This Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X review has been in the works for over a month now. I was lucky enough to have multiple different gaming headsets land on my doorstep simultaneously, making me suddenly very busy when it came to putting them all through their paces. This also allowed me to compare each headset and pinpoint the various strengths and weaknesses. Now that my testing is over, it’s clear to see that the ATH-ADG1X does a hell of a lot right when it comes to, not only gaming, but also music listening and film watching. This $300 headset is an awesome pair of open-air headphones disguised as a gaming headset, which elevates things beyond what you’d expect from the highest-end, even more expensive gaming audio solutions. With that said, there are some downsides which may cause potential buyers to look elsewhere.
Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X Review – What’s in a Name?
What hit me right away, as I pulled the ATH-ADG1X from its box, was the headset’s similarity to the AD900X headphones, which I used as my daily driver for many years. I really did love the sound they produced, but they got sold while making my transition from university to my new home.
Audio-Technica’s incredibly complicated naming process really makes it difficult to identify one headset from another and the type of features they boast. I know the “AD” points at the open-air style, which becomes immediately obvious from the cans’ design; looking very clean and airy indeed. As for the “G,” I assume that means they are tailored towards gamers, who will best utilize that built-in microphone. This is one of very few open-back headsets that I’ve seen targeted towards the gaming crowd. Companies often push for a closed-back style, as they have much less sound leakage, and are therefore less likely to annoy others in the same room. Users of the ADG1X will want to be aware of this, as you’ll be sharing all audio with everyone in the vicinity. If that’s no problem for you, then you’ll get to enjoy the overall better sound that comes with the open-back design, with a wide soundstage and airiness that truly impresses, and awesome bass that punches without becoming overbearing. When I can get away with wearing open-back headphones, I choose them over closed-back every single time.
Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X Review – Against the Gamer Grain
Another way that the ADG1X goes against the usual gaming headset trend is with overall style. While I think the open-air design looks fantastic, and I appreciate the “Wing Support System” which keeps the headset light on the user’s head, you don’t exactly look very cool while wearing them. Style is something that I usually don’t care about when it comes to headphones that will only be used at home, but with so many gamers now livestreaming their gaming sessions, a more subtle, compact design may be preferable. With that said, the ADG1X doesn’t feature any distracting RGB or loud colors, so if you’re able to pull off the big cans and odd-looking headband, then you should be good to go.
Many gaming headsets have also evolved to include virtual surround sound, through software solutions or included amps. I am really not convinced by VSS and have always ended up going back to stereo. However, I know some gamers swear by the technology, and if you are one of those people, then you may be disappointed by the ADG1X’s lack of VSS support. (Though you can always hop into Windows 10 to activate the built-in “Spatial Sound” for any and all headphones.) For me, though, the large soundstage that the ADG1X offers does more than enough to make footstep and gunfire noise easy to pinpoint and track, making for an incredible in-game experience. I’d argue that these trump my current daily driver, the Philips Fidelio X2, when it comes to tighter bass and more refinement in warmer tones.
Of course, my X2s are significantly cheaper and so are expected to fall against Audio-Technica’s premium gaming option. What’s more, the X2s don’t come with their own microphone, which the ADG1X certainly does. While the included microphone doesn’t match up to the likes of Audio-Technica’s broadcast-level BPHS1, which I reviewed last week, it is surprisingly competent, and more than adequate for chatting to teammates and entry-level livestreaming. Equipped with the included windshield, the sound quality is much better than I anticipated, and the gooseneck style arm allows for easy adjustments. I do wish the range of movement was a little more generous, or the mic being fully detachable would be even better and allow for the ADG1X to be more easily used as standard headphones, but it’s a solid addition that will please most.
Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X Review – More Must-Have Modularity, Please!
A detachable microphone is perhaps a big ask, but surely a detachable cable should have been a no-brainer. On any pair of expensive headphones or headset, I want the ability to switch out the provided cable. Whether it’s to alter the cable length or to easily replace it should it become damaged, the ability to unplug and change wires is a feature that the ADG1X sorely lacks. At $300, I feel this is a significant oversight.
Though don’t me wrong, the included 1.2m cable is of high quality and I appreciate the ability to detach the 2m volume/mute switch and microphone/headphone extension and splitter. There’s no USB here and no drivers to install. It’s just 3.5mm, making it compatible with many devices, including the PC and PS4 that I tested.
Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X Review – Just Plug It In
As for how the headset performed with PC and PS4 games, the headset’s 48 ohms impedance did not cause any problems with volume levels on either platform. Plugging the headset directly into the PS4 controller and maxing out the volume gave a great audio experience (and I really like to crank it up!). If you’re on PC, you’ll have no trouble with onboard sound from your motherboard, though you can certainly pair the ADG1X with a DAC/AMP to truly make it shine. This headset is definitely capable of “audiophile level” quality, so don’t go letting the gamer branding lead you to thinking otherwise.
If you’re a gamer considering the ADG1X, I’m going to assume that you’re pretty hardcore when it comes to the length of your gaming sessions. If this is the case, then comfort is certainly something you’ll want to consider. I’ve mentioned the Wing Support System before, about how it looks a little funky, but as for the feel, it’s fantastic. The headset’s weightlessness already makes it very comfortable to wear, and the wings make it seem like it’s floating. It is incredibly light and is well-balanced on my own—admittedly larger than average—head. While the plastic wings could come across as a little flimsy, as they are very easy to adjust and put no stress on the head whatsoever, my old AD900X’s boasted a similar feature and lasted thousands of hours of use throughout my three years at university. Treat them with respect, and they’ll reward you with fantastic sound. The open-air style also means that ears remain cool, even after hours of use. This is often not the case with closed-back designs.
Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X Review – A Fantastic Option
Calling the Audio-Technica ADG1X a “gaming headset” just doesn’t do it enough justice. This is a product that will please in all instances of media consumption. It really does nail all aspects of music, movie, and gaming listening. My only reservations are to do with increased versatility. This could have been a home run if both the cable and microphone were detachable. That would have made the higher cost easier to swallow, as the wires could easily be replaced in a matter of seconds, and popping off the mic would add the flexibility to go pure headphone when not in a gaming situation. An included case would also have been good to see, as I really wouldn’t feel comfortable putting this in a bag for travel without protection. Despite this, Audio-Technica has delivered an impressive product here. If you can get over the shortcomings in terms of functionality, and can find the ADG1X at a great price, then flawless audio will be your reward.
Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X review unit was provided by Audio-Technica.