only it also needs to be recharged. I’m not really sure what the benefit of the features that require that extra battery power are, but I can tell you they don’t outweigh the inconvenience of having a headset run out of power and shut off mid-game.
How is the battery?
As odd as it is that the Turtle Beach Recon 200 has a battery at all, it gets decent life out of a single charge. In our testing, the headset lasted just shy of 16 and a half hours of consistent playback with a fully charged battery. You might get better results, too—our testing happens with a consistent output of 75dB, which is louder than many people listen. It’s not an incredible battery capacity, but hardly worth complaining about. Plenty of wireless options do worse, though more than a few support 3.5mm audio when the battery dies.
Gaming with the Turtle Beach Recon 200
Gaming with the Turtle Beach Recon 200 was about as straightforward as possible. A 3.5mm headset needs next to no setup—just plug it in and it works. Despite that, there are separate positions on the power switch for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, likely related to the headset’s support for Microsoft’s Windows Sonic surround sound. On PC, it’s something just about any stereo headset can use, but on Xbox One it requires a little more tailoring. Windows Sonic works well enough, though it’s a subtler surround sound complement than most other standards.
Playing games like Risk of Rain 2, Halo 2 Remastered, and League of Legends on PC worked well. Even with Windows Sonic turned off, the Turtle Beach Recon 200 performed well with decent stereo soundstage, which gives enough directionality for less competitively minded gamers. Surround sound won’t make you better at a game, after all—it just offers a little more information than you otherwise get from the audio. On PlayStation 4, there’s no surround sound option at all, and I never felt the experience was in any way deficient.
How does the Turtle Beach Recon 200 sound?
The Turtle Beach Recon 200 actually offers somewhat accurate audio, bass emphasis notwithstanding. There’s a very significant over-emphasis in the bass range up to around 300Hz, no doubt from the bass boost you can’t turn off. Outside of that, the headset has no issue putting out very accurate mids and highs.
This kind of boosted bass seems like a trap gaming headsets fall into all too often. In game, frequency response like this means the rumble of explosions and gunfire will come through up to twice as loud, depending what frequency the sound has. That might sound neat, but video games are already balanced for a particular listening experience.
An explosion is almost always going to be the loudest part of a given scene, so boosting it even louder just creates the risk of drowning out sounds you might actually want to hear. In games like Fortnite, it means footsteps can actually sound a little more difficult to pick out during firefights, which is a pretty significant thing to not notice.
Audio output like this is great for EDM and other music where a pounding bass track is the dominant part of a song. In Crypteque by Danny Baranowsky, the driving bass drum and synthetic bass track totally dominate the song, and they sound great with the Turtle Beach Recon 200. Auditory masking is a concern in music where the sounds of vocals or strings are commonly emphasized, but if you’re not into that kind of music you probably won’t notice anything amiss.
The headset offers decent enough isolation for a gaming headset. There’s nothing approaching active noise cancelling here, but you shouldn’t have much to worry about regarding the usual sounds of the home, like roommates watching TV in another room or voices out a window. It won’t do all that well outside, but that’s not really what it’s designed for anyway.
How is the Microphone?
The Turtle Beach Recon 200 has a more accurate microphone than most, though it still struggles with the typical stuff most gaming headsets deal with. There’s a very steep de-emphasis in the bass range up to around 400Hz, which means people with deeper voices will sound a tad distorted, but with the benefit that voices will come through much clearer over your voice chat. However, the real issue here is volume; this is among the quietest mics I’ve used. If the platform you’re using doesn’t have automatic gain settings, you will almost certainly need to turn yourself up—I definitely did. Listen for yourself:
Should you buy the Turtle Beach Recon 200
Maybe, but having to recharge a wired headset can be a real pain.
The Turtle Beach Recon 200 feels like it suffers from a couple unforced errors. Everything works pretty well—great, even. The audio is pretty accurate, as is the microphone, and the headset is comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions. Unfortunately, that’s all true for other gaming headsets at similar prices, like the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround, HyperX Cloud Alpha, and the Razer Kraken X, and none of those need recharging.
Ultimately, that’s what it all comes down to. Why buy something that works almost all the time, when you can get something that works all the time? You don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn a headset off if it doesn’t have an on switch to begin with. While it’s not a dealbreaker, it is a frustration that you can avoid by just using a different headset.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Razer Kraken X delivers a comparable gaming experience compared to the Turtle Beach Recon 200, offering cross-platform compatibility, decent isolation, good sound, and a better microphone. Plus, the Kraken X is available for $49, which is around $10 less than the Recon 200.
For $10 more than the Turtle Beach Recon 200, the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround can help deliver a pleasant gaming experience with its ease of use, sturdy build quality, and its comfortable design. This is in contrast to the Turtle Beach Recon 200, which features some inconveniences that can impede your gaming and listening experience—such as the need to charge the headset, over-emphasized low frequencies, and a quiet microphone. It is worth nothing, however, that the Recon 200 does seem to produce a more accurate frequency response compared to the HS60 Pro Surround. When comparing both headsets in terms of overall use and feature sets, you may want to shell out the extra cash for Corsair's offering.
Although the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 may cost a little more than the Recon 200, it's definitely worth the extra cash. The Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is a wireless gaming headset with improved features over its less-expensive counterpart—including Xbox wireless compatibility, large 50mm dynamic drivers, and built-in EQ presets. As a bonus, it's slated to support the upcoming Xbox Series X, so no need to go all out on a new gaming headset... unless you want to.
The Turtle Beach Recon 70 is one of the company's most popular gaming headsets, offering decent audio performance for less than $40. If you want the best that Turtle Beach has to offer, look no further than the Turtle Beach Stealth 600: a futureproof wireless gaming headset that will suit any Xbox One gamer's setup.