Audeze Penrose X and Penrose
Dec 3, 2020 at 10:26 AM Post #2,611 of 5,890
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Guys, do you see the images? I had a problem with many reviews where my images didn't show up, so I wanna make sure it's good.

Also, an example of neutral and flat sounding would be the LCD1, to me. That's as uncolored as I have heard. The Penrose doesn't sound like that. It's a bit more energetic, which is why I didn't call them neutral or flat, but rather... A neutral coloration that changes.

I hope that makes some sense.
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 10:28 AM Post #2,612 of 5,890

RedTail

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Guys, do you see the images? I had a problem with many reviews where my images didn't show up, so I wanna make sure it's good.

Also, an example of neutral and flat sounding would be the LCD1, to me. That's as uncolored as I have heard. The Penrose doesn't sound like that. It's a bit more energetic, which is why I didn't call them neutral or flat, but rather... A neutral coloration that changes.

I hope that makes some sense.
I see images. Thanks for review.
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 11:46 AM Post #2,616 of 5,890

drsnowball

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Good review. Very interested to try the new firmware. I’ve been critical of the headset and a lot of that comes from the bug making it unusable for me with what I’m listening to. I’m excited to hear it for what it’s meant to sound like!
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 11:59 AM Post #2,617 of 5,890

doktorkarate

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Is there anyone from Germany/Austria who ordered from cma.audio? I was wondering if anyone knows if they have received some stock.

yes, Austria here. Got no reply from them, but as they’re listed on the top of the German retailers auswell I guess they‘ll ship out late December. I ordered Penrose X
Penrose might ship out earlier. That’s just my thoughts
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 12:15 PM Post #2,618 of 5,890

k3yboardninja

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I really liked my audeze penrose so far, seemed like everything was working great. Relatively neutral and good bass extension as others have noted. However, my headset now randomly drops both 2.4Ghz and bluetooth connections and now my mic has stopped working completely. I've got a support request in so I'll update as I get new information. Anybody else having connection issues?
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 12:19 PM Post #2,619 of 5,890

ajreynol

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Where might I find this Penrose firmware update?

Also, I don't know how I feel about getting the version that is now confirmed to be unable to support all consoles. For the same price, I feel like I have less overall compatibility with the PS5 Penrose variant than if I had picked up the Xbox variant.
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 12:43 PM Post #2,620 of 5,890

Breadwinka

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Where might I find this Penrose firmware update?

Also, I don't know how I feel about getting the version that is now confirmed to be unable to support all consoles. For the same price, I feel like I have less overall compatibility with the PS5 Penrose variant than if I had picked up the Xbox variant.

Should be out next week Monday or Tuesday as that is what I was told by Audeze Support.
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 1:19 PM Post #2,622 of 5,890

Fairchild670

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Alright guys, here it is. I'm not entirely happy with it, but I tend to never be happy with my reviews and still need to commit and post. Just bear in mind that I may update and change a few things down the line, like adding the experience with the mobile software. But what you see is up to date otherwise.

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU SEE THE IMAGES



------------

Audeze Penrose


$299.00 as of December 2020
Where To Buy: Audeze

Review first posted HERE.

Disclaimer: A special thanks to Audeze for sending the Penrose and Penrose X out to me for review. As always, whether products are sent to me or not, I do my best in being 100% honest with my views and opinions. If I don't like a product, I will refuse to write a review of it, or at the very least mention what I don't like about them, though I like to focus on products that people would like or at the very least are interested in. The only bias I have is to my readers and making sure they know about good products.

I initially received a pre-production version of the Penrose, and then was sent a release version of the Penrose X. All testing was done on PC and PS5 (the Penrose X currently works with full functionality on PS5). The bulk of my impressions is of the Penrose X, though you should not anticipate any internal differences between them other than the X's ability to work on Xbox (with the usb dongle having a toggle switch which allows Xbox functionality). So when I speak of the Penrose, I mean BOTH, though testing was done mainly on the X. So this review is applicable for BOTH the Penrose and Penrose X.


Intro

Not one to rest on their laurels, Audeze wasn't content with just releasing the fantastic and versatile Mobius, and its impressively high end gaming headset, the LCD-GX. Expanding their reach, Audze has now landed on to the wireless gaming market. The Penrose and Penrose X is targeting the new generation of consoles, the PS5 and Xbox Series X. No doubt they'll face heavy competition in the space, though I'd venture a guess in saying that very few will match Audeze's efforts, with features like their beefy 100mm planarmagnetic drivers, which few traditional drivers can match in size and quality. Definitely less so for other gaming headsets, particularly ones aimed at wireless convenience. So far Audeze has showcased nothing but absolute winners to me, and the streak continues with the Penrose offerings.

