The Audeze Penrose X Wireless gaming headset comes with serious audio lineage, and while it does many things right, it is also less than perfect in others. In the gaming world, with competition so tough, straddling that line is a hard place to be.
Gaming headsets are not exactly known for their impeccable sound quality, most of them prioritizing a wide soundstage, comfort, and booming bass over an even frequency response that would deliver a more pleasing auditory experience. That’s understandable; these three things will better serve gamers than a sound that audiophiles will approve of.
Nevertheless, there are also a few out there that do an excellent job overall, enhancing those elements that are useful for gamers without compromising on sound quality. SteelSeries’ Arctis gaming headsets belong in this latter category. As do, perhaps to a more modest extent, the Razer Opus and Logitech G Pro.
Audeze seems to have done it the other way around, prioritizing sound quality above all else including comfort. The Audeze Penrose X Wireless gaming headset sounds fantastic, better than any other gaming headset this writer has tested. The same can be said for its mic and soundstage, which at its unprocessed form is wider than anything else we’ve come across.
Unfortunately, the bass is restrained, which might disappoint bassheads. And when it comes to comfort, the pincer-tight fit straight out of the box and lack of top padding can make them hard to wear.
Audeze Penrose X Wireless Headset Review: design and setup
The Audeze Penrose X Wireless is especially hit or miss when it comes to its design. Made from visibly high-quality plastic this gaming headset feels durable and has a nice-to-touch finish. There should be no surprise there, considering this is Audeze and that comes with the territory.
On paper, it also seems to tick off all the elements that make for a comfortable keyboard – soft memory foam earpads, a good amount of swivel and some tilt on its ear cups, and an adjustable headband. Sadly, this didn’t translate when we put them on our head for the first time.
Out of the box, the Audeze Penrose X Wireless will clamp down on your head and squeeze your brain. It takes a few wears to really break this headset in, and investing in some extra top padding, like the Dekoni Audio nuggets, can help.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal – lots of things have to be broken in – if it wasn’t for the $300 price tag. If we’re paying that much for a pair of gaming headsets, we expect comfort to be a top priority.
On to the controls, the buttons, dials, and ports are all on the left cup, which to an extent makes it less confusing for users to adjust settings on the headphones. These are within easy reach – or at least most of them – and the dials offer nice tactile feedback.
At the same time, their placements are not exactly intuitive and may take a while to get used to. The mic mute switch, for example, is placed on the outer left cup a couple of inches above the power button. That’s not exactly the most traditional place for it. The mic volume is also next to the audio volume, and it’s a bit confusing at first to know which one is which without looking.
Another thing that’s not intuitive is Bluetooth pairing. To be fair, once you figure it out and get the hang of it, it’s easy enough to do. The voice prompts also help in letting you know what mode you’re on. However, whereas other headsets make the process easy, this one forces you to perform a two-step process: first, you have to cycle through the multi-function button to get to the Bluetooth mode, then you have to press the power button twice to put it in Bluetooth pairing mode.
Audeze Penrose X Wireless Headset Review: features and software
What we do like about the Audeze Penrose X Wireless is the fact that the multi-function button lets you cycle through three different connections: Bluetooth, Auxiliary (3.5mm), and lossless 2.4GHz low-latency wireless. On the downside, the wireless range is definitely short – at six meters away, the signal started cutting out. Still, there is still the advantage of having three connectivity options, giving it more versatility.
Speaking of versatility, the gaming headset also comes with multi-platform compatibility. It’s designed specifically for Xbox, making it ideal for Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. However, it also works for Windows 10, which means that PC gamers can enjoy its aural wonder just as well as Xbox gamers. The USB wireless receiver actually has a switch so you can toggle between two platforms, depending on which one you’re using.
PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Mac users, on the other hand, can get the Audeze Penrose (without the X in the name). It’s the same gaming headset, only designed specifically for these platforms.
Software allows you to customize the gaming headset. The Audeze HQ app lets you fine tune EQ settings, adjust audio-to-chat mix, toggle sidetone, and check on things like battery life, mic volume and connection. You can also download as well as create up to five audio presets.
