Audeze Penrose Review Wireless Gaming Headphones

Audeze Penrose Review

After the success of Mobius, the hi-fi brand Audeze is making a comeback on the gaming headset market by launching its very first wireless headset – Audeze Penrose. But are its sound performances worthy of the visual prowess of next-generation games?

PROS:

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Connection options include Bluetooth and cable connections.
  • Simple to use

CONS:

  • No spatial audio or simulated surround processing

Presentation

Two years after the Mobius, it’s very first headset dedicated to video games. The American brand Audeze is now going wireless gaming with the Audeze Penrose. In addition to this ablation of the cord, the newborn shows an obvious bond of filiation with his elder, not only from a cosmetic point of view but also concerning his technological foundations. The Penrose has the particularity, like the Mobius, of using planar magnetic transducers – a technology that Audeze has made one of the most eminent specialists in the world.

On the other hand, unlike the Mobius, the Audeze Penrose does not embed any virtual surround sound technology. The headset having been designed to accompany the new generation game consoles, its manufacturer did not consider it worthwhile to burden it with such a solution which would have duplicated those already offered natively by the said consoles – that it s’ Whether it is the Tempest 3D AudioTech of the PlayStation 5 or the Dolby Atmos for Headphones and DTS Headphone: X processing available on Xbox consoles (and on Windows 10).

The model we are testing here is the “classic” Penrose, whose USB wireless transceiver is compatible with PS4, PS5, Windows, macOS, and even Nintendo Switch. The headset is also available in a Penrose X variant, which is compatible with Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, and Windows 10.

Manufacturing of Audeze Penrose

The Audeze Penrose takes up to the letter the construction of the Mobius, on which it would be hard to find anything to complain about. Yet, without impressing in any way, the helmet inspires confidence with its excellent plastic. We particularly appreciate the great flexibility of the hoop, which consequently presents minimal risk of breakage.
Overall, the assembly is solid; just would we have liked that the joints of the atria offer a little more fluid movement. We would also not have refused a small storage pouch, which the manufacturer does not provide.

Comfort

As always, with planar magnetic technology, the Penrose is a heavy helmet, significantly more than the average helmet of its kind. Its 320 g does not allow it to be forgotten entirely when worn. Fortunately, this weight is, however, instead well distributed over the width of the skull, and it is therefore mainly possible to wear the helmet for long hours without feeling any actual discomfort.

The atria, very wide and deep, will have no trouble encompassing the vast majority of ear flaps without any annoying contact with the cartilage.

Note that despite the thickness of the pads, the helmet provides only relatively low sound insulation. However, this observation is not taken into account in our rating since, depending on the uses of each person, it may just as well be perceived as a disadvantage as an advantage.

Connectivity

The Audeze Penrose is supplied with a USB wireless transmitter/receiver, with which it communicates via a proprietary 2.4 GHz radio link. This transmitter uses the USB Audio Class 1 protocol, perfectly standard, which allows it to be used in the plug – & – play on all platforms with which it is compatible: PS4, PS5, Windows and macOS computers, and Nintendo Switch (via one of the USB-A ports on the dock). Only the Xbox consoles are resisting – for the latter, it will be necessary to turn to the Penrose X.

And that’s not all, since the headset also has Bluetooth connectivity for connecting to mobile devices, perfect for listening to music and watching a video. On the other hand, it is necessary to cross on the mobile game: the broadcasting latency of 249 ms is unfortunately far too high for that.

Finally, the headset is supplied with a mini-jack to mini-jack cable, allowing an analog connection and a USB-A to USB-C cable. Please note that the latter cannot be used to transmit an audio signal: it is only used for recharging and accessing the settings offered by the Audeze HQ control application.

Controls & application

The Audeze Penrose has complete controls, which of course, include the essential volume knobs, microphone open/close switch, and button to switch between the different sources (USB transmitter, Bluetooth, and mini-jack), but also a second knob allowing you to adjust the sensitivity of the microphone on the fly – enough to avoid a painful back and forth in the audio settings of your PC or console when our gaming partners complain that they hear us too much or not loud enough. Only minor frustration: neither the sensitivity adjustment of the microphone nor the sound volume adjustment of the headset can unify with those of the PC or the console. It is, therefore, better to leave them at the maximum level and only use the headset knobs.