I won't bore you guys with the details that can be easily found online in the product description, so let's get into the things I CAN bore you with.


Build Quality

Note: As the Penrose is physically very similar to the Mobius save for button functionality, I'll be reiterating what I said about the Audeze Mobius here. I will be mentioning the key differences as they come up.

The Penrose is 99.9% identical to the Mobius, which itself stood out from the other Audeze headphone. It's smaller, lighter, and made with durable feeling plastics. It may not look as premium as the LCD line of Audeze headphones, but I feel the Penrose (as well as Mobius) is well built without any worries of fragility.


Headband:

A standard plastic headband with the bottom dressed in very plush, faux-leather in the center. The size adjustment is fairly typical and akin to something you'd expect from Sennheiser, with a easy adjustment that clicks, but have no visible markings.


Cups:





The cups are oval-shaped, with a fully enclosed outer shell that house the power button, mic on/off, and power led indicator on the left outer cup; nothing on the right cup, though internally, I believe houses the battery (good for up to 12 hours of wireless playtime).

The cups can lay flat for portable use/resting around the neck, and have enough swivel to fit any head shape.

The bottom of the left cup is absolutely packed with all the interface you'll ever need: volume slider, microphone volume slider, aux/3.5mm input jack, usb type c input (for its charging and PC connection to change software specifics), microphone jack, and multi-function button. Below are the functions of each. Bear in mind that Audeze can change some of the functions and shortcuts of the things below, so if they're different at a later date, don't blame me. D:

  • Volume Wheel - The volume wheel contains a secondary function. By double pressing the wheel in, it will link back to the last Bluetooth device. I was not able to test this, and attempting to connect two different bluetooth devices so I could link back to the other was unsuccessful. I have no idea what this implies, but whatever it is, nothing indicates me that it's functional at the moment.

  • Mic Volume wheel - Pressing down on the mic volume slider and adjusting it up or down will change the volumes between game and chat balance. I was also not able to test this function. PS5, PC, Bluetooth, none would change in balance between the volumes of either no matter how hard I tried. Update: Per Audeze, it does work on Xbox (which I don't have in my possession), so I believe this function may not make any sense for the regular Penrose which can't connect to Xbox consoles.

  • Multi-function - Self explanatory. It is a button shortcut for other functions. One button press changes the source between wireless, AUX, and bluetooth modes. With a long press, you'll trigger the wireless pairing mode (not to be confused with bluetooth pairing mode).

  • Power Button - Long press to turn the Penrose on/off. Double clicking the power button when on the bluetooth source will go into bluetooth pairing mode. There's also more functions like single clicking being play/pause of audio and answer/ending calls, as well as slightly shorter long press rejecting incoming calls.

  • Hard Reset - Press in volume, mic volume, and multi-function button for 5-10 seconds. I would've used this once with a pre-production unit as it froze and wouldn't let me turn it off. Before I knew of this shortcut, I instead just let the battery drain completely overnight. This was on the pre-release Penrose, and I haven't had this issue on the Penrose X which is production version.


Ear Pads:



While some of you may know I'm not the biggest fan of faux-leather pads, Audeze has managed to give the Penrose a very ample amount of padding while minimizing surface contact area. The end result is that the Mobius sits comfortably on the skin, with an oval-shaped opening, keeping the ears from bottoming out and pressing onto the drivers or pressing up against the pad walls.


Cables:

The Penrose comes with 3 basic cables: 6ft USB C to USB A, 6ft USB C to USB C, and 3.5ft 3.5mm aux headset cable (mic and audio channels). All your bases are covered here in terms of cables.


Final Build Impressions:

While the Penrose isn't the hefty beast one would expect of Audeze, it is made of some generally durable plastics that shouldn't offend anyone. The Penrose looks like it can take some moderate abuse, though why would you abuse planarmagnetic goodness like this?



Accessories:



Aside from the cables mentioned above, you get the detachable boom microphone attachment designed by Shure. This has been updated from the prior boom mic that came with the Mobius. The mic end looks more premium and looks like a miniature version of an LCD headphone's outer cup grill design.



