Black Friday deal: The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds have dropped by $80 on Amazon.com. See all deals on headphones.

SteelSeries TUSQ Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Oct 27, 2021 at 08:50 am
SteelSeries TUSQ Picture
5.9
Neutral Sound
5.4
Commute/Travel
6.7
Sports/Fitness
5.9
Office
4.8
Wireless Gaming
6.8
Wired Gaming
6.7
Phone Calls
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The SteelSeries TUSQ are simple, wired gaming headphones with a detachable boom mic. The boom mic's recording quality is excellent, so your voice sounds clear, natural, and accurate. These decently comfortable headphones also have an in-line mic, which is nice if you want a less gamer-centric look while you're on the go. That said, while they have a very excited sound profile that can help emphasize sound effects in games, it also muddies dialogue and lead instruments. Unfortunately, the buds lack an EQ to help adjust their sound to suit your tastes.

Our Verdict

5.9 Neutral Sound

The SteelSeries TUSQ are sub-par for neutral sound. They have a very excited sound profile that delivers intense thump, punch, and boom while vocals and lead instruments are bright. However, their extra bass muddies vocals and lead instruments. Sibilants are also piercing and painful. Unfortunately, they lack an EQ or presets to help customize their sound to your liking.

Pros
  • Decently comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Bad passive soundstage.
  • No EQ.
5.4 Commute/Travel

The SteelSeries TUSQ are disappointing for commute and travel. While they have a decently comfortable fit, they struggle to block out the low rumble of bus and plane engines. They also lack volume controls, which is a little disappointing. On the upside, they come with a small pouch to help protect them from light water exposure when you're on the go.

Pros
  • Decently comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Sub-par noise isolation performance.
  • Sub-par controls.
  • Bad passive soundstage.
6.7 Sports/Fitness

The SteelSeries TUSQ are okay for sports and fitness, although they're not designed for this purpose. They're comfortable and have a stable-in ear fit, thanks to their flexible ear-hook design. However, they have a non-detachable audio cable, which can snag on something and pull them off of your ears. They also lack an IP rating for water resistance.

Pros
  • Decently comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Sub-par controls.
5.9 Office

The SteelSeries TUSQ are middling for office use. They have a decently comfortable and well-built design. They also don't leak too much audio at high volumes, so if you like to crank your music up, you shouldn't disturb others around you. While they struggle to block out some background sounds, they do a good job of passively isolating you from office chatter.

Pros
  • Decently comfortable and well-built.
  • Able to block out a good amount of mid-range noise.
Cons
  • Sub-par controls.
  • Bad passive soundstage.
4.8 Wireless Gaming

The SteelSeries TUSQ are wired-only headphones, and you can't use them wirelessly.

6.8 Wired Gaming

The SteelSeries TUSQ are fair for wired gaming. These simple, wired gaming headphones have a comfortable fit and a boom microphone that can capture your voices clearly and accurately. However, the mic struggles to separate your voice from moderate ambient noise around you. The buds also lack any sound customization features, so you won't be able to change their sound to your liking.

Pros
  • Excellent recording quality.
  • Decently comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Sub-par controls.
  • Bad passive soundstage.
6.7 Phone Calls

The SteelSeries TUSQ are alright for phone calls. Their detachable boom mic can record your voice clearly and naturally. However, if you're talking in a moderately noisy environment like a busy street, your voice may get drowned out. Unfortunately, the headphones struggle to block out background noise, and it may be hard to hear what the other person on the call is saying.

Pros
  • Excellent recording quality.
  • Decently comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Sub-par noise isolation performance.
  • Sub-par controls.
  • 5.9 Neutral Sound
  • 5.4 Commute/Travel
  • 6.7 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.9 Office
  • 4.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.8 Wired Gaming
  • 6.7 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Oct 27, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Oct 22, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The SteelSeries TUSQ have a similar design to the Turtle Beach Battle Buds with an in-line mic and controls as well as a thin, flexible, and detachable boom mic. The earbuds are oval-shaped and have a shiny metallic silver finish. The manufacturer's logo is also on both buds. Unfortunately, these headphones only come in one color variation: 'Black'.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.05 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The SteelSeries TUSQ have a decently comfortable fit. They have malleable ear hooks and come with three sets of differently-sized ear tips so that you can find the best fit possible. They also don't put too much pressure on your ears. However, they're not as comfortable as the Logitech G333. Some users may also find they have a deep in-ear fit, and the ear hook can be a bit bothersome over time.

5.7
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control No
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The SteelSeries TUSQ have sub-par controls. While they're very easy to use and are located on the audio cable, there is only a multi-function button and a slider, which is limiting. Unfortunately, they lack volume controls, and there are no beeps or voice prompts, by design. However, the button and slider feel clicky and responsive. It's also very easy to know when you've registered a command.

Multi-function button:

  • One click: Plays and pauses audio.
  • Double click: Skips your track forward.
  • Triple click: Skips your track backward.
  • Hold: Activates voice assistant.

Slider:

  • Slide left and right: Mutes and unmutes the microphone.

