While headsets may occupy the lower levels of the priority list of someone coming up with a badass rig, it doesn't mean that they're void of spunk and enticing qualities. Take for example the ASUS CineVibe USB gaming headset. Besides its dashing good looks, it promises top-notch audio experience not only for gamers but even for casual users. The only question is, does it hold its end of the bargain? Let's see hear.
ASUS didn't skimp or overdo in the looks department, as the CineVibe looks damn good without going overboard. The glossy black (a white version is also available) surface combined with the gentle curves of the speaker housing gives it a tinge of elegance and yes, even sexiness. The leather cushions that house the 30mm speakers are also a welcome addition to the overall look.
As easy as A-B-C
The Cinevibe is easy to set up. Just plug it in via USB and you're all set to drown yourself in sweet music. There are no installer CDs, and don't bother reading the manual because you won't be needing it. Our office rig, which is running Windows XP (yeah, some office policy, y'know), did all the work for us, detecting the headset (as Venus HS-P10 device) and installing the drivers straight away.
However, the USB setup means you might as well bid goodbye to using the CineVibe for portable media players sporting 3.5mm audio jacks.
A physical, chest-level control system comes with the headset, which makes adjusting the volume levels much easier. It consists of a + and - switch, the purposes of which we don't need to explain to you; a mic on/off button; and a switch that de/activates the rumble-feedback feature, the details of which we'll discuss later.
You can fold the CineVibe so it can be laid flat – quite useful if you're planning to pack the headset in a bag.
Like other headsets, we were also interested in the level of comfort the CineVibe provides. Clearly, we were looking forward to using it without giving us any pain, especially with the leather pads. Unfortunately, we found out that we were expecting a bit much because after just an hour, we were already cringing. The culprit? The small cans that clamp on your ears rather than "cup" them. It's not that bad or enough of a deal-breaker, though we now conclude that the CineVibe isn't for large-headed folks who wear glasses.
We had a merry time checking out if the CineVibe's audio quality is good enough. For low-to-mid volume levels, vocals and high-pitched sounds are clear and defined. Noise is not really an issue because the ear pads do a good job of isolating you from the outside world, so much so that if the volume is amped up, you may find yourself detached from reality.
Of course, the main selling point of the CineVibe is its rumble-feedback feature, which gives an extra oomph to bass lines via vibration. Think of it as something like a vibrator dual-shock controller for your ears.
Activating the rumble-feedback option has its advantages and disadvantages. If you turn it on, the bass noticeably becomes louder and clearer, and if it is deep enough, the vibrate mechanism is unleashed, giving you ear-thumping beats – literally. This comes at a price ,though. With the emphasis on the bass, other, more subtle sounds become less clear. Also, for bass-heavy beats, you might get annoyed with the rumble-feedback feature uncontrollably rocking your ears the whole time.
The built-in mic performs well, better than mics of run-of-the-mill headsets found at neighborhood computer shops. The only beef we have with it is its sensitivity. Yes. it's a tad sensitive, with it picking up even a suuuuper slight brush or bump on the wire or its exterior.
We tried the CineVibe while playing several games that make use of booming sounds like Crysis and Halo 2. We switched the rumble-feedback option on for scenes with lots of bullets and bombs going about. It was quite an experience, adding a bit of a dimension compared to just viewing and listening to the fireworks go "boom." However, if you're more of a music lover (not the heavy-metal lover kind), we think you'll find yourself disabling this option often for clearer listening.
Music to our ears?
The ASUS CineVibe is far from perfect. It isn't as comfortable as we wanted it to be. Also, it's unique selling proposition, the rumble feedback, needs a bit of fine-tuning, which will make you think that it's more of a novelty than a necessity. For what its worth, though, the CineVibe still delivers what it's meant to do: produce quality audio. That's really what's important, right? And at under P3,000, it won't hurt your wallet either.
Click here to view the CineVibe in the Buyer's Guide.