Audio-Technica is well established as one of the elite companies when it comes to audio. Headsets and microphones that cause audiophiles to swoon. So color me surprised when I found out they made headsets for gamers. Audio-Technica provided me with their latest open-air headset, the ATH-ADG1X Open Air, and their closed back headset, the ATH-AG1X Isolation, for review and comparison. Let’s take a listen.
Open Air vs. Closed Back
First, let's do a quick explanation of what Open Air and Closed Back means for those unaware. Both terms describe the style of the ear cups. Open Air has a perforated cup and Closed Back has a solid cup. So what are the pros and cons of each?
As a pro, Open Air lets air and sound “breath” through the cup giving the audio a more natural sound. As a con, that open design also lets sound in and out of the cup so you can hear noise around you and those around you can also hear what you are listening to.
As a pro, the Closed Back headsets isolate the sound internally and externally. You do not hear noise going on around you and others cannot hear what you are listening to. It allows you, and only you, to only hear your audio. As a con, the closed cup makes the audio sound less natural and gives the sensation as if it’s coming from within your head.
The ATH-ADG1X Open Air (Blue)
My initial thought on the ATH-ADG1X was that the sound was good. I played a random list of music on my PC as a base for the overall sound. It was very crisp and clear. Moving into games this still held true. Everything from "boings" of jumping and "bangs" of shots was sharp and defined.
I have no LAN parties on my schedule for quite a while, so I took both headsets into work to check the ambient sound. My editing desk is in a notoriously noisy area and I have gone through quite a few headsets until I settled on, surprisingly enough, a set of noise canceling Audio-Technica headphones from a few years back.
The ATH-ADG1X did surprisingly well. I was able to concentrate on my work with minimal interruption from co-worker’s conversations or noise generated by the nearby kitchen area. I was even able to hear if someone called my name. Still, I would say these are best used for home gaming.
The ear cups have a nice, soft, velvety feeling cloth over cushioning that felt good against my ears and side of my head. It didn't push in on my glasses either.
Similarly, my initial thought on the ATH-AG1X overall sound was that it too was good. They performed well with music and gave the same crisp and clear sound that the ATH-ADG1X did. The testing at work, as expected, gave a better sound isolation. While the ATH-ADG1X did let some sound in the ATH-AG1X kept it out to the point where people had to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention.
The padding around the ear cups is also nice and soft but used leather like cloth to help seal in the sound. This padding also did not push on my glasses.
Both headsets use an interesting “3D Wing Support” headband for resting on your head. Headband isn’t quite the right word because it floats above your head. Touch pads might be a better description. The pads are on curved tension rods that come off the top of each cup to gently rest on your head, holding the earpieces in place. This gives a pseudo custom fit that provides support to hold the headset in place, but doesn’t pinch or weigh heavily on your head.
They both utilize dynamic 53mm drivers and super cardioid microphones. The dynamic 53mm drivers give great sound. While the super cardioid microphone that provides narrow pick-up patterns which helps keep out unwanted background noise when you are talking to other players. The other players had no problems hearing me clearly. The headset jack on them is a 3.5mm gold-plated stereo 4 pole mini plug, so you can use these with your phone, PlayStation 4 controller or Xbox One controller (if you have the Stereo Headset Adapter). And both come with a 2.0m extension cable the ends in 2 3.5mm plugs, one for the audio and one for the mic, for plugging into your computer.
While I am a sucker for the color red, I actually prefer the ATH-ADG1X Open Air headset, which is blue. I like the more natural sound it put out and it's perfect for my home gaming needs. With that said, for my LAN party needs I’ll take the red ATH-AG1X Isolation. PDX LAN can get upwards of 500+ people, when you have that many folks gaming it can get downright noisy.
Both headsets are quality sounding and would be perfect for any gamer looking for said quality while gaming. I can easily recommend either the ATH-AG1X Isolation or the ATH-ADG1X Open Air from Audio-Technica for your headset needs.
For more information check out Audio-Technica's Gaming Headset website.