The Fnatic Duel are a modular gaming headset, which means you can set it up as a lightweight set of headphones for your smartphone, or as a more immersive headset for gaming at your PC.
DUEL is the first headset ready for both gaming and life. Designed in collaboration with famed audio pioneers AIAIAI, you’ll never need another set of headphones. Built for esports and modular by nature, configure it for comfortable gaming, or hit the road with the sound you deserve.
Each component here is matte black, with the lone exception of two components that aren’t visible during use: the light orange coiled internal cables and the grey-and-light-orange internal cushion of the over-ear headphones.
No fancy lights or LED’s instead, the Duel’s look is stylish and refined, unlike most gaming headsets on the market. Even the Fnatic logos here are hard to see, just faint impressions of the logo on the outside of each speaker unit and the Fnatic wordmark on the underside of the headband. This minimalist look made AIAIAI famous with the TMA-1, so it’s no surprise that we get a similar vibe from Fnatic’s custom TMA-2.
The earcups and the cushion of the headband are made from PU leather and feel quite comfortable. The whole headset is light too, especially in its mobile configuration, weighing just 275 grams.
The Fnatic Gear DUEL is hands down the most interesting headset we have tested.
Adjusting the headphones to your preferred fit is quite easy too, thanks to big circular cutouts down the arms of the headband.
The microphone is a little harder to get in the same place every time, but this is the price you pay for having a fully flexible mic. It also means you can’t snap the mic away to hit it; you have to manually tie it into a loop or push it behind you. However, you can at least disable the mic using the in-line remote (indeed, this is the remote’s only function).
The sound quality, the different earcups actually made quite a big difference here – which may surprise some people. With the over-ear cups installed, the sound is definitely bass-heavy but it is still generally quite clear and warm. The on-ear cups, though, drastically affect the sound – to my ears, everything sounds muffled and muddy, while the high-end also gets painfully sharp.
As such, I did most of my listening with the over-ear cups as I found them to be more comfortable while also providing better audio. In this state, the headset is very good for gaming – the bass-heavy mix works well with FPS and RPG games as gunfire and battle scenes sound very close and intense. I also had no issues wearing the headset for a few hours at a time while gaming.
However, listening to music with the Duel TMA-2 is less satisfying. This is mostly due to the bass which dominates the mix – and I know this is quite typical of a gaming headset.
The Duel offers perhaps a little less sound isolation than the average over-ear headset but still more than enough to block out most background noise. The on-ear cups let more sound through, which can be nice if you want to talk to passing housemates and the like.
Games are a little less demanding than games, acoustically, and all of the requisite gunfire, explosions and inane chatter came through as expected.
The headset feels very well put together; each component clicks into place in a satisfying way. Each part seems well-armoured against potential damage too. The headband is made of thick plastic, while the internal 3.5mm cables are well reinforced, springy and longer than they need to be to prevent them from getting torn out.
The microphone’s flexible metal construction should also make it impervious to normal use and abuse. The one weak point could be the 3.5mm splitter, which features very short and weak-looking plugs, but so far I’ve had no issues
Fnatic Gear and AIAIAI have done well here, crafting a sleek headset that dispenses with normal gaming accoutrements in favour of excellent fundamentals. This headset sounds great, and its modular design opens up exciting possibilities.