The Audeze Penrose is one of the most exciting additions to the gaming headset market I’ve seen in quite some time. If you’ve just bought one of the newest, most up to date consoles in the world, it follows that you’re going to want the newest, most up to date peripherals to back it up. In the world of audio, Audeze are renowned for their incredible headphones, all of which lean on phenomenal planar magnetic tech to produce some of the most detailed, enveloping audio you’ll find. Audeze has now turned their gaze towards gaming, and with the high-class sounding Penrose they’re all set to ensure that the new generation is accompanied by new-generation audio.
The Audeze Penrose are an over-ear, wireless headset, and come in blue PlayStation or green Xbox flavours depending on which camp you fall into. They’ll both happily work with the neutral-zone straddling PC, and as an added bonus, the Nintendo Switch as well, meaning these might just be able to fulfil all of your household’s wireless headset needs.
While there’s the console-specific plastic highlights, the rest of the Penrose is mostly a reliably stylish black. There’s a reason that most of our tech products fit into this monochrome camp, and it’s because they just look right. There are some nice design flourishes though, with the Audeze logo running across the headband, and some of grey Penrose graphics on the outside of each earpiece that look suitably cool.
I was a little surprised to find that the Penrose didn’t feel quite as premium as I was expecting. They’re undoubtedly very well built, with no creaking or groaning, even when you’re twisting them in a wholly unthoughtful way, but a few areas, such as the colourful plastic band around each earpiece, and the underwhelming feel of the volume dials are just a step down from the kind of package Penrose have otherwise constructed. This might be the cheapest headset Audeze has ever released, but they still sit at the most premium point of the gaming headset market. It feels like a mild letdown when the Astro’s A50s and Steelseries Arctis Pro manage to follow through on their own top-end pricing.
The Audeze Penrose sound phenomenal though. If you’re looking for one of the best sounding gaming headsets on the market, then look no further. In fact, if you close your eyes and sink into the audio these things put out, you might swiftly reach a new-found level of zen. There’s a roundness to the bass that marries with the exceedingly crisp delivery to such a satisfying effect that you can forget there’s anything else going on around you. I often talk about detail as being the defining difference between good and great headsets, and the Penrose jumps to the head of the queue in terms of replicating audio exactly as it was intended to be heard.
Putting it through its musical paces with M83, The Midnight and a healthy dose of Nirvana for some old-school thrills, you can pick out every single element of the mix. The sax solo in The Midnight’s Days of Thunder might as well be happening inside your skull, while you can pick out every strum of the distorted guitars of Scentless Apprentice. The Penrose are simply fantastic for listening to music.
That extends, thankfully, to gaming audio with the same kind of authority. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time with Destruction All-Stars recently, and through it all the Audeze Penrose has proven to be the ultimate ally to take into automotive battle. Clear, effective communication with teammates over the removable mic arm is integral, but each car crunch, musical lick, and line of character dialogue reaches you in perfect form. You couldn’t really ask for better.
The Audeze Penrose are connectivity kings as well, covering the trifecta of 2.4ghz wireless via its USB-A dongle, Bluetooth, and faithful 3.5mm jack. You can even use Bluetooth and wireless together if you want to listen to an audiobook while strolling through Call of Duty Warzone (or just play music from your phone). They will pretty much work with anything and everything, and they look good enough to use everywhere too. Yes, it’s a hefty price tag, but you’re getting a huge amount in return.
They are a pleasingly straightforward headset to interact with too. Soft-touch power and Bluetooth buttons marry up with a physical switch for muting your mic, and then the pair of dials for master volume and chat. There’s no EQ button to hop between your presets, which is a little disappointing, but when the audio is as good as this out of the box you don’t really need them.
The Audeze HQ software does give you the option of different EQ presets though, and you can customise five to your liking. I have to say that the adjustments here weren’t all that useful, and pumping a frequency up in one position reduced the overall output of everything else. I’m sure that Audeze know what they’re doing here, but the EQs just don’t behave in the way the majority of others do.
The question mark that really hangs over the Audeze Penrose is, of course, the price. At £300 they are in the absolute top tier of where gaming headsets are priced, but besides the Penrose’s excellent connectivity options this is the cheapest Audeze headset ever made, while featuring the same Planar Magnetic tech as their audiophile headphones. They’ve been fitted with an excellent microphone as well, all in all making them well worth the money, if your budget will stretch to it.