Review: Audeze Penrose – a wireless gaming headset that gets the job done
These aren’t cheap, but they a fantastic wireless option for gaming.
We’ve covered multiple headphones from planar specialist Audeze in the past, but today’s is different. See, the Audeze Penrose eschew wires, bringing the Audeze planar drivers to the gaming world.
That’s a big thing, where most gaming headsets are built to the lowest price denominator, and use dynamic drivers which have a tendency to distort the sound. Yeah, that doesn’t sound too great when you rely on audio cues for positioning in games.
Let’s dive in and see if the $299 Audeze Penrose lives up to the hype.
So, what’s it all about?
The Audeze Penrose is pretty close in design to the LCD-1’s we reviewed last year, with a couple of immediately noticeable changes. They’re closed-back for a start, which means you can crank them to considerable volume levels before you’ll start to annoy anyone in the same room as you.
It’s an all-plastic construction, with foam earcups covered in pleather. They do tend to clamp tightly for the first while but do loosen up slightly so they don’t feel uncomfortable after long gaming sessions. To say they’ve got a battery inside, the Penrose don’t feel that much heavier than most gaming headphones, and the earcups give a nice isolating seal.
The Penrose also adds a removable boom mic on the left earcup, and controls for volume and chat/game mix on the edge of the earcup. The rest of the controls are also on the left earcup, with a power button, a mute switch for the mic, a button to toggle the connection modes, USB-C to charge, and a 3.5mm port for the analog cable.
Oh, and unless you’re using a device that doesn’t either have Bluetooth or a USB port for the 2.4GHz dongle, you don’t need any wires. Audeze does include a 3.5mm analog cable as well, just in case, but you’ll get the most mileage out of the Penrose using it wirelessly.
This version with blue accents has a dongle that is compatible with the PlayStation 4, 5, Nintendo Switch (in one of the dock ports), and on PC., PC, Mac, everything really except the Xbox. You should look for the green-trimmed version for that console, as it uses different tech.
So, is it any good?
OH MY, yes. I could go into a really long technical explanation about planar drivers and why they’re superior for gaming and music, but all you really need to know is about their soundstage. Most gaming headsets use software tricks to make sounds seem to have positioning in 3D space.
The Penrose doesn’t need that, as the planar drivers have a wide soundstage and the positioning from whatever game you play is superb. They’re super comfortable, and my ears didn’t feel warm after hours of sweaty Crucible action in Destiny 2, which impressed me.
The microphone is decent, but keep in mind that Audeze reserved most of the limited bandwidth of the wireless connection options for audio coming into the headphones. If you find your sound muffled or less clear, connecting the 3.5mm analog cable gets around the bandwidth limitations, and your mic will sound better.
You’d think the power-loving planar drivers would eat up battery life for breakfast, but we found they easily lasted 12 hours between charges. That’s not quite the 15 hours Audeze says they can last for, but we don’t know what volume level they tested at. The Audeze HQ app does show the remaining charge, but only if you have it connected via USB.
The Penrose uses the Audeze HQ app to change settings, which comes in mobile app and desktop app forms. You’ll need the app to turn sidetone off if you don’t like it, as it’s on by default. You’ll also need it to use EQ profiles, do firmware updates, and you can also adjust mic monitoring mix from here.
The one big annoyance here is that while the mobile app lets you control things and also hear via Bluetooth, the desktop app can’t connect to the Penrose wirelessly. That means to use the EQ settings on a PC, you need to have both a USB cable and a 3.5mm analog cable connected to the headphones and your PC.
That’s not a good look, especially for a premium headset that’s sold as wireless. Maybe Audeze can fix this in the future, but for now, once you’ve set the settings you can close the app and go back to using the Penrose without wires.
So, should I buy it?
For $300, the Audeze Penrose is on the higher end for gaming headphones, even for those that come with mix amp functionality and multiple wireless connectivity options.
Here’s the thing though, you won’t find a better-sounding pair of gaming headphones. We’ve tested dozens, and the Penrose is head and shoulders above the competition.
- Review: Govee Immersion G6199 TV LED Strip Lights
- Review: Aeris aair lite – an air purifier that gets the job done
- Review: The SwitchBot Curtain – a robot with applications far outside sheer laziness
- Review: Flexispot Soutien ergonomic office chair
Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more. A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.