Compatibility: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, mobile
Drivers: 50 mm
Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
The Roccat Syn Pro Air demonstrates that at the end of the day, good sound quality is still the most important factor in a gaming headset. At the same time, even a headset that sounds great — which the Syn Pro Air does — is a tough recommendation when the fit, features and software functionality all fall short of the mark.
There’s no denying that the Roccat Syn Pro Air sounds great for games, music and multimedia alike, or that it has a great microphone, or that its USB-C functionality lets it connect easily to a PS5, handheld Switch or mobile phone without difficulty.
Still, my overall experience with the Roccat Syn Pro Air was not always pleasant. The buggy software doesn’t let you customize much, which means you’ll be stuck with loud, frequent, irritating notification tones. It’s tough to get a good fit, and even when you do, the Syn Pro Air squeezes pretty tightly. It doesn’t turn off by itself, or stay connected to Windows consistently, or let you use the volume dial on consoles. At $150, it’s an expensive headset, and yet it offers much less than competing models that cost the same.
The main problem with the Syn Pro Air is that a lot of it simply feels halfhearted, which is surprising, since Roccat has made some very decent gaming headsets in the past. Read our full Roccat Syn Pro Air review to learn if you should take a chance on this inconsistent peripheral.
Roccat Syn Pro Air review: Design
The Roccat Syn Pro Air, when it’s turned off, is a relatively unassuming gaming headset. It has a black plastic chassis with large fabric earcups and a removable mic. When you turn the headset on, it has some gorgeous RGB honeycomb designs on the earcups – but you’ll never see them while you’re playing, so they may not make much of a difference in practice.
On the right earcup, there’s a power button, a USB-C charging port and a dial that adjusts mic sidetone. On the left earcup, there’s a volume dial. That’s all. You can’t connect the Syn Pro Air to 3.5 mm audio jacks, and you can’t reprogram the dials to control other sound qualities, such as game/chat mix. The controls seem a little sparse, but they get the job done.
One thing that works about the Syn Pro Air is that it comes with both a USB-A wireless dongle and a USB-C adapter. This means that it fits easily into any laptop, desktop, PS4 or PS5. It also works with the Nintendo Switch in both handheld and docked modes, which is a rarity among wireless gaming headsets.
Roccat Syn Pro Air review: Comfort
The Roccat Syn Pro Air has a tight fit. After wearing it for just a few minutes, I was ready to take it off. Adjusting the peripheral doesn’t do much to alleviate this issue. This is partially because your adjustment window is very limited, and partially because the adjustment process itself is difficult. Instead of a steel or elastic band, the Syn Pro Air relies on rods on the headband that move up and down. They don’t stay in place well, and they’re not numbered, so finding your place if you put them back to their default setting is a tedious process.
The earcups themselves are plush and don’t press down too hard, at least. I wore the Syn Pro Air for the better part of a week at work, and I never experienced any pain, even when wearing them on top of my glasses. But over time, I did find myself wearing them less and less, content to go without music rather than having to deal with the pressure.
Roccat Syn Pro Air review: Performance
There’s one area where the Roccat Syn Pro Air really delivers, and that’s in its sound quality. I ran the gadget through Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, Doom Eternal, Baldur’s Gate III and Final Fantasy XIV, and was impressed with the audio across the board. The headset is equally good at rendering gunshots, dialogue and music. I felt fully immersed, whether I was listening to New World villagers acknowledge my commands to build more houses, or gunning down demons on a post-apocalyptic Earth.
Movies, TV and music sounded similarly good. Whether I was listening to Old Crow Medicine Show or Bach, the Syn Pro Air provided rich, nuanced sound that balanced bass and treble, as well as voices and instruments. The over-the-top dialogue in an episode of Dragon Ball Z came through crisp and clear, as did the more subtle performances in a clip from O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Syn Pro Air also functions with consoles and mobile devices, which I put to the test with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Switch, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on PS5 and Tales of Crestoria on Android. The audio sounded robust across the board — although the Syn Pro Air’s volume dial did not function with either the Switch or the PS5. This meant that I had to root through a series of tedious menus each time I wanted to adjust console volume. Most other wireless headsets don’t make you jump through this hoop, and I’m not sure why the Syn Pro Air does.
Roccat Syn Pro Air review: Features
While I have no complaints about the Roccat Syn Pro Air’s sound quality or versatility, the Roccat Neon software leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike other Roccat gadgets, which run on the passable Roccat Swarm software, the Syn Pro Air uses a program called Neon, which is still in beta. It’s a shame that there’s no way to run the Syn Pro Air through Swarm, because there’s still a lot that Neon can’t do.
First and foremost, Neon is very confusing to install. After I downloaded it, it told me that I had to download an update for the Syn Pro Air, shortly before insisting that the headset was already up to date. After restarting the program, it told me that I had to download yet another update, at which point it froze up. After I restarted the program, I never heard another word about updating either the software or the firmware, leaving me pretty confused about the whole process.
The bigger issue, however, is that Neon simply doesn’t do that much. While you can turn 3D audio on and off and adjust some equalization settings, you can’t set up individual profiles for games and other apps. You can’t adjust the incredibly loud, obnoxious notification tones, which play multiple times whenever you start up and shut down the device. You can’t adjust the mic sidetone, which is at the mercy of the physical dial. You can’t even set a timer to turn the device off after a period of inactivity, which means the Syn Pro Air will stay on until you turn it off, or until it runs out of batteries. (Roccat claims the device can last up to 24 hours on a single charge, although I got much less than that with the lights turned on.)
Leaving the Syn Pro Air on leads to its own set of problems, however. After a while, the Neon software simply stops recognizing the headset. That means you can no longer adjust volume, use the microphone or change any of the software settings. Even after you restart the headset, the Neon software will claim that there are no devices connected. You’ll simply have to turn the Syn Pro Air off manually every time you step away from your PC for a few minutes, which can be a pain.
I spoke with a representative from Roccat, who told me that the company is aware of these issues, and working to address them.
The Syn Pro Air’s microphone is good, at least. When speaking with my coworkers over video chat, they claimed the quality was “excellent,” optimizing my voice and minimizing background noise.
Roccat Syn Pro Air review: Verdict
The Roccat Syn Pro Air sounds very good, and that’s of paramount importance for a gaming headset. However, it’s also hard to wear, hard to use and hard to justify, considering that you can get some truly excellent headsets for $150. The SteelSeries Arctis 7P/7X, for example, is compatible with many more systems, and has excellent software. The $120 Astro A20 Gaming Headset V2 also has excellent wireless functionality, and no cumbersome software to drag down the experience.
Since many of the Syn Pro Air’s issues stem from the Neon Software, it’s possible that the headset will improve over time. I hope it does, since the sound quality speaks for itself. If not, though, we’ll have to wait for the next Roccat headset, and a stable software release.