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July 1, 2019
Original: $169 USD
Whether you identify as a casual or professional gamer, you’ve probably entertained the thought of improving your system setup. One of the easiest ways to enhance gameplay is with a pair of dedicated gaming headphones. The Audio-Technica ATH-G1 headset provides a comfortable fit with mixed-material ear pads and a removable boom mic. No matter how you play, you’ll be able to enjoy immersive sound for longer with this headset.
We spent two weeks with the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 to show you where it shines and how it could improve.
Editor’s note: this Audio-Technica ATH-G1 review was updated on April 27, 2022, to include in-line FAQs, a disclosure box regarding old test data, an Isolation and FAQ section, and to add the Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 to the Alternatives section.
- Gamers who want to get more serious about their performance should consider the wired Audio-Technica ATH-G1 headset. This premium headset is lightweight but strong. The ear pads let air circulate, avoiding the distracting hot-ear sensation. Sound quality is top-notch, as we’ve come to expect from the company. It’s a great option for gamers who don’t want their headsets to scream “gamer.”
- Remote workers whose days are consumed by conference calls should get these headphones. Sure, they’re wired-only, but microphone and sound quality are excellent. You’ll sound great over the phone, and call participants will sound great through the headset.
What’s it like to use Audio-Technica ATH-G1?
Audio-Technica doesn’t deviate from its design formula for the ATH-G1. The ear cups display the thin-lined logo and are chunky in order to accommodate the 45mm dynamic drivers. The adjusting mechanism looks both retro and futuristic. Lengthening the headband is a bit difficult while wearing the headphones, but it should slacken with use. While the ear cups lack the dedicated eyewear channels we’ve seen on various Razer gaming headsets, the ATH-G1 remains comfortable, even with glasses.
The synthetic circumaural ear and headband cushions are all detachable. Occasionally replacing an ear pad is much cheaper than buying a new headset every time something wears down—this softens the blow of the $169 USD price. It would have been nice to see Audio-Technica include a spare pair of ear pads, given how feature-starved the headset is. While it’s great that some components are removable, the 3.5mm cable is not. If that breaks, you’re either out of luck or left to your own devices to repair it.
Just like the celebrated ATH-M50xBT2, the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 ear cups swivel and rotate. This is great if you plan to take them to a tournament: folding them flat saves a significant amount of bag real estate.
How do you connect the gaming headset?
You can connect the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 gaming headphones to any device with a 3.5mm headphone jack. If you’re a PC gamer and your setup has separate inputs for a microphone and headset, you’ll need to use the included Y-type adapter cable. After you plug into your device, be it a controller or console, you’re ready to play. The 3.5mm connection also means the ATH-G1 works just fine with the PlayStation 5 spatial audio system. While our review unit is wired-only, Audio-Technica also offers a wireless version, which broadcasts over a 2.4GHz signal for lag-free audio.
You can even use these with a smartphone, so long as it has a headphone jack. Doing so, though, is more effort than it’s worth. If you like the design of these headphones, it’s worth looking into the ATH-M50x or ATH-M40x instead.
Does the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 block out noise?
Isolation isn’t great with the ATH-G1. If you’re in a tournament environment or just have noisy roommates, you may experience some auditory masking which will make it harder for you to hear the headset’s audio relative to whatever’s going on in your environment. The silver lining of this is how breathable the ear pads are: I never feel my ears are sweaty after wearing the headset for two hours.
How does the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 gaming headset sound?
Hold up! Something’s different:
This article’s frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements, isolation performance plots, and standardized microphone demos. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white). Each new mic sample begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
Unlike other Audio-Technica headphones, these are not studio headphones, nor are they pretending to be. Rather than emulating a platonically ideal neutral frequency response, the bass boost makes boom sounds seem louder and quiets treble frequencies quite a bit. This can be good if you like to hear loud explosions in-game, but it can also make it hard to hear delicate sounds like footsteps.
Lows, mids, and highs
The song Peach by Kevin Abstract sounds fantastic with these headphones. A laid back bassline is exaggerated and sounds delightful. The 45mm drivers deliver clear treble notes, too: guitar plucking throughout the song and shakers are easy to hone in on. I never feel like I’m missing any high-frequency detail. If anything, the Kevin Abstract’s low register is occasionally hard to hear over the repeated bass bumps. While this is a designated gaming headset, it’s nice to know that it reproduces a fun sound for general listening purposes.
How good is the microphone?
The detachable microphone is a condenser with a hypercardioid recording pattern. Condensers require much more power than dynamic microphones, which is a hindrance to this headset. As you can hear in the demonstration below, my voice is quiet, and that’s after applying 3dB of gain to it. Sound quality is spectacular, though.
Audio-Technica ATH-G1 microphone demo (Old):
The hypercardioid recording pattern is precise and transmits only the intended voice, meaning background noise is unlikely to be relayed to your teammates. No matter the pitch of your voice, you’re going to sound true to life with this detachable boom mic.
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Audio-Technica ATH-G1?
Yes, this headset is an excellent buy for anyone looking to upgrade their gaming setup. I love a headset with replaceable parts: it demonstrates that the company cares about the customer and isn’t strong-arming consumers into buying a new product every six months, but it strikes me as odd that the 3.5mm cable is not detachable. While the two-meter cable proved excessive for my needs, it seems appropriate for users with dedicated game rooms. If you want crystal clear audio quality in a lightweight, breathable headset this is a fine investment.
The Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 is cheaper than the ATH-G1, and has a white finish instead of black. Despite the cheaper price of the GL3 you get important features like a detachable audio cable and boom mic, a great frequency response that’s more neutral than the GL3 and 45mm dynamic drivers. Both microphones sound very good, but the ATH-GL3 is a bit louder which can be useful for in game chat.
We find the ATH-G1 to be more comfortable than the ATH-GL3 but that ultimately comes down to personal preference and may not be worth the extra $60 USD to you. Audio-Technica also makes an open-back version of the GL3 called the Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3.
(Click the image to expand.)
Save money by getting any one of these alternatives
For those still looking, there’s an array of worthwhile alternatives abound. Our resident gamer, Sam Moore, recommends the Steel Series Arctis 7+ for its lag-free streaming, comfortable fit, and covert aesthetic. If you’re on a budget, the wired Razer Kraken X is a great $50 option.
Heck, even the $99 USD Beyerdynamic MMX 100 is a great option and it’s more affordable than the ATH-G1. Just like with the ATH-G1, you aren’t afforded any fancy software features, but it’s a great-sounding cross-platform device with solid microphone quality.