I'll be honest — I wasn't sure if I should take the Victrix Pro AF ANC headset seriously, because, well, it has the term "Pro AF" in its name. But this premium $299 esports headset lives up to its silly moniker, delivering a slick and supremely comfortable design, rich audio quality and neat innovations such as active noise cancellation and ventilated ear cups. While its microphone could use some improvement, the Pro AF is one of the best gaming headsets for serious competitive gamers that don't mind paying a premium.
Sporting a curvy black aluminum frame, the Victrix Pro AF ANC is a bold, unmistakably premium-looking headset that finds a nice balance between gaudy and slick.
I'm an especially big fan of the headset's splashes of purple, from the U-shaped LED strips on each ear cup to the phone-cord-esque wires that run throughout the headband. I've reviewed dozens of gaming headsets, and I can confidently say that I've never seen one that looks like the Pro AF (and I mean that in a good way).
But the Pro AF's design isn't just meant to look fancy — it's also packed with features. The most notable one is the headset's built-in cooling system, which allows you to expand each ear cup with the flip of a switch and let some extra air in during those especially heated gaming sessions. It's a neat trick that I've yet to see on other headsets (though HP's new Mindframe headset has its own cooling mechanism), even if I've yet to notice a massive change in temperature when opening the cans up. That's largely because the Pro AF has yet to make my ears too hot to begin with.
My one gripe with the Pro AF's design is the microphone, which is permanently tethered to the headset's removable cable. While it's easy enough to flip the microphone upward and ignore it when you don't need chat, there's no option to remove the mic without unplugging the headset entirely. What I do like about the mic is its swappable faceplate — while the headset only comes with one alternative plate (the word "first" written in graffiti), I could see this coming in handy for folks who, say, want to rock their esports team's logo on the front of their mic.
As a nice bonus, the Pro AF comes with a sturdy, hard-shell carrying case, which leaves ample room for both the headset and all of its requisite cables, as well as a cleaning cloth for removing smudges. The headset's swiveling ear cups can also be folded flat, should you prefer to stick them right in your bag.
An esports headset is useless if it can't be worn for hours on end, and fortunately, the Pro AF is an absolute delight on the ears. The headset's thick, faux-leather ear cups feel snug without being too tight, and its 11.2-ounce frame feels pleasantly lightweight, despite its sturdy aluminum construction. I've used the Pro AF as my everyday work and play headset for the better part of three days and have yet to get the urge to take them off.
If you need to adjust the Pro AF, each ear cup can be raised or lowered about 5 inches up or down. While I generally prefer the auto-adjusting suspension designs found in headsets such as the SteelSeries Arctis 7, the Pro AF's smooth, slidable metal yokes made it easy to find the right fit.
Active Noise Cancellation
As its name suggests, the Victrix Pro AF ANC sports active noise-cancellation technology: a feature common on high-end headphones but almost nonexistent in the gaming space. As long as the Pro AF's in-line control box is powered up (more on that later), you can block out a good chunk of the outside world with the press of a button — and for the most part, it works pretty well.
I work in a noisy newsroom, and while the Pro AF's ANC wasn't able to completely drown out the voices of my energetic colleagues, it did dampen them quite a bit while also muting the noisy New York streets right outside my window. With ANC activated, nearby chatter sounds like it's coming from a distant intercom rather than right next to me, which is a strange quirk, but one that at least lowers the noise volume of those around you.
I passed the Pro AF to our resident high-end headphone expert Sherri L. Smith, who found the ANC impressive for a gaming headset ("It's not Bose good, but it's good," she says) but also pointed out the strange, intercom-like effect. It's worth noting that you can't adjust the intensity of the Pro AF's ANC, so what you hear is what you get.
The Pro AF's ANC is one of many features powered by the headset's in-line controller (which Victrix dubbs the ILC). The battery-powered box is about the size of a Roku remote (complete with the same purple highlights), and features an LCD screen as well as a variety of buttons for adjusting things on the fly such as ANC, volume and mic gain.
The Pro AF keeps things simple, with just two sound profiles that you can adjust from the ILC: a balanced mode, as well as one that goes heavy on the low end. You can also use the ILC to adjust the headset's ear-cup lighting (bright, dim or off), as well as toggle mic monitoring so that you can hear yourself talk. The ILC features a handy clip, allowing you to, say, attach it to your pants pocket for easy access to the in-line controls.
The ILC requires two AA batteries to function (the headset comes with four), and, unfortunately, can't be charged via micro USB (though there is a micro USB port for firmware updates). After three days of fairly heavy use on my first batch of batteries, my ILC's battery indicator is a little under 50 percent.
That's pretty solid endurance, but expect to be swapping batteries every few days if you use the control box a lot. Fortunately, with the control box off, the Pro AF still functions as an analog headset — you just won't get ANC and sound/mic customization.
The Pro AF's rich feature set is backed up by incredibly impressive gaming audio. Victrix'sheadset handles everything from tiny environmental details to all-out explosions with excellent clarity, making it a great companion for competitive games in which hearing your opponents coming is key.
The Pro AF was an excellent showpiece for the rich sound design of Injustice 2. When battling it out in a superhuman prison, I noticed tiny background details that I typically don't, from the whizzing of robotic cranes to the thumping of an imprisoned Superman banging on glass. More importantly, the actual fighting sounded great — Robin's sword slices and ninja stars whizzed with appropriate sharpness, and every punch and kick resonated with a satisfying amount of bassy oomph.
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Victrix's headset proved even more crucial during a few rounds of Fortnite: Battle Royale. The Pro AF made it easy to pinpoint where enemy footsteps and gunfire were coming from and allowed me to track down the game's valuable treasure chests by sound. I'm not gonna say that the Pro AF made me a better Fortnite player, but I typically die within the first few minutes of a match, and I made the top 20 when using it.
Microphone and Cables
The Pro AF's long, flexible boom microphone offers decent clarity, but also picks up a good deal of background noise. My voice sounded crisp and distinguishable in the recordings I took with the headset, but the recording was accompanied by a very noticeable hissing sound — even with the mic gain turned all the way down. Your teammates will likely have no problem hearing you on the Pro AF — just don't expect to make any high-quality recordings with this thing.
The headset includes a generous 3-foot extension cable as well as a PC splitter cable with dedicated headphone and mic jacks, so you should have no problem hooking it up to any setup.
If you're willing to pay a premium for a high-end gaming headset built with competition in mind, the Victrix Pro AF delivers. These $299 cans look and feel great, offer excellent audio quality and serve up impressive active noise cancellation, as well as some neat extras like ear ventilation and customizable mic plates. The headset's only glaring flaw is its microphone, which isn't easy to remove and is fuzzier than I'd like it to be.
It's also worth noting that there are lots of great alternatives in this price range. If you prefer to go wireless, the $299 Astro A50 and $249 Razer Thresher Ultimate both serve up excellent cord-free sound. If hi-res audio as well as deep sound customization is your thing, check out the $249 SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC. But if you're looking for a great-sounding, great-feeling headset tuned specifically for competitive gaming, the Victrix Pro AF ANC lives up to its ridiculous name.