Back in August, Philips unveiled two new gaming headsets and while the Philips TAGH401BL doesn’t initially sound that impressive, we’re expecting far more than its name suggests.
While Philips might not quite be the most prominent name when it comes to gaming peripherals, this hardware brand has managed some unexpected wins in the past. The SHP9500 managed surprisingly favorable reviews when they launched, even impressing in gaming where it wasn’t intended. With that said, the Philips TAGH401BL builds on Philips’ extensive audio experience as part of a pair of new gaming-focused headsets. This more premium version of the two designs comes in at around £51 or local equivalent and is squarely aimed at PC owners. While the alternative, the TAGH301BL is a console-compatible all-rounder, the TAGH401BL features a USB 2.0 connector, 40mm drivers, and some extra audio enhancements from Dirac.
- Acoustic system: Closed
- Magnet type: Neodymium
- Impedance: 32 Ohm
- Speaker diameter: 40 mm
- Maximum power input: 20 mW
- Sensitivity: 102 dB
- Type: dynamic
- Frequency response: 20-20000 Hz
- Connectivity: USB 2.0
- Surround Sound: Dirac HD/3D
- Weight: 250 grams
- Cable length: 2.5m
Out The Box
Getting the TAGH401BL out the box isn’t a particularly arduous task. Unlike many headsets I’ve had on the desk, the TAGH401BL comes in a rather understated container. Slimline, much like the headset itself, the box doesn’t even feature any aggressive logos or edgy black and red branding. Instead, the unassuming color scheme and quick unpacking hide a very different type of gaming headset.
At first glance, the Philips TAGH401BL does not appear to be designed for the RGB enthusiasts that everyone else is selling to. The lightweight black plastic headband has a gloss finish and doesn’t seem to project the same air of custom high-end components that the recently launched VZR might. Instead, the rectangular gloss plastic earcups, the minimal blue and black foam padding under the headrest, and the plastic core at the center of the headband seem to be built with weight in mind. While there does appear to be some concession to design with a white racing stripe along the outer periphery of the headband and an illuminated Philips logo on the exterior of each earcup, they aren’t going any faster either. Despite the unexpected design choices, if you’re looking for something with a light footprint on your desktop that doesn’t compete with the rest of the RGB setup then the TAGH401BL might just surprise when you put it on.
Weighing in at 250 grams, it seems almost obvious to state that this is a lightweight headset. On the head, it barely announces its presence, instead clamping lightly around the ears and barely needing any of the memory foam padding around the headrest or ears. The all-plastic construction and significant amount of flex in the headband core are the costs of this, but if you are not intending to headbang your way through a VR rock rhythm game or furiously rage quit then this is one of the lightest touch headsets I’ve ever popped on my noggin.
Despite the lightweight design, the Philips TAGH401BL manages far more of a presence when plugged in. Simply put, this headset is much louder than it has any right to be. I clocked them in at over 70dB when turned all the way up to 11. that’s far more power than you’ll likely ever need. The problem with noise, however, is consistent quality. At a normal listening level the base tuning of the TAGH401BL is accurate but a little flat. The bass is certainty tuned towards gaming but isn’t all that responsive. It isn’t as heavily tuned towards the lower tones as competitors and the mid-range feels a little distant. This isn’t to say that the TAGH401BL is bad. Overall, the audio is concise and clear, opting for precision and consistency over punch.
Turn on the Dirac HD audio setting, using the in-line remote, and those complaints about dynamic response are somewhat sidelined. Rather than lean on DTS audio or Windows Sonic compatibility, Philips has built in the proprietary Dirac 3D audio and HD Audio settings. Push the button for HD audio and the entire soundscape seems to tighten up and become noticeably more responsive. It is still limited by the power sitting behind the 40mm drivers but the entire experience feels present in a way that a £51 headset really shouldn’t, a huge benefit when heading into battle.
While the TAGH401BL works fabulously with DTS:X for headphones, the onboard Dirac 3D audio is just as competent. If you don’t have another $15 or more to splash out on the DTS solution, the onboard Dirac 3D audio provided solid positional data when we crashed into Apex legends and proved more impressive during more complex 3D soundscapes such as feudal battlefields, castle sieges, and racing sims. If you’re looking for precision and immersion then the TAGH401BL is a solid choice at this price range but don’t expect this to be a traditionally bass-heavy piece of gaming gear.
The microphone available to owners of the TAGH401BL is an average sounding add-on. The permanently attached microphone can be moved out of sight using the flexible boom arm, and that’s where it stayed for the majority of this review process. The mic falls far short of what you’d expect for a desktop mic of any sort and would fare far better with an external pop filter on top. Noise suppression is minimal if it exists, and the microphone is firmly in the good enough range. If you do get this add a pop filter, please.
The Philips TAGH401BL is a solid headset for the price and lands in a solid niche in the market. £50 headsets are invariably neon-lit plastic monstrosities with 50mm drivers that are drowning in bass. The Philips headset sidesteps this for a lightweight option that tries to find a balance that leans more into accurate sound reproduction more than the stylized bass-heavy tuning of alternatives. If you’re more interested in sound than looks then the Philip TAGH401BL might be worth your cash. The TAGH401BL is available at major retailers, check out more on the official Philips website.