Headsets are a bit of a roll of the dice. Finding a headset that sounds amazing often costs a ton of money. One that is supremely comfortable, however, often pries the wallet even wider, and might sacrifice sound for a nicer fit. Worse, those expensive headsets are often terrible for VR. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars on a headset without batting an eye, but sometimes you just need a cheap headset that will let you frag with your friends. It’s with this purpose in mind that Turtle Beach gives us the Recon Chat.
The Recon Chat retails for $19.99 — value-priced, and with no hidden purpose.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this is a mono-cupped headset. Sitting over just the left or right ear as you prefer, the Recon Chat doesn’t deliver the in-game sound to your ear. You might wonder why that is, but the key to that answer is in the design of the ear cup.
Rather than going with a pleather-like cup that encircles the entire ear, the Recon Chat has a U-shaped lower half cup, with a smaller top edge to rest against your head. Between those two pads is a large keystone shape that allows sound in. Similarly, the hard plastic speaker cover has pinholes all around it, allowing sound through the headphones to my air-gapped ear. What this meant for me is that I could crank my fantastic Onkyo home theater setup, using the Recon Chat to simply add voice chat to the mix.
Coming off the bottom of the ear cup is a y-split, one side being the flexible microphone boom, and the other being the wired connection for your controller. Ending in a 3.5mm right angle type connection head, the cable measures roughly three feet with an integrated mute/volume control located to stay at roughly chest height — more than enough to reach a controller, no matter how long your gangly arms might be. It’s probably here that I should mention that, even though there is an Xbox and PS4-branded and colored box, this headset works with both, and is also compatible with PC. It’s more versatile than you might expect for a $20 peripheral.
Speaking of versatility, I had Lasik surgery done a while back, so I no longer wear glasses, but I do remember how hard it was to find a comfortable headset to go with my specs. The single-ear design, combined with the aforementioned keystone slot, creates an easy slot for glasses of any size. I have a pair of QSpex blu-bloQ glasses (our review) that I use when I have a migraine, and can confirm that remained very comfortable even while bespectacled. The Recon Chat really is a glasses-friendly (or as they call it, SpecsFit) as the box asserts.
In terms of construction, my only complaint comes from the headband. Entirely plastic with only the smallest hint of padding on the headband and headclamp, the flexible strip slips into a slot on the ear cup to create the brace for your head. In practice, it’s not entirely uncomfortable, but even the smallest scrap of padding in both places would have made it more comfortable for longer play.
Putting the Recon Chat to the test, I spun up a few of my favorite multiplayer titles — namely For Honor, Titanfall 2, Helldivers, and the beta for Sea of Thieves. In every game, the 40mm speakers delivered the voice of my teammates crisply to my ear. I was more surprised by just how well the microphone worked. My team reported that they didn’t hear my surround sound system, despite it being quite loud. Whatever noise cancelling magic Turtle Beach crammed into this tiny boom mic, it defies the $20 price tag. It’s more crystal clear than it has any right to be.
If there is one area where the $20 price tag becomes evident, it’s the overall construction. While everything has held up over the last few weeks, I have concerns over the longevity of the device. At such a value price, it’s easily replaced, but that headband makes me a little itchy.