The headphones work in tandem with the Audeze HQ app, available on Windows and macOS, and a mobile version on Android – but not on iOS as of this writing, alas. This application allows you to configure the inactivity time before the headset automatically switches off (1 h by default, adjustable between 5 min and six h, or even wholly deactivate), activate the sidetone (return of the microphone to the earbuds), and last but not least, to configure the five equalization profiles stored on the headphones.

Beautiful things, but not at all as easy to use as we would like. The application has the very curious limitation of only working on a PC when the headset is connected directly by USB to the computer. However, there remains the possibility of using the mobile version of the application – provided that you are on Android, therefore! -, which, however, only works when the headset is connected via Bluetooth to your smartphone. Does this mean that we no longer can monitor “live” the effect of equalization on the sound signal emitted via the USB adapter? No: despite all intuition, when the headset is configured on the Bluetooth input, it does indeed continue to emit the signal received from the USB transmitter, superimposed on the signal received via Bluetooth. Understand who can …

All this to say that at the end of the day, you do find a way to use all the features of the helmet in just about every possible situation, but only after spending a few hours pulling your hair out to fully understand the operation of the machine, at times incredibly counter-intuitive. All this deserves to be significantly simplified.

Autonomy

The Penrose offers only modest battery life – unsurprisingly for a headset with planar magnetic speakers, a technology that consumes a lot of energy. Promised at 3 p.m. by the manufacturer, the endurance of the helmet did not rise until 11 a.m. during our measurement. As always, this value may vary depending on the volume setting or, to a lesser extent, the distance between the headphones and the transmitter/receiver.

Be that as it may, the most relentless players will therefore have to remember to recharge their headphones every day or so, so as not to risk sinking into silence in the middle of the game. Note, moreover, that if ever the blackout were to occur, even the mini-jack cable would not be of any help since the headphones cannot function in passive mode; they must be turned on to emit sound under any circumstances. Fortunately, however, it can be used while charging.

Audio

Due to the physical similarity between the Penrose and the Mobius, one would have expected the Penrose to be just a sound transfer of its brother – less integrated virtual spatialization. However, this is not the case: his sound performances show significant changes… for some, a little disturbing.

Thus, while the Mobius was striking with its exemplary neutrality, the Penrose presents a profile with sensitive colorations, particularly this large hollow in the frequency response in the transition from medium to high (around 5 to 6 kHz), so standard among gaming headsets. This feature very strongly attenuates the sharpness of the audio message – which can be seen as an advantage by the followers of the “intense” game since it reduces the auditory fatigue which one can feel during very long listening sessions. However, in absolute terms, it manifests itself above all as a slight lack of presence and transparency of the sound. This is all the more true as by contrast effect. Auditory attention can shift to the treble,

Fortunately, all of this is correctable, at least in part, thanks to the equalization offered via the Audeze HQ app – it is all the more unfortunate that using the latter can be so tedious. The solution is certainly not perfect: noticeable irregularities in the treble then remaining present, which can, in particular, be designated as responsible for a somewhat narrow stereophonic scene. However, you get used to it very quickly.

Apart from this single reproach, we still find on the Audeze Penrose the clarity and sonic dynamics that we had so enthusiastic about with the Mobius. The lower half of the spectrum, in particular, is free from any reproach. We are particularly impressed by the breathtaking depth of the bass – which of course, benefit from the very generous width of the membranes (10 cm), enabled by planar magnetic technology. Despite the slight decrease in frequency response below 60Hz, low frequencies’ presence and physical impact are very dramatic. This is very beneficial for the soundtracks of games and films with great spectacle, whose LFE channel takes on a monumental scale without ever crushing the rest of the spectrum. But listening to music also knows how to benefit from it,

Microphone

Unfortunately, the microphone is the most disappointing element of the Penrose, even to the point of being able to be considered as its Achilles heel. It offers a very narrow voice capture without any heat and with an unnatural timbre. The intelligibility is at least correct, but hardly more.

What is more, the low directivity of the microphone gives it an unfortunate tendency to catch external noises. So be careful not to play in a busy environment or activate push-to-talk if you don’t want to be hated by your playing partners.

CONCLUSION

The Audeze Penrose is a UFO in the gaming headset market with its sound performance which, although imperfect, shows flashes (the depth of bass!) That its competitors would not even dare to dream of. Its complexity of use, limited autonomy, and barely good microphone make it a headset that will not suit everyone. But to those for whom it will suit, it should be trendy.

Audeze Penrose Review Wireless Gaming Headphones
Audeze Penrose Review Wireless Gaming Headphones

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