Tech Review: PDP Afterglow Prismatic Wireless Gaming Headset

PDP Afterglow Prismatic Black Box The fine folks at Performance Designed Products (or PDP for short) have taken their Afterglow Wireless Headset, significantly improved its looks and fit, added in a few features and overall, have made a superior product in the Afterglow Prismatic Wireless Gaming Headset.

Featuring a sturdy redesign and the ability to connect (via an included cable) to any device with a standard headphone jack (as well as any TV or video game console with the proper audio out) plus a wireless dongle that allows it to be used for PC, PS3/PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, the Prismatic is a great and very affordable ($99.99) first model, replacement for that standard company headset or any model headphones that aren’t quite as flexible as what PDP has crafted…

The company wants users to be able to use this straight out of the box with little fuss, so they include a nice set of accessories bundled with the headphones. In addition to the wireless receiver, there’s a cable with your standard 3.5mm male audio jack along with PS3 and Xbox audio cables. If you own an older model Xbox 360 and want to use this headset, PDP will mail you a free cable at their expense (which is awesome, by the way), but you can probably still use the headphones anyway if your TV has an audio out or headphone jack. The one caveat to the included 3.5mm cable is it’s a bit short, which works fine if you’re using them for a home PC, laptop, handheld system, phone or tablet. As I happen to have a box of assorted audio and video cables here, I ended up digging out a 9-foot extension cable so I could try the phones out as a wired unit before going wireless.

Of course, most users will prefer to use these as a wireless set for online gaming, so I can safely report that wired use or wireless, these headphones are absolutely great…

Specs, if you need them (from PDP’s site):

2.4gHz wireless communication powered by the latest Avnera technology offering up to 100 feet in range

Pre-paired with the wireless transmitter for easy setup

Digital audio signal processor with custom engineered algorithms to provide three distinct audio modes:

Pure Audio: Hear everything exactly as the game designers intended

Bass Boost: Higher bass response providing more visceral sound experience

Immersive: Virtual surround sound delivering precise directionality

Flexible retractable mic boom for optimal microphone placement with integrated 3 color led light to indicate audio modes

Dual (audio and chat) volume dials, large mute button and audio mode select button are conveniently located on the headset’s left ear cup

Prismatic Color Select LED lighting: Customize Afterglow’s signature light effects. Select your favorite color lighting from a range of over 2400 different colors.

When the box arrived and I cracked it open, I didn’t rush for my newer systems at all. Instead, the first things I tried it out with were a few electronics I had lying around that used your basic headphone jack: My PSP, N-Gage QD, an old cassette player and a Nintendo DS. Hey, PDP included that extra cable for a reason, folks. Anyway, everything sounded great and powerful through those headphones, but I’m gathering most of you want to know how well they perform with more modern equipment. Well, I’ll spare you the suspense and say they’re outstanding on any console I used it with. Wii U users, listen up- you’ll need to connect these through the GamePad for best results and yes indeed, they sound fantastic.

You’ll need to pore through the slim manual carefully to make sure you’ve got the best means of connecting the included wireless receiver and once everything is set up, you’ll be immersed in your games or other media much better than with any standard set of headphones. As I live across the street from a Con Edison power plant (boo!) one tiny issue I have with any wireless headphones I use here is a very slight humming sound that’s only noticeable if I put on headphones before firing up a game or movie. Of course, the game and movie audio itself was crystal clear and the Afterglow’s ear cups do a grand job of killing outside noise (as they should). I have an old analog set here as well as a not so new HDTV and on both, the headphones worked like a champ.

PDP clearly knows what they’re doing because I decided to go REALLY old school and break out my Sega Genesis, 3DO and a few other well-aged consoles that had a headphone jack and yup, the Prismatic brought new life to those old games. I ended up spending the better part of two days going through a few stacks of games from the library, some of which I’d never used a set of headphones with previously and that made for a great idea mixed with a bad one because I ended up getting LESS work done because I was trying out too many games and doing little else. In the past, I’ve tested out a few gamer headsets before this one and while impressed with some models, the single console or limited use focus on some made them less desirable. PDP’s Prismatic is definitely the current king of the gamer headset pack because it’s simple to set up, sounds like it costs a hundred dollars (or more) than what it does and even better, is built to last.

As far as online play, the microphone is also great, an extendable and flexible unit that lights up and yes, makes you look even more like a character from a sci-fi flick or anime. I actually LOVE the lighting effect because if someone pops into the room you’re playing in, there’s a good chance they won’t interrupt you because they can see you’re occupied. Apparently, some users complained about the constant glow effect, so with this model, you can turn the lights off entirely (but still have a cool-looking pair of headphones on your head). I tend to play alone at home when I use headphones, so it doesn’t matter if they were hot pink and had flames shooting out to me. If the sound is As good as it is here, I’m rocking these until I keel over in front of my TV or monitor, folks.

A friend who popped by because I’d told him I’d gotten these to review wanted to test them out because he had bought the previous model and liked it, but felt it had a few faults. Based on his input, it seems that PDP has redesigned the headband to be more comfortable, the lighting can be turned off or custom tailored this time out and the Prismatic is lighter and has a much cooler overall look. Of course, I had to practically tackle him when he tried to leave with the headphones still on his head as a “joke”. I’d have probably given them to him, but I needed to write up and post this review so he left empty-handed. Well, for another few weeks, as it’s his birthday in late August and he noted he doesn’t mind “gently used headphones”. Yeah, well… we’ll see. I may have to tell his wife to buy him a brand new pair because I don’t think these aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

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