AceZone A-Spire headset review: Masterful gaming experience
The cheaper AceZone model might not look the part among gaming headsets, but it shows a true evolution for the increasingly rote hardware segment.
There’s a lot of care that goes into each product from AceZone. After sitting down with them in Copenhagen and being wowed by both the A-Rise and its production headset, A-Live, surely it couldn’t be a hattrick.
Designed with esports in mind, we set out to see how far we could push the A-Spire. With the A-Rise offering an unparalleled esports experience, does AceZone have offerings for the general consumer, too?
Well, the Denmark-based company has upended everything that we know about what we want out of a gaming headset.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB-C, 3.5mm jack
- Driver diameter: 40mm
- Frequency response: 20Hz – 20 kHz
- Weight: 270g
- Compatibility: PC, Mac, Linux, Bluetooth devices, Steam Deck
- Features: Noise cancelation, flip to mute microphone
- Price: $319 (ex. VAT)
The A-Spire isn’t exactly the most gorgeous of products, bearing a similar design to older office equipment from Logitech or Microsoft. This isn’t a necessarily bad thing, as its functional look plays a large part in how the A-Spire works.
AceZone’s main selling point is its exceptional noise canceling, which is done through multiple methods. Not only are you getting traditional active noise cancelation, but the cups are designed to utilize your skull to clamp down on any potential sound leakage. This is backed up by a closed-back design, encasing you within the audio.
So while the overall look is quite bland, the goals of its design is to ensure the best noise canceling possible.
With this said, the headset is incredibly comfortable for long periods of time. Not once did the tight fit ever weigh heavy, or begin to dig into the scalp over long gaming sessions. It’s made better with soft padding that allowed us to play through a vast majority of games without ever really noticing the gear.
Small things go a long way
We’re also a big fan of one very simple fix for a major sticking point we have with gaming headsets. Microphones are often left to linger in the peripheral vision. Those with flip-to-mute headsets – like the A-Spire – can also begin to lose the necessary friction to keep things in place. AceZone, however, has simply added a small plastic clip to keep the microphone placed.
It’s the little things like the clip that makes the A-Spire a great example of not going overboard with this type of product. The hardware inside is what really matters, how it looks while on your head and playing games is the least of your concerns.
Small things like a clip, or providing a colored indicator for which way the microphone is supposed to face are all hallmarks of excellence in design.
The AceZone A-Spire is, on the surface, a fairly barebones affair. Noise cancelation, comfortable headset, and a microphone. However, it might be one of the best headsets we’ve used. While the audio is a little flat, this can be easily adjusted with the app. It’s not a fault of the device, but more of AceZone’s technology taking center stage.
Audio and EQs
AceZone’s A-Rise and A-Live headsets allow users to hear a much wider sound space than is typically available in competing headsets. In games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, steps from other players, or gunshots from across the map can be heard “earlier” simply due to the way it processes sound. It’s not cheating, it’s simply using the software that’s always been available in-game since 2012 to its fullest potential.
The flatter audio provides a more accurate listening experience for those deeply entrenched in the esports scene. It means that the sound won’t be skewed in favor of “sounding better”, and better represents the original audio.
This all carries over to the A-Spire, which routinely surprised us with what we could hear. We didn’t perform better at Apex Legends with the technology, but we found that checking corners was much easier with the headset.
It manages this through a custom driver, billed at 40mm rather than the traditional 50mm you’d find in leading headsets. This smaller, custom driver, combined with the algorithm and sound dampening continued to impress with what it was picking up during gameplay.
For typical games, there are a few presets in the app that sound great, and being able to change these on the fly while connected elsewhere, is a boon. Each preset brings these up to par with some other leading HyperX, or Razer headsets, while the app does let you get as weird with the EQs as you’d like.
It’s a great implementation of software, pushing it off the PC and onto another device via Bluetooth. Bloatware has become commonplace, with too many manufacturers requiring PC-based software. The app is smooth, even when in beta, it never failed to do its job.
Backing all of this is AceZone’s noise cancelation technology. Impressive doesn’t begin to cover it, as the A-Spire headset routinely prevented us from hearing anything when at louder volumes.
Noise cancelation and dampening
The dampening isn’t as good as the A-Rise though. Some sound can begin to leak through, and with building work happening nearby, we found that the materials used were possibly the case.
The A-Rise clamps you into a sound barrier, with nothing getting in. The A-Spire is significantly smaller than its counterpart and made with slightly cheaper materials. While it’s a premium device through and through, it is very much plastic based rather than incorporating metal.
This unfortunately means that in some conditions – loud music from a speaker or nearby building work – that external sound can begin to seep in. This was still rare, and it was our first usage of the headset outside of AceZone’s offices that convinced us that these were special.
While on a flight, we noticed the earbuds we use had run out of battery. Awkwardly unboxing the A-Spire in the cramped spot gave way to a demo that AceZone probably can’t always replicate.
One of the co-founders of the company, Soren Louis Pederson, claimed to have used the headset while taking a seaplane. To put that to the test, we thought a noisy RyanAir flight would be a suitable comparison.
For two hours on a plane, there was nothing but a faint rumble. We were able to focus on our show, while the sounds around us melted away. Passing through Manchester airport was less hellish, and even caused some concern from a member of staff who couldn’t make it through the noise canceling.
All this noise cancelation carries over to the microphone as well. While not exactly an impressive-sounding microphone, it does the job for voice chat. What is impressive is the fact that it mutes nearly everything that isn’t your voice.
By turning the microphone to the correct position, the various algorithms and hardware onboard filter out leaks, cutting through the noise. Inside is three different microphones, all designed to ensure you get the best noise cancelation possible. In our testing, which included the plane, we found it to never truly falter.
For esports, the A-Spire is only bested by its much more expensive brother, the A-Rise. Nothing can compete with the A-Rise’s noise canceling and overall sound for esports. Each time we pop into a new esports title, whether it be Valorant or Call of Duty, we’re impressed by just how much the A-Spire can do.
This, as we mentioned before, bleeds over into other games. Certain titles don’t really benefit from the tech, but being able to focus on Diablo IV without the constant nagging of the outside world is always a bonus.
The A-Spire really shines in FPS games, where the soundscape has been developed specifically around being able to get the drop on enemies through it.
We played some of the new retro-inspired shooter Hrot with them, which intensified the aura of spookiness it emits. Being able to hear the gas mask horse before it showed up on the screen was terrifying. Meanwhile in things like Half-Life 2, turning down the music and listening to the ambience created an almost new experience entirely. Hearing the results of your grenade toss and the ensuing footsteps helped seal the deal.
However, the bonus here is that the lightweight design makes it just this perfectly easy headset to pop on and get straight into the action with – regardless of your game.
The Verdict: 5/5
The AceZone A-Spire is an incredible headset, one that pushes the boundaries of the norm with some killer technology. The high cost of the headset is offset by the sheer amount of technology embedded within it. While $359 is a high asking price to invest in, for a lot of people this headset could very well be their last.
It’s exceptionally comfortable to wear, and the flexibility through the app is an added bonus to bring it in line with its headset rivals. Every aspect of it means that any user can dive in, without the expectation that you’re going to be playing esports. Just because you’re not in the trenches, doesn’t mean that you won’t find some benefit from AceZone’s design.