Last month we reviewed Turtle Beach’s Ear Force Z Seven, a top-of-the-range gaming headset that offered a wide range of customization options to help tailor the audio environment to both gaming needs and other uses. For those who find the Ear Force Z Seven’s $250 price tag to be a little out of their range, however, we’ve also tried out the somewhat more affordable Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22, another new addition to the line this fall.
Starting from the outside before moving in, the Ear Force Z22 is dressed in a predominantly black design that’s edged with red in the stitching and on the product logo. The headband has a cloth interior and faux-leather exterior, while the rest of the headset is constructed from a plastic that feels a little cheaper than that of the Ear Force Z Seven, but sturdy nonetheless. The microphone is mounted on the left ear cup and the drinking straw style of the boom makes it nice and malleable for adjusting to the right distance from your mouth.
Gamers who insist upon having a surround-sound experience for the purposes of being able to determine exactly where that shotgun fire is coming from might be turned off by the fact that the Ear Force Z22 is stereo sound only, but for a stereo headset it’s at the top of its game with 50mm drivers lending a real kick to the bass and, by extension, to any explosions in the immediate area. We tuned into some music using the Ear Force Z22 as well and found that the experience wasn’t nearly as satisfying as that offered in the nuance and detail that the higher-end headset was capable of, but for casual listening it definitely beats the average set of earphones.
While the sound performance might not be quite as powerful as some of the more high-end headsets, the price compromise doesn’t affect the microphone, which delivers communications in clear quality even during hectic battle, and is perfectly serviceable for recording a basic Let’s Play or for chatting with friends over Skype. The Ear Force Z22 also boasts Turtle Beach’s Dynamic Chat Boost, which raises the volume of chat during intense gameplay (with explosions or gunfire) so that it can be heard more clearly, but we didn’t find this was powerful enough to make communication noticeably more effective.
One area where the Ear Force Z22 really does shine is comfort. The design is lightweight enough that it can be worn for long periods of time without any discomfort, and the fabric ear cups are nicely breathable without noticeably compromising the headset’s noise-cancelling capabilities. Unlike the Ear Force Z Seven the microphone can’t actually be removed from the headset, but it folds up easily and is unobtrusive enough that it won’t make you think twice about using it purely as a headphone set.
- USB port: USB port for Chat & Power
- PC/Mac® Audio Connection: 3.5mm
The customization options offered by the inline amplifier are limited to a bass and treble boost, volume controls for both chat and game sound and controls to switch the microphone either on or off and to optimize it for recording or for phone call. It’s easy to disconnect from the amp and simply plug the Ear Force Z22’s jack directly into a computer or mobile device, but whereas the Ear Force Z Seven’s ACU occasionally caused driver issues and had trouble connecting, the Ear Force Z22 amp never ran into any kind of technical speedbumps. The three cables involved with connecting the headset to the device via the amp still feel a bit unwieldy, but since by combining two of them into one for much of the length Turtle Beach has made it fairly easy to keep everything in order.
For those who don’t need the extensive customization available in headsets like the Ear Force Z Seven and are just looking for a solid, good quality headset with optimum comfort, we’d definitely recommend the Ear Force Z22. It’s versatile, comfortable, affordable, facilitates some truly immersive audio and feels like a build that will withstand both time and frequent usage.
The Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22 is available now for $89.95