Audeze Penrose Review: A great, full-fledged all-rounder

Audeze Penrose headphones are great, full-fledged all-rounder. Combining completely different functions in one headphone.

audeze penrose
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Gaming isodynamic wireless full-size Hi-Res headphones . And, by the way, this is not a random word generator, but a real description of a new product from  Audeze , which turned out to be on my test. Remember, I once did an article here about  Audeze Mobius ?

Now it’s the heir’s turn, which has received a few more interesting features, a different sound setting and a slightly more affordable cost. In general, I love the Audeze company, this year their planars –  LCD-3 , LCD-2, LCD-XC,  LCD-1… More and more, I am asked to give my opinion on new models from Euclid and Penrose.

And if the former are still on the way, then we will talk about the latter right now. It’s time to find out whether gamers and audiophiles will fight for Audeze Penrose, for which of the participants in the fight these headphones are better suited, and in general, are they really that good.

Visual impressions

I’ll start by answering your main question – what is the difference between the Penrose and Penrose X models? Nothing but design. Black and green Penrose X is conventionally intended for Xbox and Windows, black and blue Penrose – for PlayStation, Windows and Mac. But in terms of functionality, they are identical, so just choose the ones that you like best.
Now that we have broken the system, we can proceed to unpacking. Before us is a large black box with a picture of headphones on the cover.

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Immediately we find a modest inscription “Prepare to experience audio from the most critically acclaimed headphone brand”. I’ll even translate: get ready to listen to sound from the most critically acclaimed headphone brand. That’s it, guys. The main thing is to appear effectively, well done, Audeze. Is it time for me to start my reviews with some similar phrase, do you think?

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However, besides the fact that the box is modest, it is still quite informative. The technical features of the novelty are listed on the side faces in different languages, and on the back there is an exploded view of Penrose with the signatures of all elements, as well as a table showing which functions work with which platform.

 

Equipment

The package contents are quite good: a USB-C / USB-C cable, a USB-C / USB-A cable, a 3.5 mm speaker wire, a removable microphone with a pop filter , a 2.4GHz Wireless Bluetooth dongle. The only thing I don’t understand is where is the cover? Mobius had at least a cloth bag last time. I recommend that you definitely buy a case for headphones , or a good stand if you do not plan to take them out of the house. And note that you can only use the USB cable for charging and setting, you cannot listen to music through it.

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The design of Audeze Penrose is laconic and neat, black headphones with blue inserts on the cups look quite lively due to the addition of light gray lines. Their form factor is closed; there is a pattern similar to a grid on the faceplates. Or honeycomb. The construction is completely made of soft touch plastic, the assembly is strong and reliable. There is an adjustment of the headband arc, the bowls rotate and tilt freely, while being easily fixed in the desired position. The soft leatherette ear cushions are filled with memory foam, the headband also has a foam insert, albeit very small.

Ergonomics

I have almost no complaints about the comfort of landing, in comparison with the Mobius, as for me, it has become better. The grip of the headphones is strong, but not excessive, they hold on tightly, although they do not tire for quite a long time. Passive noise isolation is not extreme, but better than average. Weight – 320 g, I would call it even sparing, magnneplanars are always heavy.

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Interaction and functionality

Let’s move on to discussing the characteristics. Recently, this section in headphone reviews has already become more interesting to me than in reviews of Hi-Fi players . Audeze Penrose is not so much an acoustic device for playing music as a modern gadget for solving a variety of tasks.

The model is controlled by physical buttons for starting and switching between three operating modes, separate volume controls for the microphone and audio, and buttons for completely mute the microphone so that no one hears your most sincere statements during the game.

For some reason, they are all on the left bowl. Although some may find it more convenient.
Headphone frequency range: from 10 Hz to 50 kHz, that is, we formally have a full-fledged Hi-Res. Penrose received 100 mm isodynamic emitters, and these are true Audeze with all proprietary technologies: N50 neodymium magnets, powerful Fluxor magnetic system, Fazor waveguides, Uniforce coils. All of these components should provide the maximum reduction in distortion in the sound. The model, as expected, is not demanding to swing, it also has a wide volume reserve for both wired and wireless connections.

Battery life – up to 15 hours.

In practice, it turns out a little less, but these are isodynamics, they need a lot of energy. With a 3.5 cable, the headphones play only when they are turned on, the battery must be charged, this is a minus. As a result, the meaning of a wired connection is reduced exclusively to signal transmission without loss of musical information.

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Audeze Penrose is friends with any system: PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS. The ability to work with two devices at the same time is declared, but, in fact, for this you will have to manually switch between modes. We have at our disposal a USB-Bluetooth dongle that transmits sound to headphones over a 2.4 GHz channel with low latency in 16-bit resolution at 48 kHz, as well as built-in Bluetooth 5.0, albeit without LDAC.
The model can connect to a familiar source automatically.

Dealing with the controls is easy, there are voice prompts. And get ready for the fact that a languid and almost sexy female voice will speak to you in English. This is damn captivating.
The detachable microphone on a convenient flexible mount with a professional-grade capsule supports a maximum SPL of more than 140 dB, and also has acoustic filters that reduce background noise by up to 20 dB. Application: Discord, Teamspeak, Mumble, Twitch, YouTube, Line Chat. But, despite the presence of noise cancellation, the quality of the microphone seemed to me mediocre, as was the case with the Mobius.

