Earlier this Fall, we took a look at Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50X studio headphones and walked away extremely impressed. We knew then, we had to reach out to see if we could take a look at one of their dedicated gaming headsets. They were happy to oblige and sent over their ATH-ADG1x High Fidelity Gaming Headset. Coming from a company best known for professional grade audio equipment, is this the gaming headset for gamers and audiophiles alike?
- MSRP: $299.00
- Type: Open-air dynamic
- Driver Diameter: 53mm
- Frequency Response: 5 – 35,000 Hz
- Maximum Input Power: 1000 mW
- Sensitivity: 99dB/mW
- Impedance: 48 ohms
- Weight: 285g
- Cable: 1.2m (3.9')
- Connector: 3.5 mm (1/8") gold-plated stereo mini-plug (4 pole)
- Accessories Included: USB adapter/amplifier, 2.0 m (6.6') extension cable
- Microphone Type: Condenser
- Microphone Sensitivity: -41dB (0 dB=1 V/Pa, 1 kHz)
- Microphone Frequency Response: 100 – 12,000Hz
- Microphone Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
Let’s not bury the lede. This is absolutely a gaming headset for audiophiles, and that fact frames how the ADG1x needs to be viewed. This is an audiophile’s gaming headset with all that entails. From its sound signature and exclusively stereo sound, to the physical design and upper-tier, $299 price point, it’s positioned to stand apart from other “gaming” headsets. It’s for audio enthusiasts first, who also happen to be gamers.
It’s also through that lens that the $299 price point starts to look a little more reasonable. If you’re unfamiliar with the world of Hi-Fi headphones, breaking the $300 mark is far from unusual. The V-Moda CrossFade 2s we reviewed last month, also considered (mid-level) audiophile headphones, come in at $330, for example. The question audio enthusiasts will have to ask themselves is whether the package here compares to the heavy hitters in that category of headphones, some of which have been on the market for years and have vocal fanbases. So let’s dig in.
Unboxing the ADG1x, I was impressed with how well presented they were. I’m not one to get hung up on packaging, but a company that invests in premium presentation is also one likely to make their products premium in other ways. The outer box is very nice, but the inner plastic shell holding the headset was covered in a black microfiber cloth, perfect for keeping the headset cleaned of dust. Underneath the shell is the usual documentation and a splitter cable to tap the standard 4-pole into separate headphone and mic jacks. The extra cable is a good six feet in length, perfect to reach behind your PC and plug into a sound card.
The headset itself is extremely lightweight but very sturdy. At this price point, I would have liked to see a bit more metal in their construction, but, like the ATH-M50Xs, Audio-Technica is smartly reinforced at the hinges and makes use of sheathed metal in the headband. Unlike the M50X headphones, the headband on the ADG1x is composed of two flexible wires. I repeatedly stretched and twisted this band with nary a creak. The grills on each of the earcups are also metal, so you don’t have to worry about them cracking if they slip off your desk.
In a unique twist, the headband here is non-adjustable. Instead, two wings (pictured above) rest on top of your head and hold it in position. This system works well enough, but the “one size fits all” approach tends to leave smaller people like myself out in the cold. In this case, the headset wasn’t falling off my ears but still felt pretty loose.
On the other hand, one of the biggest selling points of the headset is that it makes fatigue a thing of the past. It’s so lightweight, non-grippy, and the cushions so plush and earcups breathable, that even after hours of use with my glasses on (glasses wears know, this is a big deal), there was just no soreness or heat. Coupled with the mild sound signature, it’s clear that Audio-Technica designed these headphones for use over long sessions.
The ear cushions are a thing of beauty, as long as you don’t mind cleaning them every now and again. Audio-Technica opted for a soft memory foam. These have a tendency to trap heat, but thanks to the open back design, that issue is completely eliminated. They’re coated in a velvety fabric that feels great on the skin but has a habit of holding onto dust and stray hairs.
One of the most defining qualities of a High Fidelity headset is clarity. Even though they can be flavored towards lows or highs, the push to make every instrument and note heard. Often, the coloration is less than you’d find on consumer headphones and that’s exactly what you’ll find here.
The 5-35000kHz frequency response guarantees the ADG1x will drive any frequency it’s possible to hear, but there’s a remarkable balance in that spectrum that’s uncommon in gaming headsets. There may be a touch more bass than mids or highs, but only slightly, and it’s still less than you’re likely to find elsewhere. Part of this is because of the open-air design that allows sound to escape out the back of the earcup and doesn’t trap bass frequencies in the chamber. The headphones feel distinctly lightly in flavor right from the outset, which may be a negative for those of your who like their headphones to rumble when the action ramps up.
For my part, I liked this lighter sound signature and for two important reasons. First, you don’t need to rumble to feel the intensity of grenade blasts and, in fact, punching up bass so much is hard on the ears. Just like its physical design, these cans are designed for long haul gaming sessions. They represent exactly what you’re supposed to hear without tiring your ears out in the process and the positional audio is fantastic. Second, it’s exactly this quality that makes them so suited for music lovers. The lack of extra color pushes makes them great for hearing music as it was intended to be heard (and they sound great). For content creators, they’re great reference headphones to make sure you’re hearing what your audience will.
The last part to touch on is the microphone. Streamers will be pleased to hear the ADG1x features a condenser mic operating in a supercardioid pattern. It’s mounted on a gooseneck and sounds great. Have a listen:
My only critique is that it’s non-removable, which makes it wearing them out of the house less of an option.
Audio-Technica is an all-star in the world of professional audio equipment, so it should come as no surprise that the ATH-ADG1x High Fidelity Gaming Headset puts audio enthusiasts first. That doesn’t mean core gamers should give it a pass. If you’re the kind of player who games for long sessions and finds normal headsets fatiguing, or simply one who wants a next-level pair of headphones in their headset, this is for you. But, there’s a hefty premium here, and if you’re not an enthusiast, those things might not be worth the buy-in.
- Extremely lightweight
- They sound fantastic w/ a great soundstage
- No fatigue - even with glasses!
- Flatter sound signature
- Very expensive
- Flatter sound signature
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.