You also get the USB dongle, which transmits the source audio to the Penrose wirelessly. Unlike the normal Penrose which has no switch, the Penrose X comes with a dongle that houses a switch that toggles between Xbox and PC. The PC side enables its standard USB protocols and will work exactly like the non-X Penrose dongle. You may find it working with much more than PC. I'm not Audeze, so I'm under no legal or contractual obligations, meaning I can tell you that through testing, I found the Penrose X's dongle working through PC, PS5, and even the Nintendo Switch Lite (with type C to USB A adapter cable). I assume the product description omits PS5 and MAC compatibility, due to both companies being in direct competition with Microsoft. Of course to carry official Xbox support, they're not going to mention the competition. Let's leave it at that, and take it as a nice surprise. I still recommend the regular Penrose if you do not ever plan on getting an Xbox, as that is the only difference, and you get OFFICIAL support.



Comfort


Weight:

The Penrose is amongst the lightest planarmagnetic headphones I've personally tested, and generally a non-issue. I believe it is around 350g, which isn't the lightest headphone, though definitely light for a planar. I feel the weight is distributed well, and shouldn't pose a problem for most people.


Headband:

Headbands are either hit or miss in general, but I feel the Penrose is on the right side of things, with ample cushioning. After prolonged periods of use, there's a minor sore spot on my head, though I have to mention that during testing, my head was clipped short. Those with a bed of hair may not notice any hotspotting. I didn't mention it in my Mobius review, likely because I hadn't cut my hair at the time.


Ear Pads:

As mentioned earlier, I'm not generally a fan of faux-leather ear pads, but the shape, depth, and minimal skin contact surface, paired with the ample cushioning, makes the Penrose's ear pads generally ok for comfort, and amongst the better faux-leather ear pads I've tested. From memory I can't recall a better pair of faux leather ear pads in terms of comfort and keeping my ears cool. You may need some rest periods to let your ears cool off.


Clamp:

I'd say the clamp on the Penrose falls under 'moderate' pressure. If anything, this may be the only area in comfort I'd personally want improved, as I prefer less pressure in general. I can see moderate clamp starting to cause minor aches during long listening sessions. Clamp is a highly debatable subject, and can easily fall under personal preference. I recommend stretching the Penrose over a folded pillow overnight to loosen up the clamp a bit.


Overall Comfort Impressions:

The Penrose is in a range of comfort I'd consider good, despite personal preference of less clamp. Outside of clamp and some headband discomfort, the comfort easily lands in the spectrum between good and great. I don't see many people having a problem with the Penrose whatsoever in terms of comfort outside of initial clamp.



Noise Control

It's been a considerable amount of time since I've last played with a closed headphone of any kind, but I'd say the noise leak and noise isolation are good enough for my use. I couldn't see the Penrose being a problem to use in a quiet room or loud environment. It may not be one of the best in either regard, but I'd say it holds its own well enough, though may not block out as much external noise as some of the better closed back headphones. When playing audio, I personally don't have any issue with the minimal amount of external noise that leaks in. If you're in a really loud environment, there are better options for isolation. If you're worried about disturbing others with the Penrose, don't be.

As for internal noise/hiss coming from the Penrose itself, this has been noticeably improved from the Mobius, and even the initial release firmware of the Penrose. It was already a very good noise floor, with only very faint hiss. Now with the more recent firmware, the noise floor is so minimal, you'd have to be one hell of a stickler to complain about the Penrose. It's not a wired headphone's level of black background, but it's solid. With any external ambience, you'll be hard pressed to notice any internal noise at all.



Connection Range and Battery Life

Let me preface this by saying that my main area of listening and doing anything at home is my bedroom. My house has a very odd layout of having a bathroom smack dab in the middle of the house. What I'm trying to say by this is that I don't have much open space besides the area between the living room and kitchen. The rest is a maze of thick walls, and interference. It's bad for my wifi (which I needed an extender for, and which still has issues), and it's certain to be bad for range testing for the Penrose.

With all that out of the way, I can say that for my specific situation, I have zero issues with range in my bedroom, up to the center bathroom, and the living room that's connected to my bedroom. I'd say I can get a good 20-25ft in my odd layout before it starts having connection problems. My PC and PS5 are both connected to far outer walls of my bedroom, and so the signal needs to bounce multiple times in odd directions if I try to use the Penrose outside my room. I certainly wouldn't try to use the Penrose outside my bedroom when connected via the wireless dongle. In short, your mileage may vary.

