ASUS Echelon Camo Edition Headset
Our test setup has received an upgrade for our audio reviews with the ASUS ROG Xonar Phoebus 7.1 Soundcard. With Dolby Home Theatre v4, a seriously sturdy EMI shield and 118db SNR it has all the high-end features in place. The most important element for our testing is the inclusion of the TPA6120A2 headphone amplifier which can drive headphones up to a massive 600 ohms and will be perfect to give us the best possible audio reproduction.
With the purity of a simple stereo design the Echelon lives and dies on its ability to sound great and be comfortable during those marathon sessions.
Let's start with the design. It takes a certain type of person to desire a camouflage pattern on their headset but with the decision to go with a blue camouflage design, one not used in actual combat, at least lends a casual non-military air to something that otherwise is a bold statement. The build quality is excellent. The outer shell is very robust and made of high quality plastics. It's common at this end of the market to find shiny, cheap-feeling, plastics and yet the ASUS Echelon has a soft feel that exudes quality. The decision to use two metal rods for the height adjustment only aids in the sturdiness and aura of being indestructible.
The headband and ear pieces have lots of padding which combine with the light weight to make wearing the Echelon a joy. It's extremely comfortable and, with the open back, is able to be worn all day without either it becoming tiresome or your ears sweating.
Sound quality is, understandably, where any audio lives and dies and the Echelon is hugely impressive. With an open back design the bass notes will always be more airy than the punch you get from a closed back design, yet they remain tight on the Echelon rather than woolly. The midrange is where they really shine giving clear dialogue and music reproduction whether you're watching a film, fragging your mates or just listening to music whilst you work. High notes are glassy, the big 50mm drivers shining brightly rather than the tinnier offerings that you can get from smaller designs.
With an open backed design, 50mm drivers, recessed microphone and a £60 price tag the instant comparison that came to mind with the Echelon is the hugely popular SteelSeries Siberia 5Hv2. A headset that has found its way on to the ears of nearly every gamer at one point or another. That is some stiff competition and the ASUS Echelon meets the challenge and then some. In fact they're so good that we'd place them ahead of the SteelSeries as the best mid-price headset on the market. The camouflage is an acquired taste, but as the ASUS Orion is identical but in plain black, we could recommend those as highly. The ASUS Echelon are excellent and an unhesitating recommendation and they win our OC3D Gold Award.