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ADATA XPG Precog Electrostatic Gaming Headset Review

By Garrick Durham-Raley on December 06, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

ADATA XPG Precog Electrostatic Gaming Headset Review

Xtreme Performance Gear, or XPG, by ADATA has introduced the world’s first dual driver gaming headset with electrostatic transducers: the XPG PRECOG gaming headset. This headset features hybrid drivers, including both 40mm dynamic neodymium drivers as well as electrostatic drivers for better treble. But does this hybrid system translate into better audio for gamers, and is the $199.99 price-tag worth it? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $199.99 USD

Headphones

  • Drivers: Electrostatic/dynamic dual-drivers
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 50,000 Hz
  • Sensativity: 102±dB/mW@1KHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ω ±15%

Microphone

  • Noise Canceling Technology: ENC (Environmental Noise Cancellation)
  • Mic Directivity: Unidirectional
  • Mic Frequency Response: 20 - 20,000 Hz
  • Mic Sensitivity: -38db±1.5db

Accessories

  • Accessories: Carrying case and Type-C wired controller w/ DSP sound card

The XPG PRECOG gaming headset is priced at a premium, especially for a completely wired headset. The packaging however doesn’t lend itself to showcase as much, instead being very gamer-y in appearance with strong black and red colors. If black and red doesn’t scream “hardcore gamer” I don’t know what does. The most interesting thing about getting the PRECOG headset is that it comes in its own carrying case. For all the headsets I’ve gotten over the years, not one of them came with its own case. I’ve received cloth carrying bags, but not a durable and sleek case like the PRECOG’s.

What’s in the Box?

  • Carrying case
  • USB Type-C wired controller w/ DSP sound card
  • 3.5mm In-Line Wired Controller Cable
  • Type A to C Cable
  • Y-cable Splitter Cable

The case has plenty of room inside to house all the cables that come with: including a standard 3.5mm jack with in-line controls, a USB type C to A adapter, a Y-cable splitter cable to hook up the headphones/microphone separately, and a USB Type-C wired controller with DSP sound card built in-line.

First Impressions

The main way I listened to these headphones was plugged in to my PC via the USB Type C controller with DSP sound card plugged into the Type C to A adapter cable. I have a USB type C port on my computer, but the type C controller cable was too short -- only about 1.25m long -- and I couldn’t comfortably use it by itself. The type C to A adapter offered plenty of additional length however, and I didn’t notice any discernible loss in quality due to the proxy cable. I wouldn’t expect it to anyways, but I feel that the less cables I have to plug in to each-other then the better the signal will be.

With the wired controller and DSP sound card cable, there’s enough juice to flow and offer a few nifty features. The DSP sound card offers ENC, or environmental noise cancelling, as well as three different listening modes: Music mode, 7.1 Surround Sound mode, and FPS mode. Each mode is like a different digital EQ setting that will enhance certain sounds and dampen others. I initially liked the 7.1 Surround Sound mode, but as I used it more often I realized that depending on what I was listening to it could sound echoey or as if it had reverb.

The FPS mode was useful when I played FPS games, like Rainbow Six Siege or Call of Duty Modern Warfare, but would make everything else sound hollow and far away. I didn’t like using it when I played Destiny 2 or Borderlands 3, for instance, since it would detract from the immersive atmosphere in those games. I eventually fell into using Music mode as my default listening setting, which actually turns off DSP processing to provide a clean audio signal.

Design and Aesthetics

The headset itself is sleek, with rounded cups covered in an extremely soft and pliable cushioning. The suspended headband provided an always-right fit that didn’t have me constantly adjusting the sides. Because of how lightweight the headset is, coming in at around 0.8 lbs, there was usually no need to ever adjust it anyways unless I made sudden, jerky movements that would cause the headset to slide off. The suspended band was nice and soft, and I hardly noticed it on top of my head. The cups however did pinch a bit too tightly against my head, which would become noticeable after about an hour or so of wearing it.

