Audio is key to an enriching, entertaining gaming experience. The market has no shortage of headphones, whether geared toward gaming or music. With a saturated market, where do you put your hardware dollars? This review looks at one of the possibilities, the ATH-G1WL Premium Wireless Gaming Headset. Audio-Technica makes a bold statement in putting ‘premium’ in the product name, but the company’s reputation allows it some leeway. Let’s see how the ATH-G1WL shapes up, shall we?
- MSRP: $249.00
- Driver diameter: 45mm
- Frequency response: 5-40,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 101dB/mW
- Impedance: 45 ohms
- Battery: Internal Battery (3.8V rechargeable lithium polymer battery)
- Battery life: 15 hours (depending on environmental factors)
- Charging time: 7 hours
- Weight 290g (297g with detachable microphone)
- Microphone type: Condenser
- Microphone sensitivity: -43 dB (1V/Pa, at 1kHz)
- Microphone frequency response: 30-20,000 Hz
- Microphone polar pattern: Hypercardioid
- Supported operating systems: Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 (32/64 bit); macOS High Sierra; Mojave
- RF output: 12.5mW EIRP
- Maximum communication range: Line of Sight – approx. 12m
- Frequency band: 2.404 GHz to 2.476 GHz
- Modulation method: AFH
- Transmission band: 20 – 24,000 Hz
- Power supply: DC 5V (USB Bus power)
- Dimensions: 18mm x 55mm x 10mm
- Weight: 9g
Right off the bat, the ATH-G1WL starts strong with its specifications. It’s worth noting that the headphones’ impedance suggests that it may be great for a personal computer, but a bit much for a smartphone. The headset’s range of frequencies ranges from a quarter of the lowest end of the human hearing range to twice the highest end of the human hearing range. That sounds impressive and they don’t make it entirely clear how that might affect your listening experience. Like many headphones that have expansive frequency response ranges, the purpose is to push the limits of the driver outside the range of human hearing. Since many drivers distort at the outskirts of their specifications, extending that range ensures that you’ll never hear distortion from these headphones being pushed to their limits.
The hyper-cardioid microphone has great sensitivity and frequency response, lending it a full-bodied sound despite being wireless. It’s designed with gaming in mind and does really well in that arena with the included windscreen and flexible, detachable mic.
The battery’s duration of 15 hours is impressive and should accommodate a solid gaming session or two, but low battery comes often with little warning. Stepping away from the computer without turning the microphone off is also a bit janky. The microphone seems to enter a sleep state, after which I had to power cycle it to get it to work upon returning. Nevertheless, the charging cord is quite long and convenient and can be used while wearing the headset. Bear in mind, though, that the charging cable and the wireless fob each take up their own USB slots – plan accordingly.
The range of the wireless receiver is an impressive 12 meters, which for me is across the house from my desktop, on the first floor, through walls, still with decent connection. I don’t really have much reason to be that far away from the computer, but it does lend itself well to listening to music while away from the workstation. The wire-free nature of the headset feels like it’s naturally suited to studying, reading, cleaning, conversing via internet voice, and other activities where audio might be wanted.
A Headset Apart
What sets these headphones apart from others in this price range in terms of the ATH-G1WL’s specifications is the combination of quality and features. That is, this wireless headset plays and records crisp audio transmission with specs that are roughly comparable to other devices in this price range. The specs at times even top some more expensive premium devices, such as Beyerdynamic’s 2nd generation MMX300 – at least in terms of microphone directionality and frequency response. It is worth considering that all of these benefits come on a wireless headset, meaning increased mobility and no tripping on wires as you play.
Build quality feels acceptable for the price. The device’s lightweight construction allows for a very comfortable wearing experience, and I don’t get the sense that it will easily come apart when I handle it. It does feel lighter than it should for its sturdiness – a definite plus if you spend a lot of time at the desk. The packaging was also very lightweight. As one might imagine, there wasn’t too much to include in the box, and it was professionally presented and efficiently packed.
The aesthetics are generally pleasing. The logo and external portions of the headphones are very slick looking, but the exposed wires are not. The wires have not gotten in the way as of yet, but the visible wires are clearly the tradeoff for its lightweight construction. I do like the color scheme of the headset, but no illumination to speak of means that it lags behind the current generation of glowing PC parts in illuminated aesthetic value.
The headphone cushions are very comfortable and feature a cloth mesh on their face rather than cheap pleather. I really like the cloth, as I find that the pleather disintegrates rather messily over time. I also find the cloth more comfortable to wear on the ears for extended gameplay sessions. The headphone cushions are great barriers to outside sound. I prefer an immersive gaming experience, and the ability to isolate outside sounds is really conducive to achieving that.
I think the immersion was further heightened by the ATH-G1WL’s soundstage, which felt appropriate live in game and in a soundstage test video. Unmodified by my audio driver’s options, the timbre of the headset feels colder and more precise than the lower end Corsair HS260’s warmer and fuzzier sound. The G1WL handles well at low, mid, and high frequency sounds in both headphones and experienced a smooth progression in a sine sweep test from low to high frequencies and back.
The headset was great in-game. For example, as suggested above, I had no problems locating enemies by sound in Far Cry 5, and the cinematic listening experience I would expect in Total War: Warhammer 2’s battles came through loud and clear. I tried the headset on a variety of games, most of which were FPS or strategy in nature, and the headset provided a pleasant listening experience in each. The ATH-G1WL also handled multiple streams of sound well, with my companions’ voices coming through as clearly as in-game sounds. The only time I experienced difficulty with the headset was getting the sudden ‘beep’ that informed me that my battery was running low, meaning I had to pause the action and plug in the headset.
The ATH-G1WL comes across exactly as its described – a premium gaming headset. Its ease of use is only really tripped up by the baffling placement of the device’s buttons and dials, which are situated around the microphone. That might be something that becomes more convenient over time, but I did not find it intuitive at all. I’m not sure that this would be enough to dissuade me from purchasing the headset, however, as the quality of the device is really good.
Overall, the ATH-G1WL is a good gaming headset for the price. I find that it’s comfortable and lightweight with great ear cushions, a mix of great and not-so-great aesthetics. I find the placement for buttons and dials for volume, mute, etc. more annoying than helpful. That said, the convenience of the wireless, coupled with the quality of the sound and wearable experience make the ATH-G1WL a worthwhile purchase if you’re looking for a premium headset in this price range.
- Lightweight construction feels good on the head
- Crisp sound is great for gaming or music
- No tripping over cables when untethered
- Button placement isn’t convenient
- Exposed wires aren’t pretty
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.