XPG is relatively new in the gaming audio peripheral game and by that we mean they’ve released only a handful of earphones, much them haven’t had the success that XPG is trying to duplicate with its rival HyperX with their first venture into the headphone market with the Cloud a couple of years ago. Still, the company is pushing forward and today we have one of their most innovative releases since the EMIX H30 + SOLOX F30. That release was a very bold statement for XPG and showed they were ready to release products that are not necessarily mainstream, but fits their branding as XPG. It was a very daring attempt, one we appreciate but it was too excessive.
Fast forward to 2019 and the the new XPG Precog. This headset features a more conservative offering but sound quality promises to be more impeccable and varied. Thanks to a dual driver setup which sees a traditional dynamic driver and electrostatic driver come together to bring a definitely appealing gaming headset that sounds good but also feels good thanks to a nice, lighter frame. But let’s not get a head of ourselves, read on to find out more about the Precog in this review.
● Dual Drivers including (Electrostatic and Dynamic)
● Hi-Res Audio Certified
● Built-in FPS / Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound / Music Modes
● Environmental Noise Cancellation Technology for Microphone
● Ergonomic Ear Cushions & Auto-Adjust Band
● Rotatable Ear Cups
● Cross-Platform Compatibility
XPG follows what most game accessory maker do with their packaging: use the actual carry case as the package. This is exactly what the Precog comes in so technically there’s no unboxing experience, you just get to slide the slip-on label and there’s your product. The label shows some info including the driver placements and what cables are included.
The carrying case itself serves as the bulk of the package features a tough, hard exterior with a soft, lined interior. The case zips open and close and shows us a snug fit compartment for the Precog headsets as well as pockets for the cables and a larger pocket for your knickknacks and the mic as well as documentations for the Precog.
The package inclusions, as already mentioned includes a total of nearly 6 meters of cabling: two control dongles 1 for each connection type and an extension for each. BAlso included is the microphone boom.
Basically we get, a USB Type-C to Type-C inline controller, a 3.5mm TRRS to TRRS jack and the extensions include a USB Type C Female to Type A Male and we get a 3.5mm Y-splitter cable as well.
And here we have the XPG Precog headset itself. Design is very reminiscent of Grado Labs headphones but has an appeal unique to the Precog. Much of the body is done in black with the aluminum retention on the frames in dark smoke aluminum. The XPG logo adds a dash of red as well as the stitching on the one size fits all headband.
The earcups can swivel 180* so you can swing them front or back.
The retention frame holding the headband is made of aluminum and is done in aluminium. Its a sturdy part of the entire assembly.
The rest of the headband uses a one-size-fits-all style headband with a dual arc design.
XPG uses relatively nice cushions on the ear cups and the leather feels good. We didn’t really have a nice experience with the EMIX before so I have good hopes for this one.
The foam used is soft and the indent molds nice around the ear. Its quite small though and people who have irregularly large ears may find it a bit lacking in cover their ears.
The inner headband which supports the head comes in with a firmer foam but nothing too stiff.
The left earcup serves as the hub for the connectors. Here we have the mic port, the 3.5mm audio jack and the USB Type C port for the Precog.
I’ve actually never tested the Precog with both jacks plugged in and I’m kinda tempted now but regardless, here’s a look at how that looks like.
Here’s a shot of the dongles you get with the Precog: the USB Type C dongle serves as the main option here as it has all the feature of the headset with the 3.5mm option serving as a multi-purpose use connector for mobiles and consoles.
The Precog features lighting when connected via USB. This is for illustration purposes only as sadly, the USB Type C support doesn’t work on mobile in my end. Tested with both Huawei P30 Pro and iPad Pro 11″. XPG has reached out to us to re-test with an iPad Pro and I have overlooked the cable is in reverse which produced the error. We rescind our previous statement and do confirm the iPad Pro works with the XPG Precog and quite nicely as expected as well. Sadly, the Huawei P30 Pro still doesn’t play as it is not a Huawei Digital Audio USB device.
User Experience & Conclusion
So let’s dive right in and share with you how this baby performs but let’s get pricing out of the way first. At $250, this is a pricey headset but one that comes in the territory of electrostatic drivers. Electrostatic drivers are just starting to make its way into mainstream listening equipment and they are priced rather premium. Electrostatic have been around for awhile and besides planar and dynamic drivers, and has actually been around for a while. The beauty of electrostatic drivers is its directly the same technology as the ones used in condenser microphones. The technology is quite renowned for its ability to reproduce detail but its main downside is it is very expensive to make and inability to have substantial bass due to the nature of how it works. That said, bass plays a major part in gaming so most applications that we see of electrostatic drivers actually use a mix of dynamic and electrostatic drivers.
Before the Precog, the thought of electrostatic headphones for gaming never really hit me so when I saw that this uses electrostatic, I didn’t know what to expect. So going over sound quality, we’ll go over listening over USB Type C first. So we’re doing some listening first switching from Kpop to Metal to Jrock. I have to agree to with most people that swear by electrostatics, the detail is just so good on these headsets. The vocals are detailed and full bodied. With the dynamic drivers doing bass, its good enough to compliment the details of the electrostatic drivers. Moving on to games, we fire up Call of Duty Modern Warfare in the Piccadilly mission. Shots firing all directions make this a good playing ground for the directional rendering of the Precog and to try that FPS mode. Switching between FPS mode and the other modes, makes it clear the FPS mode uses the dual drivers to its advantage shutting off the dynamic drivers to project a more heightened audio spectrum for directionality. Depending on the game, its a really nice way to hear foot steps and shots from midrange but anything that resembles a low hum like a frag behind walls from far away might get filtered out.
Plugging in the 3.5mm audio is a different story. As its more reliant on your audio card, you’ll need to have a decent one to match the output quality when in USB mode of the Precog. Still, this wholly depends on your setup but overall audio is reliable enough. The same goes when using the Precog in mobiles and consoles.
There’s a certain thickness to the earcups that one would expect the Precog to be heavy or uncomfortable and after a few hours of testing, normal sweating was my only trace that’ve been using a headset. The earcup cushions are very comfortable and there’s no lack of support in the headband frame.
So in closing, this is easily XPG’s best release coming off the COMPUTEX release line and arguably one of the best headsets we tested all year. In a market where everyone is gloating about experience and quality, its nice to see a brand step up and take a new spin on things. XPG has really outdone themselves with the Precog and if you’re in the market for a great gaming and listening headset, the XPG Precog is an easy recommendation and while pricing right now is all over the place, the majority of which are selling the Precog a lower price of $129 or so making it a few bucks more expensive than the HyperX Cloud, but a whole another level in sound quality. Its not everyday I can knock the HyperX Cloud in terms of recommendation, but the XPG Precog gaming headset is easily a top contender for the best gaming headset.