AlthoughListen being a manufacturer of original headphones oriented towards Hifi, it immediately made a place for itself among the major players in gaming headphones, thanks to its excellence. Mobius etc Penrose. A mature model, the Maxwell, still equipped with flat transducers, intends to correct some of the faults of its two predecessors, while moving up a notch on the technological side, for an affordable price (from 300 euros). Could the Audeze Maxwell be the ultimate gaming headset?
Type: Wireless Gaming Headset
Price: 300 euros (PC/PlayStation version), 330 euros (PC/Xbox version)
A solid base of Hifi headphones, not for all cervixes
Forget the all-plastic chassis of the Mobius and Penrose, the Maxwell has clearly taken a step forward. Apart from its dense polymer shell, the entire structure consists of a beautiful mixture of aluminum and steel, giving it an infinitely more desirable, even luxurious look.
This major change mainly involves a substantial transformation of the design, much more massive, based on that of open Hifi headphones, as l’Audeze MM-100. The hulls abandoned the oval format (Mobius and Penrose) for a large diameter round format.
The evolution of the volume and the denser construction have consequences on the weight of the helmet, which is considerable: 490 g on the scale. This is also one of the only dark points of the Maxwell. Audeze largely limits breakage thanks to a very wide leather head that distributes the pressure wonderfully. nonetheless, many users will not support this headset for long sessions. Likewise, the leather pads, which are very soft and enveloping, are particularly wide, which are not compatible with very small heads.
Above all, the height adjustment system still needs improvement. Represented by a set of three teeth held by a screw, it is both laborious (requires a screwdriver) and too imprecise.
A sort of modernized and more complete Penrose, the Audeze Maxwell can be considered a true sound center, given its many possibilities.
In addition to its main operations, which include low-latency transmission via a USB-C dongle, this headset has a Bluetooth chip, a 3.5 mm mini jack input (cannot be used with the headset off) and even a USB- C.
In high appearance, the Bluetooth connection is impressively modern. In addition to Multipoint and LDAC codec support, the Bluetooth 5.3 chip is compatible with future LE Audio standards. Another great advantage is that it is possible to keep a double dongle + Bluetooth connection and change very simply from one to the other. The icing on the cake, the autonomy is around 80 hours, whether in Bluetooth connection or wireless from the USB dongle.
The only limit in terms of connection lies in the compatibility of the USB transmitter with game consoles. Therefore, the Audeze Maxwell is offered in two versions, which are distinguished by the type of USB dongle delivered: PC / PlayStation or PC / Xbox (second lan. is a little more expensive, since it is sold at 330 €, which means 30 € more).
Games, environment and nomadism
Unlike many manufacturers, Audeze offers a dedicated gaming headset. There are no external boxes or extravagant functions here. All controls are accessible on the headset, via a series of wheels and clickable buttons. This arrangement is rather well thought out, but it requires a significant amount of time to adapt.
As with the headphones, the dedicated Audeze HQ app goes straight to the point. It is limited to some information about the situation, the integration and the customization of equalizing with a microphone setting. The Audeze HQ app is available on PC, as well as on smartphones. This second version mainly makes it possible to apply settings, even when the headset is connected to a console.
Do not spoil anything, the microphone part is of excellent quality. Created in partnership with Shure, the flexible (detachable) microphone offers natural voice and is highly effective at filtering external noise.
Whether in games or mobile use, made possible by the positive passive sound insulation of the pads, the Audeze Maxwell leaves a feeling of real versatility, in almost perfect adaptation to the different uses that we subject it to. From the perspective of this nomad, the weight remains its main enemy, the absence of active noise reduction comes in second place.
The audiophile gamer or the audiophile gamer?
Audeze Maxwell is equipped, like all the other headphones of the brand, with orthoplanar (or planar) transducers. These are the speakers of the new generation, 90 mm in diameter, worthy of equipping the best Hifi headphones. They demonstrate how positive planar transducers outperform the typical dynamic transducers found on nearly every competitive gaming or nomadic headset.
Maxwell’s admirably balanced sound signature is accompanied by a level of technicality not usually found in this price range, regardless of the quality of the headset. The observation is simple: no other gaming model can compete in terms of acoustic performance. Audeze Maxwell manages to combine power, speed, breadth of bass, detail, precision, all without any emphasis on any particular frequency. Apart from some small dip in the frequency response around 6-8 kHz, the impression of tonal accuracy is almost absolute.
Audeze has clearly optimized the management of the top of the spectrum compared to the Penrose. This register, still slightly oscillating on the previous creation of the mark, progress here in precision and control.
Everything is so natural, presented and easy by the transducers, that one almost wonders why the Audeze Maxwell shows such an affordable price. Indeed, even from a simple nomadic perspective, the sound competition would be almost non-existent. To find an opponent of his size, you have to get closer to exceptional creations, like the Focal Bathys, and some other plan references. We can thus affirm that Maxwell perfectly exploits the qualities of his transducers.
Decisive for use in video games, the sound level of the headset is at a very positive level, if not equal to that of an open-back headset. Only its forward projection of sound remains limited, which is fairly typical of a flat headset, but this can be quickly compensated for by spatial processing: Atmos for headphones on PC and Xbox, Tempest 3D on PlayStation 5.
Finally, we can only salute the quality of the predefined equalizers. Far from being outrageous, they managed to adjust the sound signature with great finesse.
Complete, robust, but above all endowed with exceptional sound quality given its price, the Audeze Maxwell is more than one of the best gaming headphones on the market. If its dimensions and weight remain obvious brakes, if only in terms of nomadism, its adaptability is admirable. A great success driven by exceptional transducer design, if not a perfect product.
The Audeze Maxwell on the test bench
Measure the frequency response (without compensation) in the Audeze Maxwell. Nice example of tonal balance
- Type: Wireless Gaming Headset
- 90mm flat transducer
- Fluxor magnet, Fasor waveguide, Uniforce coil
- Frequency response: 10Hz – 50kHz
- Max SPL level: 120 dB
- USB-C dongle for low latency transmission
- Compatibility (dongle): PC/Mac, PS4/PS5 (PC/PlayStation version only), Xbox One/Xbox Series (PC/Xbox version only), Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
- USB-C operation (24-bit/96kHz)
- USB-C Compatibility: PC/Mac, PS4/PS5, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
- Input jack 3.5 mm
- Cardioid microphone with noise reduction FILTER
- Bluetooth 5.3 chip: Multipoint, LDAC codec, LE Audio compatibility (LC3 and LC3+)
- Weight: 490g
- Included: USB-C dongle, USB-A to USB-C adapter, USB-C to USB-C cable, Jack cable, flexible microphone and windshield.
- Price: 300 euros (PC/PlayStation version), 330 euros (PC/Xbox version)
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