If you’re like me, when you hear the name “Turtle Beach” you immediately think about gaming headphones. That’s the market where I first encountered the name and that’s primarily where I remember seeing the brand. Generally speaking I’ve always associated Turtle Beach with being the premiere brand of gaming headphones but I’ve looked to other brands when it came time to connect to my Mac or iPhone.
Then I saw them one day… beside the Bowers & Wilkens, Beats Audio, and Bose headphones. A brand which almost seemed not to belong given that I wasn’t shopping in a Gamestop. Adorned in beautiful silver & white plastic with black leather and just a splash of crimson red. The Turtle Beach Ear Force i30 headphones.
Immediately I contacted Turtle Beach who was gracious enough to send a pair for review. I nearly cut myself opening the box as my hands shook in anticipation. This was the type of unboxing that makes it onto YouTube. It was a beautiful experience. I must warn you, if you plan to buy your own, you may wish to skip the details because it feels like a spoiler just telling you.
I slid the cardboard logoed wrapper off the box. Underneath was not a nasty brown cardboard box like you’d expect. Instead, hidden, was another nicer box with the Turtle Beach logo proudly printed on the side. A ribbon beckoned me to pull and to my delight the box opened like a treasure chest with a slight tug back from the magnets holding it closed.
I was welcomed with a message telling me that my new Ear Force i30 headphones were not just headphones, but a mult-media companion that compliments all my audio needs (I would later put this claim to the test in the subsequent four weeks preceeding this review.) One more door later and I saw it… a thing of beauty. I hoped only that there would be enough charge in the battery for me to use it right away.
The documents inside were inside a pouch in the door I had folded back. A pair of Turtle Beach stickers was in there, presumably one for my computer and one for my car. Cables & accessories had a nice little box keeping them separated from the headphones themselves. Included among them was a stereo audio cable (male to male), a USB cable for charging, AND an airline adaptor plug. It seems that they really were looking out for all my mobile audio needs! Also included was a pouch for my new headphones, inside featuring a pocket for all my nifty new cables. If you have OCD, you’re going to love how this is all layed out for you. It really is beautiful.
For the next four weeks I used my Turtle Beach Ear Force i30 headphones all the time. I had been using some competitor’s earbuds on a daily basis, so it did require some getting used to… but I liked them! First, I paired them via Bluetooth 3.0 to my iPhone 5S. Pairing was smooth and easy. I don’t recall using the manual at all. Within minutes, I was listening to the Foo Fighters via Bluetooth. It was awesome! Sadly the experience only lasted a few minutes before the battery ran low. I did need to charge them for a few hours before using them. Luckily once you do charge them you get >10 hours of use per charge. I think i’ve only charged these puppies twice in the past four weeks of use!
My first criticism is the volume seems to be a bit low on these headphones. The volume is appropriate most of the time, but you don’t get that “wall of sound” that you might be used to with brands like Beats Audio. The volume controls integrate with those on your iPhone, so whether you adjust the sound on your phone or on your headphones they’ll both drive the volume slider up and down. I’d like to see an option to go louder. It did seem to improve when I was plugged in with a stereo cable vs when I used the wireless Bluetooth option, although I may have just been hearing a wider dynamic range given that Bluetooth has to compress your audio.
All that considered, I wasn’t unhappy at all. My next test was to hook my new Ear Force i30 headphones to my Mac. I’m currently running OS 10.9, Mavericks. Again my connection experience was easy. Withing a few seconds I was connected and using my Ear Force i30 headphones as I slayed demons on my Mac playing Diablo III. This felt a little more like the Turtle Beach experience I was used to!
Then I took them on the road. I connected my headphones and my phone and went for a drive. I don’t live in a huge city, but road noise is pretty consistent from town to town. The Ear Force i30 headphones active noise cancelling was fantastic. I called my wife and she thought that the microphone sounded better than the mics on any of the earbuds I’ve used before. I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to talk on these, but the i30 has multiple hidden built in microphones which help filter between my voice and the noise around me.
Then I felt a little squirrly. I decided to break the rules. These are marketed as being “For Apple products”, so I decided to see if they would pair with my PS3. PS3 has Bluetooth and pairing required no hacks or tricks. In seconds I was playing the very disappointing Call of Duty Ghosts while using my Turtle Beach i30 headphones. They felt very comfortable and worked like a charm!
– Easy to use
– Comfortable leather + memory foam earcups
– Bluetooth compatible with other devices
– Long battery life
– Noise Cancellation
– Awesome look, packagaing and accessories
– Medium Volume
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Would I recommend you pick up a pair? If you’re looking to destroy your hearing and don’t care about actual audio quality then no… go buy Beats by Dre. If you want a feature rich, elegant looking headset with good audio quality and lots of versatility then I think the Turtle Beach Ear Force i30 headphones are a great pair to own! Get yours today from Apple or from the manufacturer by clicking here.