Unless you’re a super-audiophile, gaming headsets are much of a muchness. They need to tick a few essential boxes, sure, but as long as they get the basics right, there isn’t much that can go wrong. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t scope for innovation and improvement, though, and PDP have had a good shot at bringing a couple of new features to the table with their Afterglow Karga headset for Xbox One.
The “glow” part of the name refers to the outer part of the ear cups. They light up either blue or green, depending on which colour you chose to buy. A switch on PDPs own built-in stereo headset adapter (so you don’t need to buy the official one to use them) switches the lights on and off. Now, we’re no strangers to fashion, but we have to say that there’s very little benefit to having a headset that lights up. When you’re wearing them, you can’t see the lights, so they’re totally for show. And, of course, for draining your controller batteries like there’s no tomorrow.
With the bling out of the way, the Afterglow Karga headset is actually a very competent piece of kit. The sound, whilst being a little bit bass-heavy at times, is generally stellar. The own-brand stereo headset adapter seems to work well for the most part, although there was the odd occasion with our review unit where the “volume up” control just refused to do anything unless you held down the “game” or “chat” mix buttons as you pressed it. Most importantly in our eyes though, is the comfort. These headphones are far more comfortable than others we’ve tried, most notably when compared to Turtle Beach’s flagship XO Four and XO Seven sets. After a long playing session, you don’t get that sudden rush of sharp pain when you remove your headphones, as if you’ve been playing with tin cans rubber-banded to your head. That’s a godsend. It should be noted that they feature a 3.5mm port and cable, so that you can use them with other devices, too.
In terms of innovation, the built-in microphone is a really nice idea. Other sets come with detachable or fixed microphones that work well enough, but the Afterglow Karga set comes with a retractable mic that you just pull out of the base of the left ear cup when you want to use it. If you don’t want to use it, just push it back into place and it’s all but hidden, although still prominent enough that you can extend it without things getting fiddly. The mic works well too, with very clear results no matter how quietly you’re talking. We’re not massive fans of the way the mic feeds back into the headset, though, but that’s going to be down to personal preference. If it isn’t something that your current headset does (most don’t) then it’ll take some getting used to. It certainly isn’t a deal-breaker.
When it comes to price, you’re looking at $99.99 for this set, which means it isn’t the cheapest on the block. We reckon that the lights could be stripped out of the deal to make it cheaper as they really, really are not necessary. Other than that though, we’d say that the Afterglow Kargas are a relatively decent buy that feature some nice little touches.