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Hands-on review: The ASUS ROG Theta 7.1 headset

By Owen McCarthy
Mon 9 Dec 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

From the moment you open the box, you realise that ASUS ROG have delivered a headset designed for those serious about sound.  If you don’t believe me, check out their website, but one can tell by just looking.

I’ve spent pretty much the past week using the Theta 7.1 headset, and while I can’t really call myself a hardcore gamer, I don’t want to give these back.  Comfort, coolness, build, high specs - the ROG Theta 7.1 has it all.

Hey, wait a minute! I forgot to mention the most important thing. The Theta 7.1 offers a sound experience that draws a line in the sand and sets a benchmark that challenges all newcomers to do better.

A few days ago, I took part in an online seminar that lasted for more than three hours. It was a real test of the comfort of the ROG Theta 7.1. Hardcore gamers will be happily ensconced in these for as long as it takes to keep the universe safe - before you and mum decide it’s time to go outside for some vitamin D and fresh air. Despite our hot weather, I didn’t suffer from any sweaty ears, which I put down to the cooling technology of the materials ASUS used in the construction.

Design

The ASUS ROG Theta 7.1 are without doubt the most imposing looking headset I’ve ever tried. They look bulky but wearing them is a revelation. I’m really into ear comfort and the ROG Theta 7.1 have surprised me by being wearable for hours on the trot with extreme comfort. I’d love to know what they used to prevent my ears from overheating. The foam cushioning makes for a superlatively comfortable experience.

When I’ve viewed what ASUS have said about the technology, I can see why there is such bulk. More about that later. My question then is simple: Why do they feel so light and comfortable? Even the headband is cushioned, plush and luxurious.

Even better for competitive gamers, you’ll love the Aura lighting area that lights up and is customisable via the Armoury app. The detachable microphone has an LED indicator, and there is a PC/mobile mode control and audio control wheel built in. If you don’t want lighting, simply hold the wheel down for three seconds to turn the lighting off/on.

This ROG Theta 7.1 connects to your device via a very robust-looking USB cable. A USB C extension is supplied. The message is clear; the ASUS ROG Theta 7.1 is all about delivering the most superior sound quality available. 

The specifications state, “Support PCs and PS4 using included USB-C to USB 2.0 adapter. Support 2018 iPad Pro by USB Connection.” I tried connecting to an Android phone and failed. If you want an all-purpose headset, this won’t be the one for you. However, I don’t care. It works fine on my MacBook Pro and HP Elitebook, and the USB-only connection underlines that sound quality is ROG’s primary concern.

Performance and experience

I wanted to find out what “exceptional lossless audio quality” means. Lossless audio means that the audio quality you get is the equivalent of the original recorded sound. Any compression of files will not affect the quality. My experience of this, listening mostly on iTunes, has been a remarkable sound clarity.

Playing with the ROG Armoury settings on my PC, I was amazed to hear the rattle-tatt of machine gun fire appearing to move around me, confirming that I’m getting an authentic 7.1 sound experience. 

I don’t pretend to even understand the underlying technology behind the four built-in drivers, but I do understand that I can differentiate every instrument being played in my favourite Beatles’ song, Revolution. I also love the ‘cello accompaniment in Yesterday. It’s a little game I play with myself when listening to my favourite tunes.

That leads me onto gaming. After all, ROG are all about gaming, and I was feeling the need to deal with some more of those pesky undead after watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead.  I can inform you that the experience is total, and as I sniped away contentedly, I was reassured by the sickening thud of zombies as they hit the dirt in a most satisfactory way. Moving onto my favourite shoot-em-up game, I heard every bolt action, and sound effects are sharp and clear. 

I couldn’t finish without going for a spin via Asphalt 9: Legends, where every turbo kick in, every tyre screech and every crash is comfortingly realistic.

Then there’s the noise-cancelling microphone. Some clever technology is going on here. Imagine you’re gaming in a packed auditorium, thousands of fans screaming your name as your latest zombie kill registers on the big screen, and at the same time you’re trying to talk to the other members of your Zombie Task Force team. 

The noise cancelling technology will mute your rabid but adoring fans, so that you can chat uninterrupted to your squad. Alternatively, your dedicated squad of professional zombie exterminators won’t be distracted by your mum telling you to come to dinner, put out the rubbish, clean your room and bring out your dirty laundry. In either scenario, the noise cancelling technology built into the microphone is a winner.

Summary

The ROG Theta 7.1 is a seriously superior headset if you don’t intend using it with your mobile or devices other than those specified. It is so hot off the press that I’m still waiting for information of its availability in New Zealand.

Typical of ROG, it comes in rather superior packaging, and the build quality makes the 650g weight feel as light as a feather when you’re using them. Gamers will be in paroxysms of delight when they wrap their heads in this set.

If you’re seriously after one of these, you may need to visit ASUS Australia, as they don’t appear to have arrived in New Zealand as I write. I was directed to try some NZ resellers, but I guess I got in first. This is one headset that will be worth the effort getting your hands on.

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