Designed for PC gaming, the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero offers almost all the features a player could want from a wireless headset. Sporting 50mm audio drivers, Waves Nx 3D sound, and 30-hour battery life, the Atlas Aero retails for about $150. But even though it has a lot going for it, some design flaws keep it from being the perfect PC gaming headset.
Unpacking the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero
The wireless headset comes with a small USB transmitter, a removable microphone, a 3.5mm audio cable, and a micro USB charging cable.
As for the design, the Atlas Aero has large over-ear cups with soft memory foam-filled microfiber padding thick enough to accommodate my wide glasses. The metal headband is strong but not too constricting. Additionally, the earcups rotate a full 90-degrees. This lets the headset be worn comfortably around the neck or folded up completely for easy packing and storage.
Accessories inside the box include a detachable microphone, a 3-foot micro-USB charging cable, and a 6-foot 3.5mm audio cable for plugging directly into headphone jacks. However, the microphone and advanced audio features such as surround sound don’t work in wired mode.
Lastly, the small USB audio transmitter tucks into a hidden slot on the right earcup, which requires users to remove the padding to access. I was a little apprehensive about the wear and tear continually removing the padding would cause, but I think the risk is worth having a safe and secure place to put the adapter.
I was able to step about 17 feet away from the transmitter before the signal began to sputter, which should be more than acceptable for most PC gaming setups.
The Elite Atlas Aero in action
For me, the Atlas Aero is so wonderfully lightweight and comfortable that I sometimes left it on with no sound without realizing it. As an eyeglass wearer, one of my favorite features is the thick, soft padding, which makes room for the legs of my glasses without leaking much – if any – sound. I was only reminded when the headset automatically shut itself off after a few minutes. A big part of me wishes that the headset had a motion detector built into it so that it could sense when it was still being worn.
The headphones bring a rich sound to everything from video games to music and movies. Users can tweak the sound and activate advanced features such as Superhuman hearing, enhanced dialogue for games, 3D sound, and more using the Turtle Beach Control Studio software.
Although the Elite Atlas Aero is a stereo headset, the Waves Nx technology provides a strong sense of presence for games such as Red Dead Redemption 2. Meanwhile, Superhuman Hearing cranks up the volume on otherwise subtle sounds, such as footsteps or guns reloading for an extra advantage in competitive games. But being superhuman was a bit too loud for my liking the first time I used it, so you’ll likely have to adjust it to taste.
Meanwhile, the flexible microphone plugs in easily and delivered my voice loud and clear. The mic also has an amazing degree of noise canceling. Practically all the ambient noise from the room, including the sound of my PC fans, was cut out the moment I started talking. Although it didn’t quite cut out the sounds of typing on my loud mechanical keyboard, my voice could still be prominently heard.
What’s that sound?
While the Elite Atlas Aero offers exceptional comfort and quality, it does have one terrible design flaw: the hard controls are terribly located. All the control dials rest on the left earcup, which is kind of a waste of space in addition to being kind of awkward.
The most problematic are the two volume dials. They’re right next to each other, with the lower one for volume, so there’s a small learning curve as you train your muscle memory to differentiate between them. The second one controls the mic monitoring by default, but it can be customized to handle functions like the Superhuman Hearing volume instead. Both are located high on the earcup’s back, and on more than a few occasions, I accidentally turned them when they brushed against my high-back gaming chair.
There’s also a customizable button that’s inconveniently located next to the power button. It can be mapped to turn features such as Superhuman Hearing and 3D audio on and off, but it has a loud click that can be heard by people listening on the other end of the headset.
Additionally, while some Turtle Beach headsets have convenient flip-to-mute microphones, that’s not the case with the Elite Atlas Aero, for obvious reasons. Instead, it seems like Turtle Beach got a little too clever for its own good, using a mic mute button that’s so discreet that it’s incredibly easy to miss. It’s a black button on the side of the left earcup, shaped to look like part of the grill pattern. I had a hard time finding it until I finally broke down and flipped through the instruction manual.
But then I ran into a different problem after locating the mic mute, in that there’s no indicator on the headset to remind you that the mute is still on. There’s a red LED indicator on the USB adapter, but not the headset itself, which could potentially lead to problems depending on your setup.
Relying on the Turtle Beach Control Studio
While the Elite Atlas Aero may technically work on a console system, it’s designed specifically for PC gaming. A big part of that comes from the Turtle Beach Control Studio, which you can use to tune the equalizer and volume settings or to turn the advanced audio features on and off. You can also enter your head measurements into it fully optimize the Waves Nx spatial audio.
The software is both separate and a part of the Elite Atlas Aero experience. I say that because Turtle Beach offers a USB adapter called the Atlas Edge PC Audio Enhancer for about $30. With it, you can plug in any wired 3.5mm headphones and get all the benefits, including 3D audio, Superhuman hearing, etc. I think that the features work best using the Elite Atlas Aero, but it’s good to know that there is a less expensive option out there.
At the same time, it does feel like the Atlas Aero relies too heavily on the software. Turtle Beach packed more features into the software than the headset can support. This means you have to choose between setting your hard controls for microphone or advanced functions. Otherwise, you have to switch to the software to turn features like Superhuman Hearing on and off. It may be a relatively small issue, and really more of one for Atlas Edge users, but it did discourage me from making too many changes to my audio settings. I simply didn’t want to go through the hassle of pulling up the software just to turn a few things on or off.
Kicking up the sound experience
With all that said, the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero is an exceptional and impressive PC gaming headset. I’m not a big fan of its hard controls or its heavy reliance on the control software, but those are reasonable tradeoffs for the excellent wireless sound quality the headset delivers. When all taken together, the Atlas Aero offers tremendous value for its price.
Just try not to bump into anything with it.