Review: PDP Afterglow AG7 Wireless Stereo Headset for Xbox One (Hardware)
Disclaimer: Review unit kindly provided by PDP - Performance Designed Procucts
A new contender into the world of Xbox One gaming headsets, PDP has introduced a new product from their Afterglow line, the Afterglow AG7 Wireless Stereo Headset for Xbox One. As a market largely comprised of Turtle Beach products, it has long been rumored that there was an exclusivity agreement between Microsoft and Turtle Beach granting them licensing to use Microsoft's wireless technology in their premium headsets. Whether or not this is true, it would appear to be a thing of the past as Turtle Beach has now brought a surprisingly affordable alternative to the market, weighing in at a reasonable $100 USD. I've always been fairly skeptical of wireless gaming headsets as I've been burned by them in the past, so to speak. As I've seen wireless headsets that suffer from short battery life, poor wireless performance, and terrible sound quality, I went into this review not knowing what to expect, but my hopes were high that I wouldn't leave disappointed. I'm very glad to say that I was anything but.
The Afterglow AG7 Wireless Stereo Headset includes:
-Afterglow AG7 Wireless Stereo Headset
-4' 4 pole 3.5mm headphone cable
-6' microUSB play-and-charge cable
-Wireless receiver dongle
-a white on clear Afterglow decal
-foldout black and white instructions
The equipment was securely packaged in a sturdy cardboard clamshell, with all items individually plastic wrapped. One thing I found odd, as seen in the pictures following, is that while the headphone cable and USB cable are Afterglow branded on the ends, there is zero marking to show that the USB dongle is an Afterglow item. If I dropped that into a bucket of flash drives and forgot what it looked like, I'd have a hell of a time finding it.
Afterglow branding is nice, but nothing on the dongle? It looks like any other flash drive!
Headset - Fit, Design, and Performance
With the package contents out of the way, let's take a look at how this headset actually feels and works. My first thoughts while pulling the AG7 out of its packaging was how heavy and rock solid it feels. The headset weighs in 366g (0.8 lbs) which is quite hefty, I personally did not at all mind the weight though I feel that some may find it a touch heavy for their liking. The AG7 sports a foam pad at the top of the headband and squishy foam around-the-ear cups. The adjustable headband is very springy and doesn't feel like it would break after repeated use, and the ear cups do pivot a small amount to accommodate heads of all shapes and sizes. The headband helps provide a nice amount of pressure which helps reduce the possibility of the headset sliding around or falling off during gameplay. There is a small, flexible mic on the left side that can retract into the headset when not in use, moving further around the headset brings you to a "Mode" button that toggles the ambient lighting and switches between "Pure Audio" and "Bass Boost" audio modes, the "Power/Mute" button to power the headset on and off and also toggle the microphone, and finally around the back is the volume slider, a slider that allows you to balance between chat and game audio, a 3.5mm 4 pole "Line In" jack, and a microUSB charging port. The right ear features no controls or connections.
Some information about the "Bass Boost" mode, as per the side of the package.
Gaming with this on for extended lengths of time was no problem for me and never became uncomfortable even when using it for about 4 hours in one session. The manual claims up to 16 hours of use on a single charge and holds true to it, I got about 15.5 hours on my first full charge and subsequent uses have shown similar run times. Charging is estimated in the manual at about 2.5 hours, which again was pretty close to what I saw in real world use, if not slightly higher than what was actually experienced. While charging the lights on the side of the headset will slowly "breathe", and once it has reached a full charge the lights will remain solid. The headset can charge through any USB port, whether it be a wall adapter for your phone or your computer. Additionally, the headset can be used while charging, but must still be used with the wireless adapter. While charging it through my computer, the headset worked as it normally does, though when charging it through the side USB port on the Xbox One, I had to unplug the wireless receiver and reinsert it for game audio to come back through the headset. After that, however, it worked fine.
Breathe in, breathe out - the LEDs breathe when charging and display solid when fully charged. They also throw a neat glow over the room during late night gaming sessions.
One feature I was very pleased to see is the 3.5mm 4 pole headphone connector. For those not versed in the terminology, what this means is that this headset is effectively compatible with everything else that accepts headphones that have an integrated microphone, including cell phones and other game consoles such as the PS4 which has a 3.5mm connection in the controller. Additionally, in wired mode the headset is directly driven and does not rely on batteries (though you can hold the "Mode" button for 10 seconds to turn on the lights). And on the flip side of the coin, wireless performance is absolutely stellar. The package boasts a 40' operating range, so while my house isn't huge and I was only able to get about 35' from my Xbox, even at that distance there were no noticeable latency or sound quality issues that I was able to hear.
In actual game and chat testing, my younger brother reported that I seemed to drop off towards the end of what I was saying or it had a hard time picking my voice up. We switched places and I had him talking to me on the AG7 and I could not find any issue with it coming through on his end, except it was maybe a touch on the quiet side. While using it on a cell phone, he did say that I sounded a little quiet, but for the most part had no problem hearing me. The boom for the mic isn't terribly long so that may well be contributing to the reported quietness. One thing to note is that the microphone does have "talkback" or "voice monitoring", where what you say will quietly be repeated back to you in real time through the headphones. It was a little disorienting for me at first as I'm not used to it and it unfortunately can not be disabled, except by muting the microphone entirely. I did grow to like it though as it helps allow my own voice and ambient noise back in to the audio stream so I can get an idea of how loud I'm yelling at my team mates and maybe tone it down a notch. In any case, game audio on the other hand comes through loud and clear the entire time. The headset has a pretty decent audio balance with clear mids and highs, though the lower end is a little quiet in some games. Luckily, a tap of the "Mode" button puts it into bass boost mode which brings the bass tones up ever so slightly, just enough so that they are more audible but not enough to distort the rest of the audio. And for the sake of convenience, the wireless dongle comes pre-paired to the headset from the factory, though if for some reason it should become un-paired you can press a little pin-hole button to pair it again.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
For a new entry into the Xbox One wireless headset market, the PDP Afterglow AG7 works out to be a very strong choice. If you're looking for a plug and play wireless headset for Xbox One, for $100 I find this to be a very reasonably option compared to some of the other ones out there at their respective price points. It has good game audio, chat comes through clear and from what I've heard of myself, transmits clear as well. For some abstract points, the headset has a sticker on the bottom of the right ear identifying it as model number 048-032R, "Afterglow Anka Wireless Headset for XB1". It's not referred to "Anka" anywhere else, though a lot of products on PDP's site do sport names similar to that so at some point perhaps it'll be listed as that as well rather than just AG7. The wireless functionality does not function on Windows, though it does register as a device. I haven't been able to find a generic driver to force it to that might make it work as a headset, however perhaps someone who has a little more knowhow could figure out how to get that to work. The headset also registers as a device when connected to the computer via the microUSB device and as seen through the clear window on the side is based off of the Avnera AV6302 chipset.
+ Great sound quality and range
+ Good battery life and short charge time
+ (Wireless) Plug and play with Xbox One
+ (Wired) Compatible with any device with a 3.5mm headphone jack
+ Solid build quality
- May be heavy for some
- Receiver isn't identifiable as belonging to the headset
- "Talkback" or "Voice Monitoring" may not be for everyone, not able to be disabled.
- Bass is a bit weak, "Bass Boost" mode helps somewhat.
out of 10
Decent sound quality, reasonable price point, solid construction amount for a pretty impressive headset. Throw a crystal clear wireless connection into the mix and at $100 it's a nice entry into the Xbox One wireless headset market. Very impressed with the quality of this and would definitely recommend it for someone looking for a fairly affordable headset that's not going to leave them stuck in a tangle of wires.