The subject of this review and comparison are the PDP Afterglow Karga released in November2014 and it's newest rival, the Afterglow AG7 (releasing in October 2015 as of the time of writing).
Which option is right for you? Hopefully this review and comparison will help you decide or at least inform your decision a little when looking around.
Before we go into the ins and outs of each headset, I will state that as usual, you're going to need scissors to get either one of these products open.
There are 2 pieces of tape sealing the box one to the left and right of the edges, cut these with scissors.
Push the tab that is directly in line with the hanger away from you until it comes free of the box.
Once the tab is free, pull the top of the box, the lid, up and towards you.
Inside you will see what partially resembles an egg box - with two separate sides. Remove this first and a cable, packed in a sealed polythene bag, will come free as well.
Pull the top layer of the egg box away to reveal the headset, sealed in more polythene.
Be careful when removing the headset, as it comes out of the bottom, ear cups facing down.
Remove the plastic film protecting the ear cups and then pull carefully on the sides of the headphones near the cups to extend the headband at each side. This allows you to remove the film on the top of the band itself.
Finally, on pulling out the microphone, you'll see a piece of film on that as well. Try to look for a point where it joins on itself and pull it away like a plaster.
Turning to the cable bag, remove the piece of tape from one edge.
Inside you will find a piece of paper regarding returns and support, as well as the user manual. You will also find a sticker of the afterglow brand logo
In the bag, there are actually 2 cables, one 3.5 mm cable that allows the headset to connect to pc and the other that allows it to connect to the Xbox One controller with a proprietary connector on the other end to plug into the headset.
The point where the controller plugs in to the headset (via a small socket) is on the same side as the microphone, which means less confusion with crossing wires.
Speaking of the microphone, it has a good range of flexibility. However, making sure it is correctly re-inserted into its proper place in the ear cup is a little tricky at times. Also, it doesn't extend as far as you might wish. However, when it's at its fullest extent, it clicks into place, so at least you know when to stop pulling. The lack of physical extension on this microphone is made up for by the small unit's sensitivity which is immediately audible when you start using the headset.
Plugging the connecter into the controller is simple. Just hold the large end of the connector with the buttons facing upwards, placing the metal section into the Xbox One controller's headset port. It should click into place firmly if you've done everything correctly.
The right-hand side of the connector consists of the master controls namely volume up on the top right and volume down on the bottom right. In the centre of the connector there is a large circular protrusion. This is the mute button. You can either press the area around the centre of the central raised portion itself to turn the microphone on and off. You will be able to tell if the microphone is on or not by the ambient noise from outside coming into the headset at a higher volume. However, if you can't hear anything (if you are in a very quiet room for example), tap the microphone (even if it's not extended) with a finger to see if you hear it touching the microphone.
The other two buttons on the left of the connector are for balancing the game and chat audio, with the top being for game and the lower one being for chat. You press the button of choice to raise the volume of that in relation to the other option.
Removing the connector is simple, just pull firmly on it and it should come loose.
The afterglow switch is located to the right of the connector, with the effect being on when the switch is closest to you.
The sound on the Karga is clear, packing a good punch and with no noticeable latency between button presses and audio responses. All games I tested the product with came through clearly along with a larger amount of bass than I'd really expected. However, the controller connector did, as discussed briefly later, feel rather bulky even though it looks fairly flush with the controller. Volume was easily adjustable and the headset was a comfortable fit. No wonder it has been recommended on a few top 10 lists I found whilst conducting initial research for this review.
The cable packaging for the AG7 has a transmitter (a small USB dongle), a 3.5 mm cable and a micro USB cable inside.
The headset itself isn't in a large polythene bag this time, but encased in plastic-like material that is sealed at both ends. It's simple enough to unseal both ends and pull the material off from one side.
The film protecting the outside of the headset is mostly one long piece but it is just as easy to remove as before.
