Audeze Penrose wireless headphones Review

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by rhythmdevils, Jul 11, 2021.

  1. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    @rhythmdevils , that was a very good review of an interesting headphone. Thanks. It was interesting enough that I even started wondering if all that stuff works with Linux. Probably not :(

    None the less. I'm deeply disappointed because I came to thread for the heavy breathing. And there wasn't any. None. Oh, and the stabbing: none of that either. That wonderful sound as a screwdriver fatally pierces stretches cellophane? Utterly absent.
     
  2. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    The headphone supports UAC1 if it's PS5 compatible. If you're using a mainline linux kernel from the last 10 years, you have robust UAC1 and UAC2 device support.
     
  3. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Yes indeed. But it looks like there is software control, so like, like a number of audio interfaces, it either won't play, or one looses a lot of functionality.

    Anyway, this is not a problem for most of the readers here, so let me not distract, especially as I am "just looking." While I wait for the heavy breathing.
     
  4. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    I would be interested in EU loaner too.
     
  5. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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  6. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    @rhythmdevils covered these very well. I’ve spent an hour or two with them. First the good - these sound really really good to me. Much funnerer than my HD800S. Good tight, totally pretty accurate bass, nice cymbals, vocals sound good, guitars crunch. I’d didn’t run through all of my usual genres, I was in a rock mood. Bottom line - I’d totally buy these and sell my HD800S and jot2. They seem that good to me, notwithstanding the active, Bluetooth / wireless etc stuff @rhythmdevils mentioned. I didn’t listen long enough to encounter this. I also only used Bluetooth. My use case will never involve listening from a laptop or other computer. Oh, they sound pretty ok hardwired as well.

    So, why won’t I buy them. Comfort, plain and simple - and very specific to my personal noggin I suspect. The front of the ear cup padding rests right on the spot of my jaw that triggers TMJ type pain. That’s it. I can’t get 10 minutes with them. They might be bendable to fix this, but I don’t want to try with the loaners.

    other issues? The Bluetooth pairing is super fiddly. If I try to switch from phone to iPad if both are in my lap, it is totally ungraceful. The volume dial is really jumpy, at least with Apple Music app. It is essentially useless. The slider in the app works fine though. FUGLY. Fugly green band, fugly paint on the cups. Just fugly. Disclaimer, I’m 62, and haven’t been cool or hip in at least 40 years. Get off my lawn! Others my like them. None of those are dealbreakers, but the comfort is for me. Note that I think I’m an anomaly as far as comfort.

    final note to reiterate - the sound quality is astounding. Doubly so since they are wireless.

    Thanks for the loan SBAF!
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2021
  7. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

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    Penrose Loaner Impressions

    My thoughts are similar to others, I was impressed with the sound quality, especially for the price. I focused my comparison with the Airpods Max since I think they are both more intended to be "good quality consumer" rather than "good for audiophile nutjobs". I did do some comparison against my modded HE 6se but kept it brief.

    Unless stated otherwise, all listening was done via bluetooth from my iPhone.

    penrose-solo.jpg

    Listening Impressions
    Penrose
    • A bit bright
    • Nice clarity
    • A bit more separation
    • Good detail
    • More even frequency response, music sounds balanced
    • Briefly found them a bit fatiguing but I'm kinda a mess in that regard so who the fuck knows
    • More bass extension
    • Percussion hits nicer with the clarity
    • For my taste, if you want to enjoy music, listen to these. I did enjoy the Airpods too but more likely to really enjoy music with the Penrose

    Airpods
    • When switching something is sucked out, part of the mids I think. Without switching I didn't notice this
    • While Penrose wins on clarity, still not bad for what they are
    • Thicker sounding
    • Easy to listen to despite mids suck out but less engaging. For my use this is fine (keeping the noise out on flights, brief before bed relaxation) but for all day listening to music at work, I'd find these lacking
    • Decent detail
    • A bit more slam
    • Sometimes brass instruments sounded a bit farty
    • Despite the drawbacks, for consumer gear the tuning is decent and not offensive
    • Are they bright? Warm? They are confusing. I wouldn't say neutral, too much is sucked out
    • Sometimes vocals were sucked out, that was a poor tuning decision
    I was a bit thrown by how good the Penrose sound. I tried my HE 6se on the iFi iDSD BL to compare and as expected the 6se wins in clarity, detail, listening pleasure, etc etc. Still, the Penrose is a fantastic value for the money.

