Turtle Beach’s first gamepad pairs its sound expertise with great ergonomics

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Every gaming accessory company has one thing that goes well for them, like the Corsair and its keyboards or the Razer line of mice. Turtle Beach it is known as a premium headphone manufacturer, but that hasn’t stopped it from expanding its offering, starting with its first gamepad, the Recon Controller. And luckily it still includes the company’s audio expertise.

It is a wired controller compatible with Xbox X Series|. |S i One as well as Windows 10. As a couch player, I’ve never been thrilled with the need to be tied up, but I make up for it with a great hand feeling. The holders are covered with a tactile gray material, with a network of triangles that help direct heat and sweat from the palms. But what I really like are the textured keys – the buttons on the shoulder, trigger and back are studded with protrusions that prevent fingers from slipping well. They also feel great, so much so that I often find myself playing with the Recon Controller even when I’m not playing games.

Chris Naudus / Engadget

The colorful features of the Recon Controller are its audio controls, housed in a small panel on top of the gamepad. One of my editors said that it looks like a modern interpretation of the Mad Catz unit and, lo and behold, it is not wrong. It’s not very attractive, with so many buttons it looks over-engineered.

What all these insecure keys offer is a range of options for the sound coming from the headphones you have connected to the controller. The bottom has the usual 3.5mm jack, so it will work with almost any headset, provided you have the right cable for it. I tried with Recon Spark, a solid and inexpensive set of cans that has served me as an everyday driver in the office for several years.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller in white

Chris Naudus / Engadget

There are two switches at each end of the trapezoidal control panel, the one on the left adjusts the volume, and the right controls the balance between the sound from the game and the conversation. They are high enough on the controller that you don’t accidentally press the X and Y keys. However, the buttons on the panel itself are packed so tightly that if you fly over, you’ll press one of the controls in the middle instead.

Which is less than ideal, considering that the two big buttons are a mute function (not something you want to accidentally guess while communicating with teammates) and a “superhuman hearing” button. The latter is a new feature, amplifying smaller step-like sounds so you won’t miss anything. The effect was not as pronounced as promised, as I did not notice any major changes while playing a few rounds Between us. But it certainly doesn’t hurt that you have it, and the effect can vary depending on the game you’re playing and the headphones you’ve connected.

Turtle Beach Recon controller

Chris Naudus / Engadget

Between these two buttons is another switch that serves various functions. You can adjust the EQ settings between default settings, bass, bass / treble and vocal settings. You can also adjust the vibration strength of the gamepad, as well as the sensitivity of the sticks. It’s nice that you can customize these things on the go, instead of messing with the settings program. The big downside is that it’s not immediately clear what the icons represent, so I had to review the instructions and experiment with them before I really figured it out.

All in all, I was pleased with the performance of the controller and I was most impressed with its ergonomics. I’m just not quite sure it’s worth dealing with a wired controller and headphones when you’re used to wireless connectivity.

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