Let’s continue the audio streak! We took a look at Cooler Master’s new offerings over the last couple of weeks and now it’s Audio Technica’s turn. Today we’re taking a look at the wireless edition of the ATH-G1, the ATH-G1WL, retailing at $249.99. You can check out our thoughts on the wired edition here. Before we continue as always, here are some specs on the unit:
- Large-diameter 45mm drivers
- 5Hz – 40,000Hz frequency response
- High max output: 1,300mW
- Flexible boom microphone with mute and volume control
- Strong, lightweight construction and breathable headband pad
- Additional USB cable
- 290g weight, 297g with removable boom mic
Like I said, we took the G1 for a test drive some time ago and we absolutely loved the sound. The G1WL is a closed-back premium gaming headset that delivers the audio quality Audio Technica is known for, without being tied down to your PC or laptop. There are some tradeoffs between the two models, and we’ll get into those with some detail.
Design and Functionality
Naturally, the G1WL is similar in design to the G1, complete with some self service options. In the box are a spare set of earpads, and the headband is also replaceable. It has the same shiny blue theme as the G1 as well as a pretty excellent removable boom mic that has come in handy for the number of quarantined Zoom calls I’ve been on! Naturally instead of inline controls (which I did accidentally flick a couple times on the G1), all of the controls are on the left ear cup for convenience. This includes on/off, volume control, mic mute, toggle for 7.1 surround, micro-USB port and mic monitor for times when you need to hear yourself. The mic is almost too good – I’ve had multiple requests to turn it down on my end because the pickup was so direct.
High quality construction and super soft earpads and headband pads make this great for long play sessions and you can remove the microphone to convert them into a great set of lifestyle headphones. I expected a bit more padding on the wireless model due to wireless generally meaning additional weight, but the same pads provided the same level of comfort. The G1WL weighs in at 290g, which is 40g heavier than its wired sibling, which is still far lighter than some of the other wireless sets on the market. Cooler Master’s MH670 weighs in at 346g, while Astro’s A50 wireless tips the scale at 380g. So it’s pretty light comparitively. I had these on for a long session getting my ass kicked in Overwatch and switching over to watch Clerks 2 while fiddling around to see what was in my PLEX library. I didn’t have to take it off due to discomfort or any sort of pinching on my ears. The wireless even let me go to the next room to get something while the movie continued.
We mentioned the 7.1 surround option, which wasn’t available in the wired edition, but compatibility is the tradeoff. The cost of wireless 7.1 is console capability, as it doesn’t support 3.5mm connections like the standard G1. The only connection is the included USB cable and the USB wireless dongle, which in theory this limits the G1WL to PC and Mac. However, since I am an enterprising sort, I found you could hook the wireless dongle to a USB to USB-C adapter and use it on modern mobile devices. I was able to do this to get the same sound quality from my Samsung Galaxy Note 9, as the folks at Samsung are kind enough to provide USB-C adapters with their phones.
It takes about 7 hours to get to full charge, but when it does the 15 hours Audio Technica lists as the battery life is a bit of a high estimate. I was able to get 10 or 11 hours of use before having to recharge. The included USB cable does let you charge the headset while you’re using it so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing, but there’s one tiny issue for me. If you plug it in but don’t have the wireless dongle also in, you won’t get any sound. The cable is great for keeping the unit charged while using them, but that’s the only functionality it provides. I would have liked to see it provide a functional wired option if it does come with a cable at this price point.
This thing pumps out the sound with ferocity. While most gaming headsets cover a 20-20kHz frequency response, the ATH-G1WL covers a range of 5-40kHz with its 45mm drivers, and it’s a difference that can be heard. With the addition of the 7.1 surround it is a noticeable improvement over the G1.
Starting off with Overwatch (like I did on the PAX floor) with the surround on was near perfect. Shots rang out with crystal clear pings and the footsteps were scary levels of clear from whichever direction they were coming from. Bass hits from one of Pharah’s rockets exploding at my feet kept good boom without vibrations. Same was true for Modern Warfare, with one of the pleasant surprises being that the on-demand 7.1 surround didn’t allow gunfire to get lost in the bass of explosions. Top and bottom ends hit with the same amount of force with high chirpy bullets and rumbling but not overpowering explosive bass.
My standard “Red Circle” scene from John Wick was next. And guess what? it was flawless. I watched it a few times with the surround both on and off, and a noticeable difference, probably due to the gaming target for this product, is that activating the surround not only gives you more spatial awareness, but definitely boosts the high end and mids without sacrificing the quality of the bass. So even with the surround turned off, there was nothing about the sound that was disappointing. And all of this was without losing the soundtrack. That’s really all I needed to hear.
But for those of you that want a taste of it with music, turn on the surround and listen to Ramin Djawadi’s brilliant arrangement of “Wicked Games” from the Westworld season 3 soundtrack. It’s a delight, and show’s the G1WL’s range extremely well..
Audio Technica’s ATH-G1WL is a premium audio headset that demands premium price. While the wired edition retails at $169.99, the G1WL retails at $249.99 on Amazon. The addition of on-demand 7.1 audio while maintaining a weight under 300g is mighty impressive. This is a great headset that works whether or not you need a mic for gaming or business. Removing the inline controls and having them all conveniently on the left ear answers the issues I had with the inline controls on the standard G1.
And as I said before, I tried these out initially at PAX and was able to play Overwatch with perfect sound on a crowded convention floor. Not bad at all. If you are in the $200+ premium market, go get it.