Press and hold the circle on the microphone ear cup to turn the headset on, pressing once without holding mutes the microphone and repeating this unmutes it again. To deactivate the headset, press and hold the button again.
The large button with a dot on it is actually the mode button. Press this button to change between "bass boost" and "pure audio" modes. It starts off in pure audio mode and you'll know when you've activated bass boost as the frequency range towards the lower end of the scale increases pretty dramatically.
To turn off the glowing LED's in the headset, press and hold the mode button for 5 seconds. This process is, at least at time of writing, a very inconsistent process.
The top volume knob is a master volume setting and the one further down is for adjusting the balance of in game chat vs game audio.
The Karga was easy enough to connect and after updating my controller as described above, the sound came through pretty much instantaneously. The quality was surprisingly good, but that's not saying much since I hadn't tested a gaming headset before this review.
The noise issuing from the microphone allowed me to notice that it was active, handy for moments when you don't want your fellow players being all too aware you are talking trash about their tactics etc. At least with this headset you won't accidentally leave your microphone on in an online match if you don't choose to.
The only real issue I found when first testing these headphones was that when turning the volume to higher levels, the low frequencies caused distortion, but this could be due to a number of factors.
Impacts in Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat X are both solid, with a stereo field that allows for easy tracking of on-screen movement once you get used to it.
The fact that you can still hear a little of the outside world is good if you are visually impaired, as you will still be able to catch things that other more noise-cancelling brands eliminate by design. Whilst some might find this breaks the immersion of whatever game you happen to be playing, it can come in handy if you are, say, expecting any phone calls or visitors at the door.
The only other issue I came across, especially during the initial testing period, was that when trying to perform ultra combos in Killer Instinct, the Karga's controller connector got in the way. Although I believe it might be possible to adjust your playstyle to accommodate it, the sheer size of the connector itselfmight make this a long process.
Game sound is, apart from the distortion mentioned above, clear and well balanced frequency-wise. The padding is soft and comfortable with the adjustable headband being a good fit as well.
When testing the Karga in an online environment, the headset stopped working when I unplugged the USB cable I'd used to update it. This happened for about 5 to 7 seconds, which made me think I'd broken something by accident. However, once everything was up and running again, the headset worked as well as the AG7 when used in the same environment.
I had no problems with the AG7 transmitter which is just a dongle that you can plug into the side of your Xbox One. However, for those who are wondering, the dongle does not work with a PC, only with the console it's designed for.
The volume dials turn smoothly, the transmitter is a firm fit and the only strange thing you might notice is that every time you start the console with the transmitter plugged in or insert it during a game, a message pops up saying "headset assigned." What this means, as well as how it affects the console, isn't exactly clear but that's likely to be something to do with Microsoft rather than PDP. Moreover, the presence of the notification did not interfere with the tests that I carried out other than interrupting a couple of Kinect commands due to my speakers broadcasting the notification sound. My best advice is to say that when you plug the transmitter in, just be aware that this message will appear.
In online tests, the headset continued to deliver. The quality of my opponent's sound was always clear, with no noticeable dips when I moved around physically to test the range. Moreover, the balance between chat and game audio was easy to adjust and once set, it just stays put meaning you don't have to readjust anything afterwards. My opponent also had no issues with the quality of my headset's microphone, meaning that once it was extended I could just continue to talk without fear of not being heard.
In a second online session, however, my opponent reported that I was quiet and they had to adjust my volume on their end to accommodate, though whether this was the fault of the AG7, I can't be sure.
The AG7, in spite of its wireless capabilities relating to the Xbox One console, are also limited to this same cable connection, with the included one being rather short.
The information in the manual for the Afterglow Karga currently hosted here did not correspond to the unit used in this review. I am currently trying to clarify with the company the reason for this disparity. Therefore if you get the Karga and you don't find the manual matches up completely, don't worry - what you have should work as intended. ***end of disclaimer***
If you choose one of these headsets, you can find the Manual for the Afterglow Karga here and the Manual for the Afterglow AG7 headset here .
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