    Comfort
    Penrose is OK, the pressure on top my head is more than I'd prefer. It wasn't bad enough where I'd need to mod or stop using them. After reading aamefford's comments it's possible I also felt some behind the ear/jaw pain. I've had some issues with that so it's hard to isolate the specific cause.

    Airpods are meh. Early on in owning them, the metal bars in the headband became annoying and hurt. I ended up adding some Dekoni nuts to make them wearable. Ear pads are a bit more comfortable on my ears than Penrose. They have a more scratchy texture but rest in a more comfortable position on my ears/side of my head. With the Dekoni tweak, these are more comfortable but I could probably achieve the same with the Penrose if I wanted.

    Clamp didn't bother me in either case.

    Noise Isolation
    Totally unfair, the Penrose doesn't come with ANC. I think the Airpods do a great job here and look forward to using them on airplanes. The Penrose seems to do OK and the pads get a good seal over my ears.

    Other Penrose Listening Options
    With Wifi no pairing was needed for me. Plugged in dongle, turned on headphones, sound came out. I found Wifi less detailed and less clear. Wasn't a huge margin but enough that I could hear a difference and definitely preferred bluetooth.

    Didn't try with the aux cable.

    Final Thoughts
    Both for audio quality and flexibility, the Penrose wins easily. Unfortunately for me, I now know how bad my Airpods sound, I had previously thought they were better. Also hate how Apple manages charging and trying to force people to use their goofy purse-case so you don't drain the battery. Seriously, WTF Apple.

    penrose.jpg
     
  8. Zed Bopp

    Zed Bopp Friend

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    Cool write-ups, cheers folks!
    Is the Penrose basically a Mobius minus all the gamer features like 3D etc?

    I had Mobius for wireless mobile use but ended up selling it because it was a bit heavy, not comfy for long walks (vs QC35) and pretty fiddly with all the buttons. Like ”press button 5sec to power on”. Seriously?

    Also the Mobius didn’t sound nearly as good as my Sine, which is wired mind you. I’m ready for some compromises, but Mobius didn’t really excel at anything and got little use.

    I’m still anxiously waiting for the closed-back LCD-1 Sankar was talking about a year or two ago on The Headphone Show. That was supposed to be wireless too. I hope they haven’t buried the project altogether.
     
  9. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I don't know, I'e never heard the Mobius. All I know is that Audeze said they got a lot of complaints that the Mobius was too complicated and tried to make the Penrose much simpler. Which it is. It's very easy to use.

    As for the iSine, I can say that I like the sound of the Penrose much much better than the LCD-i4. So I'm guessing the same would be true of the iSine.
     
  10. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex SBAF's Imelda Marcos

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    I think he meant the sine, a full sized portable (lightning connector powered).
     
  11. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I'm pretty sure the Penrose is what you are looking for (Closed back LCD-1 with wireless). I don't know why Audeze would make another closed back in the same smaller form factor that was wireless. They already have Penrose and Mobius for you to chose from.
     
  12. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    The Penrose could very well be that exact headphone actually. If you look at the form factor of the LCD-1 and Penrose they are very similar. The Penrose could use the LCD-1 driver. I don’t know for sure though and I’ve never heard an LCD-1 I’m just speculating.
     
  13. Zed Bopp

    Zed Bopp Friend

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    Actually Penrose might be what Sankar was talking about. Although it sounded like they put lots of effort into this new design and he referred to it as essentially a closed-back LCD-1 wireless. Is the Penrose really smaller (as @M3NTAL mentioned)? Looking at the Mobius and Penrose pics and features, they both weigh about 0,8 lbs and look like having the same enclosure. So, maybe not for me then.
     
  14. HHS

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    The Penrose and Mobius have bigger drivers than the LCD-1, which in turn has bigger drivers than the Sine and Sine DX. There may still be a closed-back wireless LCD-1 in the works. I wouldn't be surprise if they put out a premium bluetooth headphone that's not part of their gaming range. Hopefully they use more premium materials like the Sine/Sine DX vs the more plasticky build of the LCD-1 and Mobius/Penrose
     
  15. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    @rhythmdevils. How good are these compared to wired sealed headphones of similar price? Since my Elegias broke I have been looking for a alternative closed back and it might be time to go wireless.How would these do as office headphones?
     
