The Haymaker is a pair of headphone designed with gamers in mind, but packed with a number of other features for audiophiles. Priced about $330, they are compatible with an array of profiles and codecs and also boast Dirac tuning.

We’ve had a pair of these headphones in the office for a few weeks now and I’ve had a chance to use them in a couple of settings. Here’s what I think of The Haymaker.

Built using a glossy finish and a unique carbon design, the headphones have the appearance of “gaming” headphones. And with the brand name spelled out in LEDs over the headband, they have a certain visual appeal.

The Haymaker comes with two sets of ear cups, one being a pair of faux leather and the other with a a diamond-pattern fabric. Aside from the exterior skin they are the same material and have pretty much the same comfort. If anything, they “leather” gets a touch warm and long term listening gets moist on the ears. The cups connect via magnets and are incredibly easy to switch out.

The headphones come with a fairly large case which carries all of the cables and components. It’s somewhat bulky and eats up a decent amount of space in a backpack so that’s something to keep in mind if you like to take your gaming on the road.

The Haymaker headphones connect via Bluetooth 5.0 and are compatible with A2DP, AVRCP, HFP and HSP profiles; they support aptX, aptX HD, aptX LL, AAC, and SBC codecs as well. Suffice it to say, you should get the best of your audio experience.

As far as the Dirac HD goes, it’s recommended that you install software on your PC to tune the sound from your computer and activate the PC controller that comes with the headphones. You’ll need a Windows PC to do so but once installed you can choose between stereo and 7.1 sound.

The included PC controller cable has a button which lets one mute the microphone, adjust volume levels and toggle stereo and Dirac 7.1.

The headphones have a physical button on the back of the left ear cup enable and disable noise cancellation. The switch is easy to locate and provides a solid click when sliding back and forth.

Speaking of noise cancellation, while The Haymaker headphones do offer the feature, the manufacturer suggests the best audio comes with it turned off. I can confirm this as I found that when enabled, the sound is pretty heavily compressed.

As far as other controls go, it does come with a bit of learning. Using more of a gesture and swipe mechanic, I found it takes a fair amount of time to master. Swiping up and down for volume, for instance, I would appreciate if there was something tactile I could feel as a reference point. Along the same lines, swiping forward and back is how you’d skip forward and back on tracks.

Taping the center right cup three times enables and disables the ambient sound so that one can hear environmental noises. Again, were there even the tiniest little nub on the surface, I’d have been more confident in using the controls.

Similarly, there is a way to control the RGB lights of the headphone ear cups and top band, with options to turn on and off, or change the colors. With eight colors to choose from and four light cycling modes, you’ll want to do these before putting them on. For one, you’ll want to physically see that they change to the colors you like. More importantly, it helps to know that your swipes are being registered.

Music sounds great on The Haymaker headphones as does gaming on PC and when paired via Bluetooth. Whether it be pop, electronic, or classical, I found them to have a wide, even soundscape.

I’m not one to fuss much about codecs or place particular emphasis on Bluetooth profiles so I can’t speak to testing those out. What I can say, though, is that these provided a sound experience on par with my expectations.

Depending on how you listen to your music, you might expect upwards of 40+ hours of playback. According to the manufacturer, you may look for around 26 hours of Bluetooth playback on a single charge with active noise cancellation enabled, and up to 43 with it turned off.

Switching on and off the lights will also impact battery; it’s also possible to plug in using the auxiliary cable and go unlimited just so long as you don’t use noise cancellation.

As a whole, The Haymaker provide a solid value proposition with plenty of flexibility. I might like a little quicker on-ramp for navigation but once I was comfortable with it, things were more efficient. As a pair of gaming headphones with ANC disabled, they work quite well. And thanks to a strong battery experience, I appreciate not having to worry about charging.

The lights might be a bit of a gimmick and not something that everyone wants; you’ll have to decide as to whether that’s worth it.

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