Budget Mobility

As a daily commuter and a person obsessed both with gaming and music, to me making the right choice in a pair of headphones is based on quality first and price second.

Over the past 2 months I’ve been using a pair of Turtle Beach M5’s which are over ear headphones specifically designed for mobile gaming with your smart phone, PS Vita or 3DS. They boast “premium audio quality for listening to music” and “noise-isolating ear cups specifically engineered for mobile gaming”.

The Details.

  • Speakers: 40mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Weight: 164.4 g
  • Cable length: 1.2m
  • Connector: 3.5mm 4-pole gold plated
  • Sensitivity: 120dB +/- 5dB (1kHz 1mW)
  • Adapter: Separate 3.5mm jacks for mic and headphone
  • Microphone: In-line microphone and call answer button
  • Ear cup: Ear cup twist-design rotates 90 degrees
  • Street Price: $50

Out of the box.

The first thing I noticed with these is the same thing I’ve noticed with all the Turtle Beach products I’ve used in the past. Lack of weight. Weighing in at a measly 164 grams these things almost feel like they could fall apart in your hands. However somehow they’re still quite robust considering the beating they’ve received during my time with them. Only a few superficial scratches in the shiny black finish remain as evidence of my ongoing headphone abuse.

At first, putting the M5’s on my skull felt a bit odd as the padding around the ear cup has a slightly rough texture to it. Kind of like putting on a new pair of Doc Martins. But like Docs, once worn in after a few days of use the comfort levels increased. Adding to this I found only a slight amount of discomfort while wearing them with sunglasses but that’s certainly forgivable.


TBM5-1

Another important aspect that people don’t often think about when buying a headset is how they feel when worn off the head and around the neck. The M5’s fall a bit short here as the chunky ear cups push up into the chin. So if they’re not on your head the best option is for them to be in your hand. This is a bit of a pain in the bum when you run into a colleague on a packed train and need to engage in forced conversation for 30 mins while also trying to hold on to your bag, umbrella and Ninja Turtles lunch box.

But does it have good graphics?

On their own the M5’s look like any other pair of headphones. Sleek piano black finish, Turtle Beach logo painted (not stickers) on the ear cups and the brand name plastered up both sides of the head piece which is topped with  leather or leather padding.

However putting them on is a different story. When worn you’ll instantly notice how wide the ear cups are as the head band appears to stretch quite a bit away from your noggin which to me looks a little goofy. Something slimmer that follows the contours of the head is a better look in my view.

And how’s the controls?

Other than quality of sound, one of the most important features of a headset for me is the cable. If it’s too long, too short or a dual cable (wires coming from both speakers that join under the chin) then I’m not buying it. Thankfully the M5’s tick all the boxes here.

The single 1.2m cable attached to the left cup is literally the perfect length for me when plugged into my phone which often lives in my left pocket. There’s just the right amount of slack to walk, run or even stretch straight up without the cable becoming a problem. And when playing a game or sending a tweet with my device held at chest level the tangle free cord stays nicely out of the way.

The added microphone is great for in game chat when playing online or just answering a call thanks to the single button on the mic. When using an iPhone this can also be used to pause and play music with a single click or skip the song currently playing with a double click. The lack of a volume control on the mic was a bit disappointing though and I was sorry to see that the cable didn’t have a flat elbow bend connector.

TBM5-2

The Important Bit

As I type this I’m listening to Pendulum’s Insilico at about 75% volume and the 40mm speakers are feeding my ears with a relatively well balanced sound that’s maybe a touch too high in treble and just a bit too weak in bass.

At the other end of the scale listening to Slipknots Psychosocial at 90% volume gives me heavily distorted high ranges but decent quality lows.

Also a fellow commuter is glaring at me which brings me to the problem of leakage, and it’s a BIG problem. With music or a game pummeling your sound holes the M5’s do a great job of shutting out the world around you. But this knife doesn’t cut both ways.

At higher volumes everyone around you can hear what you can hear and for the outsider you can imagine it sounds terrible. Strangely not everyone on my morning train (especially the 75 year old lady siting next to me) wants to listen to an incredibly tinny version of Starf**kers Inc by Nine Inch Nails.

Leakage is the biggest problem with these headphones but in all other aspects the superficial issues can be easily forgotten thanks to the M5’s incredibly low price tag. You wont get the sound quality of a $200 pair of Sennheisers but coming in at only $50 you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what the Turtle Beach M5’s  are capable of and they’re certainly great value.

M5 Headset was provided by QV Software Australia. Our Hardware reviews are aimed at the general consumer.