Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Turtle Beach Recon Controller for Xbox puts game audio in your hands

For some players it may be a game-changer.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read

The Turtle Beach Recon's something extra: a built-in amplifier for a connected analog headset.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Audio veteran and gaming headset maker Turtle Beach's first game controller, specializes in -- what else -- bringing amplified audio to a controller. The new $60 (£50, AU$100) USB Recon Controller works with the Xbox or PC, adding equalizer presets, volume, mic mute, mic monitoring and more to any analog headset you plug into it. The controller is in preorder now and slated to ship in August.

I love having the audio settings at my fingertips. Like many people, I've felt frustrated by the general absence of audio controls on other controllers. Even if your headset has volume settings on an earcup or inline on the cable, they're much easier to change on the fly using the illuminated buttons on the controller rather than groping around your ears trying to distinguish the mute from the power button or the game/chat balance from the volume controls. 

In addition to the equalizer, the controller includes the company's Superhuman Hearing. It's intended to amplify quiet sounds so you can hear that twig snap behind you, but I find it boosts everything enough that I prefer it to any of the equalization presets.


You can get it in black or gray and white to match your Xbox Series X or S (or older models).

Lori Grunin/CNET

In addition to the audio controls, you can save the back Action button mappings and Pro Aim setting (which adjusts the sensitivity of the right stick) to one of four profiles, including turning them off.  

I like the Action buttons better than the standard left and right buttons. They're easier for me to manipulate with my ring fingers, since the regular buttons aren't exactly under my forefingers and feel like more of a contortion to get to. They have a rough texture, which I wasn't crazy about initially but eventually I got used to it. 

Because they're mapped in the controller, they remain consistent across games and from console to PC. But if you don't want them to retain that mapping for every game, you can save different combinations to the profiles.


There are left and right Action buttons underneath. I prefer them to the standard left and right buttons, since they fall more naturally under my ring fingers. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

The rubberized grips were more of an issue, though. The grip type is a personal preference; some people like the feel, others don't. I'm in the "like" camp and several of my controllers have them. 

I didn't like these much. Turtle Beach claims the design allows for airflow to help prevent the "sweaty palm" problem, but I found they made it worse. My hands felt sticky after about 45 minutes of play.

The placement of the custom controls means the two menu buttons are lower down on the controller than your muscle memory may be used to. It took me a while to adapt, but at least you can't screw things up if you accidentally hit one of the custom settings buttons.

It's not the best controller around but it's not bad. And for some folks, the built-in amp may make it worth switching from an older, more comfortable model.