On the other hand, in the current quarantine conditions, the headset may be useful for remote work, and not just for games. And then, if necessary, you will remove the microphone and listen to music in an audiophile manner through a 3.5 cable on real isodynamics. And then you go to the city, and you will have the usual classic Bluetooth-full sizes. As I mentioned before, the Penrose is a truly multifunctional device.

It remains to say that the headphones support the proprietary Audeze HQ application. It can be installed on both a computer and a smartphone, it allows you to change the settings of the 10-band graphic equalizer and chat mix, update the firmware, etc. When installing the application on a computer, headphones must be connected via a cable to work with it.

Since I am not a particularly keen gamer, I delegated the responsibilities of testing the gaming capabilities of Audeze Penrose to familiar professionals. As a result, both of my sudden assistants spoke about the same: it was excellent. At the same time, for games, one of them uses unpretentious SteelSeries on an ongoing basis, but the second uses the new  Sony WH-1000XM4… However, Penrose fared better. Is that the quality of the microphone was unanimously described as “controversial”. But the intelligibility, sound image speed and positioning accuracy are really impressive.
But let’s move on from the gaming sphere to my audiophile one.

About sound

The main testing was carried out on Astell & Kern A & Ultima SP2000,  iBasso DX300 , QLS QA361 and Questyle QP1R players.
Audeze Penrose’s handwriting seemed pretty pleasant to me. So fast and strong, collected, clear, but warm and juicy. There is also a controlled detailed middle, characteristic of high-quality planars, and precise positioning of instruments, and a rich, energetic transfer of emotions.

Overly aggressive accents are absent, but the sound does not seem sluggish, dull or boring, the melody involves amazing liveliness and drive, rhythm and coherence are unmistakably combined. I liked listening to the model, it fulfills its price tag, and even boldly claims to be at a higher level than I expected from it. The case when the owner obviously does not have an idea why he bought it.

Penrose are omnivorous in genre, they have shown themselves magnificently both on old rock, and on multi-instrumental ethnics, and on complex metal, and, suddenly, on symphonic classics. So much for a gaming headset.

Frequencies

The bass is weighty, punchy, elastic. The depth is excellent, the variability of textures is not bad for its class, the outline of the blow is reliable. The barely noticeable addition of mass does not even come close to resembling radical basshead pumping, so fans of vibration, deafening rumbles and maximum gravity will hardly suit these headphones. On the other hand, voluminous and embossed low frequencies build an excellent foundation, give dynamics, swing where necessary, or, conversely, behave with restraint and delicacy.

The middle frequencies are melodious, bodily, well read. There is a neat display of small nuances, quiet rustles and slightly noticeable overtones. At the same time, the macro contrast is not lost, the parties are presented in a whole and harmonious way. Note that headphones are able to reveal a variety of textures in the middle, this is a rare property. The vocalists’ instruments and voices are tight, dense, realistic, the notes are convincingly long, without digital dryness. This naturalness is the undoubted trump card of Audeze Penrose. The resolution for its money is decent, the stage is perhaps not a record, but still wide, the division of plans in depth is also correct. To be honest, I really don’t want to find fault.

The treble is comfortable and soft. They are rather weak in length, but the detailing is good, and there is no extra jab. Not for HF-fillers, but not for HF-phobes either, just a certain smoothness of the range. By the way, this concept makes the model loyal to the quality of the material, the headphones will not pull all the dirt out of the recording. The timbre of the top is natural, but they are, as it were, tinted with the gold of the setting sun, if you understand my associations. Not a crystal palette, but rather a cozy and honeyy one.

About comparisons

In this battle, with your permission, we will only have planars. The first competitor – HyperX Cloud by Orbit the S . They are almost identical to the Audeze Mobius in functionality and sound, the main difference being the lack of a wireless connection. So if you need Bluetooth, go for Audeze.

Now let’s go directly to Mobius, it’s not for nothing that I have already mentioned them so many times in the review. The main advantages of the model are 3D Waves Nx mode with sound localization in space, that is, scene centering, room emulation technology and 7.1, head tracking and setting different commands on them, audio via USB. Penrose did not receive these features. But, in turn, the younger ones are better suited to work with game consoles, have more Bluetooth connectivity, they have higher autonomy and a more affordable price. And by the way, modern consoles offer their own surround sound systems, but Waves Nx still doesn’t work with them.

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Mobius sounded more watercolored, lighter, more vibrant and lightweight. Compared to them, Penrose plays more collected, warmer and harder, with a clear punch and assertive drive. According to the resolution for VSP and HF, the older model is clearly ahead, and the hero of the review has a richer and more engaging handwriting. So take a look at your taste preferences.

Conclusion

It’s time to draw conclusions. Be careful here, please. From my point of view, the purchase of new Audeze Penrose is most relevant for those who are looking for a combination of a number of parameters: wireless and wired connection, gaming capabilities, the presence of a removable microphone, isodynamic drivers.

If one of the above does not interest you, choose another option, there the price tag may be lower, and the microphone is better, and the autonomy is longer. But Audeze has created a great, full-fledged all-rounder, combining completely different functions in one headphone. This is a very useful gadget for people who know a lot about modern technologies, good games and high-quality music. I am sure that the headphones will get its audience and become another hit.

 

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