Do you know how you create the next generation of audiophiles? Design a category leading gaming headphone that also delivers an excellent music listening experience at the same time. If you think we’re being funny — just ask the folks at Audeze how their decision to do just that changed their business model. Audeze’s award-winning gaming headphones represent 40% of their sales. The folks at Beyerdynamic saw the writing on the wall and have also jumped into the category in a very meaningful way. The current generation of music listeners are also gamers and they’re not coming to you if you don’t have something really interesting to offer. The Audeze Maxwell are about to make a huge splash.
Back in 2021 when I reviewed the Audeze Penrose gaming headphones, I was somewhat skeptical because I’m not a huge gamer and my review was more heavily focused on how the Penrose came across with music; something that I found out was a mistake after reading dozens of angry emails from readers who felt that I had glossed over the gaming features of the headphones. Fair enough.
The most interesting comment came from Audeze who felt that the “Maxwell” would be a better headphone for me as a casual gamer but more serious music listener.
A quick search of their website produced no results and all of my subsequent requests for more information were ignored; something that I interpreted as a “we will let you know when it’s ready” answer.
The Audeze Maxwell is real. And it’s nothing like the Penrose or Mobius.
I suspect they’re going to have to revise that 40% number in 2023 to a larger number.
The Maxwell offer some very interesting design features that are going to make this gaming headphone dominate the category; and I say that with a degree of confidence.
The exterior features a newly designed chassis with a suspension style headband that was designed to better distribute weight; gamers will appreciate how much attention Audeze has given to this one design feature.
The ear cups are smaller on the Maxwell to house the new 90mm driver, and there are now 5 built-in beam forming microphones for enhanced noise cancellation. The ear cups are a dual cavity design that offer industry leading levels of passive isolation.
The boom-mic is retained and uses the same mechanism for easy removal when not in use.
What is more exciting is the new 90mm planar driver derived from Audeze’s LCD Series Headphones and existing Penrose and Mobius models to create a level of sound quality that might rival many mid-tier audiophile headphones.
The drivers are handmade in California with very high tolerances and a level of quality that we have not seen so far in the gaming category.
The internal electronics support Tempest 3D audio, 24-bit/96kHz streaming using the provided USB dongle, Bluetooth 5.3 LE with support for LC3 and LC3Plus. The Maxwell also supports SBC, AAC, and LDAC.
Can the Maxwell be used as a wired headphone? You certainly can do that but Audeze is claiming that the Maxwell will offer 80 hours of batter life; a claim that will be challenged by the gaming community as soon as they can buy the first run from Audeze.
Audeze’s FILTER audio conference loudspeaker also played a part in all of this; the system automatically removes background noise (when enabled) so everyone hears you and not the things going on behind you.
This will help gamers, phone calls, and home office users that all rely on call quality.
Are you Shure?
The aforementioned boom mic didn’t really excite us until we found out that Audeze decided to contract out the design and manufacturing to a manufacturer with decades of experience creating microphones for recording studios, radio stations, and musicians.
Shure has created the new mic for the Maxwell and we suspect that it will make the headphone very attractive for remote workers who will want great sound quality when they listen to music but also for work calls.
Additional features are Game-Chat mix, advanced gaming presets, multi-band EQ, a custom gaming app and support for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and the Nintendo Switch regardless of which model you pick.
Like the Penrose, there are versions of the Maxwell for Playstation and Xbox but unlike the previous version — they have very different prices.
The Playstation version will retail for $299 while the Xbox version will retail for $349. The reason for the increase is that the Xbox version comes with a built-in auto-activating Dolby Atmos license so it will be compatible with new content with Dolby Atmos surround as more of it becomes available in 2023.
Audeze expects to start shipping both the Playstation and Xbox versions in mid-January so an Audeze gift card may be just the ticket for the gamers on your shopping list this holiday season.
For more information: audeze.com