Two minute review
Austrian Audio is not a well known name here in the UK as it was only founded in Vienna in 2017. Since then, the company has mainly made a name for itself in the more serious hi-fi market, supplying high-quality headphones for audiophiles.
Like many hi-fi specialists, Austrian Audio is now dipping its toe into the gaming market that’s too big to ignore, but instead of targeting the luxury end of the market — like rivals like Bang & Olufsen’s Portal — Austrian Audio’s new De PG16 headset takes a more basic approach and simply aims to provide high quality audio at a competitive price.
The PG16 went on sale in the UK and Australia in January, priced at £129.00 / AU$238.99, and Austrian Audio confirmed it’s also about to go on sale in the US for $169.00 .
The PG16 reflects Austrian Audio’s hi-fi pedigree, using the same 44mm drivers as the company’s high-end Hi-X65 headphones, and boasting an impressive 12Hz – 24KHz frequency response that provides very clear and detailed sound quality.
The PG16 weighs only 265 grams, so it’s light enough to wear for hours, for long gaming sessions or just for listening to music. The body of the headset is made of plastic, but the adjustable headband and hinges are metal, allowing you to fold the earbuds flat if you want to pack them into the included carrying case when travelling.
The boom mic isn’t removable, but it’s flexible enough to position it comfortably while playing, or just slide it out of the way when you’re done. You can also mute the microphone by simply pushing it straight up into the vertical position.
However, the low price means the PG16 doesn’t really go overboard with extra features. It is a wired headset, featuring a 1.4m cable with a 3.5mm audio connector, providing compatibility with any PC, console or other audio device with a standard audio connector. However, there is no Bluetooth, no active noise cancellation (ANC), and there are no volume or other controls on the earphones either.
The only other added extra is a voucher that gives you a serial number to download an app called Spatial Sound Card L, which aims to provide virtual 7.1 surround sound effects. This app is provided by a third-party company called New Audio Technology, and in the US and UK it is also available as a standalone app that sells on Steam for $9.99 / £7.19.
The Steam reviews are “mostly positive” for the effectiveness of the surround sound features, although the app can be a bit fiddly to set up at first. However, a trial version is available on New Audio’s website if you want to try it out first. However, the Spatial Sound Card L app is for Windows only, so there is no support for mobile or console gaming. There is a Mac version of the app, but New Audio told us it has issues with the latest versions of the macOS and Apple hardware, so Mac gamers — yes, they do exist — should definitely try the trial version first. of the app should view .
- Light but sturdy headset
- Comfortable memory foam earphones
- Spatial Sound app is a bit complicated for beginners
Some people prefer the convenience of the best wireless headphones, but the word on the internet is that all the cool kids are wearing wired headphones right now, so hopefully the wired design of the PG16 won’t be a deal breaker for a lot of people either.
It’s also cleverly designed, with the 265g headset and memory foam earcups being light and comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time, whether at home or when listening to music on the go. They still feel quite sturdy though, and the red trim on the black headset looks smart without being too flashy (although the boom mic might make you stand out a bit when you’re out and about).
The lack of physical controls on the headset is a bit disappointing though, as it means you’re always depending on your gaming rig, smartphone or tablet to adjust the volume and other settings. And while the sound quality for stereo sound is great, we found the Spatial Sound app rather useless when it came to using surround sound effects. The app assumes you’re familiar with the complexities of Windows audio drivers — a messy cauldron at best — and lets you wade through a long series of menus and settings without much help for beginners.
- Excellent sound quality
- Impressive 12Hz – 24KHz Frequency Response
- Wired connection only
The PG16 may not have Bluetooth and noise canceling features, but the 12Hz – 24KHz frequency response is rare in headphones in this price range, and really delivers the goods when listening to music. Down at the bottom, the deep electronic bass on Bad Guy by Billie Eilish hits like a pile driver, but stills feel relaxed and rhythmic enough to get you dancing, while the nervous, tapping percussion has an eerie, sharp edge.
At the other end of the spectrum, Queen’s Somebody To Love’s massive harmonies sound loud and clear, capturing every detail in the multi-layered vocals and Roger Taylor’s whooshing falsetto delivered with glass-cutting clarity. If you’re looking for high-quality wired headphones at a competitive price, the PG16 is hard to beat in that regard.
That high-quality sound works well for games too, with Amazon’s New World’s twittering birds and ambient sound effects creating a great sense of atmosphere. However, the surround sound effects are more of a mixed bag. The app initially left us no sound at all, and only after wading through a lengthy PDF manual and a bit of trial and error with our audio settings did we manage to activate the surround sound features.
To be fair, the surround sound effects work well and create a more immersive sense of space as we traverse the New World countryside on yet another of the game’s endless fetch missions. It doesn’t have the sense of precision you might need for team-based shooters, but the immersive sound and atmosphere is ideal for an open-world MMO like New World.
- Respectable microphone quality
- Convenient Auto Mute
- Glitch-free wired connection
The PG16’s microphone is perfectly adequate, although it lacks some of the noise-canceling features found in more expensive headsets. We like the fact that the microphone boom can tilt and bend to help you find a comfortable position, and the ability to quickly mute the mic by simply pushing it up is very handy too.
The sound quality is good and the omnidirectional microphone picks up the sound clearly, even if you prefer to push the microphone a bit away from your face. By using a wired connection, the sound is always clear and reliable, with no Bluetooth hitches and of course you don’t have to worry about battery life.
Should I buy the Austrian Audio PG16 headset?
Buy it if…
You are an audiophile
The PG16 headset is basically a high-quality stereo headset with a microphone on it. The large drivers and impressive frequency response sound great with any genre of music and offer very good value for money.
You don’t need Bluetooth
Some people prefer the convenience of Bluetooth, but it can be a bit erratic at times – especially for fast-paced action games – so you can’t go wrong with a simple set of wired headphones.
You understand Windows audio
The PG16 offers excellent quality for stereo sound and music, but relies on the third-party Spatial Sound Card L app for its surround sound functions. This app only works on Windows and can be confusing for people who don’t have a good understanding of Windows audio drivers and settings.
Don’t buy it if…
You like or need Bluetooth
A wired headset like the PG16 can provide better sound quality than the compressed audio of Bluetooth, but many people still prefer the convenience of wireless headsets.
You are a console gamer
The headset’s 3.5mm connector works with most devices, but the Spatial Sound Card L app is only available for Windows, so console gamers will be overlooked there.
You are a mobile gamer
The surround sound app is Windows-only, and the lack of physical controls on the headset means you’ll have to rely on the controls on your smartphone or tablet to adjust the volume and other settings.