E3 is mostly about the flashy, AAA games that just beg for attention. Even with the direct omission of Sony and Microsoft, plenty of big-name publishers and manufacturers brought out big-name games and hardware to match. Like clockwork, though, there was still a decent chunk of smaller-names present, the type which may not have the flashiest of booths or generate the most hype, but sometimes these booths can make some of the biggest impressions. Case in point: Haymaker, one of the newest entrants in the fiercely competitive high-end headphone market. We went hands-on (or is that ears-on?) with their upcoming signature headset, and came away impressed.
A New Contender
For those who aren’t familiar (and that would probably be most of you), Haymaker is both the name of the company and the name of the product. Haymaker is owned by Peak Audio LLC, and is a small business located in Colorado. The Haymaker is their upcoming headset, which is due to launch this summer and fetch a premium price of $329.95. That price may induce some sticker shock at first glance, but then the general design of these headphones will also induce a bit of a shock as well.
The Haymakers are a loud headset. Not just in terms of audio levels, which we will get to. The general design motif of the headphones seems to be high-tech. First, a carbon fiber-looking design is etched along the outside of the entire unit, not unlike the hood of tuner cars. Next, there are hardly any buttons on these headphones, which may cause some people to think they are lacking in features. But this simplicity belies some modern technology that is hidden in plain sight. Both earcups sport touchpads across their surface, which can manage audio levels, playback and call functions, and LED settings.
The Haymakers sport LEDs in each earcup, and they also line the top of the headphones through letters that spell out HAYMAKER. LEDs are all the rage these days, so it seems fitting that a bunch would be included on this high-end headset. LED technology has become so economical, you can find them on many consumer electronic products. Beyond looking cool, LEDs can be used to customize. In The Haymakers’ case, there are eight colors to choose from. Swiping on one of the earcups allows users to choose a color for the LEDs to stay on, or the colors can be set to shift at random. Of course, for those who prefer a more subdued appearance or who don’t want to distract others, the lights can be turned off entirely. Choosing the LED color is a differentiator in this space, as other headphones may feature LEDs, but might not let you set the color.
A Distinct Look
While The Haymaker’s loud design will most assuredly make them stand apart, it is of course not for everyone. Some people may feel that the look of carbon fiber is decidedly last decade, while others may think it is timeless. Others may hate the way LEDs have found their way onto everything and the kitchen sink, but that is not as big of an issue when they can simply be turned off and never used, which has the added benefit of extending this headset’s battery life. How someone feels about the looks of, well, anything, is of course subjective, but personally I would be just fine with wearing The Haymakers outside the house.
So, The Haymakers may look flashy, but the coolest-looking headset is worthless if it sounds like crap. Thankfully, The Haymakers do sound at least as good as other headphones priced around the same level. Obviously, something such as headphone performance is about as subjective of an experience as you can get, and the prototypes we tested at the booth were only hooked up to an iPad, but the general feeling was a slightly bass-heavy response with plenty of clarity in other ranges. Of course, getting some real head-on time with a set of the final production unit in a real-life setting will prove the headset’s worthiness. With the headphones still in pre-production, Haymaker has yet to provide us with hard specifications. While the drivers appeared to be 50mm, we do not yet have confirmation of this – they could very easily be 40mm. Since the sound signature seemed to have bass enhancements, hopefully this also indicates a response range beyond the usual 20 Hz – 20 KHz. In fact, at this price point, one would almost expect an extended range.
E3 is an incredibly busy event, every single year. 2019 was no exception, as plenty of publishers eagerly snatched up Sony and Microsoft’s prime real estate in the West Hall. With each of the new booths clamoring for attention, plenty of sound stages and speakers were on full blast, in a futile attempt at drowning one another out. But upon putting on The Haymaker headphones, all of that noise instantly faded into the background. These are the kind of headphones you would want to have while on an airplane, as they have “dual mode adaptive noise canceling,” which—although we couldn’t activate on the prototypes—if this feature can dampen ambient noise any further than what we heard on the show floor, then The Haymaker may actually give the likes of Bose and Sony a run for their noise-canceling money.
The Haymaker Headphones E3 2019 Hands-On | PlayStation LifeStyle
More to Come
Although full connectivity options have not been disclosed, The Haymakers will support Bluetooth as well as allow for a hard-wired 3.5mm connection. So, these should work just fine with the DualShock 4. Being able to switch between gaming and a phone call using the same pair of headphones is a modern convenience that almost everyone can appreciate. Unless, of course, you’d rather game without interruption. In that case, turn the Bluetooth off, and the noise canceling up!
With an asking price of $329.95 when launch time approaches, there is no doubt that this is going to be a very tough purchase decision for most gamers, since options have to weighed carefully when considering products at this level. What we heard and felt during our brief hands-on time with The Haymaker, though, was promising, especially considering the noise cancelation effect evident on the show floor. That being said, we cannot say if these headphones are worthy of a purchase at this stage in the product’s development, as more testing is required. Can Haymaker make enough noise to compete with the likes of LucidSound, ASTRO, Turtle Beach, Razer, HyperX, Logitech, Alienware, and other established gaming headset brands? Only time, and an ample marketing budget, will tell.