One of the most exciting things about modern gaming audio in recent years has been that the ever-increasing popularity of video games, not to mention the growing number of core and casual gamers willing to pay premium prices for the hardware needed to run them, have enticed many well-established manufacturers of high-quality audio products to try their hand at making gaming headsets.
For every Razer, Astro, RIG or Turtle Beach, there is now a highly recognized, wider audio industry counterpart, such as Bang & Olufsen, Sennheiser, or JBL, all aiming to provide some fierce competition and shake things up in the gaming space. Beyerdynamic, a German manufacturer of headphones, speakers, professional microphones, and wireless audio systems for close to a century, is another such challenger, and the MMX 150 USB Gaming Headset is the company’s latest play at making a name for itself in the video game market.
Offered in both black and grey/black options, the Beyerdynamic MMX 150’s predominantly moulded plastic construction and granular surface texture lends it a sophisticated yet somewhat space-aged look. As someone who generally appreciates more muted, minimalist design in headsets, I immediately found the matte, two-tone look of the MMX 150 grey/black colourway visually pleasing.
Furthermore, the hints of neon orange introduced by the Mode Button/Volume Dial as well as the small accents next to the company logo on the earcups and the subtle, thin line of separation between the earcups and earpads collectively add a smart and much-welcomed dash of colour. The visual theme extends to the headset’s flexible and detachable “Meta Voice” cardioid condenser microphone as well as its interchangeable, micro-braided-jacket USB-C to USB-A cable and proprietary USB-C to 3.5 mm cable, making it much easier to tell them apart from other cables in a pile.
The Beyerdynamic MMX 150 proved to be an extremely comfortable headset to wear when I first put it on my head, and that opinion hasn’t changed over a week later. The durable aluminum band which holds the headset together is encased in memory foam-filled artificial leather and is barely detectable, putting very little pressure on the top of my head, while also remaining secure. It took several vigorous and deliberately repetitive jerks of my head to eventually shake the headset loose, which made me feel rather confident that the MMX 150 would stay firmly in place during the most intense gaming sessions.
“The Beyerdynamic MMX 150 proved to be an extremely comfortable headset to wear when I first put it on my head…”
Meanwhile, the same memory foam and artificial leather used in the headband is also used for the earcups, providing similar levels of comfort and stability. The closed design of the earpads offer decent, passive noise isolation and fit snugly enough over my mid-size ears to feel luxurious, but not so tight that they would get hot and sweaty over time.
Staying on the subject of comfort, the Beyerdynamic MMX 150 also addresses a few of the small pet peeves that I tend to have about wired headsets in general. The provided USB-C to USB-A cable is a generous 2.4 metres long and, as mentioned earlier, uses a micro-braided casing, ensuring that it’s long enough to lean back in one’s chair while seated in front of most monitors, while also being highly resistant to tangling.
The detachable microphone’s arm is flexible yet sturdy enough to retain its shape, which means it can be moved out of one’s line of vision when needed and relied upon to stay there. Finally, while a little hard to see at first, there are markers on the interior sides of the headband just above the earcups that make it easy for users to adjust or balance the height of each earcup to properly fit the size of their heads, a no-brainer feature that a surprising number of headset manufacturers inexplicably tend to skimp on to this day.
Sadly, the proprietary USB-C to 3.5 mm cable used for connecting the Beyerdynamic MMX 150 to analog sources is only half as long as the USB-C to USB-A cable, rendering it only half as useful. While the length might be ideal for use with a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or game controller that accepts analog input for audio and/or voice chat purposes, it’s far too short to be practical for connection to more stationary devices, like a computer tower or desktop speakers with analog outputs.
It also lacks a built-in volume rocker or slider, which is a truly puzzling design choice given that the ideal use case for such a cable is for connecting to mobile phones, and we all know that blindly fishing around in your pocket for your phone’s volume controls while listening to music is a real pain.
“…it offers up some solid basics that most gamers should be able to appreciate.”
So, let’s talk features. The Beyerdynamic MMX 150 doesn’t exactly set the world on fire with gamer-centric gimmicks, but it offers up some solid basics that most gamers should be able to appreciate. Housed on the back of the left earcup, the Mode Button/Volume Dial is the only button on the device, and it pulls triple duty as the headset’s Mute button, volume controls and “Augmented Mode” button.
