Read about Audeze Maxwell Review: The Pinnacle of Audiophile Gaming Headsets
Manufacturer’s Audiophile Heritage Meets Gaming Realm
Renowned for crafting high-end HI-FI headphones, American brand Audeze has expanded its acclaim into the gaming sphere with two standout offerings: Mobius and Penrose. Emerging as the latest generation model, the Maxwell presents a contemporary helmet with enhanced substance and form, while maintaining a consistent price range (between 300 to 330 euros, dependent on version).
Versatility Defined: Wired, Wireless, and Beyond
Operating through a USB-C dongle, as well as utilizing Bluetooth and wired connections (USB and jack), the Audeze Maxwell boasts an ultra-versatile profile. On paper, its only notable omission is active noise reduction, preventing it from reaching headset perfection.
Upscaled Luxury with Heft
Although Mobius and Penrose introduced Audeze to the gaming scene, they didn’t sport particularly luxurious exteriors. These headsets were entirely constructed from matte plastic, prone to creaks and squeaks.
Enter the Maxwell, sharing its foundation with the open HI-FI helmet, MM-100. This translates into a substantial product, with circular ear cups surpassing 10 cm in diameter. The structure primarily comprises aluminum, steel, and leather for cushioning. While the casings remain plastic, they’re denser and a tad dirtier, with a fingerprint-prone surface. Notably, the Maxwell lacks foldability but compensates with flat-folding ear cups.
While the Maxwell radiates robustness and premium quality, it bears a heavyweight of 490 g. This can deter some users, yet it’s not as problematic as it seems. Ample padding and a broad headrest evenly distribute the weight, reducing pressure on the skull’s top—unlike the lighter Penrose. The verdict on the Maxwell: accept or avoid based on your preferences.
The package includes a USB-C dongle, USB-A to USB-C adapter, detachable flexible microphone, microphone windscreen, USB-C to USB-C cable, and a 3.5mm jack to 3.5mm jack cable. Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated carrying case.
Mastering Connectivity: The Maxwell Way
Audeze Maxwell stands out for its exceptional connectivity, accommodating diverse scenarios. Four primary operating modes, with some interconnections, can be identified.
The main mode employs a low-latency wireless approach through the proprietary USB-C dongle. There are two versions: one for PlayStation and another for Xbox, with the latter also including a Dolby Atmos license. Both dongle versions are compatible with various platforms, including PC, Android, iOS, and the Nintendo Switch.
Bluetooth compatibility is another feather in Maxwell’s cap, boasting a version 5.3 chip with a multipoint connection and the LDAC codec. The upcoming LE Audio standard will further enhance this capability.
The headset’s USB-C input can also serve as a 24-bit/48 kHz audio interface for PCs, smartphones, and most consoles. Additionally, a 3.5mm jack input offers further versatility. Notably, the Maxwell requires power to function, lacking a passive mode.
Simplicity and Control
Audeze breaks from the norm by embracing a straightforward control scheme, eschewing superfluous elements. The left ear cup houses all controls:
- On/Off button for power and playback control
- Mic switch for enabling/disabling the microphone
- Upper wheel for volume and track navigation
- Lower dial for voice chat mix and Sidetone level
- Edge button to activate/deactivate mic noise reduction
Adequate App Functionality
Audeze’s minimalist approach extends to its app. The Audeze HQ app, available on PC and smartphones, facilitates switching between equalization modes and microphone adjustments. While PC app users can select these modes, smartphone users can also customize 4 of them across 10 frequency bands.
Microphone Excellence by Shure
A notable improvement lies in the microphone, now developed in collaboration with Shure. The result is a microphone with exceptional clarity, detailed capture, and minimal hissing and saturation. Its dynamics negate the need for close positioning. The noise reduction system is equally remarkable, effectively suppressing external noise while maintaining clear voice quality.
Additionally, integrated microphones deliver quality performance, though less natural than the detachable microphone. They provide intelligible voice even in noisy environments, making the Maxwell a reliable option for on-the-go use.
Endurance That Impresses
In contrast to its predecessors, the Maxwell exhibits remarkable endurance. With up to 80 hours of operation in low-latency and Bluetooth modes, it outshines Penrose’s meager 12 to 15 hours. Quick charging adds 20-30 hours with just 30 minutes of charge, while full recharge takes around 3 hours.
The Sound Sovereign
Maxwell’s sound quality defies gaming headset norms. Balancing top-tier HI-FI quality with a gaming utility, its bass is potent yet refined, mids are stable, and treble is balanced. It excels technically, outperforming other gaming headsets and even rivaling mid-to-high-range HI-FI models.
This paradoxically high-end gaming headset thrives in diverse scenarios, delivering immersive sound without overemphasis. Its broad soundstage and precise detail separation make it ideal for various gaming environments.
Conclusion: A Game-Changer in Every Sense
Audeze Maxwell’s gaming headphone prowess is a transformative evolution from its predecessors. With enhanced construction, advanced Bluetooth, microphone quality, and exceptional sound, it outshines its competition. However, its considerable size and weight (490 g) might deter some users. Its potential for mobile use is compromised by the lack of active noise cancellation and its heft. Nevertheless, the Maxwell is a rare gem—a HI-FI product masterfully tailored for gaming, set to satisfy discerning audiophiles.
- Unmatched sound quality
- Impressive battery life
- Superb microphone quality
- Versatile connectivity options
- High-end Bluetooth capabilities
- Exceptional build quality
- Bulky and heavy (490 g)
- Lack of simultaneous dongle + Bluetooth usage