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Monday, January 21, 2013

One Pair Fits All: Turtle Beach CEO Talks Mobile, Gaming, and Becoming Your Own Audio Director - Forbes

One Pair Fits All: Turtle Beach CEO Talks Mobile, Gaming, and Becoming Your Own Audio Director - Forbes

One Pair Fits All: Turtle Beach CEO Talks Mobile, Gaming, and Becoming Your Own Audio Director

You’ve thought excitedly about hunting down your next pair of headphones, but have you ever considered purchasing your final pair of headphones? Certainly Turtle Beach values repeat business, but the company — who specializes in personal gaming audio — is starting to include more cross-platform usefulness into their headphones. Typically, gaming enthusiasts have confined their “gaming headphones” to the living room, but Turtle Beach CEO Juergen Stark wants to change that. I sat down with him and Community Marketing Manager Jeff Burchett to drill down into the company’s sharper focus on a “one pair fits all” mentality.
You’ve been with Turtle Beach since September 2012. What are you bringing to the table, and do you intend to shift the direction of the company?
Stark: Part of the reason I joined is I already liked their direction. It’s a company that has a lot of passion around perfecting the technology for gaming headsets. Despite not investing for many years on building brand, they had very loyal consumers based on the utility of the product, and that’s very well aligned with my philosophy on how a product should be done. So, it’s not a big change in direction. But there are some things reflected in the new products that have changed since September.
Like the mobile strategy?
Stark: Right. Instead of doing separate mobile products, when you buy our products they ought to do a great job in mobile use-cases. So now they have connectors for phone calls, music and movie presets – even the wireless models now, if you want to use them in a corded headset mode that option’s there. It just doesn’t make sense to compete in a mobile space with a different set of mobile headsets, everyone’s doing that.
Turtle Beach's new line focuses on unique features and cross-platform usability
Turtle Beach's new line focuses on unique features and cross-platform usability | Photo: Jason Evangelho
That platform-agnostic approach is what drew me to the SEVEN line. I have so many headsets for a variety of environments, and it’s just a hassle.
Stark: If you buy a gaming headset, you should be able to use it for anything. Other things we’re doing are more subtle. Beyond just the utility of the product – that’s the core no matter what – we’re paying more attention to designing a pair of headphones you want to take outside with you. To the packaging. To the inclusion of memory foam and customizable plates and dual-band wireless.
Jeff, tell me more about the dual-band functionality. Some companies go 2.4GHz, some go 5GHz.
Burchett: It’s WiFi certified, and when you turn the transmitter on it actually communicates and does a handshake with every wireless device around it. It establishes an open protocol area. It talks to your cell phone, to the N-router in your living room and says ‘I’m going to transmit here, you guys don’t transmit here anymore.’ We have them working here on the CES floor which I think is a statement on its own!
You guys are also starting to roll out dual-stage audio processing. What does that offer in practical terms?
Burchett: The consumer benefit is that it produces much more powerful presets. With the prior generation, you could say ‘I want my footsteps louder.’ With the XP500, PX51 and SEVEN, you can say: ‘I want my footsteps and reloads louder, but I want them louder in the back than in the front. I also want to turn down the volume of grenades and tanks, and I want to ensure that the maximum loudness of anything never exceeds X.’
Stark: When stereo headphone companies come in and try to do a gaming headset, they don’t get all this stuff. And the gamers are too smart. They wantreal technology.
Burchett: The more powerful the tool, the more inclined a game developer’s audio team is to use it. We’ve worked on presets with Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Ubisoft for Assassin’s Creed, we have presets from the Dead Space team…outside of that, we have the curated community presets. What we want publishers to understand is that when gamers at home put this headset on, it’s an opportunity for them to hear exactly what your developers heard in their monitors.
Stark: It’s a win/win for the game developers, because the more immersive they can make the experience, the more enjoyable it’s going to be and the higher the consumer loyalty is going to be.

To PAGE 2: 50mm Drivers and Future Proofed Headphones?

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