Audio-Technica have been creating audio products for over 50 years now and in the process created quite a name for themselves in that market. Recently they took their first steps into the gaming marketplace with the AG1 and ADG1. The key difference between the two is open back/closed back and today we have the AG1 closed back gaming headset for review.
The AG1 arrives in a box which shows a nice clear image of the headset on the front as well as covering many of the key features and specifications on the other sides. Inside the box we find some product documentation and a 2m extension cable which also converts our single 3.5mm cable into a dual (for soundcards that require a stand-alone mic connector).
The ATH-AG1 is shown above and as noted earlier this is a closed back headset with D.A.D.S structure (The dual layer housing provides air dampening too improve the linearity of bass sounds). Audio-Technica go with a predominantly black design mixing in a few gold coloured highlights and the headsets weight is 310g (without cord). The headset uses a plastic construction throughout and mixes partial headband with tension technology to balance on the head. (Audio-Technica call this 3D Wing Support)
Those headband sections also provide the extension in the headset, providing enough resistance to mix with the ear cups and clamp to our head. Speaking of those ear cups we have a leatherette finish on memory foam and beneath that 53mm drivers with Bobbin-wound voice coils which were designed for this headset specifically. Interestingly where many manufacturers place their drivers parallel to the head Audio-Technica angle them slightly.
In terms of the key specifications this headset provides us with 5-35000Hz frequency response, 1,000mW input power, 100dB/mW sensitivity and 38ohms resistance.
Attached to the left cup we find a unidirectional condenser microphone which rotates up and down while also having a flexible boom. On the inside of the joint we find the mute button. Audio-Technica rate the microphone for 100-12000Hz frequency response and -46.5dB (0dB=1V/Pa, 1KHz) sensitivity.
Also connected to the left ear cup is a 1m rubberised cord which ends in a single gold plated 3.5mm connector (Apple compatible). Then, for those that require it, we also get a 3.5mm to USB dongle which provides DAC functionality as well as a being a headphone amplifier.
User Experience and Conclusion
Lets start this portion of the review with build quality and design… on both fronts the ATH-AG1 are impressive. The headset may be an entirely plastic construction but it in no way feels (or looks cheap). It is only when putting on and taking off that we notice the plastic build and little touches like the rubberised cable and gold plated connector add some quality to the unit. On the design, the black and matt gold looks great and the overall shape of the headset is nice. The ear cups are larger than most and my head I could just see them out of the corner of my eye but that is only a minor issue.
In terms of comfort we couldn’t fault the ATH-AG1. It certainly take a bit of adjustment to move from a full headband to the partial used here, mainly because the design provides less pressure on the top of our head and around our ears. After that adjustment period it is very clear that the AG1 is much more comfortable than the majority of headsets while still providing a decent seal around the ears. The only down side to this is that you cannot sit with one ear cup on and the other sat behind the ear, something which full band headsets often allow. With the AG1 it on both ears or not.
Could the design be improved? Yes… first off the headset could really do with a volume control, somewhere. Maybe the right ear cup as is common. We also are not a fan of the mute button used here. It only functions when held, it needs to be an on/off switch, or take the idea seen elsewhere that the mic mutes when pushed up and is on when down. In a perfect world we would also make the mic removable…which would actually solve the mute problem, while allowing us to use the headset when out and about, without looking a bit odd.
Why would we want to do that? Well basically the ATH-AG1 is a fantastic sounding headset. From the first moment we started playing audio though it, to now, writing this review, we have found it to offer exceptional quality. Not only that, it does so across all sources. So often “gaming” headsets do that well, but fail on music playback (as one example) but the AG1 provided lovely performance across music (many genres), podcasts, movies, voice calls and gaming. The voices were clear, spectacularly so, bass powerful but not overpowering and plenty of detail was present throughout the range. When gaming we also get a nice spacious soundscape which mixes this detail with plenty of scope for positional audio, even if it is synthetic. As a bonus, even without the bundled amp, the headset is plenty loud.
At £240 the ATH-AG1 isn’t cheap however we are getting a headset which takes its base design and components from the audiophile products Audio-Technica use on their other products as well as a decent warranty and that USB DAC/amp.
Price: Audio-Technica Shop £240