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 by grabbing 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.
Editor’s note: this Audio-Technica ATH-G1 review was updated on June 3, 2021 to include a microphone score based on the results of our reader feedback poll. Thanks for voting!
Who is the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 for?
- 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 didn’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 was a bit difficult while wearing the headphones, but it should slacken with use. While they lack the dedicated eyewear channels we’ve seen on various Razer gaming headsets, the ATH-G1 remains comfortable, even with glasses.
The ATH-G1 headphones play nicely 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 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.
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Just like the celebrated ATH-M50xBT, 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. I mindlessly rotated the ear cups during a few episodes of The Good Place and never felt I was jeopardizing the headset.
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.
How does the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 gaming headset sound?
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, audio reproduction matches the Olive-Welti curve. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s a collated target of what people perceive as appealing. This yields a predominantly bass-heavy sound with some midrange and treble emphasis. Many general consumer headphones trend along this curve.
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Isolation isn’t great. If you’re in a tournament environment or just have noisy roommates, you may experience some auditory masking. This is when louder, in this case external, noises overpower quieter ones and make them even more difficult to hear. The silver lining of this is how breathable the ear pads are: I never felt my ears were sweaty after wearing the headset for two hours.
Although the headphones don’t reproduce the most accurate sound, they’re good for gaming. Explosions and approaching pitter-patter are easy to register. Being hyper-vigilant gives you the edge and may just as well improve reaction time. At the very least, an enveloping soundscape as the one reproduced by the Audio-Technica ATH-G1 headset makes gameplay more immersive.
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 felt like I was missing any high-frequency detail. If anything, the fundamental frequency of Kevin Abstract’s low register was occasionally masked by 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:
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.
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. 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.
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 $160 Beyerdynamic CUSTOM Game is a great option, though it’s only slightly cheaper than the Audio-Technica ATH-G1. Still, the CUSTOM Game lets you customize the appearance of the headset, and is remarkably well built. Just like with the ATH-G1, you aren’t afforded any fancy software features, but it’s a great-sounding cross-platform device with stellar microphone quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Audio-Technica ATH-G1WL is a wireless version of the ATH-G1 headset. It supports 7.1 Surround Sound and includes a 2.4 GHz RF adapter. The build and design are otherwise nearly identical between the two gaming headsets, and you'll pay quite a bit more for the untethered variant.