Turtle Beach are one of the most widely recognised gaming headset brands, and rightly so, they have a lot of experience in the field. For years, the company has been innovating and improving their gaming headset offerings, bringing new features to enhance the experience. Today we have our review of their top-of-the-line Call of Duty: Ghosts themed headset, the Ear Force Phantom 7.1 Surround Sound Headset.

The great thing about the Phantom is the wide range of platforms it supports. It currently supports Playstation 4 (through free firmware update), Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Mobile Gaming and, in 2014, the Xbox One. If you purchase the Phantom by January 30th 2014, you can apply for a free Xbox One Headset Adapter on the Turtle Beach website. This means that the Phantom will support all next-gen and current-gen console platforms; an impressive lineup.

The headset retails in the high end of the gaming headset range, going for £249.99/$299.99, however, you get a lot of premium features in return for that price. The headset connects to its base station over a dedicated dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) Wi-Fi network, providing a reliable, high-quality, long range connection. The headset is capable of Dolby Digital Surround Sound through digital optical audio and supports chat over all the platforms previously mentioned (with Xbox One support due in 2014).

One of the best things about the Phantom is its simplicity to set up. It is, from my experience, the easiest surround sound gaming headset to setup; needing just a USB (power) cable from the console, and its SPID/F (optical audio) input for game sound. These two simple cables will complete the game sound setup, providing wireless Dolby Digital Surround Sound to your headset. The game chat setup is just as simple, but varies from console to console. Included is an Xbox 360 Bluetooth Adapter, allowing wireless chat on the Xbox 360, while the PS3 can be connected directly to the headset via its in-built bluetooth. The PS4 setup requires use of an included 2.5mm to 3.5mm to connect the headset to the Dualshock 4. These options make the headset quick and simple to setup, which is a great plus for the headset.

The build quality of the headset is excellent. Across the few weeks of use of this headset, I have experienced no creaking or strange noises from the headset, which is crucial for a high-end headset. Comfort is another very important aspect of an expensive headset, and the Phantom fits the bill. Featuring thick, insulated earpads and a well-padded headband, the headset often has no noticeable feel on your head, and you will easily forget it is there. This is aided by the relatively low weight of the headset.

These features also contributes towards noise insulation. After prolonged use, I am happy to report that the background noise in your room/house will not be able to penetrate the headset’s earcups. Outside noises would have to be pretty loud for you to hear them. In addition to this, the noise coming from the headset generally cannot be heard outside the headset, unless it is particularly loud. Overall, the headset has been very well thought-out, and the design and build quality are both fantastic overall.

Speaking of the design, aesthetically, the headset looks great. The minimalist design captures the simplicity of use of the headset itself, and does not look tacky. The Ghosts logo is printed on both the base station and one of the headset cups, but is simple and stylish. The colour of the headset is also a great choice, again, preventing the tacky appearance we often see from themed headsets.

The base station is simple, yet effective. The few cables that must connected can be easily routed into the ports on the back of the base. Also included is a passthrough SPID/F (optical audio port), so, if you have a surround sound system which uses this connection, you can connect your optical audio to both the base station and your setup. There is also a metal stand for the headset on the top of the base station. The headset has very little weight, so, the sturdy metal wire can support it easily.

The headset is also very simple to use. Voice prompts and responses are offered when pressing many of the buttons, and game volume can be easily adjusted via a wheel on one of the cups. Chat volume is often assigned to the second wheel on the earcup, however, in the case of the PS4, the volume is adjusted in the console UI itself. Upon turning on the headset using the large button on the outer part of the left cup, it will automatically pair with its base (even over long ranges) and is very quick to do so, all thanks to the fantastic WiFi connectivity.

The voice prompts are very helpful when controlling the headset. “Bluetooth On”, “Powering Off”, “Bluetooth Volume Up”, “Game Mode” and all of the game and chat presets will be announced to you as you navigate through the buttons on the headset’s earcups. One of the other very impressive features of the headset is the ability to link the headset to your mobile phone wirelessly via bluetooth so you can listen to music or take calls while gaming. It is a very intuitive and impressive feature to be included, and it makes the use of music while gaming more easily accessible than ever before.

Linking your mobile phone or iPod via Bluetooh is very simple. Simply hold the Bluetooth button on the side of the headset for a few seconds (until you hear “Bluetooth Powering On”) and then pair the headset with your phone through its Bluetooth settings menu. It should automatically link up, and you will be able to output call and media audio through this connection. The volume can even be adjusted directly on the headset itself, simply use the “Bluetooth Volume +” and “Bluetooth Volume -” on the headset (which, again, will be announced by a voice prompt).

Other buttons on the headset include the mute button, the mode button and the game & chat presets buttons. Mute, as the name suggests, allows you to mute the microphone on the headset. Unfortunately, it is a little confusing to do this while the headset is on your head, as a voice prompt does not exist for this function. The headset plays two successive beeps in different tones, however, remembering which one means “muted” and which means “unmuted” is tricky, even after use for a while. A simple “Mute On” and “Mute Off” voice prompt would have sufficed for this feature.

The “Mode” button allows you to switch between the GAME, MOVIE and MUSIC modes, and also allows you to switch to Playstation 4 mode (via long press). The Game and Chat Presets cycle through your saved presets, which can be adjusted or swapped via the sound editor on the Turtle Beach website. A change in preset is announced with a simple prompt: “Game 1”, “Game 2” etc. Overall, the button configuration and adjustment of settings is done well, and the voice prompts make everything clear and simple.

In terms of sound, the headset delivers phenomenal quality; regardless of the gaming platform you are using. With Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround Sound support (which is, of course, also compatible with games only supporting 5.1 channel surround sound), the headset delivers some of the best quality sound I have heard, and certainly is the best choice for PS4 at this time. Sound is clear, loud and easy to distinguish. The voice and game streams are separated, and there is a clear distinction between the two, you can easily perceive one as separate to the other.

The microphone included is also very clear and transmits sound in excellent quality. Across my time of use, I had very few issues with it, and I rarely found myself having to repeat something due to lack of clarity or infiltration of background noise. Overall, I cannot fault the sound quality of the headset. It is an excellent choice and offers stunning performance. The Phantom is well worth the price if you want the elite sound experience, particularly on Playstation 4.

To conclude, the Ear Force Phantom is certainly the best Playstation 4 headset currently on the market, and is up with the top offerings on PS3 and Xbox 360. The price point is in the high-end of headsets, however, this is for good reason. The sound quality of the headset is phenomenal and the fact it is compatible with the Playstation 4 makes it versatile. It is the best headset currently available for the platform. The simplicity is also key, offering greatly helpful voice prompts, quick and easy setup and reliable sound quality (even over long ranges). If you want something which truly delivers next generation sound on PS4, save up for the Phantom. It will likely last the life of the PS4 if you take care of it.

SCORE: 9.5/10

This review is based on a working, retail sample of the Turtle Beach Ear Force Phantom which was kindly provided by Turtle Beach Europe. The headset was tested on all platforms supported at the time the review was written, but was mainly tested on the Playstation 4. A big thanks to Turtle Beach for providing the headset for our review platform, as they are our Playstation 4 Audio Sponsor for 2014. We will be using this headset to test and review future PS4 games.