Audio Technica AG1X headset review: Ultra-premium audio for PC gamers
Did you know Audio Technica makes gaming headsets? Well, it does. Very good, if expensive, gaming headsets.
The ATH-AG1X is a high-fidelity gaming headset from Audio Technica. It's one of two current high-end models, with this one being the closed-back option. It's high-fidelity, but it's also high in price. Expensive gaming headsets aren't uncommon, but they need to offer a lot to be worth your money.
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- Driver diameter: 53 mm
- Frequency response: 5 Hz to 35,000 Hz
- Maximum input power: 1,000 mW
- Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW
- Impedance: 50 ohms
- Weight: 320 g (11.3 oz) without cable
- Cable: 1.2 m (3.9 feet)
- Connector: 3.5 mm (1/8 in.) gold-plated stereo mini-plug (four pole)
It's plastic, but oh so comfy
Upon unboxing the AG1X, it'd be easy to be a little underwhelmed. It's very light and it's very plasticky. Compared to my own ATH-M50x headphones from Audio Technica, the difference is immediately noticeable.
The M50x is also plastic, but it feels thicker, and of course, it has a metal band running through the middle. The AG1X doesn't have this. It doesn't have any physical way of adjusting at all.
What it has are two little fins that can move under tension to suit the size of your head. It's a similar idea to the ski band on the SteelSeries Arctis headsets we previously reviewed. What you get is the headset being almost suspended, so it's not forever pulling down on your head.
And, in turn, this means supreme comfort. I previously called the Arctis 7 the most comfortable headset you could buy, but the AG1X comes very, very close. This mechanism coupled with the lightweight design makes wearing the headset for long periods a delight.
The padding on the ear cups is also very soft and trimmed in faux leather. This probably comes down to personal preference, but I much prefer this to a fabric trim, since it's less irritating over time.
The cups also move just enough along the vertical axis so as to get the right fit. What they don't do is fold flat, or fold up altogether, like many of Audio Technica's headphones.
The one critique of the design and construction is the type of plastic used on the outside. The model I have looks stunning in its red and black finish, but the exterior is a glossy plastic, and the first time you touch it you cover it in hideous fingerprints. I'd have preferred a matte finish like my M50x.
First, the tech:
- Type — Condenser.
- Sensitivity — 41 dB (0 dB=1 V/Pa, 1 kHz).
- Frequency response — 100 Hz to 12,000 Hz.
- Polar pattern — Supercardioid.
Sadly, the microphone doesn't detach from the AG1X, which means you can't really take them on as headphones. You can, but once you leave the house it's obvious you're wearing a gaming headset. All it does is swivel up out of the way.
It's a good microphone. though. The windshield is optional but very large, so it's worth using if you get a little excited while you're gaming! The inline remote also has a handy mute switch to turn it off at any point. It's nothing particularly special, no more so than most other gaming headsets. But it's not really the microphone you're paying for.
The cable is rubbish
The one thing I really don't like about the AG1X and would absolutely change is the cable. It is hot garbage if you're going to be using this headset with a console. It's not very long, and it curls up far too much. It's also nonremovable so you can't even change it for a better one.
If you're gaming on a PC using the extension to split into the separate microphone and headphone jacks, you won't notice this at all. But if you're plugged into a controller (Audio Technica markets it for PlayStation 4, but it's good for Xbox One, as well), you're going to get very annoyed by the cable.
It's a minor quibble on the grander stage though because you're not spending $300 to use this with a console.
The sound is astonishing
This headset is meant for one thing and one thing only: ear-tingling audio quality. When used with a PC it delivers in spades. It's crying out for quality audio hardware, so if your PC is lacking a little then you'll benefit from picking up a dedicated sound card or an external DAC/Amp.
The 53mm drivers deliver a grand soundstage for game audio that might leave you checking around to make sure what you're hearing is just in the game. And because this is the closed-back model, sound isolation is very good and the experience very immersive.
I've used this headset most with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and it delivers literally everything you need to hear. The far off gunshots, the sound of footsteps trying to creep up behind you, that car that's going to try and run you over in about 15 seconds, it's all clear as a bell.
The hardware on the AG1X lends itself well to listening to high-quality audio files, too. Sure, the Doom soundtrack sounds epic pumping through your ears from the AG1X, but it's also a fine headset for listening to your lossless audio. But as with all high-quality headphones, you'll get the most when every part of the chain is as good as it can be.
Bottom line on Audio Technica's AG1X
Yes, $300 is a lot to spend on a headset. That's not for debate, it just is. The AG1X is a special kind of headset, though. It's marketed as an audiophile's gaming headset and whether you subscribe to the definition or not, the sound is astonishing.
The better the audio hardware you have, the more you'll feel the benefits. Sure, you can use the AG1X with a console, but if that's your primary use case, save some money and look elsewhere. Your console won't do it justice.
It's more comfortable than most regular premium headphones for long periods while providing comparable sound and a solid microphone to boot. If you're seeking an outstanding sounding headset for PC gaming, this is worth your consideration.
- Outstanding audio quality.
- Ridiculously comfortable.
- Works with PC and console.
- Available in open-backed design.
- Very fingerprinty.
- The attached cable isn't good.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine