Today’s review asks a familiar existential question: is newer always better? Of course, in the ever shifting world of technology, that does seem to ring true. What if, however, there were the occasional upsets to this notion, answers to the contrary of what has conventionally been assumed. Enter the Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1x Open-Air Gaming Headphones. They are an older piece of gear in technology years, but these old dogs still has some bite. Let’s check them out.
- MSRP: $178.95
- Type: Open-air Dynamic
- Driver Diameter: 53 mm
- Frequency Response: 5Hz – 35kHz
- Maximum Input Power: 1,000 mW
- Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW
- Impedance: 48 ohms
- Connection Type: 3.5 mm gold-plated, 4-pole stereo mini-plug with extension cable splitter.
- Microphone Type: Supercardioid Condenser
- Microphone Sensitivity: -41 dB
- Microphone Frequency Response: 100 Hz – 12 kHz
If you aren’t familiar with Audio-Technica, strap in! These fine folks have been at the audio game for a very long time. Established in Tokyo’s Shinjuku City in 1962, Audio-Technica began its journey into the professional audio market with stereo phono cartridges. It wouldn’t be long after that they would release their first part of stereo headphones, microphones, and all manner of audio gear both wired and wireless.
Since these humble beginnings, Audio-Technica has grown into a go-to name in the pro audio sphere, providing audio products for major recording studios, concert halls, major sporting events – including the Olympics, government facilities, and houses of worship.
In 2014, Audio-Technic entered into the gaming headphone market with the ATH-AG1 and ATH-ADG1 – closed-back and open-air varieties, respectively. In March of 2016, this product line got a refresh, but this time, they focused on enhancing sound quality of this new iteration to audiophile levels of quality.
Enough history – let’s talk about these headphones!
For our review, we got our hands on the ATH-ADG1x, Audio-Technica’s Open Air Gaming Headset. In order to discern the quality of sound produced, I ran these headphones though a gauntlet of tracks that typically I run audio products through alongside gaming experiences to test high, mid, and low-end responses in a variety of environments. This selection of music includes everything from musical selections including symphonic scores, technical rock, and EDM to the spoken word. After running those tests, here is what I found:
Overall, the soundscape provided by the ATH-ADG1x is solid for the price bracket that they fall into. Because of the nature of their open-back design, the aural experience feels far airier (as the name would suggest) or spacious than their closed cup counterparts would. They aren’t going to be noise canceling (in either direction), but they will make your experience of gaming or listening to music feel more present – like those sounds fit naturally in the space you are in.
In gaming experiences, I tested the ATH-ADG1x in a PC gaming environment using the included splitter cable as well as the Playstation 4, plugged in via the remote. In both settings, these headphones provided enough space for sweeping soundtracks to layer well with in-game sounds. One was not muddled with the other -a necessary hallmark for any quality headset worth their salt! In first-person shooters, firing off rounds felt satisfyingly full and explosions had good weight to them. In survival games, environmental cues clearly cut through the ambiance, giving players a good advance to stay alive just a little bit longer.
In the music tests, I found that these headphones favored the symphonic scores and EDM. Exceeding those parts of the test, the ATH-ADG1x truly shines in ambient tracks! However, the rock tracks I used did not have quite the same feel to them. While there is good bass presence and articulation within the high and high-mid frequencies, the low-mid frequencies felt a bit lost to my ear. It wasn’t so much that they weren’t present, but in rock tracks, the bass drums didn’t quite punch through the mix as they might. This may be a drawback of their open-back design; you could lose some frequencies that might otherwise be contained within a closed design.
The ATH-ADG1x are also equipped with an in-line switch and volume control as well as a boom-arm mic. From a quality standpoint, it’s pretty solid for a gaming headset. It is fairly sensitive, but with the right input adjustments, it definitely stands out. Give it a listen for yourself.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the ATH-ADG1x look like… well, like a gaming headset from 2016. They are a big, largely plastic with a metallic-looking color scheme, and are equipped with over-sized, cloth-covered ear cups. They do, however, have a unique feature in their design which I have not seen before or since on a pair of headphones: a two-piece, split headband.
At first blush, it’s kind of odd. However, there are two, sturdy wire arches that support the structure of the headset while this split headband and it’s spring-loaded pads provide just enough tension to keep the headphones on and in place. These pads are a bit lighter weight then I would typically look for, but they do assistant in keeping the ATH-ADG1x quite light and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. With the right care and use, they should hold up fine over time. Anecdotally, one of our fellow team members here at GameSpace has used this very headset for quite some time and says that the pads on his pair still hold up to this day.
It is also important to note that the ear cups do not have a whole like of articulation within them. Because of the materials that make up this headset, these are potential failure points if the user it not careful. They do not strike me as flimsy, but I would not put a whole lot of stress on those joints if I did not have to.
In the introduction of this review, I asked a question: Is newer always better? In this case, not so much.
The Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1x Open Air Gaming Headset is a positive picture of what can happen when a pro audio company does not compromise on its pedigree, but tweaks what they do so well – ever so slightly – to serve a new purpose. The design makes this one of the more comfortable pairs of headphones I have used – even as a glasses-wearer.
While they are an older headset, these old dogs still have bite. They deliver an experience that will grip you and won’t let go! The Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1x headphones are a great choice for a burgeoning audiophile with a penchant for gaming. They deliver a quality soundscape – whether in game, watching videos, or listening to your favorite tracks – that will make you feel like you are deep within those spaces.
Lightweight design provides comfort for long gaming sessions
Great over-all soundscape for a variety of applications
Microphone quality is good with the right sensitivity tweaking
Ear cups do not have a lot of side-to-side flexibly
Microphone mute switch creates an aggressive when muting
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.