As far as battery life goes, it's good for around 15 hours of playback, which I haven't extensively tested, though that's far longer than I think most people would need in a day. If need be, you can still use the Penrose while it is charging. While charging, there was no added noise.



Audeze HQ Software

This PC program is where you can customize all manner of things on the Penrose that can't be accessed on the headset itself. It's a fairly simple to use software, that also allows you to choose between the Penrose functions and the Mobius functions (in case you were to have both, which I do).


Penrose Mix Amp:


  • Sidetone - You can toggle this function On/Off. This lets you hear your mic output. By the time of this review, you can only toggle this in the software. I personally don't like sidetone being on, other than when testing as the slight delay between my voice and when the sidetone plays is distracting. It also adds noise. In short, I personally recommend leaving this off outside of testing purposes.

  • Game/Voice Mix - This wheel allows you to adjust between the volume of the main audio, and voice audio. I haven't been able to test this in any way, so not quite sure of its effects. If it's anything like the physical game/voice knob on the Astro Mixamp, it will reduce the volume of one and raise the other. It'd be quite useful if/when it works.|

  • Mic Volume - Here you can set between 0-100%.

  • Presets - The Penrose doesn't currently have traditional presets unlike the Mobius. Instead, you have a 10-band equalizer in the software, which you can save to various presets (presently 2 configurable presets, more in the future). This gives you the freedom to tailor the sound to your liking, though I personally prefer to leave my sound as intended.


Device Info:



Here you'll find an image of the Penrose and its physical features. The left column shows app and other miscellaneous information.


Firmware:

Here you'll have a current firmware and an Update Firmware button. At least when I updated to the beta firmware, the process was extremely painless. You disconnect the dongle, connect the Penrose via USB, and click update. That's it. Much easier than the method of updating firmware on the Mobius which was quite complex by comparison.


Right Column:


  • Profile - This is where you select between the Mobius and Penrose options of the software.

On the far right side of the app window shows current mic volume and whether the Headset is connected through USB.


Final HQ Software Impressions:

Compared to the dense feature set of the Mobius in terms of the unit itself as well as the software functions, the Penrose's portion of the HQ software is a a bit more simplified and straight forward. Everything is pretty self explanatory, and you shouldn't need to mess with the software much aside from toggling the mic's sidetone, and changing the presets which will then save onto the unit itself. That and the occasional firmware update. In the future, there will be a mobile application which will further reduce the need to use the PC software.



Usability and Intuitiveness

(Note - this section is highly subject to change due to ever evolving improvements and updates being made to the Penrose by Audeze. As such, I wouldn't put too much stock on the minor gripes I have mentioned here. They may no longer be an issue weeks and months down the line.)

I'd like to talk a little more about certain functions and the ease of use, intuitiveness, and general usability of the Penrose. I'll go down a list of things it does and how I feel about them. Some of this may sound like major complaints, but don't take it as such. It's mainly just highlighting these minor things more so that you can understand that these simple things as a whole will affect the user experience at least until future updates address them.

  • Power Button - The power button has multiple functions, some that double as other functions depending on the state of the Penrose. If it sounds confusing, it is via explanation, but makes more sense in actual practice. That being said, having something like a long press of 3 seconds rejecting an incoming call or 5 seconds turning the Penrose off, I can totally see where people may accidentally turn off the Penrose by accident.

  • Multi-function button - there's not much to complain about here as pressing the button just toggles between sources, while a long press activates pairing for the wireless mode. My only gripe is that the bluetooth pairing and wireless pairing function are in two separate areas on the Penrose, and I find myself pressing the wrong one. I'm sure as you get more accustomed to the Penrose, you'll remember which buttons cause bluetooth and wireless pairing modes.

  • Headphone volume wheel - The obvious volume adjustment of main audio is fine enough, but I'm not a fan of the sudden reduction in volume, beep, and then sudden rise in volume when the volume is maxed out. I would've preferred the beep interrupting the main audio instead of the drastic volume change which is quite jarring. I also feel the steps in volume are too large. The Mobius as of this review has a lot of volume steps for easier fine tuning to get the perfect amount of volume. The Penrose needs more steps. As for double clicking the volume wheel for the bluetooth link back function, I don't think it feels natural and intuitive. It's also not something I think many people will utilize on a regular basis, so if anything, they'll have a hard time remembering what action on the Penrose it's linked to. I can't blame Audeze here, as even though the functions have been stripped down from the many that were on the Mobius, there are still so many on the Penrose, that you're bound to forget what does what especially the lesser used functions.

