Gamers on the go don’t usually have a whole lot of specialized options in terms of headgear. While you could jury rig just about anything into a microphone-enabled headset with a Hands Free 3.5mm Adapter, if you can find a solid built-in option, there’s no reason to go through all the trouble.
Turtle Beach’s new “mobile” line offers three models: the M1, M3, and M5. Each subsequent model not only ups the bulkiness, but the functionality as well — not content with anything but the best, we got our hands on the Earforce M5.
The headphones themselves have a sleek black finish on the outside, with the unmistakeable Turtle Beach logo emblazoned upon the outer-cups. The inside hosts a grey looking material that looks cheap at first glance, but feels comfortable on your ears, and does a decent job of keeping out sound (although they’re nowhere near noise isolation, as I can still hear a lot of outside sound, even with the volume turned up).
Keep in mind that the Earforce M5 is available in a wired option only — in case you were looking for a Bluetooth enabled option, you’ll have to find it elsewhere. Cord length is probably the worst part of the unit — it’s a mere 39 inches long (compared to their other non-mobile Earforce options, which run at least 4-5 feet). As a result, you may need to bust out the extender if you’re planning on using it outside of portable devices.
The plug type is a standard 3.5mm 4-pole connector, but it has a separate PC adapter for dual microphone and headphone use (for reference, these are the green and salmon connectors). Thankfully, the ear-cups fold very nicely, which means you’ll pretty much never find yourself in an uncomfortable position, whether they’re on your ears, around your neck, or packed away. Overall, they feel pretty comfortable on the ears.
For the purposes of this review, I tested my Earforce M5s with the 3DS, Playstation Vita, Apple iPhone 4, Kindle Fire, and a PC. Out of all of these devices, I was most satisfied with the sound quality from the Playstation Vita — the 40mm speakers seemed to capture every nuance, and every high and low that my games could deliver.
While the maximum volume level wasn’t as powerful on the 3DS and the iPhone, the headset is still able to produce quality sound. For select devices (like iPhones), the M5 also contains music functionality, as well as an in-line mic that’s attached near the top of the cord. Using the mic’s button, you can pause, play and skip tracks (or videos) — I never had any issues during my testing.
The mic itself can not only be used on iPhone itself for incoming and outgoing calls, but with the aforementioned connector, you can use it on PC. Although the functionality is nice, it would be nice if there was a volume adjuster on the mic unit.
The $49.99 M5 is a great middle-ground between a light convenient headphone solution, and a giant bulky full stereo headset. I’m already finding myself keeping them close at hand whenever I need to review any Vita or 3DS games, and occasionally I take them along on trips for use with my iPhone. Alternatively, if I’m in a jam and I need headphones for any of my various PCs, I have that option as well.
If you’re in the market for some new headphones, I’d take a close look at the M5s — they may just suit your needs.