Game in Style

As Covid reared its ugly head and shut down dining, movies, and public gatherings, I found my way back to my Nintendo Switch and to Skyrim. Even though I had previously played the game on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, I believe the Switch experience proved superior. I enjoyed the ability to play my conjurer/stealth archer character while at the park, while lounging in my hammock, or while reclining in my chair. I enjoyed Samus’ return in Metroid Dread and completed a few missions in Borderlands and Diablo 3. Despite the allure of the portability, the sound quality of the Nintendo Switch left me wanting. I wanted to hear background noises, to hear text, speech, and to enjoy game tracks without ambient noises drowning out the sound. Thus, I turned to a comfortable pair of over-ear headphones from Edifier to enhance my experience.

The Edifier Gx High-Fidelity Gaming Headset arrived in a 9 1/16 inches wide by 9 1/2 inches tall by 4 5/16 inches thick hanging-style retail package.  The shimmering silver Edifier name was displayed along the top left, while logos for Hi-Res Audio, ENC, and RGB were displayed along the top right.  The Gx High-Fidelity Gaming Headset name was present along the bottom left, while three holographic icons were presented along the bottom right of the panel.  Similar to hologram comic cards that I once collected, the three types of interface logos (Type-C, USB, and 3.5mm) added a tantalizing feel.  Despite the clean white background and the colorful accents, the main showcase was the large, glossy, slightly raised image of the headset.  The glowing blue ear cup combined with the grey-on-black color pallet starkly contrasted against the sterile background.  The grey top panel provided the product name along with the bottom and a plastic black hanging tab, while the bottom grey panel listed the Edifier name, EDF700004 model number, Made in China, www.edifier.com address, www.hecategaming.com website, product manufacturing labels, SKU barcodes, and a bilingual sound trauma warning. 

The grey right-side panel provided a silver glimmering HECATE (Greek Goddess of Spells and Magic) logo along the top of the panel, followed by two ink outline drawings of the headset.  The top image provided a side view and detailed the microphone switch and volume controls of the headphones.  The lower ink-outlined image provided a side view of the ear cup plus foam padding, and showed the music/game mode switch and RGB lights switch.  Located below the image, you will find a well-designed compatibility table:  Type-C=Laptop and Smartphone.  USB=PC, Laptop, PS4, PS4Pro.  3.5mm Xbox (gamepad with 3.5mm port) and Nintendo switch.  Lastly, along the bottom of the panel, you will find a sticker denoting the lack of microphone support through 3.5mm mode.  Turning to the grey-colored left side panel, the company provided a pentalingual specification list: 20Hz-40kHz frequency, 50mm driver, 97+/-3 dob, 32 Ohm impedance. Lastly, the black colored back panel provided the Edifier name along the top left, the Gx product name along the top right, six icons along the bottom of the panel (Ti-Diaphragm drivers, RGB, Comfortable design, 96Khz/24Bits decoding chip, ENC, Made for Gaming), and a pentalingual list of product features along the left side: 1. New 5mm titanium diaphragm drivers. 2. Rolling volume control/retractable microphone/RGB lights. 3. High-quality headband with soft leather ear cups. 4.96Khz/24bits coding for natural sound/immersion. 5. Noise canceling chip. 6. Three types of interface.  

Similar to the cover, the main showcase of the rear panel was the large, vibrant image of the headset.  The blue, glowing H on the side of the ear cup, coupled with the grey metallic material, the chrome Gx accent, the volume wheel, and the circular sidebar image of the USB-C, USB-A, and 3.5mm port, fueled my desire to test the device. I cut the tape along the top/side panels, removed the tab, and lifted the top panel. I removed the large nondescript inner black box from the outer shell, lifted the lid, and then removed the 12.4-ounce over-ear headphones. I was impressed with the metallic look/feel, with the coloration, and with the padding. However, I did not understand the connection to the Goddess Hekate. Each of the thick-black earcups measured 3 1/2 inches wide by 4 inches tall and had either an “L” or “R” printed onto the inner surface. The foam had a pleasing tactile feel and proved to be quite comfortable atop my ears. Each cup was attached to the silver/metallic outer plastic ring at a hinge joint. The hinges allowed each earcup to pivot against the head to improve comfort and fit. The outermost edge of the earcups had a 2 1/4 inches diameter LED ring with central “H” and black spokes. Overall, the logo panel provided a similar feel to an expensive wheel cover on a car.

Just beneath the H logo on the left earcup, you will find an AUTO ENC button (microphone on/off), and a volume wheel. Along the bottom of each cup, you will find a silver chrome segment covered with a thin plastic protective wrapping. The right lower edge displayed “Gaming” along the side panel, without any access ports. The lower left segment provided USB-C and 3.5mm ports and a 4 inches long malleable, retractable microphone. Along the posterior edge of the right earcup, you will find a trapezoidal gaming button, and a rhomboidal color-change button. You will find a 1 1/2 inches wide by 1/2 inches tall “GX” chrome neck accent at the top of each of the earcups. Each of these sections abutted against the 1 1/4 inches long expandible size-adjustment segment. Lastly, you will find a 2 1/4 inches long plastic linking segment surrounding the 4 3/4 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide by 3/4 inches thick black-foam scalp pad. If you look closely within the expansion joints, you will find number markers. These were designed as a form of comfort memory/recall. Once you place the device atop your head, pull the earbuds down until they are comfortable. Remove the headphones and look at the numbers to return to a similar setting the future. I loved the breathable earcup material, the soft scalp padding, and the feel of the headphones. Additionally, I liked the inner black and outer grey color scheme and felt that the company created a visually appealing yet comfortable product.

