For the last month I have had the Turtle Beach i30 headset in my possession after the company sent it to me to review. It was sort of a surprise that the company wanted us, an Android related new website, to review a headset from a company that was in my mind only marketing their audio equipment to people that gamed on consoles or on their computer. To my surprise the email asking if we would like a demo unit talked about how the company is trying to get more into the mobile market. Also in the email it talked about how in 2013 there was a sharp increase in the amount of tablets being sold. The whole point to owning a tablet is to have as much functionality as a computer but without the need to be tied down by wires. So if you want your tablet to be completely wireless and mobile, why buy expensive headphones to enjoy media if you’re just going to be tethered to it anyway?
Enter the Turtle Beach i30 headset. The headset itself is a piece of art. Made out of a mix of metal, plastic, and faux leather, the headset looks better and more premium than any of its competitors that are on the market. After unboxing the product, I could tell right away that these were a lot more than just cheap plug-and-play headset. In the box there was a very premium pouch, a USB to microUSB cable, airplane adapter, and 3.5mm to 3.5mm headphone cable in case you wanted to plug the headset directly into your device instead of over bluetooth.
With the i30s out of the box I found the headset to be solid. The ear cups can rotate 90 degrees so that if you want to listen to music with them but not actually wear them, you can lay them on some sort of surface and use them as speakers. On one edge of each of the ear cups there are several buttons that looked very scary at first glace. To run down the buttons really quickly from top to bottom on the left ear cup you have the power button (which also allows the user to toggle the active noise canceling on and off), sound settings (flat, bass boost, treble boost, and bass plus treble boost) and microphone settings (flat, high morph, low morph, voice reverb). On the right ear cup you have the bluetooth power button (turning on and holding the button allows for the headset to be paired to your devices), the volume rocker, and a mute mic button.
After putting on the headset I quickly realized why they were priced at $300: the sound quality was amazing. When I first put them on I was able to quickly adjust the fit on my head and had them setup to my tablet within seconds. This was one of the quickest setups I have ever had to do with bluetooth devices and that includes devices that have NFC chips in them. After powering them on I held the bluetooth power button until I was notified that it was ready to be paired (yes, the headset actually talks to you). I found the i30s listed in available bluetooth devices on my tablet and by just tapping on it I was fully connected and working. And just like that, I had the Turtle Beach i30 connected to my tablet and working just like magic.
Now that I have explained the setup process and what the headset looks like, I can get into the real review. I spent several days traveling with the headset while visiting family over the holidays and then traveling to CES so I had plenty of time to experience the audio that was coming out of the i30s and to see how comfortable the headset was. When I first put them on my head I found them to actually fit nicely and to feel comfirtably. One of the nice parts about the ear cups is that they’re made with memory foam so that they form to fit your head as much as possible. I did find that after wearing them for more than 3-4 hours straight your ears start to get sore but this is expected from any device that sits on your ears for a long period of time. As for audio, the i30’s noise cancellation cuts out almost all highs and lows in the audio you’re listening to. Luckily, the headset allows you to boost the bass and the treble so you can try to emulate the true sound lost by the noise cancellation.
Overall these are one of the nicest pairs of headphones that I have ever owned and used, especially when compared to other headsets that are made for mobile. I found them to be comfortable enough to use for extended amounts of time and they also sounded great when listening to music, watching movies, or playing a game. While the $300 price tag is quite a large one, you have to remember that you’re paying a premium price for a high quality device that has amazing sound quality. Besides the quality of the device, I would recommend the device to anyone just because of the bluetooth functionality. It is so nice to be able to connect to any device I want easily (Android, iOS, Windows, ect.) and then be able to walk away from said device without the need to disconnect or bring everything with you. The Turtle Beach i30s are definitely a favorite of AndroidMeter’s and we can only hope that they continue making new hardware for the mobile and hands-free market.
While at CES I was able to sit down with David Lowey who is the Director of Communications at Turtle Beach and ask him a couple of questions about the i30 and what their plans are with the mobile market. Make sure to watch the video below.