The Roccat Syn Max Air truly is an upgrade from last year’s Roccat Syn Pro Air, and not just because it has more features. It also has a better fit, better sound quality, and better connectivity. But it’s also a lot more expensive. We just don’t know if it’s doing enough for the price.
Good, mostly balanced sound
Charging dock included
No on-the-fly volume with Bluetooth connectivity
Mic has a bit of sibilance
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Roccat Syn Max Air: One-minute review
The Roccat Syn Max Air is finally expanding the Syn Air line. It isn’t as much the successor to 2021’s Roccat Syn Pro Air as it is the elite model, much like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is to the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless. And as such, it's loaded with more features than the Syn Pro Air.
We had high hopes for the Syn Pro Air when we tested it last year. After all, it looks unique with its cuboid ear cups and gorgeous honeycomb RGB lighting – a refreshing change from the usual gaming aesthetic that’s frankly made many PC gaming headsets look very derivative. Sadly, while it did well in certain areas – namely, its soundstage, sound imaging, and mic performance – it failed to deliver in others, particularly in sound quality and fit.
Clearly, Roccat listened to its customer feedback. However, instead of following the Syn Pro Air up with a V2, the brand opted to place those improvements in a new model instead. As a result, the Roccat Syn Max Air boasts a much better audio performance, more balanced sound, better fit, and more features while keeping all the things we already love about the Syn Pro Air. It’s also taken cues from its sister brand’s Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max – particularly the ProSpecs feature.
Unfortunately, it’s also a much more expensive wireless gaming headset, with Roccat slapping on an extra $100 for US customers and £80 for those in the UK. So, while it’s an improvement and a nice addition to the line, it’s hard to say if it’s done enough to deserve that hefty price jump.
Roccat Syn Max Air: Price and availability
- How much does it cost? $249 (£209, AU$399)
- When is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Interface: 2.4GHz transmitter, Bluetooth
Platforms: Windows 10 & 11 for software support, PS4/PS5, Nintendo Switch, mobile devices
Mic: Detachable TruSpeak Microphone
Surround sound: 3D audio
That’s right. The Roccat Syn Max Air has a steep price tag of $249 / £209 / AU$399, meaning you’re paying $100 / £80 / AU$150 for its improvements over the Syn Pro Air and the added features like its own charging dock. It’s also more expensive than the Arctis Nova 7 ($179 / £174 / about AU$310), which in our opinion is its closest competitor, and the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max ($199 / £179 / AU$319), whose glasses-friendly ear foams was adopted by the Syn Max Air.
Both those options have very similar features, but also offer a superior sound and longer battery life. So, we’re wondering what exactly we’re paying more for here. Is the included charging dock, which also serves as the wireless receiver, really worth that much? More importantly, is it worth paying that much when a USB receiver and a USB cable could just as easily have seen to the headset’s wireless connectivity and charging?
It’s a bit of a hard sell. After all, Roccat could have reduced the price without it, and many would have been satisfied.
- Value: 3.5 / 5
Roccat Syn Max Air: Design
- Great comfort, even with glasses on
- Volume wheel doesn’t work with Bluetooth connection
- Rapid charge dock makes things convenient
Roccat seems to be going out of its way to add value to its products by including features and accessories in its peripherals at no extra cost. The Roccat Kone XP Air mouse, for example, came with its charging dock in the box, proving that it’s much better value for your money than its rivals if you want the convenience of wireless charging.
It seems to be doing the same thing with the Roccat Syn Max Air, which comes with a charging station that boasts customizable RGB lighting, rapid charging capabilities, and magnetized ear cup rests to make docking easier. We wish these magnets were as powerful as the one on the Astro A50 docking station, but they work fine. Plus, this charging station also functions as the USB wireless receiver, so you know you won’t be losing and replacing it any time soon.
As we had mentioned before, this Roccat gaming headset has been taking cues from Turtle Beach’s offerings – specifically their memory ear foams that are glasses-friendly. And, thanks to their ProSpecs feature, the ear pads are luxuriously plush and comfortable to wear. That’s with or without glasses.
Adding to your comfort is their cooling properties, which according to Roccat is a combination of the cooling gel inside and the breathable fabric that covers the part that comes in full contact with the sides of your face. We did find ourselves sweating under these ear pads, but only while learning a new dance on TikTok. When you’re gaming or watching movies with them on, you should stay sweat-free.
Unlike the Syn Pro Air, you get Bluetooth connectivity as well, which makes the Roccat Syn Max Air a great headset for Nintendo Switch gaming and catching up with Rings of Power episodes on your phone. It’s a tad, bizarre, however, that its physical volume dial doesn’t work with this connectivity. That’s especially odd since you can do so with its rivals.
Besides the volume dial, there are three other physical controls present: the power button, the mic monitor wheel, and the Bluetooth button. There’s no mic mute button because the mic itself is flip-to-mute. This is a much easier and more intuitive way of making sure a private conversation isn’t being heard by your teammates during a gaming session.
