Let’s get the big news out of the way before we start – the Audeze Penrose X Wireless Headset for Xbox is THE best sounding gaming headset I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. There we go – spoilers spoiled, review written. End of. What do you mean you need to know more?
The Penrose X Wireless Headset for Xbox is Audeze’s first foray into the console scene for real, bringing all their know-how and expertise that has seen them be able to deliver on their mission statement of providing ‘the most accurate sound reproduction available today’, building on the fact that they are one of the best reviewed headphone brands in the world.
If you’ve never used an Audeze product before though, then you may well consider these to be some bold claims. I mean, don’t ALL manufacturers aim for the stars, pushing out big claims that they are ‘the best’? I’ll be honest and admit to never having had the pleasure of using any Audeze product prior to going hands on with the Penrose X, but honestly, within mere seconds of having this headset put in place, and having the audio pumped from Xbox Series X, laptop, or mobile phone, I can fully understand how the claims have come about. As I started this review, the Audeze Penrose X Wireless Headset for Xbox IS the best sounding gaming headset I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. Period.
We’ll get on to those sounds a bit later, but initial thoughts upon picking up the Penrose X are very much just as impressive. A black headset that is detailed by some glorious green accents around the outer earcups and into the Audeze logo, you’ll fast understand that this is a quality product. Weighing in at 356grams it’s weighted nicely too; solid with a great feel in the hand.
It’s a pleasure to caress this headset as the material used is equally as good; this is about as far away from those cheap yet cheerfully nasty plastic gaming headsets that populate the gaming accessories space. Yes it costs a lot of cash – with a UK asking price of £250 probably putting this out of reach of many – but it’s fair to say that money has gone into the quality of the build. A soft-to-touch upper headband allows the Audeze logo to scream out, and this works its way down the extendable headband to the outer cups. The inner side of that headband is fairly well-padded too, although – more spoilers – this is probably the one part of the Penrose X that feels a little skimped on, with hours of endless use ensuring that you’ll occasionally want and need to take a little break from it being on your head. I’d have loved to have seen the padding that is in place stretch just a little further down the sides of the band – when you have a product that is so tasty, delivering just a smattering of a starter is disappointing.
You won’t in any way be disappointed by the rest of it though. The inner ear cushions are absolutely glorious in use, with a leatherette feel allowing for plenty of cushioning of the ears. If the headband skimps, the earcups are abundant, more than making up for it and there has never been a point where I’ve felt the need to pull the cups away from my ears for a little breathing space. This is probably helped by the fact that the earcups have plenty of movement to them too; not only is there a ton of swivel which allows for the headset to rest around your neck if required, but lateral movement to each cup should ensure this fits any size and type of head. Kudos to Audeze for ensuring such a great fit here.
It is on these cups where the controls come about too, with everything you are ever likely to need situated on the outside skin of the left earcup. This includes an easy to hit power button, a simple mute switch to ensure your real world life doesn’t interrupt the online world, a multi-function button that scrolls through wireless, Bluetooth and aux audio inputs, a USB-C charging port, a 3.5mm opening for wired capabilities and two separate volume dials – one for the mic and party chat, and the other for full volume control.
It is also here where the detachable boom mic sits. This is a highly flexible affair, with a seriously over-sized windbuff on the end of the mic, but in turn that allows for it to be positioned pretty much wherever and however you see fit. The mic works well, seemingly delivering crystal clear voice chat to online party members even when all hell is breaking loose in the likes of PUBG, or when the revs are pushing the limits in Forza. Admittedly friends and colleagues have asked for me to move the mic slightly closer to my mouth at times for total clarity, but have it positioned in one place and your job is a good one. Personally however I think I’d have preferred Audeze to rock a permanently attached flip-to-mute mic, much like EPOS | SENNHEISER have utterly nailed with their GSP 602 headset. Not only does that feel beefier and less delicate, but it also ensures there is one less piece of kit to lose. There are times when you’ll want to be sat back, listening in on the stunning audio the Penrose X provides without that mic in place, but then there’s always the constant fear of misplacement. Perhaps others won’t find that to be an issue, but I can only speak for myself.
