Turtle Beach Atlas Air Review


Out of the box, the Atlas Air is a disappointing affair. It’s an open-back wireless gaming headset with a lot of emphasis on being lightweight, which explains its minimalist look. It weighs only 301 grams and compared to some competitors in this price range, it definitely feels less like an exorbitant jewel in your hands and more like a blunt weapon.

Don’t expect fancy swivel cups with joints that will probably wear out in a few years: this allows them to be pulled out like a latch. People with huge heads, you’re lucky. Pushers, shovers, eminent klutzes: this might be for you.

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This utilitarian approach extends to the interface. A immense volume knob is attached to the left cup, which means you’ll never accidentally disconnect the headset or put it in Bluetooth mode while adjusting the volume. The detachable microphone is a return to mute, and I think few would argue with the brutal simplicity of this approach.

There’s a power button and two buttons to switch between Bluetooth and wireless mode, as well as an LED to indicate power or low battery. Its battery has an advertised 50-hour life, and I only charged it twice in the three weeks I used it.

Atlas Air specifications

(Image source: Future)

Connection: 2.4 GHz wireless (Type C dongle), Bluetooth 5.2, USB Type C cable, 3.5 mm analog cable
Type: On-ear, open
Frequency response: 20–40,000 Hz
Drivers: 40 mm with Waves 3D sound
Microphone: Unidirectional 16-bit 32 kHz high-bandwidth
Libra: 301 gr
Price: $150 / 160 pounds / $299

The overall impression is that the headset promises to work. It is aesthetically restrained, and the polyurethane coating does not feel exorbitant in the hand. The headband is made of elastic mesh, which may be just as budget-friendly for some until its benefits become apparent. This band is adjustable via Velcro and is likely a major factor in both the Atlas Air’s lightweight nature and its exceptional comfort during long gaming sessions.

It’s difficult to ensure objective “comfort” with headsets because so much depends on skull size and usage habits, but as a guy with a immense skull who has spent over four hours at a time on sessions this review, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so unencumbered.

I mean, look how far these cans stretch. Here there is 300mm between the pillows:

Turtle Beach Atlas Air

(Image source: Future)

The memory foam-lined cups “float,” which means they are technically not connected to the strap at all, but rather tightly attached with a total of 12 elastic straps. As you can probably imagine, this contributes to the extensibility of the unit as a whole. Securing the two most significant elements of the headset in this way may, in theory, seem a bit questionable. Although it is not yet known how the Atlas Air will perform in the long term, in my opinion it is much safer than cups that unscrew from the strap or attach with usually slender metal hinges. I’ve had headphones worth more than twice as much as the Atlas Air in six months of operate based on these mechanisms: maybe thinking outside the box is welcome.

I used this thing for three weeks for review purposes – both at my desk gambling as well as using it as a set of Bluetooth headphones for walking and commuting – the feather-light comfort of the Atlas Air is a quality that won me over. It has other strengths, but man, does that thing seem to dematerialize when you place it on your skull.

But that’s just one of the main aspects of what Atlas Air has to offer; the second is audiophile chops. It’s no surprise that half of the contenders on our list of the best audiophile gaming headphones are open-back headphones. Please note that the list also applies to “headphones” and not gaming headsets. It’s a relatively niche demand, and its shortcomings are often too sedate to justify its inclusion in a device designed specifically for gaming.

Open-back headphones strive for more correct sound reproduction by eliminating the back of the speaker housing, which eliminates erroneous sounds that can come from a closed reverberator. Sure, the sound is more faithful to its source – almost on par with monitoring headphones – but there is the problem of sound leakage that this design principle cannot avoid, which undermines one of the main reasons we operate headsets.

Buy if…

✅ You want correct, “audiophile” sound: The Atlas Air sounds brilliant thanks to its open design, with a huge emphasis on fidelity to the sound source material.

✅ You are a supporter of convenience: While it’s not the lightest headset on the market, it does feel lighter thanks to its unconventional design approach.

Don’t buy if…

❌ You play in a loud environment: Open-back headsets have the disadvantage of letting ambient sounds through more than regular headsets without ANC.

❌ You play in a very tranquil environment: For the same reason, if you are concerned about sound leakage, an open design is not a good choice.

But the difference is not negligible and an audiophile need not notice it (although an audiophile may care). Playing Animal Well on my HyperX Cloud III headset – a headset I operate often because it’s always on my desk – I was impressed by the dank, subterranean atmosphere: the labyrinthine world exuded an almost overwhelming, menacing reverberation. After switching to Atlas Air, the atmosphere of the game fundamentally changed: the slime became more detailed. Distant coos and cries, otherwise obscured by lower frequencies, were faintly perceptible in the distance. It was less of a soup of bad moods and more of an environment full of subtlety to which I was sonically transported. Actually, I was IN well.

When closed-back headphones work, this is basically a stark difference that is to be expected. But you should also expect that, as a byproduct of the open design, sound will not only leak out, but also penetrate. At low volume levels this can be a problem, although I found the seepage particularly bothersome when using the Atlas Air for something it wasn’t specifically designed for: walking down a busy street and listening to ambient music. Given the Bluetooth functionality (it also has a 2.4GHz wireless dongle, which is a much better option for actual gaming, and a 3.5mm jack for the Luddites), it’s tempting to consider the Atlas Air as perhaps a wireless headset for travel in addition for games. But it definitely falls miniature of a set of mid-range headphones with lively noise cancellation (ANC) for this operate case: ANC and open back are basically mutually exclusive concepts.

According to Turtle Beach, this is the first open-back wireless headset “designed for PCs.” This isn’t the first open-back gaming headset, of course – I tested this Audio-Technica model a few years ago – but the combination of wireless and open-back connectivity is seemingly fresh here. As someone who generally prefers an open back and deals with its inherent disadvantages, this combination is extremely welcome. One last question remains: what is the microphone?

As you can see in the sample above, it is perfectly pristine and – as allowed by the speakers it is connected to – does not have the weight of random lower frequencies. In other words, it doesn’t add bass to my voice like some microphones, but in practice it cuts through with all the details thanks to a frequency response of 100 to 16,000 Hz.

So what’s the verdict? As someone who prefers the detail and “truth” of open-back headphones, I love the combination of this principle with wireless functionality and a great microphone. An additional advantage is the fact that this reference to my niche interests has a strangely feathery and pliant form. The Atlas Air is niche, and you probably shouldn’t buy an open-back headset without understanding its shortcomings. For example, if your gaming PC is in the same room as your family TV, this probably isn’t for you. But if you’ve been waiting for a wireless open-back gaming player, well: this is it. And it was done very well.

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