A single press of the Mode button will mute the microphone, accompanied by an audio chime in the headset, the illumination of a red LED on the mic arm just below the receiver, and a change in colour of the oval LED light encircling the Mode Button from orange to red. A second press, of course, unmutes the headset with a reverse chime, deactivates the LED on the mic and reverts the Mode Button LED (which is always lit when the headset is connected to USB power) back to its regular orange colour. As one would expect, rotating the Mode Button’s dial upward or downward increases or decreases volume, respectively.
Last but not least, holding down the Mode button for 2 seconds activates or deactivates Augmented Mode, a special listening mode in which two microphones built into the ear shells of the headset record ambient sounds in stereo and mix them in real time into the live audio signal, allowing one to hear the surrounding environment as if he or she were not wearing headphones. The effect is quite convincing and is extremely handy for carrying on a conversation with someone in the same room without having to take the headset off. When active, the Mode Button LED glows light blue.
Beyerdynamic’s marketing on its website claims that the Beyerdynamic MMX 150 also boasts a “Meta Voice” Cardioid Condenser Microphone with a 9.9 mm capsule to reproduce your voice naturally while cutting out unnecessary background noise, like the clacking of keys as you type or other ambient sounds. Provided that the mic is placed very close to the wearer’s mouth, the audio signal is quite clean and while not completely eliminated, ambient sounds are significantly reduced, on PC anyway.
“As a wired PC Gaming headset, its 40 mm audio drivers deliver a rich, well-balanced audio signal…”
Overall, I tested the headset in both USB and analog modes with several devices and media. As a wired PC Gaming headset, its 40 mm audio drivers deliver a rich, well-balanced audio signal that’s on par with gaming headsets I’ve recently had the pleasure of reviewing or owning, including the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2, the Xbox Wireless Headset and the RIG NACON Pro 500 HX and Pro 700 HX models. The Beyerdynamic MMX 150’s purely wired USB interface seems to deliver a slightly cleaner, interference-free signal on top of an equivalent richness of sound to match the best performers in that group, giving it a slight advantage if you prefer a wired connection.
The MMX 150 makes no direct claims of being a surround headset, but still seems to perform comparably to the NACON Pro 500 HX in simulating positional audio when paired with the Dolby Access app available on PC, which is my way of saying that the surround effects are “good enough” with the right help.
Beyond the PC, however, one’s mileage with the MMX 150 may vary. Documentation provided in the box suggests that it can be connected to a “computer / console”, and on Beyerdynamic’s North American website the company claims that the device also works with Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, in a roundabout way. But does the Beyerdynamic MMX 150 actually work with Sony and Microsoft’s next gen consoles?
Well, technically, the answer is both yes and no. Obviously, since the headset comes with the option to use its bespoke USB-C to 3.5 mm cable with analog devices, it can technically serve as a headset for just about any game console that supports such cables. So, it came as no surprise that the headset was recognized by every device I plugged it into via this method, including my Xbox Series X controller, my PS4 controller, my Android mobile phone, and even my PS Vita.
Unfortunately, when it came to the Xbox Series X and PS4, the audio volume via controller was far too low to provide proper immersion, even at the maximum level. Even worse, unlike the PS4, the Xbox Series only recognized the base analog signal and didn’t provide any menu interface to adjust it, so what you get is what you get.
The MMX 150 fared far better on PlayStation 4 when connected directly to the console via its provided USB-C to USB-A cable, which, just like on a PC, provides the power source necessary to access the Mode Button’s Mute, Volume level and Augmented Mode features. In this configuration, all the MMX 150’s advertised features mentioned above appeared to work just as well as they do with PC (excluding Meta Voice, as microphone tests in the PS4’s settings picked up plenty of ambient noise).
Beyerdynamic’s online FAQ confirms that the MMX 150 works with the PS5 in the exact same way, so users should expect similar results on that platform. Meanwhile, on Xbox Series X, the MMX 150 wasn’t recognized at all when connected via USB, making it a complete non-starter on that platform. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, as proper support for standard USB headsets on the Xbox platform has been a problem since the Xbox One days, but nonetheless, buyer beware.
To conclude, the Beyerdynamic MMX 150 is best suited for buyers who game primarily on PC, own a PS4 or PS5 as a secondary console and are looking for a comfortable, high quality, wired audio solution, with compatibility for mobile devices such as android phones and other handheld devices thrown in as a bonus.
Coming in at $149.99 USD (approx. $200 CAD), it’s a difficult purchase to recommend when there’s no shortage of cheaper and more versatile options (both wired and wireless) out there in the market, but if you’re looking for a PC gaming headset with enough quality and visual style to double as a content creation tool (e.g., livestreaming), the MMX 150 might be just the headset you need.