One of the best headsets available in the sub £50 market, the Recon Spark is definitely worth considering.
- Manufacturer: Turtle Beach
- Type: Headset
- Release date: 28th July 2019
- Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Mobile, PC
- Price: £39.99/$49.99
- Supplied by: Turtle Beach
Turtle Beach has an excellent reputation, and for good reason. We have reviewed a lot of different headsets, from their most basic entry level units, to Pro level high-end headsets, and we have yet to find one that isn’t of an exceptional standard.
The Ear Force Recon Spark is the latest headset to be released by Turtle Beach. Coming in at the lower end of the pricing range, you can pick up the Recon Spark for a very reasonable £39.99 / $49.99. Despite this headset sitting at the budget end of the range, I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality. Fitted with a metal reinforced headband, the Recon Spark feels sturdy, but still manages to be very lightweight. I tried flexing the headset in various directions and pulling on the earcups, and there were no loose panels or any of the creaky sounds that can manifest in other budget hardware.
The headset comes in a rather fetching white and lavender colourway, with the main body of the unit being white, with accents of lavender around the earcups, and a lavender cable. It’s a very subtle pastel colour, and it looks great. The top of the headband has a textured pattern, with an engraved Turtle Beach logo, and it is visually appealing. The colour scheme is unconventional, however, I can envision it being very popular among many people tired of the usual, aggressively styled, black or camouflage options. I’d like the option of an all white headset to fit my setup, and hopefully Turtle Beach will in future expand the range of colours available, especially given the Recon Spark’s compatibility with so many different devices.
In use, the Recon Spark is extremely comfortable to wear, and the faux leather covered memory foam ear cushions are incredibly soft. Coupled with the foam padding on the headband, and the light weight, the Spark is well suited to long gaming sessions, and I had none of the issues I occasionally get with heavier headsets (I have a chunky headset that leaves indents in the top of my head after prolonged use – yes, it’s as uncomfortable as it sounds). A feature that has trickled down from Turtle Beach’s top end headsets, that I was very eager to try, is the ProSpecs™ Glasses Relief System. In layman’s terms, it’s softer foam in the part of the ear cup where glasses usually sit. I use contact lenses during the day, but in the evening I like to wear my glasses, and I often find headsets apply a lot of pressure to the temples of the glasses, which can cause nasty headaches. I’m pleased to report that this is more than just a gimmicky feature, and the Recon Spark is without a doubt the most comfortable headset I’ve used whilst wearing glasses.
Whilst being comfortable and stylish is all well and good, it all counts for nought if the sound quality is subpar. I have tried the Recon Spark on a plethora of devices and in various usage scenarios, and I’ve been very impressed. Whether it’s listening to music, playing games or watching movies, I love my audio loud, and even though they don’t have noise cancelling, the closed back design allowed me to blast out audio to my heart’s content, with little interference from external distractions. I experienced no distortion during my testing, and although there were a few issues, which I shall cover, the Recon Spark performed admirably.
When it comes to music, I have an eclectic taste, so I tested the Spark on various genres, from Heavy Metal to Hardcore, Dubstep to Rock, and Classical to Pop. The quality, while not perfect, was very good. I found at very high volumes that the bass lost some separation, with the distinction between instruments being somewhat lost. Mid-range sounds were above average, especially at this price point, but I found the treble to be lacking clarity when competing with heavier bass sounds. This crush is to be expected, given the Spark only has a 100Hz – 10,000Hz range, but unless you are listening carefully to audio from a very clean source, it’s unlikely to be problematic.
Movies and TV Shows were a pleasure to consume with the Spark. Using the Dolby Atmos setting on the Xbox One X, the surround effect was sublime. Voices were clear and distinct, explosions and dramatic action scenes were accompanied by a suitable punch at low frequencies, but as with music, the muffled treble while there were lots of competing frequencies was a little disappointing. It’s a minor complaint, and one which most users won’t notice or care about, but for audiophiles, it may not be enough. For such a bargainous price, I doubt many expect reference headset levels of clarity though, and at its price point the Recon Spark is more than satisfactory, if not excellent.
All this leads me onto gaming, which, let’s be honest, is the main reason people will be buying this headset. I tested the Recon Spark with a variety of games, but the best one for really experiencing the nuances of in-game audio that I have played recently is Red Dead Redemption 2. Everything sounds superb through the Recon Spark. From the rustling undergrowth, to the creaking, rickety stagecoaches, to the crunch of the ground underneath your feet, it all sounds excellent. The game music sounded deep and full, and the crush of bass and muted treble I had previously experienced seemed less apparent.
The built-in microphone is excellent, with my friends able to hear me clearly across online gaming chat, as well as over phone calls, however, due to the location of the microphone, I did have to speak at a reasonable level for it to pick up my voice properly. The flip to mute feature is handy, although I had mine plugged into the Ear Force Headset Audio Controller (sold separately) while gaming on Xbox, and I’d recommend Xbox users pick one of these up, purely for the ease of adjusting the game/chat balance. I found the folding mechanism handy for tucking the microphone out of the way while watching movies or playing single player games, and the headset mounted volume control was very useful for when I was using it on other devices, especially when watching films.
It’s a testament to the quality of the Recon Spark that I even begin to compare it with high-end headsets I’ve used before, and it puts up an admirable fight. Even though it falls short against the best-of-the-best when it comes to overall quality of audio, you are looking at a £200+ price differential, and the Spark should be commended. At lower volume levels, you still experience the lacking treble, but the bass carries an unexpected but desirable richness, and the soundscape it allows is magnificent for a £40 headset. Make no mistake, at this price, the Recon Spark is almost unbeatable.
At this price point, you’d be hard pressed to find a better performing headset, and it surpasses many more expensive headsets. Build quality is excellent, and as usual, Turtle Beach have provided a high quality, durable headset with the Recon Spark. High volume listening is very good, with no distortion and only a minor loss of detail in the extremes, and low volume listening is still enjoyable. The colour scheme may not be for everyone, but the design is tastefully done and the headset is extremely comfortable, especially for glasses wearers.