  • Microphone volume wheel - Nothing to complain about here really. Pressing in the mic wheel and adjusting it for game/voice balance (on Xbox) feels a bit awkward to do, though without an Xbox, I can't say how well this works. If anything, I just find it odd that it's a feature on the regular Penrose, which it doesn't apply to, as you can't connect to the Xbox. Unless I'm missing something, and it works on something else, I fail to see why it's a function on the non-X version of the Penrose.

Overall, I feel that for the best user experience, it's best to stick to basic functions, instead of relying on the more complex ones. Things like bluetooth pairing and wireless pairing don't (at the moment) let you know which is being paired. I asked Audeze to perhaps update the notification to state them as "Bluetooth pairing, bluetooth connected, wireless pairing, wireless connected." Right now all you get is pairing and connected. Which though? Who knows?

One example of something I was confused by is that when having both wireless and bluetooth audio functioning at the same time, the balanced is skewed heavily towards bluetooth audio, so your main 'wireless' audio will be quite a bit lower in volume output. For awhile I thought this was addressable in software, but it isn't. This means that you're stuck with the inherent volume balance between bluetooth and wireless, unless adjusted via other means. Adjusting bluetooth volume will actually affect wireless volume as well (at least when paired to a mobile device). Personally, the balance is fine for me as I like to have my game audio much lower than chat volume, but I do miss the ability to adjust separately. Not having the option on the headset itself is missed, and I hope it can be added in the future.

The PC software lets you save two EQ presets of your choosing at the time of this review, though you can only save one on the headset itself. So when you apply your preset, your Penrose will apply it until the next time you change it on the software. No way to change this on the headset. This may be a bit easier to tweak via the mobile app, though I wasn't able to test during the review process. So for now, if you want to change your sound preset, you have to connect to the usb on PC.

Lastly, the sidetone can only be toggled on/off through software (for now), and so I prefer just leaving it off, outside of testing purposes. This is something I think would've been nice had it been on the headset itself, but then again, the Penrose already has so many functions to contend with, so perhaps it is best to deal with this, and the presets through software, like the future mobile app. Sidetone also apparently adds to the noise floor, so it's best to leave off for maximum sound quality.

All of this summed up means that whereas the Penrose shines in terms of audio performance, it's a little less stellar in terms of user experience, at least when it comes to constantly fiddling of its functions. With experience it won't be a major issue, but there a definite teething issues. In the future, I'm sure a lot of this will be addressed (just as many initial problems on the Mobius have been addressed since), so I'd worry less about long term functionality problems, and focus more on what it gets right, which is the sound.



Sound



The Penrose is quite a bit cheaper than the Mobius, and one would be worried that sound quality would be impacted. That is definitely not the case. The Penrose sounds fantastic, and I'd say may be even better suited for gaming than the Mobius. The Mobius may have been a little more versatile due to internal EQ presets (whereas the Penrose needs access to the PC or mobile app to change between presets created), but as I like to review headphones based on default sound characteristics, I'd give the win to the Penrose. The Penrose is different to the inherent sound signature of the Mobius in some ways.


Bass:

If there's a company that knows proper bass, it's Audeze. This holds true with the Penrose. You can expect excellent linearity down to the deepest of guttural depths, with a full, rumbly, textured, and tactile bass section. It has a great amount of controlled energy without excess or bloat. It is snappy, always ready to throw down, but doesn't overcommit. It is not stuffy or heavy handed.

With frequency testing, I have found that the Penrose goes down, way down. Extremely low to chest pressure crushing depths. Even audible below 20hz which is quite rare, and not something I'm accustomed to hearing. Despite that, it's not emphasized over anything else. This isn't a basshead headphone, but when the bass is called for, it delivers. The warble of 35-40hz is fantastic, and will aid the Penrose in making them incredibly immersive for gaming and action movies.



Midrange to Treble:

Not only does Audeze specialize in accurate and potent bass, they also specialize in midrange presentation. While not as thick and inviting as the Mobius, it's sharper, clearer, and more defined.

