Sound quality and comfort—skip past all the buzzwords and tech jargon, and that’s really what matters in a wireless headset. A quick and easy setup is useful, too, and battery life matters in a wireless set, but what it ultimately comes down to is: does it sound good, and is it comfortable to wear at length? Alienware’s AW920H Tri Mode Wireless Gaming Headset mostly hits the mark on that assessment.
In terms of comfort, the AW920H is up there with the best of them. The leatherette memory foam ear cushions are particularly soft, while still being solid enough to sit snugly and securely around the ears. The padding on the headband has a similarly nice feel, and the headband itself holds firmly without putting excessive pressure on the ears and sides of one’s head—a problem I’ve had with a lot of headsets, even high-end ones. It’s a comfortable enough set out of the box, but even more so once it’s worn in a little bit, to the point that I can wear them for hours on end without discomfort.
And with a comfortable build like that, it’s easy to just lose yourself in the soundscape of whatever you’re playing or listening to. The sound quality here is great—perhaps not the absolute cutting-edge sound of something more audiophile-oriented (and priced), but it sounds great all the same. A wide range of sound frequencies carry well: from the lowest pitches to the highest, the sound is clean and crisp, without any of the tinny distortion you get with cheaper options, and little details in the aural texture that can be easy to miss come through nicely.
The AW920H is a gaming headset first, and that means that’s where it’s at its best. Sound effects are distinct and clear, be they loud explosions or faint little clues about the positioning of an enemy. That’s especially true of games that support Dolby Atmos or 3D Audio on PlayStation 5: the spatial audio effect really blossoms here, which can be a godsend in games where that extra layer of sensory perception makes a difference. And even when it doesn’t, even when you don’t need to be able to locate a hidden foe by the sound of their footsteps, there’s a lot to be said for the way the immersive effect of the spatial audio can help to bring a game’s world to life.
The microphone and voice chat quality is good, too. A detachable boom mic gives you a couple of options: without it, the mic in the ear cup gives you decent (though not great) quality—your friends will hear you fine and understand what you’re saying, but it sounds a bit like you’re talking through a plastic tube; on the other hand, it’s a little more convenient without an external mic on front of your face. The boom ramps up the sound quality considerably, with crystal clear voice chat even over loud some effects—separate volume sliders for chat and game help—at the expense of the relatively minor inconvenience of plugging in an external mic. It’s hard to see much benefit to using the internal mic, realistically, but being able to remove the boom when you’re not chatting is handy.
But it’s not just about games: the rich sound makes the AW920H a good choice for listening to music or watching video, too. The different layers of a piece of music and the audio dynamics of whatever show or film you’re watching carry nicely, allowing for a deep, textured sound. Again, this isn’t a high-end audiophile’s set, so don’t expect to sound like you’re in a theatre, but for everyday, general use, it’s a far better alternative to the typical phone or TV speakers. A good mic also makes it a good option for phone calls and Zoom meetings, too, and the comparatively low-key design without too much “gamer” flair makes it a good choice for wearing while out and about, too.
When it comes to connections, it’s all in the name: the “Tri Mode” gives you the choice of 2.4GHz via USB-C dongle, Bluetooth, or a wired connection with a detachable braided 3.5mm cable. With that comes flexibility: the dongle will generally be your best bet, just in terms of full settings control (in terms of lighting, mainly), but Bluetooth sounds just as good and can be a quick, convenient way to use it across multiple devices. You won’t be able to use Bluetooth with PlayStation or Xbox, but on PS5, at least, it works with the dongle (albeit with a very low max volume, for some reason). A switch to toggle between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz makes switching back and forth between devices quick and easy, too.
Great battery life and quick charging make running out of juice mostly a non-issue. Alienware advertises 30 hours’ use in 2.4GHz mode and 55 in Bluetooth; while I haven’t been keeping a tally, those numbers seem to check out: I’ve been using these headphones for two to four hours a day for the last three weeks, and I’ve had to charge it once in that time. And if you want to squeeze a bit of extra life out of a charge, the wired mode plays nicely with anything with a 3.5mm jack, without using any battery. The cable itself is sufficiently lengthy and tangle-resistant to not become too much of a liability.
While the AW920H has a lot going for it, there are a few annoyances, too. Setting up isn’t quite as painless as you’d hope; getting the latest firmware updates is a bit of a faff, with the option buried deep within the FX menu of the Alienware Command Centre app—where you’d normally go to adjust light settings. My first user of the USB dongle took a lot longer than I’d expect to actually get recognized, even on an Alienware laptop, and the mic needed a bit of troubleshooting and settings fiddling to get it working properly. It was pretty smooth sailing after that—quick, easy Bluetooth connections, and plug-and-play on PS5 with the dongle—but only after a few initial headaches.
The AI noise cancelation (ANC) is fine, but not fantastic. It does a decent enough job of blocking out some low, consistent noises like laptop fans or traffic that’s not too loud. Anything louder than that, though, or anything sharp and sudden still leaks through, in my experience—sometimes in a slightly dulled form, but still noticeable and distracting. You can mitigate that somewhat if what you’re playing or listening to is loud enough to drown out the noise, but that sort of defeats the purpose of ANC in the first place. It’s better than nothing when you’re trying to block out the world, not really what I’d hope for from a headset in this price bracket.
Get past a fiddly setup and the lacklustre ANC, though, and you’ll find a decent headset in the AW920H. The sound quality is great, especially in games that really make the most of the spectrum of frequencies, and decent spatial audio brings a lot to games that support it. It’s not too shabby for general use, either, with its low-profile design and the wide compatibility that comes with “Tri Mode” connections. You could pay a lot more for something more specialized, or that really pushes the boundaries of fidelity, but for a decent, mid-priced gaming headset that plays nicely with most devices and is versatile enough for everyday use, the AW920H is a great choice.