When the HTC Vive arrived on the scene, it was notorious for its front-heavy nature due to a lack of weight distribution throughout the device. With only velcro straps holding it in place, the pressure on the nose became too much for many a user. While I did not have so much of the same issue as I forced the strap to the base of the occipital bone, it sat decently well, but playing any game with lots of movement quickly dislodged the strap and forced unnecessary pressure on the bridge of the nose.
With the PlayStation VR and - in some cases - the Oculus Rift, it shows what a solid head strap can do to negate frontal pressure on the nose can do to the comfort of the device. In comes the HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap where, instead of a direct copy of the PlayStation VR's head strap, is an evolution of the device. Granted it still doesn't have the much loved quick head-mount flip that is so useful, but it has a much comfier head strap and it dials in much smoother and better than the PlayStation VR head strap.
Interestingly the new strap seems to have added a positive in which I have not had any initial fogging at first boot-up use. Before I used to have to remove the headset for a few seconds to let the moisture clear from the lenses, but now there's no need to do that. A small inconvenience at first, but now solved.
During play and quick action games - such as Battlezone, Raw Data, Soundboxing and Serious Sam - the headset stayed firmly in place without any movement compared to before. This has led to a much more fun experience compared to before and with the added bonus of the headphones, the experience became even better still.
Granted having your own headset is always nice, they never did fit properly on top of the HTC Vive, mainly because of the cables running through the centre of the head strap. This also caused the headset to be pulled to the side more often than not, thankfully they've added a compartment to hold the wires in place firmly. Also, an extra lead has been removed in form of the separate audio cable. With this cable gone, it means that there's one less very long cable from your headset needs to be present. You still have the option to use your own headset but these new speakers sound fantastic.
There are some games where the use of binaural sound is used, Battlezone is one of those and has an option in the game for you to enable it, once done the change in sound is phenomenal. But all of this would have been for nought if the speakers sounded awful.
Each of the speakers is covered by a soft material (I'm assuming faux PVC or faux PU) that rest very gently on the ears, and with the volume set to max, it was enough to not lose its full clarity and kept decently crisp at such a volume. Of course, having it at this volume would mean that you are pretty much deaf anyway, so the range at which almost everyone will be using them is crisp and has enough base for those that are more inclined towards that segment.
Each of the ears is adjustable from the height, rotation, and they even pop-out when you need to take the headset off, but if you are inclined to use your own headset, then the ears can be removed. With the quality of the sound, however, it would seem unneeded unless you're the ultimate audiophile.
Installing all of this was a breeze, the front top of the HTV Vive head mount has a latch where the USB, HDMI, power, and audio cables go. a light push towards the front and it pops off with little effort, then it's a matter of removing the cables from the headset and strap, then rotating the strap 90 degrees on the sides till you hear a snap, this disconnects the strap from the headset. It's then just a matter of grabbing the new audio head strap, pushing hard-ish on the connectors on the headset, and connect the cables back to the original spots in the headset. A process that takes no more than 10 minutes - if that.
The real question is whether it's worth the asking price of £100, and is it? Well, it all depends on your setup and comfort beforehand. I found that having built-in audio helped massively and the head strap itself has made such a big impact over the comfort of wearing the headset over a prolonged period of time, that the £100 I paid for it was just about right. The issue comes with those that prefer to use their own audio hardware, and in that case, it's a hard sell.
With the Vive Pro around the corner, it's now a matter of whether of many keeping their Vive or upgrade to the new one. I purchased this upgrade as I feel there was no need to upgrade when a £100 option was available, however, there will always be those that prefer a higher resolution, better screen DPI, clearer lenses, and a larger resolution.
The HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap is a much-needed replacement for the HHTC Vive head strap that feels like it should have been there from the start. Its audio quality is of a high enough standard that will please most people and the comfort is now right up there with the PlayStation VR headset. The only thing missing is the quick rise of the head mount. With the price as it is, it's highly recommended for those that use the HTC Vive often, but a hard sell for those with high-end audio equipment.
Purchase the HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Headstrap.
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