When I traveled overseas this summer, I dreaded the long trans-Atlantic flight. But I took along a Victrix gaming headset with military-grade noise cancellation, and that was one of the best travel decisions I made. When I turned on the headset and plugged it into the airplane’s 3.5 millimeter speaker plug, I couldn’t hear a thing. No crying babies. No chatty passengers. Just white noise. I slept like a baby.
Now keeping your ears safe from crying babies isn’t the real purpose of the Victrix Pro AF ANC. This $300 gaming headset was designed in consultation with esports pros, and Victrix made it so you can play competitive games at your best with zero distractions. You can use the headset in everything from competitive gaming to everyday Skype meetings with your colleagues.
I’ve tried them out for a while, and I’ve learned to pull them out when sound quality really matters to me.
What you’ll like
The active noise cancellation
The noise cancellation system requires a couple of batteries, but it earns its pay by eliminating about 70 percent of exterior sound, or 45 decibels. That’s similar to military or aviation headsets. There are four microphones that actively listen for noise and eliminate it from the surrounding environment. Voices and game sounds are crisp.
The Pro AF microphone filter was originally developed for Cobra attack helicopters, and its 120-decibel pressurized cockpit. The passive filter rejects the background noise and focuses on the voice. That’s kind of overkill for esports, but it does the job.
The headset design is good
The headset weighs only 320 grams. That feels solid on your head, but it’s also light enough to be comfortable. The ear cups block out external noise. With noise cancellation on, you won’t notice someone sneaking up on you until they tap on your shoulder. And you can pull the foam cups back if you want to give your ears some ventilation. You can do this without removing the headset. You can simply flip a switch and the headset ear cups open up, allowing air into your ears. The bidirectional microphone’s beam is also built to stay in place, close to your mouth, so that it is always in the right position. The headset is snug, and it doesn’t fall off my head. And with purple and black colors, it looks cool.
It’s easy to use
The in-line controller has a black-and-white display. You can use it and the buttons to adjust your settings, from volume to mic gain. You can also use it to control mic monitor levels. The headset can plug into tournament mixers for team communication or directly into a PC or game controller. If you swing the microphone boom up, the microphone turns off.
What you won’t like
The batteries run out
You have to keep a good stock of AA batteries on hand to get through the days with this headset. The headset delivers sound to your ears when you plug it into a computer or game machine. But you need to put two AA batteries in the in-line controller to get the noise cancellation. You have to remember to turn on that in-line controller, and then you have to remember to turn it off. It’s a pain to keep changing the batteries, but the noise cancellation is very hard to do without. If you plan on using this, then rechargeable batteries make sense.
Don’t use them on the street
I wouldn’t use these headsets with an iPhone, even though you could. If you’re walking down the street and you can’t hear what’s going on around you, then you won’t notice when a train or a car comes whizzing by. The noise cancellation is too good, when combined with the sound of music or a really good game.
The Victrix Pro AF headset is a good entry for the San Diego, California-based company as it makes products for gamers and esports pros. The company has already moved on to a second product, the Victrix Pro FS Fight Stick, for fighting games.
The headset is a quality device with superb active noise cancellation and great microphones. That’s what the company needs to invade the turf of rivals such as Turtle Beach, Astro, Logitech, and SteelSeries. It’s a crowded headset market, and many headsets sell for less than a third of Victrix’s price. Victrix will be enhancing it with its own Team Amp product (for an additional $150) coming soon, allowing you to add things like DTS 5.1 surround sound, Dolby decoding, and a way to balance game and voice sound. But for those who really care about quality, it’s definitely worth a look.
Victrix provided GamesBeat with a sample unit for the purposes of this review. The Victrix Pro AF ANC is out now for $300.