The cables are all braided and felt extremely durable. Besides being on the shorter side, I thought they looked high-quality, especially with the protective metal tips they sport. I do wish the main USB type C cable with the DSP sound card was longer so I wouldn’t have to pass it through an adapter, but I think that’s a small gripe overall. As well, the wired cable w/ sound card offers enough juice to power the red LED lights on the side of the earcups, which just adds to the gamer aesthetic. There are switches on the side of the in-line controls to toggle the headphone’s LED lights on or off, and to turn the environmental noise cancelling on or off. The volume dial can be clicked in to control the mic mute function as well.

Overall I think the quality of the headset is without question, and I don’t think anyone would be disappointed in the appearance or materials used. It looks right at home next to other LED lights or RGB systems, yet stylish enough that I wouldn’t feel bashful about wearing them out in public. The earcups rotate 180 degrees as well, so it can lay either flat on your collar when not in use or facing upwards so you can still listen to it ambiently.

Sound Quality

When I first used these headsets I only utilized the 3.5mm audio jack and plugged it into my Switch and my phone to try them out. I instantly fell in love with the sound from these headphones, and I think I’m going to be using them as my primary pair from now on. Using the analog signal audio jack, I felt like I could hear every nuance in a performance. As silly as it may seem, I just sat and listened to the overworld music in Pokemon Shield for longer than I’d care to admit. I felt like it was the first time really hearing the Pokemon music. Now, in all fairness, I had only been using the speakers on the Switch itself before that, which I know can’t compare to a good set of cans.

But even switching over and using it on my phone to listen to YouTube, I felt like the overall sound quality was amazing. These were the first pair of headphones I’ve used where I couldn’t hear any outside noise as well, as my wife soon realized. Even sitting right next to her, I didn’t hear her trying to get my attention. Usually, there’s some bleedthrough from outside noise in my headsets, so I can mostly catch when she’s wanting to talk to me. This was the case even without  ENC being active, which only works when the headset is plugged in via USB instead of the audio jack.

But I don’t believe the electrostatic drivers are being utilized unless it’s plugged in via USB either, since electrostatic headsets require auxiliary power supplies to even function. This confused me, as the product information states that Hi-Res Audio at 44.1 Khz/16-bit isn’t active except with an analog signal, which a USB doesn’t provide. When I tested these on my PC, for some reason using the audio jack wouldn't allow the volume to go more than 30% or so. Whereas I was able to turn the volume up all the way to 100 when it was plugged in via the USB control.

Is the Static worth it?

It might seem like a gimmick, but it sure feels like the hybrid driver system does deliver better sound. Either via the analog audio jack or with the USB type C control, the sound quality was above and beyond any other headset I have. Without a doubt though, the PRECOGs sounded better plugged in via the USB w/ DPS sound card rather than with the audio jack, even though supposedly Hi-Res Audio isn’t active through a digital signal like USB. It just felt like the sound was richer and smoother, like a cashmere of sound cascading against my eardrums, when they were plugged in that way.

I hope this is a new technology that we start seeing implemented in more and more headsets going forward. Even though the technology itself isn’t new, it's finally becoming integrated into more mainstream avenues like in gaming peripherals. Hopefully it’s not too long until we see more hybrid drivers being put into other devices, such as soundbars and desktop speakers.

Final Thoughts

The XPG PRECOG headsets are my new favorite headsets that I have. The sound quality is something I was really curious about since I had never experienced electrostatic drivers in any capacity, and I am pleased that they did not disappoint. Although I experienced a few hiccups, likeI found out that the USB-C doesn’t work on my phone because it’s not a new enough phone, I think overall the PRECOGs are fantastic universal headsets.  I’ve already made this pair of headsets my go-to for not only gaming, but listening to music as well.

The main question though is are they worth the cost? I love my wireless headsets for their functionality and it was hard to transition back to a wired set. For a similar price-range, there are some fantastic options for other gaming headsets as well. But I believe that if the audio quality is the most important aspect to you then the XPG PRECOG gaming headset is a must-have.

Pros

  • High-Res Audio
  • Dual dynamic drivers ft. Electrostatic transducers 
  • Lightweight and aesthetically pleasing
  • Carrying case w/ room for cables

Cons

  • Wired-only headset
  • Expensive
 

The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.