Good things don’t always have to be expensive. On the other hand, quality usually has its price, and you’ll have to dig a little deeper into your pocket for the Audeze Penrose.
This visually appealing pair of headphones with blue accents provide all the necessary buttons and connectors on the left earpiece. Moving your finger from front to back, you first feel the multifunction button. This switches between wireless, Bluetooth and AUX connection. After that, you’ll find the microphone connection, followed by USB-C and the jack plug. This is followed by two incremental rotary controls, the first for game-chat or the microphone volume, the second for the volume of the headphones. The headset’s power button is located on the side, and this is also equipped with various other functions, such as Bluetooth pairing. And a little higher up, there is a switch to mute the microphone. So everything you need is here, but despite the many buttons, knobs and switches, they all have multiple functions, so you might need to take a glance or two at the digital manual.
The Penrose sit on your head with a headband and ear pads made from memory foam with faux leather. Sounds comfortable, but this is actually our biggest criticism of this headset. Looking at the price, perhaps a sports car analogy would be appropriate here. Like a sports car, they are not cheap, have a lot of power, but are very uncomfortable above a certain size. The Penrose, which are not lightweight headphones, sit very tightly on a large head, and the padding on the headband is not as comfortable as the description suggests while the ear cups grip the head. This sort of thing is dealt with much better by several competitors that come in a considerably lower price range.
To allow as many gamers as possible to enjoy them, the Penrose offers various modes for connecting it to gaming hardware: First, there is the 2.4 GHz dongle. This rather long USB stick offers loss-free, low-latency transmission and is immediately recognised on both the PC and the Playstation. With 16 bit/48 kHz and a latency of 16 ms, this achieves the best results.
Alternatively, Audeze also provides Bluetooth 5.0. This enables connection to other devices such as tablets or mobile phones. When it comes to codecs, the manufacturer relies on SBC and AAC.
If you would rather use a cable the headset can be switched to “AUX” and connected via a 3.5 mm jack cable. The headphones must be switched on; analogue signals are then converted by the headphone’s ADC. Xbox users are also connected via cable, but they can purchase their own version of the headset with the Penrose X.
Playback time & microphone
Fully charged, the lithium-polymer battery achieves 15 hours of operating time, taking 3 hours to recharge. In addition to the USB cables and the jack cable, the headset also comes with a detachable microphone. In terms of sound, there is little to complain about here, only a slight hiss away from perfect, it leaves a very good impression.
The “Audeze HQ App” for Windows, Mac and Android is very clearly laid out, does without many bells and whistles as it is limited to an equaliser. This takes a little getting used to, because the Automatic Gain Compensation, or “AGC” for short, kicks in here: if you increase a frequency by a few dB, the AGC intervenes to prevent distortion. In the end, this frequency is not increased at all, but the other frequencies are reduced. The effect: The signal is reproduced quieter overall. To get back to the desired volume, the overall volume must be increased manually on the headphones. At first, you might be surprised, but this is all correct and works well.
Presets can of course be saved, and the current one remains saved on the headset even after the enclosed USB cable has been disconnected from the computer. This is because, despite connection via dongle or Bluetooth, the software only recognises the headphones with an additional USB connection. Two cables, Type A and C, are provided and also serve to charge the headset.
If you prefer to use presets, three preset bundles can be downloaded from Audeze. The “Mobius Pack” contains three gaming presets for the Mobius headset, “Power Up Your Music” comes with five presets for different music genres and the “Penrose Gaming Pack 1” contains some presets for specific games, including Call of Duty Warzone or Rocket League.
Audeze does not include virtual surround sound gimmicks in this model.
When a gaming headset is priced at the 300-Euro mark, expectations are high. But Audeze doesn’t skimp, equipping the Penrose for PC and Playstation with 100 mm planar drivers which bring out the big guns in terms of sound. These indulge the ear with crystal-clear sound in all frequency ranges, regardless of whether it’s booming explosions, an immersive soundtrack or dialogue – what comes out of these headphones can be marked as “excellent”. These well-closed headphones create a sound space in which details that are lost in many other headsets and are therefore never heard by the game player stand out. What the Penrose delivers is clearly aimed at the audiophile gamer who wants to hear everything and with this model they will hear everything.
To call it by its full name for once: The Audeze Penrose Wireless Planar Magnetic Headset is the sports car of headsets. It looks good, has a lot of power, focuses on the essentials, but is unfortunately also uncomfortable. The excellent sound and the various connection options nevertheless make you want to put it on your head, again and again, to take it for a little spin. And once you’re inside, it’s time to open your ears and enjoy. So the question is not so much whether it’s worth the expense, but which version (Playstation or Xbox) is the right one for you.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principleplanar magnetic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 50.000 Hz
- Sound pressure level (SPL)>120 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head822,5 g
- Weight with cable374 g
- Weight without cable357 g
- Cable length115 cm
What's in the box
- Detachable microphone
- 3.5 mm mini jack cable
- USB A to USB C cable
- 2.4 GHz dongle
- also available as Penrose X for Xbox One, PC and Xbox Series X/S
- BT version: 5.0
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC