Audio-Technica is one of the biggest names in the audio industry and just quietly, one of my personal favorites. I’ve owned my pair of ATH-AD700 since 2007 and they’re still my go-to pair of headphones for not only music but also video games. Speaking of gaming, this has been Audio-Technica’s Achilles heel for quite some time as they’ve struggled to assert themselves in the gaming market, but things are about to change as Audio-Technica have released their flagship wireless gaming headset – The ATH-G1WL.
The ATH-G1WL is exactly what you expect from Audio-Technica – Exceptional audio performance without the gimmicks. At first glance, the G1WL don’t look impressive. In fact, you’d be forgiven to think that it’s just another headset as the headband is nothing more than bare metal with a few exposed screws that supports a small cushion with exposed cables, there’s no flamboyant RGB LED’s, and a screw-in mic looks like a cheap last-minute accessory, but I can assure you that looks can be deceiving…
Audio-Technica’s reputation wasn’t built on releasing sub-standard products with a few LED’s glued on. If you know anything about the Japanese juggernauts, then you’d know that Audio-Technica’s core values revolve around high-performance and functionality, and this sums up the G1WL in a nutshell. Audio-Technica have fine-tuned the G1WL for gamers with large 45 mm drivers that deliver an impressive 5 to 40,000 Hz frequency response (easily surpassing the 2-20,000 Hz featured on the Sennheiser GSP 370 and SteelSeries Arctis 7), one of the best (if not, the BEST) microphones featured on a headset, and virtual 7.1 surround sound thanks to its 2.4Ghz wireless dongle that doubles up as a sound card. As you can imagine, the results are impressive!
Music is in Audio-Technica’s blood and the G1WL didn’t disappoint, was the quality up there with my AD700’s? Probably not, but this is a gaming headset and gaming is where the G1WL excels. Now, you all probably know me as a Dota 2 tragic, so this is where I did the G1WL no favors; these cans needed a proper challenge! Enter Need for Speed: Heat, and this is where I knew Audio-Technica had finally got the balance right.
A smile came to my face as the balance of highs and lows was perfect. I could feel the bass of the music that perfectly complimented the highs of my engine redlining. Next was FPS gaming and the G1WL’s continued to tick all the boxes with outstanding performances in Call of Duty Modern Warfare and Overwatch. The sound recognition and accuracy were particularly impressive — there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing your enemy move before they hear you, now all I have to do is learn how to shoot…
The raw sound of the G1WL is impressive, but let’s talk about its virtual 7.1 surround sound. At a press of a button, the G1WL transforms into a completely different beast. I’ll be honest, I personally prefer traditional stereo output for gaming headsets, I find that virtual surround sound is often misleading and fails to produce true sound accuracy. But I honestly didn’t mind the virtual surround sound featured in the G1WL. It surprisingly enhanced the mid and high’s, allowing them to really pop during my hours (and hours) of The Outer Worlds.
As good as the hardware is, I was left slightly disappointed by the absence of any EQ profiles or software. All of my EQ tweaking was done via a third-party application (or you could use Windows Equalizer), not a big issue as the G1WL’s sound quality is amazing out of the box. The plug-and-play functionality may interest some people, but for a premium headset I did expect some basic EQ profiles or official EQ software to come with it.
It’s clear that Audio-Technica have chosen a professional design with their G1WL, and adhere to a ‘if is not broken, don’t fix it’ formula. The similarities between the G1WL and the M50x are quite apparent, with both models sharing design and performance characteristics. Now, this isn’t a bad thing as the M50x are a great pair of headphones, but there are a few noticeable differences; The exposed metal headband, the integration of a subtle blue LED and blue accents, and a slightly larger cup all combine to allow the G1WL to create its own identity. I quite like the professional appearance of the G1WL, rather than the new-age mentality of having RGB LEDs everywhere, proving that less can be more.
Despite a relatively weak looking headband I was surprised when I went through my usual build quality tests and discovered something that I already knew- Never question the build quality of an Audio-Technica product. There was no abnormal noises or signs of weakness as I bent the headband both ways and soon discovered that the G1WL quite flexible for a headset – I even allowed my Chief Quality Inspector (my 4-year-old son) to give the G1WL a thorough test and good news, not even he could break it!
The G1WL are a comfortable fit but fall short of my AD700’s, or even the Razer Nari Ultimate. This is largely due to my personal preference of circular ear cups that are more common on headphones, rather than the oval closed-ear design that are more prominent in gaming headsets. This isn’t a criticism, far from it. The G1WL’s cups are soft and comfortable, with Audio-Technica even including a spare pair of cups in the box, a nice gesture as they’re of high quality. One big tick that the G1WL’s have over most premium headsets is weight; they’re ridiculously light! Weighing a mere 297 grams, that’s 133 grams lighter than the Razer Nari Ultimate and on-par with arguably one of the best gaming headsets on the market, the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
Earlier in this review, I mentioned that the G1WL has one of the best microphones ever featured on a headset. I say this as when I logged onto our Discord server and began talking, I was rudely interrupted by Jimmy who couldn’t wait to tell me that I finally sounded “normal”. Now, this is the biggest compliment I’ve ever received from Jimmy, it’s only a shame it was due to the microphone and not me, nevertheless, I’ll take it! This is seriously how good this microphone is. The microphone can also be removed by simply unplugging it, turning it into a nice-looking pair of headphones. However, there’s no 3.5mm headphone port, which confuses me as I would love to use this headset as a pair of headphones commuting on a bus, plugged into my Nintendo Switch, or straight into my guitar amp to lay down some riffs. Unfortunately, none of this is possible as the G1WL requires its USB dongle and cannot be used as a wired pair of headphones.
Integrated into the LH ear cup is your typical headset controls, nothing unusual or innovative here, but all is very functional and user-friendly. Here you will find a microphone muting switch (that also acts as a push-button to enable/disable 7.1 surround sound), a micro-USB port (for charging only, which can be done while you’re using the headset as well), a mic monitoring push-button that enables microphone feedback, and a toggle on/off switch. On the RH side, you’ll find nothing, just vacant real estate. I would have liked to see an even distribution of controls on both ear cups, maybe I’m in the minority? Not sure, but it can get quite busy when you have your USB cable and microphone connected and you’re trying to mute the microphone because
your wife is yelling at you for playing games for the last 12 hours of ambient noise.
Audio-Technica has produced one of the best wireless gaming headsets on the market by focusing on what matters – sound quality. I would have loved to see a more luxurious design, EQ profiles and a 3.5mm jack for its price ($349.95AUD), but the G1WL delivers on exactly what a gaming headset should be; Performance, Quality, and Comfort.
- PERFORMANCE - 95%95%
- BUILD QUALITY - 89%89%
- FEATURES - 82%82%
- VALUE - 83%83%
The Audio-Technica ATH-G1WL is the perfect headset for gaming enthusiasts, that’s right, gaming enthusiasts. Gamers tend to favor cheap gimmicks and bright lights, while enthusiasts want outstanding audio performance and comfort. This is exactly what the G1WL delivers and why it’s one of the best gaming headsets of 2019.
For more on Audio-Technica, check out our previous coverage.