EKSA Air Joy Plus 7.1 surround gaming headphones review: Virtual 7.1 surround for pocket money prices but lack versatility
You might think it impossible to get into the world of virtual 7.1 surround sound for less than the price of a round of drinks, but EKSA has other ideas.
⊕ Comfortable to wear
⊕ Extremely affordable
⊖ No wireless
⊖ No stereo mode
⊖ Only basic software support
Surround headphones have become relatively commonplace in the gaming world and, to a lesser extent, for home theatre use. Rather than multiple drivers, the vast majority use digital signal processing to simulate the surround effect in the two earcups, allowing the headphones to be far lighter and more comfortable to wear. EKSA makes a number of these, and the Air Joy Plus is its latest model.
These are incredibly affordable at just £38, and are on sale for £26.60 at the time of writing. Bear this in mind – you wouldn’t expect a product at this price point to be directly comparable to a £400+ pair.
The headphones are wired only, though the company does also make wireless models. The cable connects via USB-C and is supplied with an extender so you can sit up to 12 feet away from your games console. They draw some power to facilitate their DSP and a light on one of the cups so it’s unlikely that using a 3.5mm adapter would work.
They are compatible with any device that uses USB-C like a Mac, PC, console or iPad Pro without the need for any drivers. Plus, there’s a Windows-only app that lets you tweak settings, although we were unable to get this to run after installation.
Air Joy Plus are very light at just 240g and comfortable to wear – perfect for long gaming sessions – but you wouldn’t want to subject them to too many knocks. You almost forget you’re wearing them, and isolation from external noise is adequate.
The left cup has a manual volume dial and a mic mute button, and there’s a fixed gooseneck microphone that’s freely adjustable and comes with an optional popshield. The mic has noise cancelling and does a decent job of this, so your conversations aren’t troubled by ambient noise. There’s no mic volume control but this isn’t surprising on such an affordable unit.
Plug the headphones into your device and they appear as a USB audio destination to fire sound out to them. The 40mm drivers have a range of 20Hz – 20kHz and can handle some serious volume when required. The surround effect is superb, separating sound out to seven virtual locations around you and providing a relatively neutral soundstage with games and movies. Mids and highs feel balanced and bass is solid if not thunderous.
Sometimes, a slight lack of definition came with left and right rear virtual speakers, which could be hard to distinguish from the left and right sides. There’s also no stereo button so everything you hear is processed into 7.1, meaning listening to regular music is perhaps best left to stereo headphones.
Although there are tradeoffs, on the basic question of replicating virtual surround for games and movies these do a commendable job. If you can live without wireless, stereo or other luxuries, they’re an insanely affordable way to get into the world of virtual surround.