The Audeze Penrose X Wireless Headset for Xbox really does come into its own with the sounds that are thrown at your ears. I won’t ever feel bad for repeating myself here and saying that after many years of using many different gaming headsets from a variety of world-leading manufacturers, it’s the Penrose X that nails the absolute audio. These sounds are super rich on pretty much every level you could wish for, with all the bass, the mids and the highs coming across no matter what you are using the headset for. That has been the case for me across Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, through to using it for video purposes via the laptop, and whilst kicking back in the corner in the evenings with music playing through my phone.
The Penrose X probably sounds so good thanks to the inclusion of all manner of fancy technical jargon bits and bobs. I’m in no way an audiophile but I do know decent gaming sound when I hear it, and so for the most part chatter about the Penrose coming to the fight fully equipped with Audeze’s 100mm planar magnetic drivers, being built with their patented Uniforce voice coils, adding in some Fluxor magnets and Fazor waveguides will go straight over my head – and I’m guessing the same goes for the majority of those using them. I promise you though, you’ll want to find out more about these terms once you listen in on what they come together to provide, as the sound delivered is that immersive and all encompassing that things occasionally feel unreal; all without a hint of any form of audible distortion.
All three of the audio connectivity routes are covered in different ways too – a simple Bluetooth connection to my Android mobile (with the Audeze App allowing for further customisation should you need it), a 3.5mm aux cable covering the laptop and, most impressively, the use of wireless fun to Xbox.
The latter of these works via the introduction of a wireless dongle working 2.4GHz lossless low-latency wireless connections that in turn utilise the USB-A port on your console. Even though the dongle is a little larger than I would like, and personally if Xbox sync could have been included, it would be even more preferred, complaining about a dongle is pretty picky. Connection is however super stable and there’s plenty of movement allowed too – Audeze run with a selling point of 32 metres in range, and even though that seems a stretch, in everyday life and use there have been zero issues.
Obviously those wireless capabilities mean that the Penrose X will need to be charged occasionally, and that’s certainly the case here. 15 hours of battery life is promised, and again I’ve got no reason to dispute those claims – through multiple use scenarios the power has continued to be pushed out long after I would imagine a headset to die. It’s a shame that those 15 hours aren’t quite up there with the market leaders – the RIG 800LX and Razer Nari Ultimate both knock on the door of gaming sessions that run over 20 hours – but if you’re gaming for more than 15 hours straight without purpose then perhaps you need to take a look at what you’re doing.
To summarise, for the last couple of years I’ve flipped and flopped between gaming headsets as and when they’ve come into my life. I never thought anything could beat what Razer had previously provided with the Nari Ultimate, and then RIG rocked up with their plethora of super lightweight offerings, before SteelSeries got in on the game with their Arctis 1 and Arctis 7X headsets. Hell, even my go-to audio brand over the last few decades, Sennheiser, came to the party in recent months with the glorious GSP 602; a headset that has been my audio bringer of choice over the last few months. Now though, in terms of sheer sound quality Audeze have knocked it out of the park with the Penrose X Wireless Headset for Xbox. Whilst there are little bits that could be improved – a little more padding on the headband and a non-detachable mic, for instance – if you’re big into audio, want the very best gaming sounds you can get, and can handle the £250 asking price, this is a serious contender for the very best Xbox gaming headset for 2021 and beyond.
In fact, it sounds so good I’m not sure how anyone is going to ever topple it.
Huge thanks go out to Audeze for providing the Penrose X for full unboxing and review purposes. To pick up the headset for yourself, head on over to Audeze direct.
Related: Unboxing and First Look at the Audeze Penrose X Wireless Headset for Xbox