VG Tribune

REVIEW: HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap

June 2, 2017 / 1:49 AM

By: Zack O'Neill

FULL DISCLOSURE: This product was generously provided to us for review by HTC. This did not effect the opinions stated in this review in any way.

 

When the Deluxe Audio Strap was first announced a few months ago at GDC, I have to admit, I didn’t particularly see the need for it. It was a general consensus among the VR community that the Oculus Rift has the superior ergonomics, and the integrated headphones in the strap were a lot more convenient than having to run your own pair of headphones over the strap like you have had to do with the Vive until now. At the time though, I had been thoroughly enjoying the ergonomics of the Vive and its strap. I never thought it was too heavy on my face, I never thought I was having a hard time adjusting the strap, or that it was inconvenient in any way. Upon the installation of my Deluxe Audio Strap, I realized how wrong I had been.

To start, let’s point out that you obviously need to detach the old strap in order to install the new one. This was made surprisingly easy, with a simple twist-and-remove method on the sides, and prying off the port cover on the top of the headset in order to remove the top strap. The hardest part of the whole thing was just looping the 3-in-1 cable out of the top strap. Installing the new strap was just as easy, with the new integrated headphones simply plugging into the headphone jack that there used to be an extension cable in to allow you to more easily attach your own headphones.

With the stock Vive strap, you have the 3-in-1 cable running over the top of your head, getting in the way of the top strap that many people need to adjust frequently, especially if you’re like me and demo VR to friends constantly. With the Deluxe strap, the cable now runs along the side of your head using a plastic cable router and velcro strap, putting it in the familiar position that it has always been in, but avoiding the frustration of adjusting the top strap, and in this case, the only real “strap” on the device.

While this is called the Deluxe Audio Strap, it’s not much of a strap at all. The strap functions as more of a clamp on your head, similar to how the strap on the PSVR functions. With the PSVR, you can press a button and adjust the length of the headset with some resistance to make sure it still stays snug on the head of whoever may be using it at the time, and nobody really disagreed that this was a great method of doing it, with many Vive users going as far as replacing their stock straps with welding mask straps to try and emulate the feeling that PSVR offered. With the Deluxe Audio Strap, the length adjustment model is followed in a similar way, but rather than have a button with resistance on your pull, the tab on the back with the Vive logo acts as a knob that you can turn and adjust the width and tightness of the Vive on your face, and if it’s not high up enough, you can easily adjust the height with the top strap. In my opinion, this is the best way of going about it, as you have complete control over the width of the headset and you can easily adjust any time you feel it to be necessary.

In terms of the ergonomic design, there may still be many people choosing the Rift’s design over the Vive, simply because of the sleek, minimalist design of the headset itself, and the weight being objectively less than the Vive. With this new strap though, it definitely feels like a step in the right direction by being much more form-fitting and adding some counter-balancing with the weight of the back of the strap.

Additionally, it’s very nice to not have to take off a pair of headphones, or worry about the headphone cable getting in the way of an arm movement during an intense game of Holoball. There have been countless times I’ve had to help people out who’ve gotten themselves tangled in the headphone cable and ended up ripping it out, only to be unable to figure out where the dangling headphone cable went with the headset still on. Now that we’re able to simply move the ear cups back or forward if needed, it really eases a lot of concern that came with demoing the headset to friends who have never tried VR. To even be able to just slightly move the cups outward so you’re not entirely isolated in your VR world can do a lot of good for social demos and for knowing if someone just happened to walk in the room while you were trying to have some private time with your VR waifu (don’t deny it, we’ve all given it a shot).

And in regards to the headphones, you can rest easy knowing that the audio quality is just fine with HTC’s built-in headphones, coming close even to my personal favorite gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud II. That being said, if you have a very high-quality pair of headphones that you specifically want to use for VR, you absolutely still can, as the headphones are removable, but the quality loss is not anywhere near enough to really justify replacing them. The headphones are great for hearing details in games, while getting a very crisp, clear sound with no obstruction to the flawless feeling of 3D audio as you move across your play area.

CONCLUSION

There is really very little bad I can say about the Deluxe Audio Strap, it’s just such a huge improvement on everything that the Vive needed in terms of ergonomics. At the very least, I will say that this should have been something that was included with the Vive from the start for a flawless experience at launch. Even at the $100 price point though, I can’t really say that it’s not worth it. I can’t go back to the original strap after trying this thing, it’s legitimately a must-buy for anyone who has a Vive.

About the author /


Zack started working at VGTribune at 15 years old and has been gaming since the the age of 2. He is currently in college studying film and technology with plans to continue in the game industry. He’s also really good at Counter Strike.

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