We know many of the big headset brands on the market. Turtle Beach. Logitech. Astro. Corsair. We're familiar with them, we trust them. Sometimes something comes way out of left field, though, and that's the Victrox Pro AF gaming headset, a $299 piece of kit that aims right for the top tier. As of this writing, this headset is Victrix Pro's only product, though they have a fight stick and a headset amp on the way, too. Either way, they're just getting started, which makes this a particularly interesting headset to look at. Victrix Pro has a lot of opportunities to rethink how headsets might work, and just as many opportunities to stumble right out of the gate.
With that eye-searing sticker on the box, the Victrix Pro AF headset has a lot of work to do. It promises noise cancelling, cooling, durable design, and more. Let's see how it stacks up.
Build and Style
When I talk about a piece of gear's style, usually I'm talking about just the look, but this headset tells you what it's going for right in the name: "Pro AF." Presumably, this stands for "Air Force," what with the set's aircraft-grade aluminum headband and Cobra attack helicopter mic filter, but we all know what "AF" stands for in the modern vernacular. That the headset comes with a set of AA batteries labeled Juicy AF sure doesn't help.
And that kind of establishes the rest of the look of the headset. The whole deal, from case to headset to cabling, is a combination of black and purple. And I mean purple.
If you dig the colors, though, it's not a bad-looking headset. The overall frame looks like that of an aviation headset, reinforcing that whole "AF" thing. It makes no compromises in favor of portability with a bulky silhouette, a beefy stainless steel, cushioned headband,and yokes made from aircraft-grade aluminum. The earcups, admittedly, push the look over the top. The glossy cups are fingerprint magnets, and if you decide to use the optional battery-powered remote, they can light up with purple LEDs.
Personally, I do not like the purple look. It's super subjective. I tend to like my gear to tend toward matte black, rather than glossy, and if I have a bright color, I'd rather it be customizable. But if purple is your (grape) jam, more power to you.
The Pro AF's feature set is where the headset works hard to set itself apart. Let's start right from the top.
These are closed-back headphones, but Victrix knows sometimes our ears can get a little toasty during long gaming sessions. On each ear cup, there's a lever that you can crank that lifts the cup off the ear pad, letting in fresh air and outside noise. I actually love this feature. One nice touch is that opening the air valve automatically turns off the noise canceling. ANC is going to be worthless, so this is a smart way to save battery.
And that leads us further down the cord to talk about the in-line remote. I'm in a love-hate relationship with this thing. I love what it does, but hate some of the ways it works. Where most headsets put their remotes right on the cord, this one has the cord going in and coming back out the bottom of the remote. The remote itself, rather than being a cute little chiclet, is more like a pudgy Roku remote in size and shape – especially when you factor in the purple accents. It's heavy and powered by two AA batteries. It has a simple monochrome OLED screen and a directional pad to page through features and adjust them. The remote allows the user to adjust volume, mic gain, mic monitoring, audio mode, and lighting. There's a power-toggle switch and dedicated buttons for muting and toggling ANC. That the mute and power buttons are purple and on the sides of the remote makes the Roku comparison that much tougher to ignore. The headset will work with the remote turned off, so if you run out of batteries you're left with the basic features of an otherwise functional headset.
I love how easy the remote is to read and manipulate. The images are clear and simple, and the features are just enough to feel full but never overwhelming. When I wanted to tweak a setting during gameplay, I didn't have to take my hand off the controller for more than a couple seconds. The mic gain and monitoring made it easy to block out ambient sound and hear myself talking – two things I frequently look for on even headsets in this price range.
What I don't like is how heavy the remote is. The AA batteries mean that you can swap out batteries when the current ones die and you're not left with something to charge, but the fact that the headset works with all this stuff turned off seems to mitigate the usefulness of that feature. I'd rather have a lighter remote that I can charge up once in a while. The remote has a clip, but the remote itself is so heavy that I'd be surprised if it didn't stretch a shirt out permanently after a day's gaming session. The weight of it also makes me wish that the headset had shipped with a secondary cable that doesn't have the in-line remote for when I don't need those extra features.
It does include an extension cord and splitter for use with PCs, though, and doesn't require any software to make use of the features, since they're all handled through the remote.
I'll start out by saying that like most noise-canceling headphones, turning on the noise canceling function on the Pro AF headset does affect the sound. It cuts the top and bottom off of the treble and bass, pinching the sound a bit. If you've listened to mid-range noise-canceling headphones, the effect here is basically the same.
The headphones have two modes available – standard and bass-boosted. The bass-boosted mode really does amp up the bass on music and movies, while the standard mode is much flatter.
Speaking generally, I found the overall range of sound on the Pro AFs to be pretty disappointing. They don't get as loud as I'd like, and the instrument separation isn't great. Turning the bass boost on drowns out a lot of what detail there is, too. At higher volumes, the distortion gets pretty noticeable when I put them side-by-side with much-less-expensive headphones.
Listening side by side, music in general just doesn't feel very lively in comparison to something like my ATH M50x headphones. I wouldn't use these as dual-purpose cans at all. I listen to a lot of music, and they're just not very well-suited. They fare better in games, but even there I still prefer to keep the bass boost turned off because it just overpowers the sound. In a game like Doom it drowns out everything.
On the mic side of things, your mileage may vary, but I had my most frequent multiplayer partners ask me to switch back to my Logitech G Pro headset a couple times even if they could understand me fine.
The Victrix Pro AF headset has a lot of neat features. I really appreciate the simple controls and customization options for a stereo wired headset. Installing hardware is a hassle and, if you're pairing your headset with a console, it's not even an option. I love the sturdy build, the hard case, and I even like the ability to open the headset to get some air in. It's a neat, if niche, feature.
The rest of the headset I'm less keen on. It doesn't sound as good as a $300 headset should. The remote, for all its features, is clunky enough that I wouldn't want to wear the headset without a hoodie to stow the remote in. There's no way to use the headset without the remote connection, either.
If you dig the remote idea, though, you might want to give the headset a look. Nothing about it is bad – it's just a big price tag for what is essentially a pretty good headset.
Disclaimer: We received a review unit from the manufacturer and spent a few months using it on and off during gaming sessions before starting this review.
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