The Roccat Syn Max Air looks very much like the Syn Pro Air and comes with mostly the same elements as well. That includes its durable plastic shell with a matte black finish and the same ear cup articulations. This time around, however, Roccat has opted for a soft-to-touch leatherette flourish for its ear and headband foams, giving it a more premium feel. Naturally, the pretty honeycomb RGB lighting on each ear cup is back and ever-so-slightly brighter.
- Design: 4 / 5
Roccat Syn Max Air: Performance
- Good, mostly balanced sound
- Mic has slight sibilance
- Battery life is only 16 hours
The Syn Pro Air’s biggest failing was its subpar sound, so the fact that the Roccat Syn Max Air has improved on that is very welcome. Roccat highlights Turtle Beach’s 50mm Nanoclear speakers used on this gaming headset, which apparently is designed to deliver a wide soundstage and immersive 3D audio.
So, naturally, you’re getting a good soundstage with good sound imaging. Testing this on games and movies, we felt a lot of the characters' movements and the individual elements. At the same time, because of the way the ear cups are designed with thick ear foams, the drivers are a little deeper in and farther from your ears, providing a performance more akin to a massive hall or theater experience instead of an intimate venue. This is a plus when you’re playing a game and want the feel of being in it. The Superhuman Hearing boost in-app also enhances critical sounds in your game.
However, all that would have made a bigger impact if the headset was louder. We found it to be a little quiet, and to get the full experience we raised the volume to around 75%.
The Roccat Syn Max Air’s sound quality is good and mostly balanced. As we said, it’s definitely an improvement over the Syn Pro Air. All the frequencies are represented in a way where no one frequency is overpowering the others.
However, we can't say that it’s the most amazing-sounding headset we’ve ever used. There's decent high end, but it’s not very detailed. There’s a solid bass presence that’s not overpowering, but it's also just a little restrained and won't give you a lot of that satisfying rumble. As for the mids, they're ever so slightly recessed.
Luckily, the supporting software includes a 10-band EQ – along with other customizations – so you can certainly improve on those frequencies a little.
The mic sounds good, so you can rest assured that your team will hear you clearly. However, it's ever so slightly compressed and the high-end boost results in a kind of hissing noise in the background. There’s also a little bit of sibilance here, so your S's will be just a little more pronounced.
Sadly, the battery will only get you 16 hours of gameplay at full charge. But, honestly, it doesn’t matter in this case because of its wireless charging and included charging dock. When you’re done playing, you simply place it back on the dock and don’t even have to think about charging it. If you do want to use it as a pair of headphones on the go – though we doubt you would as this is a pretty sizable headset – it comes with a USB-C port so you don’t have to carry the massive charging dock.
- Performance: 3.8 / 5
Should I buy the Roccat Syn Max Air?
Buy it if...
You want a gaming headset that looks different from the others
The Roccat Syn Max Air is a stunning, albeit big, gaming headset with its cuboid-shaped ear cups and honeycomb RGB lighting. It’s also very comfortable to use.
You hate constantly plugging in your devices for charging
It not only offers wireless charging, which is already convenient, but also comes with a charging dock included, giving you more value for your money.
You want a good, fairly balanced headset with a good soundstage.
Although the Roccat Syn Max Air might not blow people’s minds, all the frequencies are represented in a way where they’re not overpowering. And, the soundstage – not to mention, the Superhuman Hearing boost – works well.
Don't buy it if...
You have a limited budget
The Roccat Syn Max Air isn’t the most expensive out there – that honor might just go to Audeze – however, it’s pretty pricey, especially if you’re looking for something under the $150 / £150 range.
You’d like to use it as a pair of headphones
It has Bluetooth so you can use it this way, but it’s also pretty big and only has 16 hours of battery life.
The Astro A50 delivers excellent sound quality, a comfortable fit, and lots of features. However, it doesn't have the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’ Bluetooth connectivity and wider frequency range.
Read our full Astro A50 review
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
This full-featured premium gaming headset comes with practically everything. You can even use it as a pair of headphones when commuting or traveling.
Read our full SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless review
Razer BlackShark V2 Pro
With its great sound quality and comfortable design, you’ll struggle to find a more premium wireless headset than the Razer BlackShare V2 Pro.
Check out our Razer BlackShark V2 Pro review
Roccat Syn Max Air: Report card
|Value||It’s expensive, but it does come with a charging dock and more features than the Syn Pro Air.||3.5 / 5|
|Design||It’s very comfortable to use and is glasses-friendly. Plus, the charging dock makes things convenient.||4 / 5|
|Performance||The sound quality is good and mostly balanced, with no one frequency overpowering others. The soundstage and sound imaging are good too.||3.8 / 5|
|Total||It doesn’t quite make it to 4 stars, with mostly the price holding it back.||3.5 / 5|
- First reviewed October 2022
How we test
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
Michelle Rae Uy is the Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor here at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.