Virtual surround sound: Dolby Atmos (Xbox version only), Tempest 3D (Playstation version only)
Noise canceling: No
Weight: 506 grams (17.84 ounces)
The Audeze Maxwell comes in two variants, one for PlayStation consoles and one for Xbox. The actual differences between the two are minor, with the Audeze logo changed to correspond with the platform’s color.
Both models have extensive platform support, but only the PlayStation model supports Tempest 3D audio and the Xbox model comes with a Dolby Atmos license. While the Xbox model has limited support for PlayStation consoles, the PlayStation model doesn’t support Xbox over 2.4GHz wireless at all.
What we like
Hi-Fi is a priority
The Audeze Maxwell’s headlining feature is its audio quality. With 90mm planar magnetic drivers pumping out lively, precise sound across a broad frequency range, these cans aren’t trying to compete with the speakers in best gaming headsets—they’re trying to destroy them.
I wouldn’t say that the quality speaker drivers in something like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless will leave you wanting, but the Audeze Maxwell headset delivers exceptional sound. From the busiest tracks from Of Montreal to the absolute ride of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain, this headset delivers crisp, impactful sound that doesn’t miss a lick. Subtleties aren’t lost even as the headset pumps out roaring guitar solos, rich synth, and drum hits that stand out beautifully.
That sound is coming through over a wireless connection, too, as the 2.4GHz wireless receiver can transmit an audio signal with a 96kHz sample rate and depth of 24 bits, enough for most FLAC files.
The soundstage is on the tight side, so some of the magic you get from a planar magnetic, open-back headset like the reasonably priced Monoprice Monolith M570 can still make a difference, but this is a small nag when the Audeze Maxwell delivers so much otherwise.
It fixes the Audeze Penrose’s shortcomings
The Audeze Penrose had a similar promise to the Maxwell. High-quality, wireless gaming audio pumped through planar magnetic drivers. But the Maxwell comes with some big improvements.
The headset simply feels better built. Where the Penrose had a lot of plastic, the Maxwell is built with steel and aluminum in the yolks and headband. It also has a suspension headband that more evenly distributes pressure across the top of my head whereas the Penrose had a basic headband that left my head irked at the end of play sessions.
Best of all, the Audeze Maxwell came with a huge upgrade to battery life. Where its predecessor couldn’t even scratch 20 hours of runtime, the Maxwell is rated for over 80 hours on a single charge, and doesn’t disappoint. Through countless hours of play, listening to music while I worked, and watching shows, I’ve only charged the headset once. Even at the end of a day of heavy use, it was still reporting 91% charge.
So many ways to connect
When it does comes time to charge, the Audeze Maxwell will let you keep on listening thanks to its boatload of connections. Its USB-C transmitter works with almost every platform you might want to use it on, so you’re not locked to just a few platforms (though there may be issues using the Xbox version with PlayStation, and the PlayStation version doesn’t support Xbox at all). But the headset goes even further, supporting a USB-C audio connection and 3.5mm analog signal.
Then there’s Bluetooth 5.3 to top it off. It supports high-fidelity codecs so you can continue to make the most out of the headset over every connection. The headset supports LC3, LC3plus, AAC, LDAC, and Bluetooth LE Audio. In my testing with LDAC, I found the audio quality remained exceptional.
Though the headset is a little large and heavy for taking out and about, it can still do the job. Though it doesn’t offer active noise cancellation like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless or Turtle Beach Stealth Pro, its noise isolation is decent, so you can drown out external sounds wherever you go. If you’re walking around, you can turn on mic monitoring to effectively get a simple ambient sound pass-through mode as well.
What we don’t like
It's big and heavy
As great as it is to see Audeze improve the design of its top-of-the-line gaming headset, the company made it a lot heavier. It’s a hair over 500 grams (17.84 ounces). The suspension headband does a great job of spreading the load, but it still can feel like a small burden after wearing the headset all day.
The size and weight also make it a bit less friendly for travel. The ear cups fold flat to fit into a bag more easily, but they still take up considerable space.
Abundant controls can get a little confusing
This is half-good, half-bad, but the Audeze Maxwell wants to make sure you get the most out of it no matter the platform you’re on. That means the controls for just about every feature are built right onto the headset.
Impressive as that is, it’s tricky to use. The headset uses two dials, taps, and tap-and-spin combinations. It’s a lot to keep track of, and the voice prompts don’t always do a great job of letting you know what you’re getting into.
The settings are also available in the Audeze HQ app for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, making adjustments a little easier. But on-the-fly adjustments remain confusing, and there’s no app support for consoles.
Verticality isn’t always pronounced
As crisp and clear as the sound is, verticality doesn’t come through as pronounced.
Through numerous Overwatch 2 matches and the entirety of Ghostwire: Tokyo, I could always distinctly hear the direction a sound was coming from, but couldn’t so readily tell if it was above or below me—not what you want when you’re a Zenyatta trying to avoid getting flanked.
On the SteelSeries Arctis 9 I regularly use, this isn’t much of an issue, but it’s one I’ve run into on plenty of other headsets and it's one of the few shortcomings for the Maxwell when it comes to gaming. It may come down in part to the different sound of a new headset compared to one I’m deeply familiar with, but it’s been markedly more difficult for me to pick up on.
Should you buy the Audeze Maxwell?
Yes, they’re stunning
While the Audeze Maxwell are on the pricier side for a gaming headset at $300, they’re remarkable for gaming as well as everyday use. With extensive connectivity options to rival even SteelSeries’ Arctis Nova Pro Wireless alongside stunning audio quality, it’s hard not to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. That goes double since you really can use this headset with just about anything.
While they don’t include active noise cancellation like the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless or recent Turtle Beach Stealth Pro headset that tried (and failed) to take the gaming headset crown, the powerful audio of the Audeze Maxwell is enough to drown out a crowded cafe. And what rich audio it is.
Audeze Maxwell gaming headset
High quality headset with many different connectivity options and does more than just gaming.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Mark Knapp has covered tech for most of the past decade, keeping readers up to speed on the latest developments and going hands-on with everything from phones and computers to e-bikes and drones to separate the marketing from the reality. Catch him on Twitter at @Techn0Mark or on Reviewed, IGN, TechRadar, T3, PCMag, and Business Insider.
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