There are certainly cheaper gaming headsets (opens in new tab) out there, but few carry the cool factor of the Victrix Pro AF ANC with such bold glee. Bright purple streaks flashing through cold, dark black on each cup, the bright coiled cable erupting from the top of each ear, the flurry of levers and clips that adorn the sides - this headset doesn't shy away from the gamer aesthetic.
That's not to say you're picking up a set of flashy headphones with no guts, however. There's a strong sound profile in here, with well-balanced audio across the mid ranges and a deep clarity that can amplify even the quietest aspects of an atmosphere. Add active noise cancellation and a lightweight, gorgeously designed build, and you'll understand why this particular headset sits in the premium category.
For some, the physical design of the Victrix Pro AF ANC will make or break a decision. Carrying a name like Pro AF, it was always going to be obvious that this Victrix headset will offer up some bolder design choices. The purple hues and strikingly chunky design, however, do well to stay clear of gaudiness. There's something about the bubble-like shape, with a simple but vibrant purple exploding from an almost bottom-less black makes this feel less like an RGB-laden headset, and one that achieves the sense of techno-aesthetic many more overloaded models aspire to. Look after the black plastic of the cups and you'll have a stunning headset sitting on your desk, but pick them up without your cleaning cloth ready and you'll find smudges and fingerprints instantly appear. It's a small price to pay for a glossy look, and one we're all used to paying by now, but it's worth noting you'll want to keep your mits clean for the full effect.
Not only does the Victrix Pro AF sit exceedingly well on the head thanks to a sturdy aluminium frame with firm leather cupping the ears. This leather has a little more give than others, allowing for a more moulded fit that seems to glue itself tightly to the side of the head, while still cradling without an ear pinch. With all the active noise cancellation and audio smarts going on under the hood, you'd be forgiven for being wary of those thick leather cups. Cooling doesn't seem like a design feature you'd ask for in a gaming headset, but it's definitely necessary here. Two small levers allow the cup to flip open and air out any excess heat, but the quick action also serves as a sharp snap back to reality if you need to hear your surroundings once more.
If you're looking at the Victrix Pro AF ANC headphones, there are several features you've probably already got your eye on. The most instantly recognisable is the active noise cancellation that works oh so hard to keep you focused on the game at hand. And that work pays off, as well. Activating the ANC mode instantly draws you out of the room and into the soundscape of whatever adventure you're diving into. Working in tandem with a gorgeously detailed soundscape, the noise cancellation is certainly powerful, blocking out all but the loudest of sounds in your environment, and even then dampening such intrusions with fantastic precision. Plus, unclipping the cups offers a quick respite from all that immersion should mundane reality come knocking.
Volume, noise cancellation, and mic settings are controlled via the most unique feature in the Pro AF's repertoire - a small remote control attached to the cable itself. Though not touch screen, you won't have any difficulty flicking through the intuitive menus, and it's refreshing not to have to memorise button and dial placements on the side of your head.
That said, things can get a little fiddly in the heat of the moment - quickly adjusting mic or ANC settings isn't as streamlined as it would be if such controls were mounted on the headset, but at the same time it's far easier than heading into a separate program on your PC to do so. The handset itself can off-balance the weight of the headset ever so slightly when hanging by your side, but it's easy to slide the panel up and down the cord itself, and it's nothing you'll notice after even half an hour of play time.
These aren't wireless headphones, so while you'll be tethered to your desktop, you'll have reliable, and incredibly powerful audio at your disposal. It's a small drawback for how much the Victrix Pro AF's actually improve the gameplay experience, but if you don't want to have to slip them on and off to move around it's something worth noting considering the price you're paying here. Once they are on, though, you'll immediately recognise the depth of each footstep in Resident Evil 3, and the Mars-shattering screeches of Doom Eternal will leave you reeling.
The bass isn't particularly heavy here, leaving plenty of room for some neatly well balanced mid-ranges. Many would consider that reserved bass effort a benefit considering the recent onslaught of crackle-heavy headsets often found at much lower prices. That said, you're not getting the bottom-less boom of some of the best Doom tracks, and while the amplification of every creak will increase the lethality of your Resi heart attack, you can certainly pick that performance up for less. It's good, but not industry leading. That said, there are two sound profiles to choose from - one that treats audio as it comes, and another that boosts your bass, and the latter does serve some of the heavier portions of a demon-infested hellscape better.
Due to the wired connection, you won't have to worry about your audio losing battery power half way through a critical session. However, the small remote attached to the cable does take a AAA battery - remember those? It's a little frustrating to learn that you'll likely have to pick up some batteries for your $300 gaming headset, but that pack won't have to be replaced, as there's very little power going into the display here.
If you're in it for the long haul, those ventilated ear cups may sound like a cooling breath of fresh air, and in practice they do offer some relief from the heat that can build up under all that tech. The closed back design and considerable stack of features all whirring away inside this headset do generate some considerable thermal power, however - more than others without this ventilation feature. It's not a function you'll find regularly on a gaming headset, but the Victrix's creators have obviously found a way to mitigate the side effects of the sheer power they've packed into these cans and, though a little fiddly, you'll be grateful for their foresight.
Overall - should you buy?
There's no doubt about it, this is a premium gaming headset. You're picking up powerful noise cancellation with rich, well defined audio quality that serves a multitude of game styles well. Plus, a unique set of master controls, ventilation, and compatibility with PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC all offer pretty compelling reasons to buy the Victrix Pro AF ANC headset. Audiophiles may be a little let down by general sound performance - there's little difference to be found between a $200 set and this $300 offering, but the inclusion of those extra features could certainly be enough to tip the scales in the favor of this particular price tag. If you're looking for excellent audio, a unique design philosophy, and a whole wad of extra tech features, you won't be let down here.
Note: stock is increasingly difficult to find nowadays. Many store are only listing the PS4 or Xbox models, but they don't feature the ANC. We have seen some stock of the Victrix Pro AF ANC at Amazon US (opens in new tab) or direct from Victrix.