Within the inner box, you will find a 4 inches wide by 9 inches tall by 3/4 inches thick accessory box that contained a 52 1/4 inches long USB-C to USB-C cable, a 54 1/4 inches long 3.5mm to 90-degree 3.5mm cable, a 79 1/2 inches long USB-A to USB-C cable, a 19-language Edifier Warning pamphlet, and a multi-lingual instruction manual (each language was given only a single page). The single panels provided two labeled diagrams, an upper side view of the left earcup (microphone switch, volume control wheel, 3.5mm port, Type-C port, microphone indicator), and a lower rear-to-front view of the right earcup (music/game mode and lower RGB light switch. I enjoyed the labeled designs but would have liked a bit more information about the Hecate headphones. I was able to discover that the headphones required power to use the microphone and light features from the outer box description that the 3.5mm port connection did not provide microphone support. Interestingly, without power, you could still enjoy the sound output and a bit of passive noise cancellation. Unfortunately, unless you connect via USB-A or USB-C, you will lose many of the added benefits such as light control and microphone/conversation. Since the manual did not provide a summary of the light modes, I continued to press the button until I found the pattern/cycle. Pressing the light button will cycle between ice blue/red/green/purple slow flash on/off modes, ice blue/red/green/purple solid-on modes, and a color-change mode that adjusted the tone between the above color options. If desired, you can extinguish the light by holding the RGB button for 2 seconds.

To test the analog sound output, I plugged the 3.5mm cable into a 3.5mm to lightning dongle and plugged the dongle into my iPhone 13 Pro Max. I navigated to the audiocheck.net website and ran through my typical headphone tests. When I used the Low-Frequency Response and Subwoofer Audio Test (10-200 Hz), I was able to hear deep bass rumbling at 20Hz. For the second test, I used the High-Frequency Response and Hearing Audio Test (22-8 kHz) and found that I was able to hear the tone at 14-15kHz. Since adults lose their upper-frequency hearing first, most adults will have a limit close to 14kHz, while kids may hear up to 18-19kHz.  The channel programming was correct when I evaluated the Left/Right/Center test, and the Stereo Perception and Sound Localization Test provided a similar startle with the binaural knocking sounds.  Overall, the sounds were just okay. The bass was a bit muddy, the mids lacked the crisp variation, and the highs felt a bit sharp. However, the passive noise cancellation may have been one of the best I have found thus far. The ear cuffs seemed to mold to my ears and did a great job at reducing ambient sounds. Similar to the iPhone tests, when I plugged the Hecate headphones into my Nintendo Switch (3.5mm), I felt the sound output was average, while the passive noise cancellation was exceptional. I felt that the headphone weight was sufficient but not bulky, and I liked the added comfort that the hinge segments provided. Additionally, even though the earcups fully covered my ears, I never felt overheated or sweaty. I would have loved the ability to use the volume wheel, but the feature did not work without power. The analog setup was a nice feature but it did not allow the device to shine. Similarly, I would have loved for the microphone to work in analog mode, but it did not work without power. Thanks to the retractable nature of the microphone, I did not really miss it. I believe that I would have been disappointed to have an always-out microphone when the feature was not supported.

To further test the sound of the 50 mm drivers, I plugged the USB-C cable between the Hecate Headphones and my Macbook Pro. I listened to a variety of 8D audio tracks (“Sound Of Silence (3D Binaural Audio)- Simon and Garfunkel Cover-Jarvis Brothers (Ear to Ear), Pentatonix “Hallelujah” 8D, Disturbed “Sound of Silence” 8 D, and Enya “Only Time 8D.”  Once the headphones were plugged into power, the crisp/vibrant RGB side lights illuminated and the microphone came to life. The side volume toggle was quite responsive and ended up being the best feature of the headphones. In fact, once I realized the benefit of the toggle, I missed having the feature when plugged up via a 3.5mm cable. While composing this review, I ran through several of my favorite songs: Queen’s Live Aid, Rocketman Soundtrack, Star is Born Soundtrack, various CCR/Alabama tracks, and Sail Away from Styx. I listened to several of the tracks on each of the game and music modes and felt that the music mode added more bass. When testing the headphones with the 3.5mm connection, I found the sounds to be a bit sharp and lost quality/blend with increased volume. The digital powered modes did not suffer from the same limitations. I think the only limiting factor was the lack of an equalizer to adjust sounds up/down for different games.

At the time of the composition of this review, the headphones were listed at $79.99 (down from $129.99). At a sub $80 price point, the ability to use digital and analog connections was a steal, even though the microphone felt lifeless and distant. When I used Facetime with my MacBook Pro, people were able to hear me okay but noted the sounds felt dull. The retractable/poseable nature of the microphone did add quite a bit to the overall composition. Unfortunately, many of the features did not work with an analog connection. Although, not a deal-breaker, I would not buy this device solely for use with 3.5mm connection. For the price, it is hard not to grab a pair of these headphones. They will provide quality sound, comfortable listening, and will provide a visually appealing game session. The large H did not feel cheap, did not feel like an afterthought, and had a high-end/luxury feel. I loved the ability to change the lighting and the ability to turn off the lights. Lastly, I was thankful that Edifier included the USB-A to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-C cable, and the 3.5cable to 90degree 3.5mm cable.

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