- Platform: PC, Mac, Xbox, PS4 / 5, Nintendo Switch
- Type: Over-ear, closed
- Drivers: 100 mm planar membranes
- Frequency range: 10 Hz – 50 kHz
- Connection: USB-C, USB, 3.5 mm analogue mini jack
- Wireless: Bluetooth (AAC, SBC, LDAC), 2.4 GHz lossless
- Microphone: Detachable, on gooseneck
- Control: Audeze HQ application (Windows / MacOS)
- Weight: 320 g
American Audeze is especially known for its excellent hi-fi headphones. However, they have also made headsets for gaming, in the form of Audeze Mobius, which took us by storm – and to such an extent, so that it was awarded the best of the year in its category in 2019 by our Scandinavian sister magazines.
Now, Audeze is expanding its involvement in gaming, and they have launched several new models for gaming use. The cheapest of them is the Audeze Penrose, which we are testing here.
Gaming for adults
Audeze Penrose resembles Mobius to near perfection. The ear cups are large and oval, and made of matt black plastic. The headband is in the same material and the metal parts on the headset are black. The ear pads are thick and soft and lined with imitation leather.
We are clearly dealing with adult gaming. The only playfulness in the design is a colored plastic ring that encircles the ear pads. The model for PC, Mac and PlayStation has a blue ring. On the Xbox / PC version it is green. Apart from the supported platforms, the two versions of the Penrose are identical.
The bulky earbuds accomodates Audeze’s technological trump card, namely the 10 cm large planar drivers. Instead of being built as a mini version of a dynamic speaker unit with a central voice coil, the planar unit is more reminiscent of a magnestatic or electrostatic loudspeaker.
The diaphragm is suspended in front of a large magnet and the moving force applies to the entire surface by means of embedded copper wires. The result is a sound quality that is also comparable to electrostatic speakers, but without the need for high voltage and transformers. The downside is that planar headphones are most often excruciatingly expensive. Far more expensive than Audeze Penrose.
The planar drivers are identical to those in Audeze Mobius, but there are a few other differences. First, Penrose is wireless. Mobius only offered wireless audio via Bluetooth, but Penrose has true lossless and lag-free wireless audio thanks to a USB dongle. On the other hand, Penrose lacks the very special Waves NX technology, which provides a convincing experience of listening to a set of virtual speakers on each side of the screen.
One might argue that Waves NX does not in itself provide crucial advantages in gaming, but surround sound as such is a major advantage in gaming, and the price difference between the models is small.
The sound quality
Since the driver part is the same as in the Audeze Mobius, it comes as no surprise that the sound is downright excellent. Even the smallest details stand out perfectly clearly. And this applies whether it is about music or what the headset is intended for, ie games.
If you are looking for entertainment and fun and games when playing, Audeze Penrose is not the best choice. Although the bass both goes deep and has mighty powers (we are talking about drivers that are a full 10 cm across). But for the bassheads, they are simply too sober and dry. On the other hand, Penrose is an accurate listening tool that reveals any sound in the surroundings, and where you never miss a message from your teammates – provided that their microphones are of reasonable quality.
Some gaming headsets are made for gaming only, but luckily the Audeze Penrose can also be used for music, and thanks to wireless Bluetooth sound, you can enjoy the quality on the go. And it does it so convincingly that most “real” hi-fi headphones would be more than challenged. Especially voices are reproduced as well-resolved and uncolored as I can remember ever hearing it from headphones in that price range. One can e.g. hear how Disturbed singer David Draiman’s amazing vocal performance on “Sound of Silence” is pieced together by many layers of recordings. This is high class!
The Audeze Penrose has the same towering sound quality as the Audeze Mobius. This places it in a class where there are very few competitors, but where the entrance ticket is also expensive. If you are looking for a super good gaming headset, however, and if you do not need wireless connection, you should consider spending the last few pounds extra that a set of Mobius costs. Then you also get the superb Wave’s NX surround technology, which Audeze has omitted in Penrose.