While Razer, Logitech, and other companies are working on their 2023 gaming headsets, Audeze has announced its new Maxwell wireless model that starts at $299 with support for PlayStation, Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, and mobile — everything but Xbox. There’s an Xbox version that costs $50 more and makes up for some of the cost increase with a Dolby Atmos license that activates automatically. It’ll start shipping in late December 2022.
Audeze typically makes big promises about great audio quality, which is fine because the products usually back them up. The Maxwell has 90mm planar magnetic drivers, which are slightly smaller than the ones in its 2021 Penrose headset. Through them, you can listen to hi-res audio when connected via the included USB-C cable or when you’re wirelessly tethered to its USB-C dongle.
As for wireless quality, Audeze put some more work into Bluetooth here, bringing some welcome additions with the Bluetooth 5.3 LE tech. The Maxwell features multipoint support (allowing it to connect to multiple devices at once) as well as support for the high-end LDAC codec along with AAC and SBC. It also touts support for the more efficient low-latency LC3 and LC3plus codecs that claim not to skimp on audio quality. As for how this impacts battery life, the generation-to-generation improvement seems stunning. I got about 10 hours per charge with the Penrose, but Audeze promises a whopping 80-plus hours per charge while listening wirelessly at 80 decibels.
I thought the last-gen Penrose was a delight to listen to, but as noted in my review, I thought it was uncomfortable to wear for even short bursts of time. Audeze’s press release says the Maxwell chassis features “a spring-steel headband with an adjustable suspension strap for greater comfort over long gaming sessions.” I won’t know until I put it on my head if those changes are enough of an improvement. However, I’m concerned that this is heavier than the Penrose, weighing 490 grams versus 320 grams.
Like the Penrose, the Maxwell is loaded with inputs, but it’s all built into a design that looks more subdued. Aside from a colorized Audeze logo on its side denoting console compatibility, the plain black ear cups help this gaming headset masquerade as a regular set of over-ear headphones. It’s weird that Audeze is using Phillips head screws in its $300 headset to mount its suspension strap, a DIY look that may or may not align with your taste.
All of the buttons and ports are crammed onto the left ear cup, and that includes a mute switch, a power button, a game / chat audio dial, a volume dial, a multifunction button for Bluetooth control, a port for its Shure-developed boom mic, a USB-C port, and a 3.5mm port. The Maxwell also features mics on the chassis, so you don’t need to use the boom mic to chat over Bluetooth.
I look forward to testing new gaming headsets of all sorts, but I get especially excited to test out ones from high-end audio companies like Audeze. Based on its past attempts, I haven’t been convinced that spending $300 is what most gamers should do, but if the comfort is right in the Maxwell, it might change my tune.
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