I’ve reviewed so many headsets over the years that they tend to get mixed up. It’s not often that I come across headphones that leave a bitter taste in my mouth, but the Alienware AW920H does just that.
That’s unfortunate because it’s supposed to be a premium headset that delivers an equally premium experience, but it falls short of expectations. A dodgy microphone, nigh-unusable volume controls, and odd design detract from what should be an excellent headset on paper.
It’s a shame as this appears to be one of Alienware’s few recent forays into the premium headset space – not counting Dell’s other headset lines – and it was a swing and miss.
Alienware AW920H: price and availability
Alienware launched its AW920H headset at CES 2022, with its Lunar Light model launching a month later in February 2022 for $200. An all-black Dark Side of the Moon color variant released in April for the same price. These are the only two colors available for this helmet at the moment.
Besides Amazon, it appears to be available for purchase from Dell’s website. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, it is nowhere to be found on online storefronts like Best Buy or Walmart.
Alienware AW920H: what I like
Active noise cancellation goes a long way in delivering a better all-around audio experience. Even with construction going on right outside my apartment for a few days, ANC noticeably reduced the noise; so much so that it was hard to tell there was any construction going on.
With a quick toggle, ANC can be toggled on and off at any time, giving you a good idea of its real effects. The white background noise it produces is easily eliminated and completely unnoticeable when the audio is actually played on the headphones.
|Battery life||Up to 55 hours (Bluetooth) or up to 30 hours (2.4 GHz)|
|Active noise cancellation||Yes|
Aside from its active noise cancellation, I don’t have too many good things to say about the AW920H. The audio experience is what you’d expect from a headset at this price point, which means it’s excellent. I have no issues on that front as everything sounds wonderful through the ear cups. This is arguably the most important aspect of any helmet, so it excels at least where it counts.
Its 55-hour battery life over Bluetooth also beats out some of the competition, and that means you won’t have to worry about recharging it very often.
Alienware AW920H: What I don’t like
I have mixed feelings about the design of the AW920H’s ear cups. The flat side accented with a glossy black finish definitely lends itself to the “extraterrestrialname, but I think it makes me look like an airline pilot more than anything. I appreciate wanting to stand out from other headsets, but this one catches the eye in an unattractive way.
Its aesthetics were only the beginning of my problems with the AW920H. Although it’s designed for wireless use on PC and mobile, it can connect to the PS5 via a 3.5mm jack.
As soon as I tried to do this, I immediately noticed that the sound was not coming out of the right ear cup at all. I then tried to connect it to my PC via the 2.4GHz wireless dongle and found the same problem. no sound in the right earpiece. It wasn’t until I switched back to the 3.5mm connection on PC that the audio finally played correctly on both sides. Not a good start.
When I tried to connect it to my PC via Bluetooth, I had similar issues. The audio didn’t play at all at first, and I needed to fiddle with my PC settings to get it to work. While other headsets connected via Bluetooth and were fine out of the box, the Alienware AW920H stumbled several times.
Audio controls are designed to be capacitive through the right earcup. Sliding on the ear cup, in theory, will adjust the volume up and down. In practice, I found these controls pretty much unusable. They worked maybe once in 10 that I tried, and it never seemed to be in the same area or with the same pressure.
Sometimes I even needed to swipe with two fingers to make it work. Most of the time I was sitting at my desk looking like an idiot as I scratched my helmet. And when they worked properly, they were inaccurate.
Although there’s an in-line control on the 3.5mm cord, it only works to mute and unmute the microphone, so I haven’t had any saving grace as far as audio goes unless I do it manually through my PC or PS5 settings.
Trying to use the microphone also painted a familiar picture. I tried recording on Audacity, and although the microphone was connected, turned on, and selected in Audacity, it picked up no sound. It has a nice red LED on the tip to indicate when you’re “properly” muted, so there’s that.
It all added up to create an incredibly frustrating experience. When this works, It works very well. But I shouldn’t need to jump through any hoops and cross my fingers and hope it works correctly. The capacitive touch controls for its audio were particularly disappointing.
Maybe others will have better luck than me. As things stand, the user experience needs to be redesigned.
Alienware AW920H: the competition
If you’re looking for a PC headset, you can’t go wrong with the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro. It’s the one I still use today for meetings and podcasting, and it hasn’t let me down.
It sports a comfortable build that I can wear for hours with my glasses on without feeling any pressure, and on PC it supports THX Spatial Audio for 7.1 surround sound. What makes it even better is that it’s also still one of the best PS5 headsets, even though it doesn’t support surround sound on the console.
For something in addition high-end and incredibly expensive, there’s the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro. It’s hands down one of the best headphones I’ve ever used, and the GameDAC Gen 2 is a game-changer when it comes to audio controls. At $350, however, this may be a tough sell. If you’d rather save some cash, you can opt for the wired version for $250. It drops 2.4GHz and Bluetooth support, but it’s still the same quality.
There’s also the Logitech G733 headset for people who want something more colorful with RGB lights. With colorways including lilac, blue, white, and black at around $150, it’s both stylish and affordable. During my time with it, I particularly enjoyed its nearly 29-hour battery life and long 65-foot wireless range, allowing me to walk around my apartment without worrying about disconnections.
Alienware AW920H: Should You Buy It?
You should buy this if:
- You like its atypical look
- You want headphones with active noise cancellation
- You need both Bluetooth 5.2 and 2.4GHz wireless connection options
You should not buy this if:
- You want a headset that works right out of the box without any issues
- You want physical buttons to control your audio
- Helmet design is a disable
While great for listening to audio, just about every other part of the experience with the AW920H is a frustrating mess. “Plug-and-play” this is not the case. I can appreciate the added features like active noise cancellation with Bluetooth 5.2, but when it’s hard to control the audio volume and the mic barely works, it’s not worth the $200.
I could very well be an outlier in my experience with the AW920H. There are other people who had a better time than me, and maybe you’ll be lucky if that’s something you’re interested in. Based on my time with it, I just can’t recommend when there are other headsets that are better and more affordable.
Too many issues make this headset hard to recommend to anyone, but maybe someone will have better luck than me. In my experience, the user experience just isn’t worth the price.