Leaping into the $100 worth vary of gaming headphones is extraordinarily tough. Not solely are there quite a lot of choices, however there are additionally many truly good choices that make standing out tough. In the event you’re going to make a splash on this market, you actually need to get all the things proper.
Sadly, whereas NZXT did handle to make its Relay Headset talk a number of element, the course from which that element is coming just isn’t all the time clear. And whereas the included microphone is top-notch, the headphones have some fairly muddy mids efficiency and the bass leaves so much to be desired.
NZXT Relay Audio Ecosystem – Images
NZXT Relay Headset – Design and Construct
On the subject of the design and the construct high quality of the Relay Headset, NZXT nailed lots of the necessary components. The headphone feels solidly constructed and options a mixture of plastic and metallic items that talk a way of top quality.
Even with the inclusion of metallic, the headphones weigh simply 274.5 grams. To place that in perspective, the Apple AirPods Max weighs 385 grams and the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional weighs 298 grams (the wi-fi model weighs 337 grams).
The earcups are what I’d qualify as “fantastic” high quality. They’re manufactured from the identical leatherette materials you’ll discover on comparable headphones in the identical worth bracket, and the quantity of cushion they supply feels comfy to put on for lengthy durations of time. That mentioned, they don’t breathe tremendous effectively so that you would possibly get a bit sweaty should you’re in a scorching room throughout the summer season.
The scarf includes a significantly thick quantity of padding, and whereas it squeezes simply in my hand, it feels very comfy resting gently on the highest of my head. The earcups regulate aspect to aspect in addition to up and down, supplying you with loads of play to suit them to your particular wants.
Under the proper earcup is the connection for wired audio, whereas under the left earcup is the port for the included microphone, which may detach. Whereas we’re on the topic, the microphone might be articulated freely and comes with a pre-installed sock to cut back plosives. The mic is directional, and it supplies excellent audio high quality, which I’ll get into under.
The design of the headset itself is extremely clear since there are not any controls on the earcups themselves. NZXT as an alternative selected emigrate these to the cable the place you will see that a mute change, quantity dial, and lapel clip. The quantity dial does let the headphones get very quiet, however the tolerance is a bit sloppy since there’s nonetheless vital play within the dial after the headphones are utterly silent. The proper earcup additionally will exit earlier than the left cup should you slowly flip the dial down.
I can respect utilizing this methodology to maintain the design of the headphones extra easy, however I’m not a selected fan of added weight to the headphone cable – I acknowledge this can be a private desire, however I don’t prefer it when the cable retains pulling off my desk and into my lap, and any added weight alongside the cable line, particularly nearer to the headphones, will make this occur.
All that mentioned, the cable itself feels very top quality. The entire line is a good size and is cord-wrapped, so it appears like it should final a really very long time.
NZXT Relay Headset – Efficiency
Let’s begin with the excellent news: NZXT did a bang-on job with the microphone.
I used the microphone aspect by aspect towards the Arctis Nova Professional microphone, which I beforehand known as podcast high quality, and my buddies listening on the opposite finish of the road couldn’t inform the distinction – they may not even inform I modified the microphone. Contemplating the value distinction between these two headphones, that’s an enormous thumbs up for NZXT.
Sadly, I can’t say the identical for the listening expertise. When you can regulate the headphones utilizing NZXT’s CAM app should you use them in tandem with the corporate’s Swap Combine headphone stand and DAC, they appear to be hamstrung by muddy mids and weak bass, which may actually have an effect on the general expertise it doesn’t matter what you’re making an attempt to hearken to.
NZXT says that it needed to come back into this worth bracket with a distinct philosophy than opponents and provide a headset that prioritized crisp and clear audio as an alternative of the much more commonplace decrease frequencies, and to that finish the corporate succeeded. Nevertheless, I believe an excessive amount of was sacrificed.
Beginning with the bass, it simply is admittedly not there. Even when giving these headphones all they’ll take utilizing the corporate’s app to spice up the EQ, they max out at what I’d think about to be the center floor of mainly another gaming headset I’ve used. The result’s that music lacks depth and might usually sound hole. It additionally signifies that in video video games, explosions and comparable sounds are clear, however lack “punch.”
The problems with the bass appear to have leaked into the mids as effectively, as a result of I’ve a really exhausting time listening to distinct sounds in a mixture from the center frequencies as they have an inclination to muddy collectively into an disagreeable mush.
Fortunately, the highs have a ton of readability with out getting too sharp.
I ought to observe, I’m a fan of headphones that give an virtually achingly sturdy emphasis to the highs, so my emotions concerning the weaker bass are literally one thing that wouldn’t have usually bothered me. I believe right here although, the issues with the lows and mids collectively have resulted in a sound combine that I can’t get previous, even after I try to repair the problems with NZXT’s software program. I additionally am conscious that most individuals desire a heat, wealthy soundstage and the Relay Headset simply doesn’t present that.
Moreover, any audio adjustments you make with the NZXT CAM software program require that software program, so you may’t unplug these headphones out of your PC and use them along with your Xbox or PlayStation and get that very same tuning and the out-of-box expertise actually does want customization to make them near satisfying. On that very same observe, sidetone, the flexibility to listen to your individual voice by means of your microphone, is managed totally with NZXT CAM and disappears should you use the headphones with out the software program.
I believe I’d be extra forgiving of the audio points if, in alternate, the directionality of those detail-focused cans was dependable. It’s, sadly, not. In a number of video games on each PC and console, I simply couldn’t inform the place something was coming from reliably. I usually received very confused after I tried to depend on the headphones to inform me the place a sound was coming from and so they have been downright depressing to play with in high-level player-versus-player conditions.
NZXT says the Relay Headset is appropriate with Digital 7.1 encompass sound to create an immersive gaming expertise, however that was simply not my expertise. All of this can be a actual disgrace, as a result of SteelSeries, which is killing it these days within the audio division, actually may have used a powerful competitor.
NZXT Relay Headset – The Competitors
As I discussed, there isn’t any scarcity of headphones within the $100 worth vary, and instantly I can consider two from SteelSeries that I believe carry out higher. Whereas the mic is so much worse, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 headphones are virtually half the value however sound a lot better. The Arctis Nova 7 headphones value the identical because the Relay Headset however, likewise, have far more balanced and higher sound high quality and a stable mic.