Compared to Audeze Moebius, the more expensive gaming headset from the brand, customizations for the Audeze Penrose X Wireless are a bit limited. There’s no 3D or surround sound post-processing, for example. However, the EQ customizations on hand should be more than sufficient for most people.
Another limitation here is that the headset must actually be connected to your computer via the USB-C to USB cable to make these adjustments. Also know that the volume drops as soon as you’re making adjustments to the EQ. Don’t panic; this is intentional to avoid overload distortion. Just continue with your customizations then turn the volume up to your liking when you’re done.
Audeze Penrose X Wireless Headset Review: performance and battery life
Audeze is an audio brand revered by audiophiles. It has headphones that cost up to $4,000, and people are actually willing to spend that much because the sound is just that good. Cheapest audiophile headphone, LCD-1, goes for $399, and is highly rated among audiophiles.
With the Audeze Penrose X Wireless, you’re getting that same impeccable quality that Audeze is known for in a $300 headset. This may be the brand’s cheapest headset, but there’s no compromise on sound quality here.
The sound frequency on the Audeze Penrose X is pretty even across the board, and that makes everything sound very clear without any frequencies sticking out or overwhelming others. Its audio quality, therefore, is neither warm nor super bright. It’s more neutral, giving you a crisp and detailed sound.
As far as the bass, it’s very controlled, which means while it is very present, it’s also not in your face. You’ll get some rumble, but if you expect a lot of it, you might want to adjust the EQ to your liking or go for a bass-heavy headset.
It also has a much wider frequency response than most gaming headsets and can be technically considered high-resolution because it goes from 10Hz to 50,000Hz. Most headphones and headsets only have a range of 20Hz to 20,000Hz regardless of application.
The Audeze Penrose X Wireless seems to have a lot of headroom. Because of its planar magnetic drivers, they have extremely low distortion and signal-to-noise ratio. That means that you’re getting a clear and accurate audio reproduction.
This gaming headset truly shines when it comes to soundstage. Without any extra processing, its soundstage is still wider than any gaming headset we’ve tested. We compared it to the SteelSeries Arctis 9, which has an impressive soundstage, during our tests. Switching from the Penrose X Wireless to the Arctis 9, it seemed like the room actually shrunk a bit because of just how much wider the former’s soundstage is.
Sound imaging is also excellent. With it, we were able to pinpoint where all the elements in our games were located. It helped make playing games like Doom: Eternal, Metro Exodus, and Firewatch that much more immersive.
While the Audeze Penrose X Wireless has amazing sound quality, it doesn’t do as well in terms of battery life. It’s got a good 15 hours of listening time, which is decent, but a lot of wireless gaming headsets out there offer up to 20 to 25 hours. This isn’t really a deal-breaker, however. You just need to charge it more often, which by the way takes about three hours to full.
Audeze Penrose X Wireless Planar Magnetic Headset review: price and verdict
There are many things to love about the Audeze Penrose X Wireless gaming headset. That sound quality, soundstage and headroom are nothing like we’ve seen on a gaming headset, and we’ve tested our fair share of them. Without a doubt, you’re getting amazing sound with it, whether you plan to just do a lot of gaming with it or also want to mix it up by listening to music and streaming videos.
The level of audio quality and immersion it delivers alone is enough to justify that high price tag. After all, audiophile sound never comes cheap. Factor in the fact that it’s extremely versatile, with multiple connectivity options and multi-device compatibility, and there’s certainly great value in it. Even though it is one of the most expensive gaming headsets out there.
Sadly, there are also a few things that the Audeze Penrose X Wireless got wrong. These days, gaming headsets are expected to deliver a higher level of comfort, and while many of the elements are there, it hasn’t quite met expectations.
Bassheads might also find its bass a bit too restrained for their taste. While you might get some rumble, it definitely doesn’t have that booming bass that most gamers crave. Finally, both the battery life and the wireless range could be better.
We get that no gaming peripheral out there can be perfect, and there are compromises to be made. But, at the Audeze Penrose X Wireless’ price point, placing them on your head should feel like a masseuse’s gentle hands on your head, not a fighter pilot’s helmet.
If what you care most about is having glorious, impeccable sound that would impress even the most discerning audiophiles, as well as incredibly wide soundstage, then you’ll be more than happy to pay that $300 price tag. Just be prepared to give them some time to bed in.