Audeze is a name that’s well known among audiophiles but only in the past few years have they got into the gaming world. Their first venture was bringing head tracking and 3D to gaming with the Mobius, which was was incorporated in the HyperX Cloud Orbit. Audeze has once again tried their hand at a gaming headset, this one designed specifically for consoles. This wireless headset comes in two different versions, the Penrose for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, and the Penrose X for Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X. Both Penrose variations are compatible with Windows, Max, Android and iOS devices. We got our hands on PlayStation model Penrose, but from our understanding the quality and features on the two models are identical aside from their associated console.
Unboxing the Penrose we have the headset, detachable mic, USB dongle, USB Type-C charging cable and an auxiliary cable. There is a quick start guide to explain what all the buttons and knobs do and quick controls to use the Penrose. The Penrose can be used through a wireless connection to a PlayStation console with the dongle, a Bluetooth connection with a PC, tablet or mobile device or just about any other device that supports 3.5m input. The main selling point of the Penrose is that it’s an audiophile quality wireless headset optimized for console gaming, but having compatibility with other devices does add to the value.
Before getting into our hands-on impressions with Penrose, let’s take a look at some of the specs. The sound is delivered through Audeze’s handcrafted in America 100mm planar magnetic drivers which deliver a full, distortion free sound. The detachable microphone was designed with some consultation by Shure, which is a reputable brand for music equipment outside of gaming. The mic is designed to bring in broadcast voice quality to chat and streaming with built in filters that can reduce up to 20dB of background noise. The Penrose uses a low-latency wireless connection through 2.4GHz with a range of up to 32 meters and an audio bandwidth up to 20kHz. The Penrose also uses Bluetooth connectivity so gamers can chat on Discord or from their mobile device while also listening to audio from their PC or console. The Penrose is listed to have a battery life of fifteen hours and it can be used during charging.
Testing out the Penrose, to not beat around the bush, everything that was played through it sounded amazing. Whether it was through the Bluetooth connection for watching live-streamed concerts from my phone, playing PC games, using the dongle to play PlayStation 4 games with a wireless connection or using the auxiliary cord with the Switch, everything sounded fantastic. Audeze’s reputation for top-shelf sound quality is well deserved and my prior experience with Audeze products meant that there were high expectations for the Penrose. The Penrose didn’t disappoint in any of these and this is my current go-to headset for gaming. Everything sounds full, with all the different audio layers and undertones being clearly audible without any distortion even at high volumes. The independent mic and headset volume controls make it easy to balance chat and game audio where both maintain all of their clarity. The thing with the mic is it can be a pain to position properly. It has a narrow window for the sweet spot where too far you can’t be heard and too close you sound underwater, but it works great once it’s in place. Regardless of which of the three connections are used and whether this was being used for gaming or non-interactive entertainment media, the Penrose is unrivaled in its sound quality. How often the feature of simultaneously using Bluetooth and wireless audio for multiple audio sources will actually be needed is up for debate, but it does work well. Maybe this can be used for a game where you want to hear the sound effects and dialogue but would rather provide your own music. Either way it works if that’s something that sounds interesting.
The Penrose doesn’t use any of the 3D sound modeling technology they used with the Mobius. Instead it’s designed to deliver audiophile grade sound quality without any other tech gimmicks, which isn’t a knock against that technology or the Penrose, just stating what it is. The Penrose remains comfortable for hours of use and the wireless connection remains strong when wandering around my dwelling away from the audio source. The Audeze HQ app can be used on mobile devices and desktop to alter the sound mix with different presets. The battery life seemed closer to ten to twelve hours than fifteen, but also I believe most of the claims of battery life are done at half volume and I like to listen to things loud. It takes about three hours to fully charge the headset.
The Audeze Penrose is simply one of the best gaming headsets on the market. The $299.99 price tag may cause sticker shock, but compared to some of Audeze’s other products, this could be considered a budget item. More importantly, the quality of the Penrose justifies the asking price. Whether this is being used for gaming, movies or music, any audio played through the Penrose sounds phenomenal and the sound quality is noticeably better than the majority of other headsets out there so the adage of you get what you pay for applies. Using multiple devices simultaneously is an interesting feature but finding practical uses for it isn’t too hard to think up. The cross-generational compatibility for Microsoft and Sony consoles is a timely feature for its release, making it an ideal headset for an audiophile gamer who is wanting to dive into the next-gen consoles while still having a backlog that needs attention. Game soundtracks aren’t talked about as often as graphics, but for many of us the soundtrack is an integral part of the gaming experience. For people in that category, the Audeze Penrose is worthy of consideration as it brings new layers of vitality to game music.