If you’re like me, you would never have heard of the company EKSA. This Hong Kong based company makes some surprisingly good gaming headsets like the E900 Pro — which is one of the best headsets I’ve ever used. And they cost a wallet friendly AUD $70(US$50) while putting to shame far more expensive known brand sets. So I never hesitated when they asked if I’d like to review their new, lightweight Air Joy Pro 7.1. These new sets are smaller, lighter and some how even cheaper at AUD $55(US$40). But the reality is, in the world of headphones, cheaper you get the worse they get. So how does the EKSA Air Joy Pro 7.1 compare to its excellent big brother?
Well, it’s bit of a mixed bag.
EKSA Air Joy Pro 7.1 Review
The Air Joy Pro 7.1 are a lightweight, on-ear gaming headset designed for both PC and mobile use. At only 162g, the Air Joys are pretty damn light. EKSA has shed a lot to make it this light and it shows — though not in the best way. It’s an all plastic frame with a very thin headband. The build feels flimsy and the design is kinda awful. Just look at the garish red, claw slashes printed on the ear cups. And then add on LED strips that light up an angry red when connected via USB.
The ear cups are on-ear design and use fabric cushions that would often cause my ears to itch. The out-of-box clamping force is also pretty strong and the Air Joy’s are quite uncomfortable right out of the box. This puts alot of pressure on the ears and the thin headband digs into the top of your head. The clamping force does get better over a couple of days but I still never really enjoyed wearing them. I wear glasses so that’s probably why and I kept shifting them around every few minutes. The E900 Pro I mentioned earlier are the most comfortable headsets I’ve used, on par with the SteelSeries Arctis 9X so I don’t know what went wrong with the Air Joy.
The earcups swivel 90 degrees so they can lay completely flat making the easy to pack or just lay on your chest. They also tilt slightly backwards which I found useful for quickly chatting to people without fully removing the headset. This will be handy for those who use the Air Joy’s with their mobile phones when out and about. Controls for your volume live on the ear cup and that’s about it for controls.
The Air Joys also come with a detachable mic. It has a wire thin stem and a tiny omni-directional microphone head. EKSA claims that its a noise cancelling mic but that wasn’t quite my experience. The mic picks up lots ambient noise including gusts of my own breath as I speak. This makes it sound like I’m blowing into it. There’s also a background hiss and my voice sounds nasally and cold.
Forgetting the cheap-feeling build and lackluster mic, the Air Joy’s still shine in the audio department. They are quite close to the E900 Pro’s and honestly better than more expensive brand name headsets. From orchestral soundtracks to bass thumping hip-hop, the Air Joy’s 50mm drivers deliver. They are surprisingly good and betray their cheap price. The sound is warm with clear, powerful bass and sub-bass.
The software gives you access to a few EQ’s and you can create your own. I stuck with the Flat Stereo EQ preset as it had almost no distortion but boosted the power and oomph of the headset. This EQ is also what gives you the virtual 7.1 surround sound. And that’s where things come crashing back down again. The audio just gets a ton of reverberation making you feel like you are in an underwater echo chamber. The sound loses clarity which is necessary for games.
I tested it with a Apex Legends and The Division 2 and trust me, you don’t want to use surround sound mode unless you want to get killed, a lot. The distortion created by the surround sound makes tracking enemies way harder. The reverberation makes it so hard to accurately pinpoint where sounds are coming from. Additionally, the high notes get really harsh that you literally can’t listen to them for more than a few minutes. Movie profile also sound bad and it’s just one of the worst virtual surround implementation I’ve encountered.
The EKSA Air Joy Pro 7.1 aren’t the best offering from the company – that honor goes to the E900 Pro. I can’t deny that they sound very good but there’s too many things that make them hard to recommend — even with their really low price. They are the most uncomfortable headsets I’ve used in a long time, even with their lightweight design. The microphone isn’t great and the surround sound is a total sham. I see absolutely no reason why anyone would pick these over the E900 Pro’s that cost just $10 more. Sorry EKSA, but this one is a wide pass from me.
Air Joy Pro 7.1 headset provided by EKSA for the purpose of this review.