Audeze Maxwell - PCMag Review
- Detailed, clear, and accurate sound
- A comfortable, premium-feeling build
- Includes Bluetooth 5.3 with LDAC codec support
- PlayStation version lacks spatial audio feature for PC use
AUDEZE MAXWELL SPECS
- TypeCircumaural (over-ear)
- GamingWirelessTrue Wireless
- Connection TypeUSB-C
- Stereo 3.5mm
- Active Noise Cancellation
Though the company mainly focuses on high-end headphones, Audeze is no stranger to gaming headsets. Its previous headset, the Audeze Penrose, won our Editors’ Choice award thanks to the excellent sound produced by its planar magnetic drivers. The wireless Audeze Maxwell ($299) sounds just as good, is even more comfortable to wear, and comes in PlayStation and Xbox versions that both work with PCs. Though expensive for a wireless gaming headset, the Audeze Maxwell still earns our Editors’ Choice award for the outstanding listening and gaming experience it offers.
(Credit: Will Greenwald)
Chunky, But Comfortable
The Maxwell looks like a chunky, no-nonsense pair of headphones, with no real “gamer” flair. The earcups are large and circular, connecting to the headband via two sturdy, U-shaped metal struts that let the earcups tilt up and down, and rotate flat for storage. The headband is a wide metal strip that helps give the Maxwell a sturdy feel. The trade-off is that the headset is rather heavy at 17.3 ounces; it weighs more than four ounces more than the similarly bulky Razer Kraken V3 Pro ($199.99).
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Despite its weight, the Maxwell is a comfortable, well-balanced headset. The earpads have generous amounts of soft memory foam wrapped in supple, surprisingly cool faux leather. The headband's underside is thinly padded, but this section won’t directly touch your head thanks to the suspension underneath it. A wide, thick faux leather arch runs under the headband, lifting the headset above the scalp. There are just three adjustment options, but the headset fit my head quite well thanks to the large earpads and the earcups’ fairly wide range of motion.
All connections and controls sit on the left earcup, with the power button and mic mute switch directly on the back panel. The earcup's bottom edge has a mic noise suppression button, a connector for the detachable boom mic, a USB-C port for charging and using the headset in a wired fashion, a 3.5mm aux port, and two volume wheels for the headphones and mic.
The included USB transmitter is a small, rectangular USB-C adapter with an indicator LED on the face and a PC-console switch on the side. A USB-C-to-USB-A cable is included if you don’t have any free USB-C ports, though the headset doesn’t come with a 3.5mm cable.
Made for Consoles
Depending on the version you purchase, the Audeze Maxwell will wirelessly work with either a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 or an Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S console via the included transmitter. The transmitter also works with PCs, Macs, the Nintendo Switch, and the Steam Deck. In addition, the headset works wirelessly without the transmitter over Bluetooth 5.3 and supports the AAC and high-res LDAC codecs. LDAC is rare in most Bluetooth headphones (especially gaming headsets) and should please audiophiles. According to Audeze, the Maxwell can last up to 80 hours on a charge.
The Audeze Maxwell is a stereo gaming headset. The PlayStation version uses the PS5’s built-in 3D audio processing for spatial audio, while the Xbox version automatically authorizes Dolby Atmos on the Xbox Series X/S and on Windows through the USB transmitter. If you want spatial audio on PC with the PlayStation model, you must add it using Razer THX Spatial Audio ($19.99), Dolby Atmos for Headphones ($14.99), or another platform.
The boom microphone is clear, but a little quirky. Test recordings sounded mostly clean with a strong dynamic range, though I picked up a touch of fuzziness in the higher frequencies. It generally sounds good, but if you’re serious about content creation, you should consider getting a separate USB mic that can produce an even better signal.
(Credit: Will Greenwald)
Audeze Maxwell Sound Quality
Planar magnetic drivers are generally known for excellent detail in the mid and upper ranges, but the Maxwell’s 90mm drivers pump out serious low-end sound. In our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the bass drum palpably thumps at higher volumes and doesn't distort at maximum (and unsafe) volume. It isn't a truly head-shaking sound, but there's enough low-frequency response present to be physically felt.
Yes’ “Roundabout” also sounds excellent through the headset. The opening acoustic guitar plucks contain full, low-mid resonance that offers realistically crisp string textures in the higher frequencies. Every element in the mix receives proper attention when the track picks up, without any instrument overshadowing another. It's an accurate, balanced sound that should please audiophiles as much as any gaming headset can.
Likewise, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt sounded clear and detailed in testing, with strong directional imaging thanks to the PlayStation 5’s spatial audio processing. During a feast, the sounds of chatter, music, and flames remained distinct. The position of each nearby guest was discernible as the camera panned, with the audio panning accurately with it.
The Maxwell's excellent audio profile also put on a strong showing while I played Fortnite. I could easily tell what direction distant gunfire came from without looking at the audio markers on the game’s compass. The actual mixing credit goes mostly to Sony for its Tempest 3D processing, but the effect wouldn’t work nearly as well if the Maxwell didn’t sound so balanced and detailed.
(Credit: Will Greenwald)
A High-End Gaming Headset for Audiophiles
The Audeze Maxwell follows in the footsteps of the Penrose as a fantastic gaming headset with few frills. It makes no compromises in performance and feels even sturdier and more comfortable than its predecessor for the same price. $300 is still expensive for a gaming headset, but the audiophile-worthy sound quality alone makes the Maxwell an Editors’ Choice winner for gaming headsets. If you love music as much as games and want a headset that can faithfully handle both, the Audeze Maxwell is a top choice.
If you don't want to spend quite as much money, the Razer Barracuda X ($99.99) offers strong audio quality for the price, along with an excellent microphone. In the other direction, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless ($349.99) is more expensive than the Maxwell and lacks the same audiophile-quality sound profile, but it has a parametric equalizer, dual USB connections, and two swappable batteries.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Audeze Maxwell wireless gaming headset offers some of the cleanest, most audiophile-pleasing sound you can get in the category thanks to its planar magnetic drivers.