Frequency testing shows general high output and presence, with a minor reduction past 1.5khz, a rise at 3khz, to high forward presence up to 5khz. A noticeable reduction of output at 5.5khz, which remains reigned in until about 8khz which rises to 10khz, which softens considerably but remains present and appreciable to 14khz. There was a bit of 4khz and 5.3khz frequency imbalance, though it was a short enough range that I wouldn't take major issue with, and could very well be driver variance. I certainly couldn't perceive the imbalances outside of frequency testing.

While not as organic as the midrange found on the Mobius, the midrange to treble sections make the Penrose better suited for accuracy and detail retrieval. Both male and female vocals are always present and vibrant. There is clear definition to vocals and instruments, despite not carrying the same amount of weight as the Mobius.



Soundstage:

I honestly didn't expect much to highlight or complain about with the Penrose's soundstage, as I don't bear much importance in terms of stereo presentations. I certainly don't expect much for most closed-back headphones in particular. So to my surprise, I was quite happy with the spaciousness and separation the Penrose provides. The soundstage isn't particularly large or deep, but there is certainly room for instruments and other sound cues to breathe within the headspace. It does not sound cluttered or congested. That's a great thing indeed, and far more than I would ever need for stereo use.


Clarity:

Due to its tighter, faster, more focused sound over the Mobius, it makes a better headphone for detail retrieval and minor analytical use. It's not a precision tool for designed for micro-detail extraction, but as far as general purpose, there won't be problems using the Penrose for most cases where clarity is top priority. It is highly detailed without giving up its more fun, casual use benefits. The softer hitting ranges between 5.5khz and 8khz may be a bit of a problem point for minor sound effects in those ranges, which is why I wouldn't call the Penrose the greatest competitive gaming headset if that's what you're looking into. Asides from that, it does most things well, and I'd give it a near 8 out of 10 in the case of clarity. It's really, really good here.


Sound Signature:

The Penrose sound signature is one that I find hard to pinpoint, because it changes depending on what you through at it. By that statement, one can extrapolate that it is a neutral leaning headphone. I won't disagree with that mindset, though since the Penrose changes so much, I can find it warm at times, not so warm in others. It's quite chameleon-esque in that regard. Regardless of final sound signature, you can bet that the Penrose will sound good with the vast majority of things you use it with. The bass reaches quite low, though not being really emphasized, the midrange is clean, clear and focused, and the treble is lively without excess energy or harshness.


Microphone:


The Penrose's microphone has been updated and changed from the Mobius mic in significant ways. The microphone on the Penrose has been designed by Shure, for one, and has a completely different tonal balance compared to the one of the Mobius. Thankfully, I happen to have a Mobius laying about, and can freely swap between the mics. Below are some examples of both the Penrose's mic, as well as the Mobius mic attached to the Penrose. Both through the aux connection to my Schiit Hel, as well as the wireless mode quality differences between them. Interestingly enough, there is quite a disparity between how the microphones sound through a wired connection, and how they sound wirelessly.



Note: Please disregard any volume differences, and loud pops and sudden spikes, and background noise differences. That is all on me and my failure to get a decent handle on recording software and settings. Focus on just the voice quality. Forgive my lack of experience in microphone recording.




In wired mode, I feel the Penrose's mic is a gigantic leap in quality over the Mobius mic. Everything just sounds much more lifelike and fluid, whereas on the Mobius, there's a nasal tone to it. It's not bad, but you lose a bit of realistic tonality with the Mobius mic. Here, the Penrose mic really showcases an impressive jump in quality.



Due to wireless limitations, the Penrose's fantastic mic is held back a little by the compression and loss of bandwidth, resulting in somewhat compromised mic experience. That being said, the recent firmware update has DRAMATICALLY improved wireless mic quality output, where it's no longer overly muffled and blanketed. It may not match the wired mic experience, but I feel the quality here is more than enough for most chat purposes. If you want the best the Penrose has to offer, connect the aux cable to a wired source (i.e. your PC directly, or even better, an audio interface). It's a noticeable quality boost, and worthwhile if you're ok with being tethered. Otherwise, I think the wireless mode works well enough for normal use.



Gaming



The vast majority of prospective Penrose users are mainly going to be interested in how the Penrose performs specifically for gaming purposes. Thankfully, with the advent of headphone-centric audio processing of Sony's Tempest 3D Audio and Dolby Atmos Headphone for Xbox, headphone gaming has become more of a focus for the new console generation. The Penrose benefits greatly from this, enhancing its total gaming immersion and positional discernibility.

