The marketplace for our gaming ears has become steadily more competitive over the last few years. Where it was once the choice between Turtle Beach and what felt like nobody else, there’s now manufacturers from every corner of the globe aiming to send some sweet sounds of video games down our respective lugholes.
EKSA hail from China, and are a relatively new and up and coming brand in the UK. We’ve previously reviewed the EKSA E900, and EKSA E900 Pro, both of which boasted impressive build quality at a budget price, and now they’ve returned with an ultra-light headset designed to be worn effortlessly no matter how long you sit staring at your computer.
How light is ultra-light? The Air Joy Pro weighs in at 162g, making it the lightest over-ear gaming headset we’ve ever covered, beating the Roccat Noz out by a whole 58g. In your hands, and on your head, that translates to very little in the way of resistance, and you’ll soon forget you’re wearing them in the midst of whichever flavour of digital world you’re currently inhabiting.
In an effort to keep the gram count down, the Air Joy Pro is mostly made of matte black plastic. It’s put together in a fairly non-descript kind of way, barring the adornment of each earpiece with four red light strips, and four red claw marks (similar to what an old Mad Catz piece of kit might have had) as well as twinned, terrible logos that read “No Burden” and “Just Joy”.
Personally I think they look utterly awful, ruining what is otherwise a pretty standard headset that you could wear at home and on the go. As it stands I wouldn’t be seen dead with them outside the house, as the decals simply make them look cheap. EKSA’s previous headsets showed a keen ability to craft something that looked far more premium than what its pricing would have you believe. There’s no sign of that here.
The headband itself has been slimmed to within a millimetre of its life in an effort to lose a few more grams, but despite my best efforts – and those of my four-year-old – it withstood a remarkable amount of twisting and pulling thanks to the metal strip running through it, coming out of our combined testing with no sign of breaking or cracking.
Comfort-wise there’s a thin layer of memory foam in the headband. Without any real weight to pull it onto your head, it’s more than enough to offset any downward force and the extra-soft woven earpieces are plush and comfortable. While lengthy sessions did see my ears becoming slightly warm, they never reached uncomfortable levels.
The left earpiece sports the Air Joy Pro’s minimalist controls, with a volume wheel and clickable mute button at least unburdening you from accidentally hitting the wrong thing. They also thankfully do the jobs asked of them. Besides that there’s the socket for the removable microphone to slot into, and the USB-C socket that serves as your main connection.
It’s not got the strongest or most immovable boom arm, and it definitely feels pretty cheaply made, but the bi-directional, noise cancelling microphone itself is a functional piece of gear that will let your friends – and enemies – hear your innermost thoughts. It definitely sounds a little thin, but it will serve its purpose for cutting through the sound of Fortnite or Warzone’s bullet fire.
The Air Joy Pro’s hideous decals are even less worthwhile if the audio isn’t up to scratch, but this is the area where the headset manages to claw back a couple of points. Despite the lightweight design, there’s some genuine heft to the audio that they’re able to kick out. From a standard 3.5mm connection, you’ll find a satisfyingly wide soundstage accompanied by well-balanced tuning that ensures the top end details are clear while the low end reverberates without overwhelming everything else.
With both 3.5mm and USB-A cables provided to plug into the USB-C port, you can hook the Air Joy Pro up to a great number of different devices, from PC and Mac through to PS4, Switch and your smartphone. Both provide similar audio response, though I think the 3.5mm connection edges it, giving a slightly airier tone to your stereo audio.
There’s also the option of 7.1 Surround Sound, but Mac owners should be aware that even though there’s a giant “MAC” sign on the front of the box, and their website skirts the question of whether you can use 7.1 surround sound, it is in fact solely PC owners who get to access EKSA’s drivers. To be honest, they’re not missing out on all that much. It’s a solid enough effort, with a good sense of space, but it’s not of the same calibre as either Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos. You’ll be better off not bothering to install EKSA’s drivers and sticking with those options built into Windows.
There’s a decent level of passive noise isolation from the earpieces without an ear-cramping clamp, and pretty much every device you can think of will be able to make good use of them thanks to their 30 ohm impedance. If they hadn’t put horrendous claw marks on them, the Air Joy Pro could have been a real winner at this low pricepoint.