Focus on Sound – Audio-Technica ATH-AG1 Gaming Headset Review
Let’s take a short break from Comic Con coverage to look into some gaming tech! At RFMag, we’ve covered a variety of gaming headsets geared towards the casual to professional gamer. They provided a handful of functions while dancing around the practically standard $200 in price. But what about the gamer that would rather do away with a collection of functions the sake of just getting the best possible sound from their games? Well Audio-Technica already made a splash in the gamer community with their ATH-AD700 units, which were not directly aimed at the gaming market. It was that splash that which gave them the nudge to take a full swing at gaming with their latest High-Fidelity Gaming Headsets: The ATH-AG1 and ATH-AGD1. Months after its release, RFMag reviews the Audio-Technica ATH-AG1 closed-ear gaming headset to see how an almost direct focus on sound plays out in this headphone’s overall design.
Build and Specs
|Driver Diameter||53 mm|
|Frequency Response||5 – 35,000 Hz|
|Maximum Input Power||1,000 mW|
|Weight||310 g (without cord)|
|Cable||1.0 m (3.3′)|
|Connector||3.5 mm (1/8”) mini stereo, gold-plated|
|Accessories Included||USB adapter, 2.0 m (6.6′) extension cable|
|Sensitivity (Microphone)||-46.5 dB (0dB=1V/Pa,1kHz)|
|Frequency Response (Microphone)||100 – 12,000 Hz|
|Polar Pattern (Microphone)||Unidirectional|
The ATH-AG1’s frame is made of light plastics and flexable rubbers yet still has just the right amount of weight to sink or fall into position on your head. Secure fits are further solidified by the 3D wing support system – a pair of self-adjusting flaps that rest against the top of your head. They are connected by joints that turn until a solid hold is established. I have a shaved head causing the headset to immediately slide right down my head and lock around my ears. The headset seemed to be slightly sturdier on our hair-having writers, but that’s not to say that it was uncomfortable for me. It’s heavy enough to stay in place while light enough not to cause any fatigue over long periods of play. The plush earcups were also forgiving whenever I used the headset with glasses, causing no pinching along the rims.
The mic sits along the bottom of the ATH-AG1’s left ear cup. It is on a bendable arm that rotates on a 100 degree hinge. This allows you to not only pull the mic out of your way when not needed but also allows you to adjust the head of the mic to a preferable distance away from your mouth. The hold-to-mute button rests on the inside of the mic’s arm joint hovering slightly over your face. The ATH-AG1’s cord is 1 meter in length but a 2 meter extension cord is included to help facilitate your unique gaming environments. I’ve always like headsets that allow you this distinction. Headsets that specifically come with 3 meter long cables out of the box can be a little unwieldy when you sit fairly close to the headphone jack as opposed to the jack being behind a tower. Imagine connecting something that long to a gaming laptop whose jack is right by your hand.
More on the mic, the main connector is 3.5 mm and gold-plated. That means you’re not only restricted to the Audio-Technica list of devices: PS4, iPad, iPhone, and PC’s. Should you have purchased the Xbox One headset adapter as we have (reviewed here), then you are good to go with the ATH-AG1 on the Xbox One with full chat support. I was sure to try it out myself on the Xbox One with positive results – just another situation in which being able to shift between 1 meter and 3 meter cord lengths comes in handy.
Sound and Performance
Remember those $200 headsets? Well another thing “standard” about them were 40mm drivers. Here you get an upgrade to 53 mm. Sound is as clear and vivid as sound can get in a gaming headset with little to no tweaking required. Bass is not too deep but it is quite prevalent thanks to Audio-Technica’s patented double air damping system (D.A.D.S). In an attempt to put it into words, bass from the ATH-AG1 engulfs and surrounds you without being too deep and vibrating your brain. The crisp sound almost makes you think that you can hear things not previously heard in headsets without software/hardware tweaks. Truly you can see where the bulk of your money went here and it’s no waste by any stretch of the imagination. The only catch, if you need to call it that, is that you need to use the included USB amplifier to experience the headsets full potential.
Performance quality doesn’t stop there as even the mic was a refreshing surprise. With practically no adjustment needed in Ventrillo, Teamspeak, or in-game clients, the mic excels at picking up the user’s speech and does well to ignore background noise. Using various Teamspeak recording settings, from the very strict to the very lenient, the mic picked my voice clearly and sound only leaked through when I set the tolerance to unrealistically high levels. Mind you, my desk is about a foot and a half away from the living room TV. Fellow gamers commented that I sounded very clear and loud on their ends.
If I were to take a stab against the ATH-AG1, it would only be against the practicality of the mute button. The mute button sits in an awkward location, pointing towards your left cheek. Admittedly it took some getting used to, especially since the majority of gaming headsets keep this button in easier to reach locations. Examples include on an ear cup, an in-line controller or on the mic itself. The first few times I reached for it I had to slide my finger against my face to find it. Even then, once you find this button you have to keep your finger on it to stay muted. It is not designed as a toggle button. So if you wish to stay silent in the midst of gameplay, I suggest turning the mic away from you head and hope the mic registers you as background noise. Otherwise, you’ll have to sacrifice a hand for the duration of the time that you want to stay muted.
As mentioned before, gaming headset vendors commonly utilized 40mm drivers and their features, style, comfort, and maintainability to differ from the others that shared their price plateau. Here you have a headset that will run you $299. Giving you the standard of gaming headset functionality in the form of a detachable USB amp, proper cabling, a 3.5 mm jack and an adjustable / mutable mic, the focus here is clear. The money you would be spending is directed at the ATH-AG1’s exceptional sound performance, a level of quality of which it is difficult to find a comparable equal. Would I have liked better mute functionality or more features for that price point? Sure. But I wouldn’t have asked for it in exchange for any drop in sound quality from this headset. The sound is outstanding, the mic is solid, and the mute functionality is forgivable if not negligible. If you are willing to pay a little more than a “premium” gaming headset price for one of the best sound presentations gaming headsets have to offer, than this may just be a buy for you.
Feel free to look into the headset yourself if you’re interested by clicking here!
† Review unit, main article product image and microphone image provided by Audio-Technica