As these technologies fall in line with how I prefer to play games (choosing virtual surround processing instead of plain old stereo), that's how I've mainly tested the Penrose for gaming. Most testing was done with Waves NX in Multimedia preset on PC, and 3D Audio ON when playing on PS5. Unfortunately, I don't play on Xbox, and was not able to test gaming performance there. Despite that, the Penrose does well with all main virtual surround processing technologies I use, and I expect no different with the Xbox in Dolby Atmos mode.

Most people I know will tend to choose open-backed headphones for gaming purposes, but there's something nice about having the feedback of a closed back, as well as the isolation it provides. Less external influence of sound contributes to a more personal, intimate experience, which is a wonderful strength of the Penrose. Playing games like Astro's Playroom on PS5 with the controller's haptic feedback and 3D audio was an amazing, immersive experience on the Penrose.

While the Tempest 3D Audio isn't as vast sounding as something like Dolby Headphone, its more intimate and attentive approach to sound works particularly well with the Penrose. It offers a laser like focus between you and the sound, which actually suits the Penrose more than the wider, bigger scope of general virtual surround like Dolby Headphone. It's a new experience, and the Penrose in particular capitalizes on it more so than what I've grown accustomed to with open-backed headphones. I don't have the greatest gaming headphones on hand, but out of the few open-backed headphones I have on hand, none are as impressive with Sony's Tempest 3D audio as the Penrose. This leads me to believe the Tempest 3D audio will benefit closed-back headphones more. It's early times for the technology, and my opinion of this may change. For now, I think the Penrose is an ideal choice for Tempest 3D audio.

So with the Penrose you have great bass depth and dynamics, clear, sharp sounding details, and stellar performance with the new Sony Tempest 3D audio. In short, the Penrose is brilliant for gaming.



Personal Recommendations


Media:

The Penrose is a vivid, detailed, and energetic headphone, which translates into a great time for all manner of general media. An impressive depth to its bass (though not bass heavy), excellent clarity, and dimensionality for a closed back headphone makes the Penrose a force to be reckoned with. It can even do analytical listening, or highly competitive gaming, though I'd steer the Penrose more towards the casual, immersive forms of content like action movies and games. With EQ preset customizability, you can force the Penrose towards whatever you want it to be, which wouldn't be too hard to tweak considering its great balance for all manner of media.


Practicality:

The Penrose is first and foremost as wireless headset made to be used with its USB wireless dongle. I'm not sure many people will want to take the dongle everywhere just to use its wireless mode, so I'd anticipate that anyone taking the Penrose out and about will likely use its Bluetooth mode. As it is limited to SBC and AAC, there are perhaps better options, especially if latency is a concern for you. I certainly wouldn't use it for gaming through Bluetooth. The aux input works in a pinch and sounds fine, but as the Penrose doesn't work passively, you're still having to contend with the battery powered operation at all times. Due to all of this, I personally recommend the Penrose mainly for home use. It's certainly versatile enough to do home, office, and portable duties, and while all of that is nice to have, it isn't ideal for the latter two. Keep it handy at home, or leave it at the office.


Who It Is For:

If you're tired of being tethered by wires, or don't want to use a dac/amp, the Penrose is ideal. They're mostly self-sustaining, meaning you don't need anything but the source. You'll need to charge it, and the dongle has to be attached to the console/PC. Asides from those two things, you're not restricted by gear and cables. There's a case to be made to perhaps use the AUX connection when you need to voice chat (due to its significantly increased mic quality). Other than that, the Penrose is good to go as is. No hassle, no mess.

The Penrose is aimed for consoles first so if you don't have a console, perhaps you may be better suited with other headphones and headsets. The Penrose for PC gaming is also a logical choice, despite sounding like a secondary use case. Really, it's for everyone who plans to game with it. Look elsewhere if bluetooth or wired uses are more important for you. The Drop Panda makes a better Bluetooth-centric headphone, which also has a passive wired mode that works just as well. So I recommend a Penrose if wireless audio comes first, and something else like a Panda for Bluetooth or optional wired use.

I also would look elsewhere if you're constantly needing to move the headphones from one location to another. It's portable enough, but not ideal.



Comparisons:

The one comparison that will matter to most people here will be with that of its sibling, the Audeze Mobius. Despite their identical looks, they're actually quite different in main use case, and also of their inherent base tonal qualities. Whereas the Mobius is a warmer, (yet still linearly, balanced sound), which sounds meatier, more forgiving and upfront, the Penrose sounds faster, and more precise, more neutrally toned. It sounds a touch brighter and energetic, thought not overly stringent. Its object detail is more defined, and is given more space.

