A great headset can make or break multiplayer experiences. We’ve all been in competitive matches where a teammate’s background noises like a baby crying drown out everything else you can hear, or been knifed in the back by a sneaking soldier when peering out a building window toward an objective while using a chintzy pack-in headset that comes with a console that didn’t alert you to their presecnce. That’s why such a strong market has developed offering quality gaming headsets.
New features in high-end headsets has largely stagnated in recent years, but a new contender has emerged boasting hardware expertise and armed with years of collected data from the best esports players about how they’d like to see the technology improved. Victrix‘s first offering is the Pro AF ANC, a $300 headset available for pre-order now that applies best-in-class thinking to comfort, quality, microphone performance, and even noise canceling.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been kicking the tires on a beta version of the headset, and it’s quickly become my favorite option. The sleek, purple aesthetic stands out from the sea of blue and green Sony and Microsoft themed headsets on the market. The spring steel headband and aircraft-grade aluminum make this one of the more sturdy headsets I’ve ever used without sacrificing comfort or sitting too heavy on your head. In fact, Victrix adds an unprecedented layer of comfort with a novel cooling mechanism that lets you drop the humidity in your cans to room level by popping open mechanical vents. When the vents are engaged you can also chat comfortably with those around you, which esports players will appreciate when trying to strategize or taking coaching pointers in between rounds.
Ambient noise can pose a problem whether you are in the midst of a crowded esports event or gaming in a bustling household, which is why Victrix doubled down on both its microphone technology and active noise canceling. One of the company’s financial backers also works with McDonnell Douglas, which enabled Victrix to lean on their helicopter engineers and pilot expertise for designing mics for use in loud areas like a copter cockpit. The result is a microphone that uses a patent originally intended for Cobra helicopters that uses passive filter design and an elegant mic shield to block out ambient noise while preserving the speech integrity of the operator. During my use over several rounds of Rainbow Six Siege, teammates didn’t hear any noises other than my voice frantically yelling the positions of encroaching enemies.
The first of its kind in gaming headsets, the Pro AF’s active noise canceling mechanism uses four microphones (two internal, two external) to identify sounds to block. Victrix claims it can eliminate up to 70 percent of environmental noise. The in-line controller also allows you to toggle the ANC on and off, customize the headset lighting, adjust mic gain, or hit mute. Victrix also developed two gaming-friendly audio modes – one that accentuates sounds in your immediate surroundings, and one that gives you a fuller audio sense of the battlefield. The latter is especially useful when moving in enclosed spaces where enemies could come from multiple directions.
A metal clip lets you attach the in-line controller to your pants or belt. This was the weakest part of the Pro AF design in my experience; its rounded design means it’s prone to turn away from you depending on how it rests on your leg, and this is exacerbated by the thick cords that can make it even harder to get the controller to lay flat.
With crisp sound, great microphone performance, and luxury features like the active noise cancellation and cooling mechanism, the Victrix Pro AF ANC is an impressive gaming headset. The cost is steep, but compared to other headsets I think the quality matches the price point. Many esports teams have taken note of this new headset contender, such as Team Kaliber, who just took back to back CWL trophies in Call of Duty: World War II. Victrix is now the official headset for the team.
Starting today, Victrix is taking pre-orders for the Pro AF ANC that slash the price from $299 to $199 for early adopters. The company is limiting this initial offering to 4,000 headsets, so move fast if you want to take advantage of the deal.
The Pro AF ANC is just the opening salvo in Victrix’s assault on gaming peripherals. Starting in June (when the Pro AF ANC pre-order models ship), Victrix will also start selling a $199 base model that does not include active noise-canceling, Later in the year, it plans to launch officially licensed PlayStation and Microsoft models of both headsets, as well as a “TeamAmp” boasting similar design sensibilities as the headset that can help esports organizers ensure good audio with team voice links and broadcast-ready output modes.