It’s really hard to shop for a pair of inexpensive headphones. There’s so many of them out there, and between “gaming”, “non-gaming”, and “mobile-only” headphones, it’s tough to find something that’s fairly cheap that will suit your needs.
Thankfully, Turtle Beach let us test-drive the Earforce Z11 model , to give us a better feel for their cheaper PC headphone line.
While they have some minor issues, so long as you’re not looking for a top-end pair of PC headphones, you really can’t go wrong with the Z11 model.
Turtle Beach’s PC line is a bit sturdier than their mobile line; probably because they plan on you having them hooked up to your PC, in a constantly flux of use. The cups that house the speakers feel a bit flimsy, but the cushions are much more firm than their mobile line, which most likely means that they will have a longer lifespan before ripping up. There’s a nice cushion on the top of the unit, so it doesn’t hurt you head as much as other pairs would.
The four foot cord could be a bit bigger, considering they aren’t mobile headphones, but you could always get an extender, or use the included green/salmon AV cables for a longer length. Although the Turtle Beach logo is emblazoned on the top and sides the unit, if you’re viewing them directly from the front or back (such as the header picture), they look incredibly sleek, and decidedly non-busy.
The 50mm speakers deliver a decent volume at a fairly solid sound quality. Unlike the Earforce M5, the Z11s do not have guaranteed mobile phone capabilities built-in. As it’s primarily a PC headset first and foremost, there is a standard microphone available, but Turtle Beach warns in the documentation that you shouldn’t use the control unit on the headset itself to mute calls, or it may cause issues. As a result, it’s probably better to get an alternate headset if you plan on mostly making non-PC calls on a consistent basis.
Alternatively, the Z11s are great for recording podcasts and the like, as the mic doesn’t pick up a whole lot of extra feedback, so long as you keep it close to your mouth. The unit also has a volume control and mute button about one foot down on the cable, should you feel the need to adjust your settings manually. Additionally, it has a clip, so you can tuck it in your pocket if needed, and the mic itself is made out of a wire frame material, making it easy to bend to your will.
In terms of functionality, the Z11s are fairly standard PC headphones. You can podcast with them fairly easily, and there’s no sight of mass feedback like the X11s (which I also have). If there was one major improvement I could make on the Z11s in terms of functionality, it would probably be the ability to separately control microphone and device sound levels, side by side, on the control unit (like the X11s). As it stands, you can only control the device’s volume.
The firm cushions and the top unit cushion ensure that they are fairly comfortable to wear consistently. In fact, I tested them for multiple days, using them approximately eight hours straight while writing some reviews, and didn’t find them to be uncomfortable at any point.
In essence, for the price you pay for them, the Z11 headset is fairly simple in design, and extremely comfortable. As long as you’re not an audiophile, you won’t mind the fairly underpowered lows that the Z11s offer.