Audeze Penrose, A Review

As a hi-fi enthusiast, one of the one of the things I’m always after is finding the best sound for a given use case for a reasonable price. For the last year given how common zoom meetings have become, I’ve been wanting to up my game in terms of wireless headset (headphone + microphone combo). There are a few out there from Sony, Sennheiser, Apple and Bose and I have owned different models from all these makers. However, wireless capabilities of these are limited to Bluetooth — which has a whole host of issues I didn’t want to deal with. The above also compromise in terms of sound fidelity for features like noise canceling, battery life, etc. And this is how this headset from Audeze piqued my interest: in addition to Bluetooth (which can be disabled), it comes with a proprietary 2.4Ghz low-latency wireless connection which is 100% digital and then the DAC functionality is delegated to the device.

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Audeze Penrose

Review disclaimer: I’ve received feedback from a reader insinuating I’m receiving compensation from vendors for writing these reviews in my blog. I want to make this super clear: I do not receive compensation of any kind for writing these reviews (other than these reviews being part of Medium’s paywall). There are no kick-backs or discounts, etc. All gear I review is bought from amazon or other e-commerce sites by me with my money. All links I provide in my reviews are referrer-program-free and most permalinks which can be found via google search. I do these reviews because I love writing and I love sharing my thoughts on gear I buy which hopefully are useful to others.

Audeze is marketing these wireless headset with the gamer persona in mind, but as you can see in the picture above, “gamer” design is kept to a minimum, no flashy lights or anything else gaudy. However, I believe in labeling this as “gamer gear” Audeze is doing a great disservice to this headset, as I’ll explain below.

Test Stack: 2020 MacBook Pro, Hades Canyon NUC, Spotify (at highest bitrate) and local FLAC files. All BT off and using 2.4ghz wireless connection.

Comfort and Ergonomics: as someone with an oversized head and large ears, this is a criteria I always like to include in my reviews (and almost always amiss from audio reviews). They fit my large head and ears well, but they do put some side pressure which could be a non-issue if you have a normal-sized noggin. They sit well on top and the padding works well. It’s firm and yet supple and distributes the weight of the headset well.

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Sound: in my opinion, overall these cans have a very similar signature to every other planar-magnetic headphones I’ve tried, that is extremely clean, neutral and clinical.

Bass: sparkly clean. Neither elevated, nor recessed. Audible frequency response down to 20hz to my ears. It’s very neutral in poise too: neither forward nor in the background.

Mids: crystal clear and well and smoothly separated from highs and lows, although a slight tendency/bias towards highs. Vocals and acoustic music comes through absolutely beautifully, better, in some ways, than my highly regarded Focal Elegia.

Highs: as is the theme with these cans, absolutely pristine and sparkling clean. No sibilance whatsoever. No emphasis or attenuation through the range (to my quadragenarian ears).

Separation: instrument separation and isolation can only be described as amazing. Listening to well recorded, well mastered, lossless acoustic piano/guitar tracks is quite fantastic the sonic journey. The frets, the hammers on strings, the arpeggios, the sustained and vibratos all become real and palpable.

Sound stage: because of the player-centric tuning and the spatial awareness that requires, the stage feels a bit “on your face”, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or it neglects instrument placement.

Microphone: exceptionally good for a headset mic. No it’s not meant to replace your AKG or Audio-Technica professional condenser, but as far as headset microphones go, it’s fantastic. More than well suited for presentations, casual narration, demos, podcasts, etc. Let’s say I was a lot less surprised when I found out, after the fact, it’s made by famed microphone maker Shure.

Conclusion: as I alluded to earlier in the review, I believe Audeze is limiting a much wider appeal to these headphones by marketing them as gaming gear — which many people, myself included, tend to avoid. This is without question hi-fi-enthusiast-grade gear and if you do not own a pair of planar-magnetic cans, you cannot go wrong by grabbing a pair of these. Their price, as of this writing is about $300, which makes them practically a steal given what you get.

Software, hi-fi audio, data, financial markets observer.

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