Audeze is back in the crosshairs as we spend time with another gaming headset. The Audeze Penrose is a wireless planar magnetic stereo headset centered around console gaming and just about everything else.mo From PC to mobile devices, there really isn’t anything these headphones can’t be paired in one form or another.
Penrose offers the ability to connect three different ways to a console, computer, or mobile device. The most common is analog using your typical 3.5mm aux cable. If something has a headphone port, these headphones will work with it (just like any other pair of wired headphones). If you choose to skip the cable, you have two different ways of going wireless. First, you have Bluetooth. Many devices and computers support Bluetooth, which opens you to a lot of usage scenarios. Second, you have the USB dongle that comes with the headphones. This allows you to pair them to a gaming console or PC.
When it comes to PC pairing, you have all three to choose from (assuming your PC supports Bluetooth). Your optimal option is going to be USB (dongle) for that low-latency connection over Bluetooth, but you can choose either option. You can go wired as well, although the Penrose was not designed for optimal wired performance (simply an option for those devices that don’t support the wireless alternatives).
For gaming consoles, there are two flavors of the Penrose to choose from, depending on which console you game with. For team PlayStation (blue), you have the normal Penrose headset (also the preferred model for the Nintendo Switch). For team Xbox (green), you have the Penrose X headset. Both headsets are designed to work best with their properly matched system. The same thing goes for when you are buying into USB adapters to make use of your console controllers on a PC (there are [generic]adapters out there that claim to support both, but they always run into limitations).
So being that their highlighted functionality is via USB for gaming, we will focus mostly on this. With that, the USB adapter (again) is used for both PC and console operation (the latter being what you use to decide which model suits you best). Mac as well, depending on which of the two models you buy into. The normal blue-themed Penrose we are covering today is the best fit for Mac, but who games on a Mac? So we won’t really get into that.
With USB, you get low-latency sound. This is something many consumers aren’t as aware of in general use when it comes to music or video playback. However, when it comes to intense gaming, every millisecond can count at times. This mostly applies to video more than anything as you want your actions to properly match what your eyes are seeing, else your efficiency is going to be hindered terribly. The same thing applies to sound as well, especially if you count on hearing what’s happening around you. The ability to shoot for lossless audio (excellent sound due to unnoticeable compression levels) while not adding delay to the delivery of (said) sound makes for a good balance of features.
The headset pairs to the USB adapter the moment you turn it on (assuming the adapter is plugged into a system or console and powered). If for some reason it ever loses the ability to connect to the adapter, all you have to do is hold down the multi-functioning button on the left (next to the mic input) until pairing is triggered. In theory at least, as we never ran into any issues with it automatically pairing.
Distance via USB is quite similar to Bluetooth. We found 20-30 feet was the furthest you were going to get before the connection begins to cut out. This is more than acceptable since they are designed to be a gaming headset and not a walk around the house listening to music headset (unless your phone is in your pocket at all times). If you can game more than 30ft away from your screen, that would be quite impressive, but not the best scenario here.
As mentioned, it is marketed as a stereo headset. This is where the headset shines. However, if your system or console supports the ability to use DTS Headphone:X, Dolby Atmos, or Windows Sonic over USB (or analog), the headset should perform like any other. This provides a very basic virtual surround experience in some cases. We just found that there is minimal to no soundstage in front of you as most of the surround is happening to your sides with a virtual presence behind you. Not the best, but it works well enough. Again, the Penrose is meant to be stereo before anything else.
It is limited to a 16bit/48kHz (“up to”) sample rate, so it covers your average music and video sources, including CD, DVD, and (most) Blu-Ray content. As well as most streaming content that is around MP3 or CD quality. It doesn’t move past that, so you wouldn’t be using this headset as a source for hi-res audiophile music. Again, though, it is a gaming headset and most games do not support anything above this either, keeping it to a good balance in features.
That being said, we are going to use the term “entry-level” in a sense. These are by no means entry-level when it comes to audio in general. This is a solid headset that offers great sound. However, when it comes to planar-magnetic, the Penrose can easily be considered a qualified entry-level choice. Planar is expensive, so finding something like this at this price makes for a great “starting place” for quality planar-driven sound. There are other options out there within this price range, but we have run into very few we could possibly recommend vs going with a more affordable (normal) dynamic solution. So it can be summarized as “this is where planar quality begins”.
The detachable boom mic makes it easy to convert from headset to headphones, allowing you to comfortably use the headset in any situation. The mic performance is decent, but not perfect. If you are just using it for general gaming, this is fine. There is a bit of wind noise in the mic despite the windscreen, so you won’t want it too close to your mouth. This is common with boom mics, which is fine. However, if you are a streamer, you’ll want a separate source for your voice that can be better controlled.
