Audeze makes some of our favourite gaming headsets, and in the Maxwell, brings its superb planar magnetic tech to a different design - making a significant upgrade in the process.
The planar magnetic drivers are very much a premium addition in this market and set them apart from some of their biggest competition, like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. They should help to serve up better bass extension and a wider soundstage for a more impactful and immersive experience.
Add to that a hugely improved battery life and far better looks, and it results in a really impressive headset at an admittedly chunky price. We've been using it as our headset of choice for our biggest gaming sessions - here's our full review.
Audeze's latest headset is its best offering for gamers yet, with a much nicer design and seriously superb sound, married to great battery life. It's pricey, but a great pick if your budget stretches that high.
- Superb sound
- Great battery life
- Nice cushioning
- Fit isn't that precise
- Could be lighter
- Undeniably expensive
Audeze's last set of major console-compatible headsets were the Penrose and Penrose X, and while we were super impressed by their sound even then, we weren't all that won over by their design and fit.
So, it's not a huge surprise to see what amounts to a pretty complete about-face from Audeze on that front for the Maxwell, with a new look that is pretty distinct from any of its headphones or headsets up to now.
It's arguably a little more generic, to be fair, but we've always maintained that's no bad thing in a headset, and the significantly bigger earcups, thicker cushioning and new headband design bring good results.
This is a much more comfortable headset than the Penrose for our money, despite actually weighing a bit more than that older pair, which just underlines how important design can be.
One hesitation comes around that headband, which can be adjusted by changing what pegs it attaches to. While it looks great and feels comfortable, we found that we were stuck between a fit that was slightly too tight or slightly too loose based on those pegs, which is a little confounding and a rare problem in our headset testing.
Still, aside from that small hesitation, the Maxwell is a really nicely constructed headset with materials that feel palpably premium in the hand, and switches that don't flex or creak under pressure.
The microphone is extremely flexible, and removable rather than retractable (again, a slightly less useful choice but not a huge controversy).
- 90mm Planar Drivers
Audeze has always maximised its reputation for high-quality audio by sticking to a pretty unique offering in the mainstream world - planar magnetic drivers.
In reality, you don't really need to understand exactly what makes this setup different to the normal options out there, since the key question is how they sound by comparison.
Once again, the answer is excellent - Audeze has years of form in this department and it's produced another headset of quite exquisite audio quality when you're playing a well-mixed game.
Explosive sequences from Star Wars Jedi: Survivor had us rocking in our seat, while the crunch and clang of combat in Chivalry 2 has been a real thrill the last couple of weeks through testing.
There's impressive detail when things are quieter, but also enough oomph to make things have a real impact, and it comes together in a really clean presentation.
If you've tried (or own) a Penrose, you won't notice a massive difference, although Audeze has confirmed that the new design does make for a more balanced layout and therefore a little less interference, so it's theoretically better.
One small quirk we noticed was that turning our PS5 on from standby and connecting the headset often defaulted our audio as very quiet until we cranked it up on the headset's controls - this takes a matter of seconds so wasn't a problem, but it did stand out.
On the flip-side, however, the Maxwell has the rare accolade of being a headset that the PS5 would only swap its audio output to when we actually turned the headset on, regardless of the dongle being plugged in. This is so much easier than swapping inputs manually each time simply because a dongle is plugged in, and should be more common than it is.
Still, the headline here is that the Maxwell lands in the top tier of the headsets currently available in raw audio quality terms, up there with the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless and Turtle Beach Stealth Pro.
Battery life and features
- 80-hour battery
- Noise-filtering microphone
Another area where Audeze has squeezed in a really good upgrade over the Penrose is battery life - this is a huge part of what makes a headset feel useful in real-world situations.
The Maxwell comes with around 80 hours of use on a charge, which is more than enough to last a couple of weeks by most people's schedules. With fast-charging to pump it up in just a few minutes, it's a handy setup.
This doesn't match the crazy 300-hour offering of HyperX's Cloud Alpha Wireless, nor the battery-swapping infinity of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, but it's still more than enough to make battery anxiety basically a forgotten worry.
Plugging in the Maxwell's microphone makes for an interesting situation, thanks to a new AI-powered noise filtration system that Audeze is using.
This theoretically should help to erase background noise or keyboard clacks from your voice audio, saving your other party members from annoyances, and you can adjust it using a shortcut button on the headset itself.
This had mixed results for us - the filtering does fundamentally work, and reduces background noise nicely, but it also left our voice sounding noticeably more robotic and slightly odd, which had us ultimately defaulting to turning the system off.
That's no real issue, since disabling it is so easy (and your mileage may vary), but we were left thinking this wasn't exactly a headset-selling feature, in short.
The earcup controls are very solid - a simple on/off button works nicely, while a handy mute switch is always welcome. Two dials let you adjust the game volume and microphone volume independently, which is also useful.
We had high expectations for the Maxwell, based on how it appeared likely to solve our small hesitations over the Penrose, and Audeze has largely succeeded in meeting them. Its excellent planar magnetic sound is now housed in a far classier design with better comfort and controls, alongside some lovely quality of life features.
The battery life is extremely impressive, and the microphone offers you plenty of control, although there's no getting past what is an obviously steep price tag. Still, it competes handily with the many other headsets we've tried in the same premium bracket, and for those who really value sound performance in a headset, it is absolutely worthy of consideration.