The Audio-Technica ATH-G1 aims to deliver quality audio for gaming, but also for music when you want to step away from the console – an area where other dedicated gaming headsets can fall short. Can this set of gaming cans make it into T3's best gaming headsets buying guide? Let's find out.
Audio-Technica was established in Tokyo in 1962 with a goal of producing high-quality but affordable audio equipment that everyone could aspire to owning. The company now sells a wide range of audio products in both the consumer and commercial space, from microphones and all manner of headphones, to turntables and accessories.
When it comes to gaming headsets, the company produces four options, of which the ATH-G1 reviewed here sits in the middle, with a retail price that places it slightly above the ATH-M50X but comfortably below the ATH-G1WL.
Audio-Technica ATH-G1 review: Design and setup
The ATH-G1 doesn’t look much like a gaming headset, and that is precisely the point. With the detachable microphone, this is a headset that could be used to game, but also to wear in public without feeling too out of place. The design is subtle and there are no RGB lights to scream about the headset’s gaming credentials.
The exposed metal and black/white wiring give off a bit of a retro vibe, while the electric blue details on the outside neatly match the blue lining inside each ear cup. Leather-like padding is used on the cups and centre of the headband, doing a good job of keeping the headset looking good and feeling comfortable.
Audio-Technica has smartly resisted using this leather-like material on the parts of the ear cushions that rest against the wearer’s head, instead opting for a more breathable fabric in a bid to keep you cool while gaming. The cups swivel inwards by 90 degrees to both offer an extra level of adjustability and comfort, and allow the headset to fold flat when stored in a bag or drawer.
The headset is light, comfortable and offers a good amount of adjustment to fit any size and shape of head. The detachable microphone has a thin but highly adjustable boom that remains neatly in place at almost any angle.
While the headset feels sturdy, we do worry that those exposed wires might become damaged over time, and that the thin metal headband could be bent out of shape if accidentally stood or sat on. It is also worth noting how the audio cable is not detachable, so should be treated carefully, as if damaged it can’t be easily replaced.
Otherwise, this is a good looking and discrete pair of headphones, but at a price where gamers might want a little more design flourish for their buck.
Audio-Technica ATH-G1 review: Features and audio
Ultimately, while the option is there and its musical ability is good, we can’t see this headset being used for music on a regular basis.
You may have noticed we skipped the ‘setup’ part of the last section, and for good reason. There isn’t really anything to set up. Unlike some other gaming headsets, there is no software to accompany the Audio-technica ATH-G1, and therefore no way to create presets or tweak the audio output to your personal preference.
As such, there is also little in the way of features for this section of the review. Instead, you simply plug the headset into the 3.5mm audio socket of your game console, PC or any other device, and away you go. You can then control the volume and switch the microphone on or off with the in-line controller on the attached audio cable.
While the headset may lack anything in the way of software and features, the sound it creates is excellent. With a 45mm driver in each ear cup, the audio is detailed and powerful, with no distortion at higher volumes and excellent stereo separation that creates a wide soundstage to help your gaming environments feel immersive.
There is no simulated 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, however, so some gamers who prefer a more cinematic experience might be disappointed. But there is still plenty of locational detail with just a left and right audio channel, making it easy to judge the location of in-game objects that are out of view. Whether it be race cars or bullets, they whizz by in a detailed, accurate and believable manner, without you left pining for a more complex surround sound system.
A pleasant surprise is how good this headset is when it comes to music playback. All too often, dedicated gaming headsets fall down when used for music, but Audio-technica’s history shines through in this department, and it’s good for radio and podcasts too.
However, when was the last time you connected a pair of headphones to your smartphone, tablet or even computer using a 3.5mm audio cable? We suspect many readers will own a smartphone that doesn’t even have a 3.5mm socket, and so isn’t able to send music to this headset. You could connect them to your computer, but that might require the PC being in the right location relative to where you are sat.
Audio-Technica ATH-G1 review: Price and verdict
At the price it retails at, we can’t help but think the AT-G1 is a little overpriced. The headset sounds very good and may well appeal to casual gamers who want good audio quality from a brand they trust, rather than a fully-blown gaming headset.
But for everyone else, the price feels a little too high considering the lack of software and audio adjustability. The design, while different from many others, also doesn’t scream ‘premium’, with the exposed black and white wires giving off a message of cheapness instead of high-quality audio equipment.
The headset is, however, comfortable with good sound quality, a nicely adjustable (and detachable) microphone, unbeatable compatibility given the audio cable and lack of software, and comes from a firmly established audio company.
That last point will likely be enough to convince some buyers to pull the trigger, but we would suggest readers shop around and consider alternatives from gaming-first companies too.
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