9.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0.8 °C

LIke most in-ears, the SteelSeries TUSQ have incredible breathability. Since they don't cover your outer ear, they don't trap in much heat, so you shouldn't sweat more than usual, even if you're wearing them during moderate physical exercise. They're not designed for this purpose, though.

8.9
Design
Portability
L 3.3" (8.5 cm)
W 1.3" (3.4 cm)
H 1.0" (2.6 cm)
Volume 4.58 in³ (75.00 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

These headphones have excellent portability. You can detach their boom microphone for improved portability, and they should fit into most pockets or bags without too much of an issue. They also come with a carrying case to help protect them when you're on the go.

5.5
Design
Case
Type Pouch
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

The carrying case is sub-par. It's very thin and made of fabric, meaning it can protect the headphones from dust and light water exposure, but that's about it.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The SteelSeries TUSQ have a decent build quality and are mostly made of silicone and plastic. They also have a detachable boom microphone, but the mic's connection point on the bud is fairly loose, and the mic can disconnect easily. They also lack an IP rating for dust and water resistance, although this is to be expected from gaming headphones.

7.5
Design
Stability

The SteelSeries TUSQ have good stability. Thanks to their flexible ear hooks, they shouldn't move around, even during moderate physical activity. They're not designed for this purpose, though, and their audio cable can easily get hooked on something and pull them out of your ears.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • SteelSeries TUSQ In-Ear headphones
  • Carrying case
  • 3x ear tips
  • Detachable boom mic

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
5.03 dB
Treble Amount
-1.71 dB

The SteelSeries TUSQ have a very excited sound profile that delivers intense thump, rumble, and boom, which can help emphasize sound effects in your gameplay. While dialogue and lead instruments sound bright, they're easily muddied by the overemphasis in bass. Unfortunately, they lack a companion app or built-in EQ presets to help you customize their sounds to suit your tastes.

9.2
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.16 dB

The SteelSeries TUSQ have outstanding frequency response consistency. Once you achieve a proper seal using the included ear tips, you should experience consistent bass and treble delivery each time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
4.9
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
8.53 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
8 dB
Mid-Bass
9.77 dB
High-Bass
10.28 dB

The bass accuracy of these in-ears is poor. It's overemphasized across the range, resulting in intense thump, punch, and boom. However, it sounds very overwhelming and muddy.

6.7
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.37 dB
Low-Mid
7.08 dB
Mid-Mid
0.96 dB
High-Mid
-0.69 dB

The SteelSeries TUSQ's mid accuracy is okay. There's overemphasis coming from the bass range into the low-mid, which clutters and muddies your mixes. The rest of the mid-range is well-balanced and neutral, so vocals and lead instruments sound slightly forward but present and clear.

7.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.5 dB
Mid-Treble
7.08 dB
Low-Treble
0.26 dB
High-Treble
-0.39 dB

The SteelSeries TUSQ have satisfactory treble accuracy. The low-treble is fairly neutral, so the upper harmonics of vocals and lead instruments sound detailed and articulated. However, the mid-treble is very overemphasized, resulting in sibilants like cymbals becoming piercing and painful.

7.1
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.92 dB
Dips
1.44 dB

The peaks and dips performance is satisfactory. A bump in the high-bass to low-mid makes your mixes muddy and cluttered, while a prolonged dip in the mid-mid to low-treble nudges vocals and lead instruments to the back of your mix while weakening their clarity and detail. A peak in the mid-treble makes sibilants such as S and T sounds piercing.

9.1
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.13
Weighted Phase Mismatch
1.22
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.76
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
0.92

The SteelSeries TUSQ's imaging performance is outstanding. The group delay falls beneath the audibility threshold, ensuring tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. While there's a small peak above the phase response's audibility threshold in the mid-mid, it shouldn't be an issue with regular content. The L/R drivers are well-matched in terms of phase, amplitude, and frequency response, resulting in the accurate placement and localization of objects like footsteps in the stereo image. However, our results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

1.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
4.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.1

The SteelSeries TUSQ's passive soundstage is bad, but this is to be expected from in-ear headphones. To create an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage, your outer ear needs to be activated by sound resonances. However, these headphones bypass your outer ear altogether, resulting in a passive soundstage that seems closed-off and as if coming from inside your head.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
8.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.198
WHD @ 100
0.079

The weighted harmonic distortion performance is great. All frequencies fall within good levels, resulting in clear and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Boom

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
5.4
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-13.6 dB
Bass
-2.52 dB
Mid
-15.04 dB
Treble
-24.53 dB

The SteelSeries TUSQ's noise isolation performance is disappointing. They don't have active noise cancelling (ANC), and even though they have an in-ear fit, they barely block out the low rumbles of bus and plane engines. That said, they do a much better job of cutting down ambient chatter and can help reduce the high-pitched sounds of an AC unit.

8.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
32.26 dB

The SteelSeries TUSQ In-Ear's leakage performance is great. Leakage is mostly concentrated in the treble range, and escaping audio sounds thin. If you like to listen to your audio at high volumes, it shouldn't be too noticeable in a moderately noisy environment such as an office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
Yes
Boom
Yes
Detachable Boom
Yes

These headphones have both a detachable boom mic and an in-line mic. Our results reflect the boom mic's performance.

