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The interest of Audio-Technica is quite understandable when looking at the development of esports by leaps and bounds. A lot of money is spinning in this area, and the promotion of its periphery will have a positive effect on brand awareness and subsequent sales. It is very unusual to start your first steps with a demonstration of a flagship open-type gaming headset since such acoustic design does not enjoy overwhelming popularity, and many are still skeptical about any open gaming models in general.
It is not unreasonable: at home, playing with an open headset is a pleasure, but questions are raised by the lack of noise isolation and not the best gaming orientation of such an acoustic design as a whole. Therefore, it is doubly impressive what Audio-Technica came up with, but it is obvious.
Audio-Technica ATH-PDG1 Gaming Headset Review
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1. Overview – not finished
Type: Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Bluetooth: 4.0 | Battery: 30 Hours | Charging: 4 Hours | Drivers: Dynamic | Drivers-Size: 45 mm | Weight: 385g
To be completed
This model comes in a closed and abstractly decorated cardboard box containing the device and a bundle of wires: a short cable with a small microphone for connecting to smartphones, set-top boxes, and other mobile devices; a long cable with a separate microphone on a flexible leg with a control panel and the same connector for working with smartphones and other devices, and a splitter cable is used to connect to a PC, which is designed to separate the sound and microphone. The Audio-Technica ATG-PDG1 is an open-back, all-around headset.
Externally, the headphones are designed boldly and boldly: a calm gray frame made of a combination of matte plastic and an aluminum frame connecting the cups. The headband is thinned with deep red, even burgundy wires, and the same mesh headband. At the same time, for all that, the headset has a kind of backward tilt – quite a bit, but it is felt exactly at the moment when you connect a cable. In general, all this looks solid, and it feels the same – the device does not occupy the reliability.
Simultaneously, the Audio-Technica ATH-PDG1 has a classic headband design, but the cups, when extended, do not have clear fixation points – they just slide out just as hard as needed. And this allows you to find the ideal position on your head. However, if you previously put the headphones into the backpack, this position cannot be restored with accuracy – you will have to adjust it again. In general, despite the abundance of materials and various transitions, the headset became practical: there are no traces and fingerprints on the case, and dust does not stick. However, due to the case’s open design, sooner or later, the headphones will still have to be cleaned.
In addition to various combinations of matte plastics, it uses a woven mesh on the headband, inside of which there is a soft foam padding in contact with the head. The outer part of the headband is made of artificial leather, over which the manufacturer’s logo is applied. The cups’ ear cushions are made of lovely velvet fabric, and inside, there is a medium-density foam. The ATH-PDG1 has one small but cool feature: the cups can rotate around their axis as much as 180 degrees! True, you cannot fold the headphones from this, but the headset does not restrict movement in the position on the neck.
The cups of the device have almost complete freedom, due to which the fit is as comfortable as possible. Horizontally there is a hinge for the cups, which deviates by about 5 degrees in both directions, and you don’t need more for a comfortable fit. In general, the fit is the ATH-PDG1’s trump card since the headset is very light (its weight is only 225 grams), and the downforce is selected so competently that it fits the head but does not press on it. This is mainly due to the super-soft ear cushions. However, all these qualities together allow you to be in the headphones for many hours. The only thing: the earpads of this model are not very deep, which is why the ears are in contact with the cups’ inner decoration. But when you put it on your head, you feel.
It is worth recalling that this Audio-Technica ATH-PDG1 has no sound insulation. The mechanical keyboard sounds on any switches and the wind rustling outside the window will be perfectly audible, so you should be aware that this model will only go for a calm home environment. Moreover, since even at an average volume level, you should be alone, all the sounds being played begin to come out, which can provoke dissatisfaction with those around you who are resting.
Two short cables are used to connect the headset, while both cables end in 4-pin combined plugs, but one cable has a dedicated microphone on a flexible leg, and the other has only a microphone on the wire itself. The first cable is for a PC, and this cable has a remote control with analog volume control and microphone mute lever. However, since it is often impossible to connect a combined cable to a PC, a complete splitter is provided for connecting to a PC. And the second cable, designed for smartphones, is much thinner for more comfortable headphones use somewhere on the road or lying on the crib. Moreover, this cable has an L-shaped plug.
The microphone for this model also turned out to be ambiguous. My main complaint is wind protection. Or rather, to its absence. The thing is that the microphone turned out to be very sensitive, which is why in the case of loud sounds like strong exhalations, sharp screams, and the like, everyone begins to hear loud and jarring noise arising from overload. Therefore, this is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the voice is transmitted as accurately as possible while maintaining its timbre and color. On the other hand, the microphone is too sensitive. So it must be set up before playing with friends, and it is also just desirable to remove it 5-6 cm from the mouth.
The ATH-PDG1 model has an exclusively analog connection. Therefore, to unleash its potential, I highly recommend using at least some more or less decent discrete or external sound card – without this, the headphones will lose many charms and nuances, especially when listening to music. Yes, this is another headset that has a good musical focus.
And here, Audio-Technica, even in the gaming segment, retained its signature sonorous sound character. Which, in my opinion, perfectly matches the open acoustic design. Therefore, we expect the cleanest, open, and airy tops, combined with an expressive middle. There is also a bass, and its presence should be called sufficient because there is exactly as much of it as you need. No more, no less. It does not interrupt other frequencies, nor does it get lost against their background. However, let’s compare it with many other gaming headsets and even music headphones. It becomes obvious that in this model, the bass was given a little less attention – here, the emphasis is only on the purity of presentation and the study of details.
The top plays here simply amazing – any percussion causes an aesthetic pleasure, and thanks to the equally well-developed middle, any vocal sounds very lively, dense, and natural. Among other features, I would like to note not the broadest resolution of the scene. Yes, the stage turned out to be wider than in most closed headphones and headsets, but very insignificantly, so sometimes it seems that the compositions sound slightly in the head.
There were also some drawbacks: many compositions where the emphasis is on bass lack drive, dynamics, and enthusiasm, which gives the impression that the music sounds slightly distant and inexpressive. These are clearly not omnivorous headphones. If we talk about musical orientation, it will be much more pleasant to listen to melodic, unhurried genres in them, such as calm electronic music, chill-out, jazz, folk, and various instrumental keyboard compositions. Drum and bass, rock, and rap are definitely past the box office.
And its musical character Audio-Technica ATH-PDG1 in all its glory and transfers to games. In any adventure game like the Witcher, you enjoy the dialogue, distant sounds, and musical design of the environment, getting real pleasure from it. But for shooters where maximum accuracy of tracking small sounds, like steps in CS: GO, is required, it is not the best way. If only because these sounds in open headphones can be safely skipped, which happened to me a couple of times during testing. Any games that do not require such attentive wiretapping of the environment sound much nicer, but if you take a shooter like Battlefield, the rumble, explosions, and powerful shots there sound not as voluminous and monumental as we would like.
Audio-Technica, along with many eminent manufacturers, decided to try their hand at the gaming segment by releasing the ATH-PDG1 open flagship headset. This is clearly a niche solution since open headphones are not as broad in focus as their closed counterparts, but more surprising is that you can heartily enjoy games with an open headset at home. And since there are almost no competitors in this segment, Audio-Technica takes the lead with its ATH-PDG1 model. The quality of materials, ergonomics, and pleasure from playing music simply has no competitors now. You can only remember the Sennheiser GSP 500. Still, the sound’s character is different there, and in general, another weight category, so in many plans, these are two open but completely different headsets.