Thankfully, it does offer up to 20 dB of noise filtering (environmental noise cancelation) to help focus on your voice and not so much everything around you (in case you aren’t playing in a noise-controlled environment).
It does have voice monitoring, which is important for a dual-muff solution as you can’t hear yourself so well normally. So being able to hear your own mic within the headphones allows you to better control your volume so you aren’t speaking louder than normal.
All of your controls are available on the left side. Something you will want to familiarize yourself with as they will be your sole focal point for both sound and microphone volume. The volume would be toward the back of your ear with sound at the top and mic volume right below it. Both volume wheels are quite responsive and give you plenty of adjustment.
When using them with a computer, we found that adjusting the volume on your computer doesn’t have any effect on the headphones. So the controls on the headset itself (again), are your sole focus.
Next to the volume controls is the 3.5mm input for using a wire (analog) with your devices. Best to be used in any situation where wireless is not a supported option. Else you will likely almost always be using either Bluetooth or USB depending on the connected device. However, analog is at least there if you need it.
After that, there is a USB connection for both charging the headset as well as providing a data connection for future firmware updates (it cannot be used as a wired USB headset).
Then, you have your port for the microphone. It is also a 3.5mm aux connection, although it drops into a hole to both prevent confusion between it and the headphone port, as well as to provide a sturdy connection for when you are moving the mic’s gooseneck around (as to not cause any connectivity issues or strain on the port or jack).
Finally, you have a multi-functioning button. A single press will allow you to scroll between modes–aux, Bluetooth, and (USB) wireless. Holding it down will trigger pairing mode to the USB adapter (if ever needed).
The back-side of the left muff contains two additional options. A power button for powering the headphones on and off, and a mute switch for the boom mic (when it is attached). The power button is also a multi-functioning button. Its power on/off function is triggered by holding it down. However, if you single-press it, you can pause/play music or answer/disconnect a phone call via a Bluetooth-connected device. If you double-press it, you will trigger Bluetooth pairing. It also automatically goes into Bluetooth pairing upon initially switching to Bluetooth mode if you have not yet connected it to a Bluetooth device already.
Bluetooth pairing is as functional as any other pair of headphones or headset. The experience is smooth and the connection is quick.
When it comes to comfort, the headset rests on your head quite nicely. There is a bit of pressure at first, so there will be some breaking-in needed. However, if the Penrose is anything like the Mobius, this will improve over time.
Padding is quite comfortable for both the muffs and the bottom side of the headband that rests across the top of your head. There is plenty of flexibility and slide adjustment to get the best fit for any head.
It comes with three cables for connectivity. Two of which are USB cables for charging or firmware updates. They include USB-C to USB(A) and USB-C to USB-C, allowing for charging in any given condition with modern wall adapters, laptops, and computers. The third is an analog cable for wired connections, which you’ll likely not use much.
The instructions are quite minimal but you don’t really need much more than what they explain. There is no excessively long manual as it would have been a complete waste of resources.
After about three hours of charging, you get up to 15 hours of usage. This covers most sessions behind a computer or console and remains quite competitive at this price level.
These make for a killer pair of headphones for both console and PC gaming and a good sample to set as the entry-level category for planar-driven solutions. How much we like these depends on your budget and the type of gamer you are. If you don’t want to spend more than $300 on a pair of headphones, then these are quite competitive for the price. I can’t say for sure if it is one of our absolute favorites or not, but it does rate pretty highly with us nonetheless.
If you are a console gamer, then that statement continues to apply. Good sound, low-latency, wireless, and uniquely driven (although planar is becoming a little more widespread than it used to). They also look nice, feel nice, and pair very well. However, if you are a PC gamer, we have all agreed that we like the Audeze Mobius headset better. They are $100 more, but we do find it worth it. Mobius has the capabilities of a better sample rate for higher-res sources, but ultimately the head-tracking really ropes you in overtime and soundstage is better in our opinion.
So for console gamers or those not looking to spend $400, the Penrose is a great headset. For PC gamers (who are willing to spend the extra $100), the Mobius is our recommended option. Both have similar scores, but each score is also represented by each headset’s price range.
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| Our Rating|| Average Price*|
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Fluxor™ magnet array
10Hz – 50kHz
<0.1% (1 kHz, 1mW)
Contoured memory foam: artificial leather
Detachable broadcast quality mic
Lithium-polymer (15hr battery life, 3hr charge time)
2.4 GHz Wireless (16bit/48kHz) + Bluetooth
3.5mm analog audio, USB-A-to-C charging
320g (including battery)
Co-Authors: Ryan S.
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You are so right about Mobius. Awesome headphones.