8.7
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
20 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
1.68 dB
HFE
7,671.33 Hz
Weighted THD
0.115
Gain
21.92 dB

The boom mic's recording quality is excellent. Your voice sounds clear, accurate, and natural.

We also tried the in-line mic's recording quality using Windows Voice Recorder, and it sounds very similar to the boom microphone, although a little less clear.

6.0
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
18.26 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
6.0
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
6.0
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The noise handling performance of the boom mic is mediocre. The mic has a hard time separating your voice from moderate ambient noise, and it can get drowned out if there's a lot of activity going on around you.

The in-line's mic has a worse noise handling performance. It sits further from your mouth than the boom mic and has a harder time capturing your voice clearly. As a result, your voice can get lost in moderate background noise, such as an open window with traffic outside.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None
0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No
Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length 3.94 ft (1.20 m)
Connection
1/8" TRRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

The SteelSeries TUSQ In-Ear have a non-detachable 1/8" TRRS cable that you can use on any device that has an AUX port.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio + Microphone
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

You can connect these headphones to your PC using the 1/8" TRRS cable and receive full mic and audio compatibility.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No

The SteelSeries TUSQ are fully compatible with PS4 and PS5 consoles when connecting their analog cable to your controller's AUX port.

Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones have full audio and mic support when connected to your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S' controller via analog.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The SteelSeries TUSQ come in one color variant: 'Black', and you can see our model's label here and here. If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The SteelSeries TUSQ are wired gaming headphones. Like the Turtle Beach Battle Buds, these headphones have a detachable boom microphone, and it offers an excellent recording quality, so your voice sounds clear and accurate to your teammates. They also have an in-line mic, which is nice if you need to take calls on the go. However, their sound profile is very excited and bass-heavy, which can muddy vocals and lead instruments. They also lack sound customization features, so you won't be able to customize them to your liking, and they're not as comfortable as the Logitech G333.

Check out our recommendations for the best earbuds for gaming. If you're looking for more gaming headphones, try our recommendations for the best gaming headsets and the best gaming headsets under $50.

Logitech G333

The SteelSeries TUSQ are a better choice for wired gaming than the Logitech G333 if you like to chat with others, but the Logitech are more versatile. The SteelSeries have a better overall mic performance, thanks to their detachable and flexible boom mic. However, if you don't prioritize mic quality, the Logitech are more comfortable, feel better built, and have volume controls. Their sound profile is more neutral too, which some users may prefer, and they come with an AUX to USB-C adapter.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are significantly better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries TUSQ. The Arctis Pro are more comfortable and better built, have a more neutral default sound profile, and you can customize their sound to your liking using their companion software's graphic EQ and presets. They also have a better overall mic performance, can be used wirelessly, and support Bluetooth as well as non-Bluetooth wireless. However, some users may prefer the TUSQ's lightweight and easily portable design.

SteelSeries Arctis 1

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are better wired headphones than the SteelSeries TUSQ. The Arctis 1 have a better overall mic performance and can create a more wide and spacious passive soundstage. However, the TUSQ are better built and have more consistent audio delivery.

Turtle Beach Battle Buds

The SteelSeries TUSQ are better wired gaming headphones than the Turtle Beach Battle Buds. The SteelSeries are more comfortable, feel better built, and have a more neutral sound profile, although it's still very excited. The boom microphone also has a significantly better recording quality. However, the Turtle Beach have volume controls, and their mic is significantly better at separating your voice from ambient noise around you.

1More Triple Driver

The 1More Triple Driver are somewhat better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries TUSQ. While both are decently comfortable and well-built, the 1More have a significantly more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer. They're also able to block out a bit more background noise, and their in-line mic has a better noise handling performance. However, the SteelSeries have a detachable boom mic, which some users may prefer, and it offers a significantly better recording quality.

EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Truly Wireless

The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Truly Wireless and the SteelSeries TUSQ have different strengths, and you may prefer either one. The EPOS are wireless gaming headphones that support Bluetooth and have very low latency when using their USB-C dongle. They feel better built, have a more comfortable fit, their sound profile is more neutral, which some users may prefer, and they support Dolby 7.1. They're also able to block out more background sound, and their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize their sound to your liking. In contrast, the SteelSeries are wired gaming headphones, ensuring virtually no latency, and they have a detachable boom mic that offers a significantly better overall performance.

Corsair Void PRO RGB Wireless

The Corsair Void PRO RGB Wireless and the SteelSeries TUSQ have different strengths, and you may prefer either one. The Corsair are wireless gaming headphones with a more comfortable fit, a customizable sound profile, thanks to their companion app's graphic EQ and presets, and their boom mic offers a better noise handling performance. However, the SteelSeries have a more lightweight and portable design. Their boom mic also delivers a significantly better recording quality, and they also come with an in-line microphone if you want to take calls on the go.

+ Show more

Recommended Articles

Discussions