Design & Build Quality
Available in two different colors, Audeze sent us a blue/black version of the Penrose.
Each version is specifically designed to be compatible with Playstation (Penrose) or Xbox (Penrose X) and that relates to the gaming world, green for Xbox and blue for Playstation as a matter of fact. And, as expected, the Penrose looks exactly like the Mobius, which looked like a gaming headphone… on purpose.
As a true gamer headset, the headphone is sweat-proof and scratch-proof. To do so, the Penrose is coated with a very sweet, soft-touch silicon, and enjoys replaceable earpads/headband. It will withstand the test of time, long Fortnite sessions or even your next rage-quit in Minecraft.
Obviously, some audiophiles may not like the overall design, especially if you’re used to flagship models like the LCD-X. Yet, I think the Audeze Penrose design looks pretty awesome, even more, if you take account of the gaming background.
The various buttons and knob, the blue accent, the contoured ear pads: all feel premium. It’s not a cheap knock-off, where a brand just put its label on an OEM headphone, it’s a true Audeze at core, but for (audiophile) gamers.
Build quality is excellent so far.
The Penrose doesn’t crack and feels sturdy enough to be carried away, without a box. It’s a bit heavy – around 300g -, but this weight gives credibility to the whole package, like those heavy doors in a car. It looks cheap from afar, but the closer you look, the better it gets.
The headband can be adjusted very precisely, and even listeners with big heads like me will feel confident wearing the Penrose. You cannot fold it, but that’s okay as Audeze clearly favored durable design, even if that means losing some practicality.
The buttons are a bit rugged, so you can easily feel them while you’re playing. The USB-C port is placed on the lower part of the headphone, so you easily can plug it into your computer, and, like the Mobius, the Penrose even has two clickable scroll-wheel. One for the microphone volume and the other for the headphone volume.
Finally, you have the microphone. It comes separately, but that’s even better as you can choose to use it, or not. It’s a boom microphone, with built-in noise attenuation. Sadly, after a few tries, I found it to be not as good as the previous model, and most of the time, my voice came a bit muffled. Too bad!
Bundle and Comfort
Inside the box
Audeze is surprisingly generous with the Penrose
Inside the box you have :
- the Audeze Penrose
- a boom pole microphone with “broadcast quality” – provided by Shure
- 1x jack-jack cable
- 1x USB-A to Type C connector
- 1x USB-C to USB-C connector
- 1x 2.4GHz wireless dongle
- various papers
There is no balanced cable provided, but since the headphone carries its own DAC, I’ll live with that. What’s fascinating is the new 2.4Ghz dongle provided by the brand. Thanks to that, the Penrose can be virtually connected to any type of source, with little to no latency, when Bluetooth or cable is not an option.
Honestly, there are no real improvements you can do regarding the Penrose. You can plug your own jack-jack cable, but since the real deal would be to use the internal DAC, this won’t make a big difference.
What you can, however, would be to use Audeze HQ on your computer to fine-tune your headphone. If buggy as f*ck, the software unleashed the Penrose full potential with various EQ, firmware upgrade, etc.
The Penrose is much comfier than I expected them to be, even if a little heavy on the head.
The plushy ear pads cover the whole ear, and thanks to the memory foam, geeks like me will be able to wear it with glasses. The engineers chose the right level of clamping force, and it feels just right, as the whole headset does.
Again, compared to the Audeze LCD-X or LCD-MX4, the Penrose feels like a toy. But it’s an adult toy, as you’d compare a car and a motorbike, the latter feels much more nimble, freer.
And, now that Audeze has a full “compact” line-up with the Penrose, Mobius, and LCD-1, the format feels a lot more natural.
Plus the fact that you can use Bluetooth on a planar headphone!
Sadly, Isolation is one of the weak points of the Audeze Penrose.
I take the train almost daily (or weekly now) and solid noise-blocking is mandatory for me. I use headphones/earphones to isolate myself and focus on my work, so isolation is very important to me.
The Penrose isn’t too bad, nor is it amazing either. You can definitely hear others talking or typing, and the closed-back design is more to avoid neighbors’ issues, than proper noise-blocking. But, in Audeze’s defense, it’s very, very hard to make a closed-back planar-headphone. (Remember the EL-8C ?)
The review continues on Page Three, after the click HERE or by using the jump below.