When I listen to music, it's simple, the sound is the most important thing, and I choose headphones with that criteria in mind. When I play, however, it's a completely different story. The sound must be crystal clear so I can instantly hear where enemies are shooting, and the chat must be clearly separated from the game sound so that communication is not drowned out by explosions.
In addition, I would like to have mic-monitoring, the opportunity to highlight the sound of shoes from people sneaking around the floor above me in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Ideally, I'd also like my headphones to be wireless with a good battery life. Often something has to give way and it is usually the sound that does not deliver at the same level that headphones intended for music in some kind of compromise.
Audeze is therefore particularly interesting because it is a distinctive sound brand and it isn't connected to gaming primarily such as giants like Razer, Steelseries and Turtle Beach. When I unpack the Audeze Penrose X, they are heavily packaged in protective foam, which is no wonder as these are costly gadgets packed with the company's patented Planar Magnetic solution with elements of 100mm in diameter (frequency range of 10-50000 Hz). In addition, there is the stuff we have become accustomed to from their "ordinary" headphones such as both Fluxor and Fazor Neodymium magnetic systems as well as Uniforce membranes.
Despite this, it is a lightweight headset we are talking about as it weighs just 300g, and it has a battery life of around 15 hours. So on paper, it looks pretty promising. If the convenience of wearing them, the features and ease of use matches the sound, then it is an obvious recommendation. So how does it perform then?
The cups are clad in imitated leather and have so-called memory foam to give a comfortable feeling. And Audeze absolutely manages to deliver this, although I think Steelseries is still the market leader in this area. The left cup has all the sockets and controls and at first glance looks like something of a hub. There is a dedicated socket for the microphone, one for USB-C and one for 3.5mm audio. In addition, we find two control dials (chat and audio volume), one on/off button, one switch for muting the microphone and finally a button that selects functionality.
It should be said that after spending time with the Xbox Wireless Headset for a few weeks, I am not completely sold on this headset's solution when it comes to controls. You simply have to prepare for mistakes when pressing the buttons in the heat of battle. In addition, each dial has several features such as being able to double-click the wheel that controls the chat volume in order to adjust the balance between the game sound and the chat.
Getting started with the headset is easy and the box comes with a 2.4GHz dongle that plugs into Xbox Series S/X, after which you can just use it. You can also connect it to a PC with the same dongle and thanks to the 3.5mm even to a lot of other things. Of course, Bluetooth is also supported so you can connect it directly to your mobile. By double-clicking the volume slider, you switch between Bluetooth and Xbox (again, a lot of controls), and the on/off button is used to sync, answer the phone, and the like.
Although I've seen more intuitive solutions than what Audeze offers, there's no doubt that it works well once you get the settings in order the way you want it and get used to it. Penrose X plays very nicely straight out of the box and delivers a magically good punch in the sound. It is of such quality that it is good enough for film and music even (and you can use AudezeHQ app to fine-tune the levels further), and since the mic is easily removable, you don't have to look like a fool if you use Penrose X for anything other than gaming.
The microphone deserves mostly praise and it is fairly long to get it in front of your mouth. My co-players have commented several times on how good it actually sounds and I think that alone makes it extra interesting for those who stream and are keen to give those who watch/listen an extra nice experience. However, it is a rather sensitive instrument and putting it too close to your mouth makes everyone hear you breathe, while even the slightest wrong angle makes it sound like you are sitting in a closet playing.
Audeze Penrose X is the first dedicated gaming headset I've tested where I experience the fewest number of compromises. The sound is really the best I have ever experienced in these contexts and the mic also does a absolutely brilliant job when set right. The controls are lacking from a design perspective, however, and it can lead to you pushing the wrong buttons. Still, if you can just live with it and have been looking for a dedicated gaming headset that sounds great too for music and movies, you can stop now. Even if the price tag of $299 is pretty hefty, it is worth every cent.