I can't say which is better because they're different enough to say that it falls under personal preference. The Mobius has more weight to the sound. More presence, as if things are bolded and fill up the space. The Penrose is leaner, quicker, and more reactive. If I had to say which is better for gaming, I'd give the edge towards the Penrose. The Mobius tonal balance is a little easier on the ears, as the Penrose has an upper range attack that may bother some. It's not peaky or harsh, but it's certainly not as soft hitting.

If you're on the fence on which to get, it should be based on your needs.

  • Mobius is mainly a wired USB headset for PC
  • Penrose is mainly a wireless via usb dongle headset for Consoles, though works just as well on PC
  • Both have bluetooth. Penrose is limited to SBC and AAC. Mobius has SBC, AAC, and LDAC which will have better bluetooth audio quality
  • Penrose's wireless mode is near lag-free, while Mobius has the lag penalty of bluetooth. This means Mobius in wireless mode is not good for gaming
  • Both are powered at all times even through the Aux connection. Neither can be used passively.
  • The Penrose has a higher quality mic, though the Mobius mic may sound less muffled when in wireless mode



Likes and Dislikes


Likes:
  • Sound quality
  • Perceptively lag-free wireless mode
  • Bass depth and impact
  • Detail, Energy and vibrance
  • Wired mic quality
  • Stereo separation

Dislikes:
  • Certain headset functions or lack thereof
  • Bluetooth doesn't support low latency codecs
  • Initial clamp


Final Impressions

Audeze has once again tackled the gaming market with a product that audiophiles can't ignore. Wireless gaming headsets aren't exactly known for their sound quality, and instead are mainly known for their convenience. Audeze has turned that upside down, giving the Penrose the sound quality one expected of wired headphones. Not just wired headphones, but audiophile headphones in general. I've tested various wireless headsets that utilize 2.4ghz, and none even begin to come close to the sound quality of the Penrose. I'd back that up any day of the week. Send me another wireless headset that sounds anywhere near this good, and I'd be absolutely baffled and surprised. To me, there just isn't any. And I don't mean bluetooth headsets. Bluetooth adds too much latency, which ruins gaming experiences. Even low latency codecs aren't optimal for gaming. The Penrose's wireless connection stomps all over any bluetooth connection in terms of responsiveness.

An area that need some improvements is the usability of its functions and features. Some of this will likely be addressed with firmware updates (which are already fixing various issues). Others will be things we'll have to grow accustomed to the more we use the Penrose.

So the viability of the Penrose will fall on your ultimate needs and necessities. Do you want one of best sounding wireless headsets? The answer is simple, the Penrose has you covered. Do you mainly intend to use it for casual, perhaps single player gaming uses? The Penrose has you covered. Do you intend to use it mainly for music? The Penrose definitely has you covered. Do you mainly intend to use it for party chat with friends? You may want to connect it via cable for the best possible mic quality, in which it absolutely nails. Does microphone use absolutely need to be done wirelessly? This is where you sacrifice some microphone sound quality, though it will work well enough.

Personally, I think the Penrose is a solid banger of a headphone that can function as a headset quite well. The biggest compromise is mic wireless quality, and it isn't enough to dissuade me from many, many great things going on with the Penrose. Despite the stipulations that comes with the Penrose, Audeze has another winner on their hands. Sound quality trumps all, and the Penrose has that in spades.
Can you confirm whether the Penrose X variant is compatible with Mac?
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 2:06 PM Post #2,624 of 5,890

sanonym

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yes, Austria here. Got no reply from them, but as they’re listed on the top of the German retailers auswell I guess they‘ll ship out late December. I ordered Penrose X
Penrose might ship out earlier. That’s just my thoughts
Ah I'm from Austria as well, ordered the Penrose (PS) and am just itching to get these as I have been waiting for 2 Months...
 
Dec 3, 2020 at 2:14 PM Post #2,625 of 5,890

Billybb

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Was just thinking, wouldn't it be possible to, when speaking, simultaneously raise the microphone bitrate and lower the sound bitrate? Or is that something that they can't do on the fly without causing some sort of delay?
Failing that, couldn't the microphone signal use the Bluetooth that the controller uses instead? There must be enough bandwidth as the samples plugged into the controller seem fine, and that's transmitted to the console via Bluetooth.
@Audeze
 
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