  16. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I don't know the market for closed back wired headphones anymore, I was away from the hobby for 10 years. Back then the ath-M50 and DT-250-250ohm were the best I'd heard. But I'm sure things have changed and there are better options now so I'm not the best person to ask about this.

    but I can say that from what I have read about the sound of Focal headphones, if you iike that sound, you might really not like the Penrose, they kind of have the opposite sound and opposite goals to Focal headphones. From what I gather all the Focal headphones except the Clear MG have upward tilting FR - bass lite and a little bright, with sharp attacks, great clarity, a little thin sounding, very resolving, some tonality issues.

    The Penrose is more like a wireless closed back HD650. It's a bit rolled off in the treble, but otherwise neutral and the emphasis is on good tone. It has a slight haze to the sound and lacks resolution. But has excellent tonality and just sounds "right" even if it isn't super high fidelity.

    Given that you like the Focals, I would assume sharp attacks and resolution are of utmost impmortance and the Penrose would sound dull and boring to you.

    People who like the HD650 and are looking for a portable closed back wireless headphone I think would like the Penrose quite a bit.
     
  17. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

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    Alternative answer, I believe there is a European loaner for these you could join and they may surprise you in a good way.
     
  18. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Yes @Poleepkwa is on the EU loaner tour. It shouldn't be long before I ship them to the EU and you're second in line. Might be worth waiting.
     
  19. Poleepkwa

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    Thanks. I will wait for the loaner.
    As a matter of fact my HD650 are the only headphones that has been with me since the very beginning, so this Penrose sounds even more appealing now.
     
  20. ushanka

    ushanka Facebook Friend

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    Impressions from trying these out as part of the SBAF loaner tour.

    Gear

    Windows PC -> (wireless/bluetooth) -> Audeze Penrose
    iPhone 8 -> bluetooth -> Audeze Penrose

    Reference gear:
    USB -> Soekris DAC2541 -> SW51+ -> HD650

    Ease of use / comfort

    Connecting them to wireless or bluetooth was fairly easy, just be sure to read the manual (or search for instructions online - Audeze has pretty good steps listed there). Microphone took me some time to figure out, so that interface was not super intuitive. The volume control is stepped, which I found problematic because the ideal volume was in between two steps often enough. Controls could also be a little more tactile - maybe rubberized wheels would help here? I had to mentally focus on changing volume.

    They are also fairly uncomfortable due to heavy weight and a narrow headband. I don't know if there are market format considerations here, but they would be much better with the style of headband used on the main LCD line. My partner also decidedly did not like the clamping force despite normally using my HD650 when gaming (is there something that is more known for the intense clamping force?)

    What's the technical take?

    These are pretty good for a wireless/gaming headphone, but I can't say they are particularly good in the grand scheme of things. The biggest positives is that they have pretty good resolution and great bass response. Unfortunately there are severe issues with a massive dip in the lower treble (somewhere around 5-6 khz I think?) and very strong treble response after that which I found very fatiguing. The lower treble dip makes the sound decidedly cavernous and a bit mushed together, and the timbre is fairly unimpressive as the result also. I did not find the sound any more detailed than HD650, but that could easily be courtesy of very unequal signal chain.

    For gaming purposes I am looking for the following 3 things:
    • Great directional placement (I play a fair amount of first person shooters)
    • Non-fatiguing sound (long sessions with bright headphones do not go over well)
    • Good rendering of space (for immersion via environmental sounds)
    Unfortunately the Audeze is not able to hit any of these. HD650 does better on the first two points, and comparable on the rendering of the space for immersion purposes, so without wireless/closed requirements I would recommend HD650 over Penrose (the mic feature is cool, but I have Antlion Modmic mounted on the HD650).

    What's the personal take?

    I could not use these in the long run simply due to the brightness, and I think these are kind of pointless for desktop PC gaming. For a console gamer these are a pretty solid options assuming you are comfortable with the brightness. The cavernous sound is a trademark of gaming cans, so if choosing from that cohort the Penrose is likely the best option.
     

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