HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap

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HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap
Information
Type Audio Devices
Subtype 3D audio headphone
Platform HTC Vive
Developer HTC
Requires HTC Vive
Tracking Head tracking
Audio 3D
Input Microphone
Connectivity  ???
HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap is an audio accessory for the HTC Vive. It replaces the original earbuds that came with the HMD.

First Impressions

The new headstrap feels very lightweight and flexible - almost a cheap feeling in hands. The build quality is pretty good tho - check the images above. You can remove the headphones from the strap and even the cables for it, so the audio part is completely modular, which is a big plus!

Replacement

So there are no instructions how to remove the original strap in the manual - just a link to the vive support page. I'm happy I found this video a few days ago on the Vive Tutorials YouTube Channel. You can remove the headphones, but you will need a screw driver: http://imgur.com/a/m11pa The replacement was pretty simple and almost self-explaining. No screws, no stuck pieces, very easy to remove through a simple click-system. If you feel unsure, just watch the 2 minutes tutorial on YouTube.

Comfort

MUCH better now. The original strap is always slipping off when you play games, where you have to look down a lot or just turn around very fast. This is very annoying, because you are losing the sharp sweetspot inside the lens quite often and you need to readjust it every few minutes. BelkoVR and RacketNX are two good examples, that expose the low quality of the default strap. You need to readjust the headset every few minutes and you always notice the headset moving on your head and losing the sharp sweetspot.

Also putting the HMD on and off is always a bit of fumbling since you have to open all the velcro bands to fit your head size. All of this is almost fixed now. You can put the headset on within seconds. Just open up the adjustment dial on the back, put the whole Vive on your head and rotate the dial at the back to adjust the fit. The whole headset feels more stable and fixed on your head - I really like this. The only one left velcro band on top seems to have a higher quality as well, but we will have to check this in a few months for a final conclusion.

As you can see on my images, the 3-in-1 cable is now attached to a clip on the right side of the strap. I highly recommend everyone to use the included velcro cable tie to center the cable position in the back of the strap again. Otherwise you will feel the cable constantly on your shoulder, which is very annoying while moving your arms.

So overall the new headstrap is tighter and more stable on your head. It doesn't slip so fast anymore, but I still noticed a slight movement while I was turning my head very fast. There is still room to tighten it up a bit, but I'm pretty sure this will feel uncomfortable in longer sessions. The HMD itself is just too heavy and too big, so we won't get a 100% satisfying solution in this generation. There is no way I will ever put a Vive on my head with the old headstrap - it's just crap and feels like a cheap china version after you tried the new one.

Weight Distribution

Yes it is better, but not a total game changer. The HMD itself is pretty big and heavy and it still remains front-heavy. What's more important for me, is the fact, that the new strap is able to handle the weight better. The whole headset sits more stable and fixed on your head. The old strap always felt very loose and cheap and I stopped playing because of this - this is fixed now. It's an improvement, but don't expect wonders.

Headphones and Sound Quality

The integrated headphones are pretty balanced overall. I feel like the high-frequencies are a bit more dominant, but that's alright and doesn't stand out too much (I'm usually listening to EDM, so I prefer slightly bassy sound). Of course they can't keep up to my Sennheiser HD25, but the integrated headphones are pretty decent. I would say most casual people won't notice a difference between these and some random (neutral) headphones for 50-100 bucks. You could say they are on par with all the mid-range gaming headsets below 100 bucks - just with more neutral sound, which I personally like. I tested the integrated headphones with Elite Dangerous, Arizona Sunshine, BigScreen Beta (watching movies and trailers) and also with just playing some 320kbps music files in Windows.

I won't replace them, since they feel really comfortable with the new strap. You can perfectly adjust them with a small finger move - there is nothing to complain here. The noise-cancelling is almost non-existent, but that's good for home-use. I don't like headphones with high noise-cancelling, because you start to scream around and don't understand your friends in the room. We are talking about usual on-ear headphones with almost no contact pressure and you will be fine, if you don't play at very crowded places.


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