As Razer, Logitech and other companies work on their 2023 gaming headsets, Audeze has announced its new wireless Maxwell model starting at $299 with support for PlayStation, Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch and mobile – everything but Xbox. There’s an Xbox version that costs $30 more and makes up for some of the cost increase with a Dolby Atmos license that activates automatically. It will ship at the end of December 2022.
Audeze typically makes big promises about great audio quality, which is fine because the products usually back that up. The Maxwell has 90mm planar magnetic drivers, which are slightly smaller than the ones in the 2021 Penrose headset. Through them you can listen to High-Resolution Audio when connected via the included USB-C cable or when using wireless are connected to the USB-C dongle.
As far as wireless quality goes, Audeze put a little more work into Bluetooth here, bringing some welcome additions with the Bluetooth 5.3 LE technology. The Maxwell offers multipoint support (allowing it to be connected to multiple devices at once) and support for the high-quality LDAC codec along with AAC and SBC. It also touts support for the more efficient low-latency LC3 and LC3plus codecs that claim to not skimp on audio quality. As for how this affects battery life, the generation-to-generation improvement seems staggering. I got about 10 hours per charge with the Penrose, but Audeze promises a whopping 80+ hours per charge while listening wirelessly at 80 decibels.
I thought the last generation Penrose was a joy to listen to, but as noted in my review, I found it uncomfortable to wear, even for short periods. Audeze’s press release states that the Maxwell chassis features “a spring steel headband with an adjustable suspension strap for enhanced comfort during long gaming sessions.” I won’t know until I put it on my head if those changes bring enough improvement. However, I am concerned that this is heavier than the Penrose, weighing in at 490 grams versus 320 grams.
Like the Penrose, the Maxwell is packed with inputs, but it’s all built into a design that looks more understated. Aside from a colored Audeze logo on the side indicating console compatibility, the solid black earcups help this gaming headset masquerade as a regular set of over-ear headphones. It’s weird that Audeze uses Phillips head screws in its $300 headset to mount the suspension strap, a DIY look that may or may not match your taste.
All buttons and ports are crammed onto the left ear cup, and that includes a mute switch, power button, game/chat audio button, volume rocker, multi-function button for Bluetooth control, port for its Shure-developed microphone boom, a USB-C port and a 3.5mm port. The Maxwell also has microphones on the chassis, so you don’t need to use the microphone boom to chat over Bluetooth.
I look forward to testing all sorts of new gaming headsets, but I get especially excited to test those from high-end audio companies like Audeze. Based on previous attempts, I’m not convinced that spending $300 is what most gamers should be doing, but if the comfort is right in the Maxwell, it might change my tune.
Update December 8, 11:28 ET: After this post was published, Audeze spokesperson Ari Morguelan informed BDStory that the company made a last-minute decision to drop the cost of the Xbox version from $349 to $329. The post now reflects the correct price.