In the run-up to the manic, cinnamon-infused holiday season, thoughts invariably turn to what you want to find under the festive spruce, and as a gamer there’s an assortment of ways you can fleece your loving family members. Once you’re sorted for games (spouse and parent shopping note that it’s cowboys that are all the rage) then a good peripheral or two is sure to hit the mark. Rather than plastic drums or dance mat tat, a headset is the gift that’ll keep on giving and Turtle Beach are one of the biggest manufacturers out there. The good news is that all that practice has meant they’ve got pretty good at it.
While the mid-range Atlas Three proudly proclaims that it’s aimed at PC gamers – and comes with a PC-friendly splitter cable – it’s also equipped with a standard 3.5mm connection so you can plug its shiny little end into pretty much any piece of equipment you’ve got lying around, including your Xbox One, PS4, Switch or a sensible mobile phone.
The PC version of the headset the Atlas Three boasts at least one visual advantage over its more colourful console brethren by being wholly fashioned from matte black plastic, with all of the soft cushioning made from an understated dark grey cloth. It’s probably the closest that this run of Turtle Beach headsets will get to being something you could wear out of the house, though there’s no disguising that the Three is a gaming headset thanks to the stubby flip-up microphone arm that you can’t remove.
That’s compounded by the simple fact that the plastic build makes the Atlas Three look and feel pretty cheap. It makes them very light, and so you won’t begin to tire of wearing them for extended periods, but you won’t be proudly sporting them when you’re streaming – or anywhere else.
You might not care at all what they look like – who out there is eyeing themselves up while they’re gaming? – and comfort should really be at the top of your wishlist anyway. Thankfully the Atlas Three is fitted with memory foam pads that gently cushion your head and ears, even if, like me, your lobes are more Dumbo than dormouse.
On top of that, Turtle Beach have rolled out their patented glasses-friendly earpads that mean that glasses wearers won’t feel like they’re being stabbed in the side of the head after five minutes. It’s fantastic to see manufacturers actually considering the bespectacled population, especially when staring at screens all day can allegedly make you more likely to join the myopic masses.
The Atlas Three is an amplified headset meaning that it’s able to pump out some serious sound but needs a charge to unlock its functionality. Any of it. Unlike many other gaming headsets the Three doesn’t work without power, though its forty-odd hours of life should see you through a huge amount of Tetris Effect, or a very small portion of Red Dead Redemption 2.
While it used to be the more expensive end of the headset market that could claim to be enhanced for surround sound, the creation of Windows Sonic, or my personal choice, Dolby Atmos, has changed all that. The Atlas Three has been optimised for Windows Sonic, but works with either system to impressive effect. The headset’s 50mm drivers do a decent job of conveying the enhanced surround sound as well. There’s both meaty bass and clear top-end tones in stereo, though of the three audio presets available I found the treble-boosting setting to provide the best effect.
The Three’s controls are all easy enough to access, being positioned on the outside of the left earcup. There’s two buttons sat flush to the plastic; one for power, and one to access the audio presets – Signature Sound, Treble Boost and Vocal Boost – and though it’s clearly meant to be the go-to, the Signature Sound is a little too flat for my tastes. Besides that there are two dials to control the master volume and the mic monitoring level. I was forever mixing them up to begin with, but you soon get used to the layout.
The controls don’t do much to stop the budget-feel of the Atlas Three though, and given that it’s £70 and up against some stiff competition in the £50-£100 price bracket from HyperX and Logitech, it’s a shame that Turtle Beach weren’t able to put some more effort into how you interact with the headset.
The microphone arm also lives on the left earcup, and it’s just a case of folding it down to activate it or pushing it back up again to mute. It sits nicely out of the way when you’re not using it, but it’s always my preference to be able to remove microphone arm and it’s a shame not to see that here when so many other Turtle Beach headsets boast the feature. The microphone is at least clear and competent, if perhaps a little thin-sounding, but your teammates will be able to hear your rantings and ravings without any problems.
If you’re looking for a great sounding headset that’s light enough to be worn for hours on end, and especially if you’re a glasses wearer, the Atlas Three is a solid pick from Turtle Beach. Just don’t expect it to be the kind of thing you’ll want to be seen in out of the house.