Wireless headphones and headset have come a long way. Most recently we’ve seen improvements in wireless range and audio performance. The 7.1 A50 Wireless from Astro Gaming and the recently reviewed Skullcandy PLYR2 headphones are prime examples of long strides being taken in these areas. While Astro is the far better performer, the PLYR2 from Skullcandy can sustain a strong signal from further away.
Today we have a new comer to the GR tech labs. Performance Designed Products has drawn the gate on their Afterglow Universal Wireless (Blue) headphones. The unit is quite versatile and plays nice with your PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 as well as mobile devices such as tablets and Smartphones. There is a retractable mic inside the left earpiece for voice chat and phones calls. So on the audio yardstick, how does the PDP’s Afterglow Universal Wireless headset measure up to our other wireless cans?
These are large over-ear headphones with ample padding and nice cobalt blue illumination that adds some nice color in a few places. The borders of the outer headband lights up along with the outer section of the ear pieces and the tip of the retractable microphone. The Afterglow cans are really cool looking and I love the way the illumination kicks in when you turn them on. They are big and I advise against catching yourself in the mirror. The sight is not pretty . Though, sizeable and unseemly, they are comfortable and lightweight with all the controls you may need right there on the headphones.
The unit comes with a familiar assortment of cords for easy connectivity to your myriad of media devices and game consoles. You get Xbox chat cable, a 3.5mm audio cable, USB transmitter that is connected to detachable RCA audio cable. When disconnected a 3.5mm tip is revealed for wireless transmission from a corresponding connection most likely found on the back of PC, keyboard audio connection or similar. One thing that bugs me is the lack of instruction. I’m not perfectly sure they way the unit shipped to me is the way it goes out on a typical retail sale. The box was all black with no marketing copy or imagery and it did not come with instructions. You can download a PDF from their website. Those are very detailed with complete instructions on how to connect the Afterglow cans to various systems and mobile devices. So you grab these for PS3 or Xbox 360, it may be nice to have a computer on hand to download the PDF manual.
Once it’s all setup, the Afterglow Wireless headphones work pretty darn good. They are lightweight with ample padding and nice expandable padded strap. Power the unit on by pressing the mic mute button on the left earpiece. Hold this button until the illumination dies and the unit is powered off. The two dials for game volume and voice chat communication sound are both easy to and work well. These are stereo cans. So while the audio is quite good over the 50mm Neodymium drivers. It doesn’t compare to the 7.1 surround of the Astro Gaming A50. But regardless, the bass is full and rich, highs and midrange sounds are also nice on the ears upon playback. The audio overall is rich and pleasant in games, movies and music. There is even a mode switch button like that found on the Skullcandy PLYR2 and the A50 set. There are three different modes in all one for each of the aforementioned media types. Again, we have no concrete documentation on the exact supported range but it is similar to the Skullcandy PLYR2 and outdistances the A50 with no breakup in communication on both the mic and audio playback.
The biggest issue with the Afterglow Wireless is in their PC use. The signal was lost a few times and this was not the wireless signal, either. I could plug the 3.5mm cord in for direct connection and the sound would still be absent unless I restarted. So switching between various playback devices on PC is severely hampered if restart is required in most cases. What if you’re in the middle of a game or work. Lame!
At a sub $100 these are more than worth a look. They are stylish if a bit bulky, with great stereo audio playback while maintaining a consistent wireless signal. There some definite issues, mores so with PC use. But if this is for your mobile device or game console, you could easily do worse than this wireless solution.
Bottom Line: The Afterglow Wireless Headset is a versatile set of cans that performs well in the stereo spectrum and measure up well to the competition in raw performance. But there are few issues that may keep this one from center stage.
- Great stereo playback
- Far-reaching wireless signal
- Cool cobalt blue illumination hot spots
- Support for a variety of devices
- No manual, which is essential for some setups
- Issues switching playback device on PC
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.