Asus is no stranger to audio products. They’ve been creating audio accessories to complement their PC products for a while and have created their own line of audio cards via the Xonar line. So it’s not surprising that the Taiwanese company is now dipping their toes into gaming headsets, starting with their ROG branded Vulcan Active Noise Cancelling headset. Will Asus be able to make a dent in a space that’s dominated by competitors like Logitech and Razer?
I first saw the Vulcan back in June during COMPUTEX, and to be honest we liked what we saw – unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to properly test everything. So it was nice to see that the retail version of the Vulcan that arrived in our office was virtually unchanged from what I saw from the trade show.
The Vulcan is a Republic of Gamers branded headset, so it makes sense that the ROG branding is featured prominently across the whole device.
The entire headset can be folded for storage and comes with a nice hard case, again with prominent ROG branding. There’s carbon fiber finish on both the cups, and the right earcup houses a single AAA battery for the noise cancellation feature.
The left earcup is where the detachable mic and the audio cable is plugged in. It’s also where the switch for the ANC is located. The rubberized audio cable is nice and thick, and is long enough to reach the back of your rig without putting tension on it.
Both the audio and microphone plugs at the end are gold plated, and there’s a place to plug in the mic plug if when you’re not using it.
There’s a small control pod where you can control volume and mute your mic.
Looking at the tech specs, the Vulcan seems like a winner – 40mm drivers, 32 Ohm impedance, Maximum > 15 dB 85 % ambient noise cancellation and Maximum > 30 dB of noise cancellation. The whole thing only weighs in at about 325 grams, so it’s not too much of a burden when going on long gaming binges.
I tested the Vulcan on a couple of different games, including Valve’s free-to-play masterpiece Team Fortress 2, DICE’s multiplayer masterpiece Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Codemaster’s racing game Dirt 3.
Positional audio is an important part of playing FPS games, and in this regard the Vulcan shined. I was able to locate baddies and assist my teammates more effectively in BBC2, as the game uses a lot of audio clues to tell players what’s going on around them (each side for example says a short phrase in Russian or English if they’ve killed someone regardless if they’re spotted or not, something that’s easy to miss with a pair of bad headphones). Team Fortress 2 meanwhile, allowed us to test the effectivity of the microphone (since the game relies heavily on teamwork to win) and I’m happy to report that my teammates heard me loud and clear, even when there was an electric fan blowing literally a couple of feet beside me. The meaty thrum of rally car engines were replicated well during my Dirt 3 sessions, and driving through gravel stages with the Vulcan on is an experience in itself.
The Vulcan managed to work well with non-gaming sources too, which includes music and movies. Eminem’s track Renegade (feat. Jay-Z) had loads of bass, handled the mid-range well and had clear highs.
The ANC feature worked pretty well too, as long as you understand it won’t cut ALL ambient noise. It’s able to take down a lot of usual white noise around my area, including fans of my gaming rig, electric fan and the hum of the air conditioner. The ANC feature will also work even if the cable isn’t plugged in, which makes the Vulcan a nice headset to have when you’re on a plane for example.
Another nice thing I liked was the detachable cable and mic – I’ve managed to ruin a fair bunch of headphones via the audio cable because of my clumsiness, including a few high-end ones gifted by friends and the detachable cable on the Vulcan is a godsend for people like me. And unlike other gaming headsets, the detachable mic means you can use it on your music players without looking (and feeling) ridiculous.
Of course, all of these features don’t come without a price, and the Vulcan is no exception. It’s expected to hit retail for about Php 5,990 which is pretty steep, considering it’s main rival, the Logitech G35, can be had for as low as Php 5,000. Still, the Vulcan’s has a few advantages over the G35 (it uses a regular 3.5mm jack as opposed to the G35’s USB input among other things) and if your budget permits, you definitely should consider it.
Active noise cancellation
Excellent sound quality
The Asus ROG Vulcan ANC headset isn’t cheap, but then again, the performance that it’s able to put out makes it worth the premium price it’s asking for.