Austrian Audio should say very little, especially to gamers. However, the Austrian audio manufacturer has an interesting background, as it was founded by former employees of the well-known audio company after the closure of Vienna’s AKG in 2017. After various studio headphones, earphones and microphones, now it’s the turn of games as a target group, specifically with the PG16 Pro Gaming headset for 139 euros as a debut product.
The Austrian Audio PG16 is a fairly minimalistic gaming headset that works solely over a cable with a 3.5mm jack connection. This has the advantage that the PG16 can be used on almost all platforms without any problems, but only with one cable. The cable length is not quite optimal with 1.40 m – too short for the PC, but too long for the gamepad. A short Y switch is included. Perhaps a slightly shorter cable length for the gamepad connection and a longer Y-switch would have been better.
The headphones themselves make a very high-quality impression and look quite stylish, especially thanks to the dark red elements. However, there are also some high-gloss elements that could have been saved. They break the noble look a bit and are also quite susceptible to fingerprints. The workmanship, on the other hand, leaves nothing to be desired. The head cushions are comfortable, the headband is robust but flexible, the earphones are equipped with soft cushions with imitation leather covers and are rotatably fixed. Little trick: thanks to two hinges, the headphones can even be folded up and stored in the provided cloth bag to save space.
The weight is very moderate at 265 grams, resulting in a very comfortable fit that doesn’t break even during longer sessions. You will not find controls, the PG16 is pure minimalism in this sense. Unfortunately, because we would have loved to see at least one volume control. We really miss this possibility, especially when using a console gamepad. Unusual: the detachable connection is on the right side. Great: the cable can be locked in the earphone by turning the plug.
The microphone is firmly attached and can be muted by lifting it up, but there is no discernible switch point. A pop filter is on board, so ambient and breathing noises are filtered out quite well. The microphone’s voice transmission is fine and sounds quite natural, but it’s a bit prone to high-pitched hiss. However, this barely bothers voice chat, but the PG16 is less suitable for voice recordings.
For sound reinforcement, Austrian Audio relies on specially designed 44mm high-excursion drivers, which are also used in other products. They highlight the low impedance of 25 ohms instead of the usual 30-32, as well as the frequency range of 12 to 24,000 Hz, which exceeds the usual gaming range of 20 to 20,000 Hz. That gives a lot of hope, but the PG16 does not it manages to shine in all areas, perhaps because the inner workings are more headphones than gaming headsets.
Basically, the PG16 offers a very delicate, detailed and very precise sound with a good stereo image. Treble is transmitted cleanly, even small background noises are clearly recognizable and steering perception is also good. Fine details are particularly pleasing when listening to music and esports enthusiasts will certainly appreciate it.
The problem, however, is that balance and dynamics suffer a bit, as Austrian Audio has largely sacrificed impact in favor of clarity and detail. Both the bass and the lower mid tones clearly lack pressure and assertiveness, which is particularly noticeable when gaming. Racing game engines lack the deep rumble, explosions sound flat, and monumentality may be missing from epic soundtracks and soundscapes. During firefights in shooters, the PG16 sometimes sounds uncomfortably high-pitched.
It sounds like the drivers are more in the studio headphone camp and don’t really want to match a gaming sound image. It doesn’t always have to be crackling and rumbling, too much bass is certainly not to our liking, but something is simply missing here. Although the level of detail and clarity of the sound is admirable, in general a little more balance in the frequency ranges would be desirable for gaming.
If you want at least a little more on PC, you can also download the software thanks to an attached code. It’s called Spatial Soundcard L for 5.1 and 7.1 and it allows you some surround sound configurations. Basically, this improves the perception of direction and loudness again. Really necessary? Not necessarily, because with Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic you have very good alternatives on PC that can be used with headphones. But not bad as a nice extra.
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