No Owls have been harmed in the making of this review
Gaming headsets has been a staple set of gears in the gaming community, as they tell a thing or two about the ones who wields them. By default, any headset could be used for gaming but there are exceptions when it comes to “proper” gaming headsets and that’s the ability to pin-point where your enemies are precisely while still providing a an immersive experience.
Now meet the ASUS STRIX PRO. A gaming headset that appears to resemble an owl. Well, ASUS’ STRIX Series derived its features from an owl so it’s just proper me thinks. Now what separates this gaming headset from the rest are the pair of 60mm drivers, a huge jump from the 40mm and the usual 53mm drivers we have seen on some gaming headsets. In addition, ENC comes back to ASUS’ gaming headsets, although in the form of input noise cancellation, as opposed to what we have seen with the ASUS Vulcan PRO ANC. This being a gaming headset, also features cross-platform compatibility.
FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS: CLICK HERE
- Driver diameter : 60 mm
- Driver material : Neodymium magnet
- Impedance: 32 Ohm
- Frequency Response (headphones): 20 ~ 20000 Hz
- Sensitivity (headphones): 98 dB
- Microphone Pick-up Pattern: Uni-directional
- Frequency Response (microphone): 50 ~ 16000 Hz
- Sensitivity (microphone): -40 dB
UNBOXING & BUNDLED ACCESSORIES:
The ASUS STRIX pro deviates from the usual ASUS flared packaging we used to see, as this one clearly enjoys the limelight with half of its part visible to the naked eye.
The back of the packaging shows the notable features of the headset. Nothing to complain, nothing out of place.
The STRIX PRO came bundled with the usual paperworks, as well as adapters which are compatible with mobile devices. A volume and ENC control hub is also included.
DESIGN & COMFORT:
Out of the box, the ASUS STRIX does indeed strikingly resembles an owl, as you’ll immediately notice an eye like shroud for the driver housings. The STRIX PRO just weighs around 320 Grams, so there’s a lot of plastic here to keep its weight in-check. Notice the folded flat cups. That’s the only thing you could do to keep the STRIX PRO’s size down by a bit.
From a different angle, the ASUS STRIX PRO looks like a completely different beast. Although it’s a fact that it will still look strange on your head due to its size. Form factor is certainly large that said, so travelling with these or using it on the streets is a no-no in my book.
A pair of 60mm drivers are shrouded between the cups and the pads. With 32 Ohms of impedance, it could be used with any mobile devices.
Head cushion is a courtesy of a self adjusting band with four pockets. The band is actually stitched and looks like it wont break for the whole duration of the STRIX PRO’s lifetime.
The pads are pentagon in shape and is huge enough to fit the ear without even touching the pads themselves. It could be snapped out easily for through cleaning if needed.
Perhaps one of my main gripes with the headset are the damn cables, specifically the ones used in the control hub. When attached, there’s no denying that it will most probably make a mess on your table. Personally, I’d like to keep wiring minimal when it comes to my desk and the STRIX PRO surely tested my patience. Kinda disappointing to see such a mess every time I use my PC. Do note that you need the audio hub powered up if you want to use the ENC feature of the headset.
Now lets talk about comfort, since it’s equally important with the sonic performance when it comes to long gaming sessions. We are a bit sad to report that the STRIX PRO doesn’t feature the comfort we wish it had. Although made out of plastic, the headband doesn’t feature the flexibility it needs to fit larger heads comfortably, more so if we add the limited tilting option of the cups. I could say that with those things said, there is an uneasy amount of pressure from this headset specifically around the cheekbone area when it is worn. You’ll get used to it, but be warned.
In addition to those flaws, the wires from the bottom of the headset’s left cup had this stiff and protruding rubber protector that wants to french-kiss my shoulder. It’s annoying as heck, and should be a warning to those with smaller heads since the headset might sink a little lower.
NOTE: The ASUS STRIX PRO Headset ends with a non-conventional 3.5mm jack. It’s weird looking, but I guess it’s there for multi-adapter compatibility. We actually had to use one mobile adapter to make it work on our PC. For PCs, or notebooks with single I/O multi-purpose audio ports, this is a great feature.
TEST SYSTEM & PROCEDURES:
Audio stuffs such as speakers, headsets, headphones, earphones, IEMs, and pretty much whatever they are as long as they produce audio output, are very subjective to be tested. That is true, in a sense that no pair of ears are the same, and there is a lot happening between you, and the headset for example. That said, your experience will most likely differ from ours.
We start the testing after we burn-in or wear-in the drivers. Usually, 48-72 Hours of continuous burn-in will do for most. This is to ensure that the audio solution is already delivering what an end user would actually experience in the long run. Wireless setup is a courtesy of our ASUS Z97-PRO WiFi AC motherboard with a buit-in Bluetooth connectivity. As for the wired audio setup, we are going to use the on-board solution found on the said Z97 motherboard. It is an amplified Realtek® ALC1150, far from the ideal solution we wish we had but it is capable nonetheless. Rest assured, there’s no equalizing done, so everything is tested as flat as possible. Sampling Rate is maintained at 24-bit, 48000Hz.
SOUND QUALITY: MUSIC PLAYBACK
LOWS: This is the first time that I am going to test 60mm drivers, and from my experience, the larger the drivers, the more pronounce the bass is. I was never wrong, as the STRIX PRO provided an enjoyable bass response with its tight low-end. Although it does not extend really low, it is a pleasant surprise to hear this much of a sonic detail for a gaming headset.
MIDS: This area is recessed, and ASUS had the reason to do so since in gaming, what you really need the most are those sound cues that usually sits at the top end of the audio spectrum. The STRIX pro, although recessed, provided a good mid-range tonal quality. It’s not that superb for my taste but it is enough for those who are yearning to enjoy audio playback without spending too much on a pair of cans. Decent, yet very capable.
HIGHS: The highs weren’t accentuated, nor sounded inadequate as it sounds really crisp and natural. Just right where it should be. The ASUS STRIX PRO is actually a balanced headset, with a V-shape sound signature across the spectrum. That said, you’ll probably enjoy EDMs and the most recent tracks geared towards casual and mainstream listeners. I find the higher-end sweet, but not eargasmic sweet kind of thing.
Sound stage and imaging is actually good enough, and is actually just a level below the HyperX Cloud in comparison. There isn’t a lot to talk about the flaws of the STRIX PRO since it offered a decent soundstage. I have no reason not to like its tonal properties considering its target audience.
SOUND QUALITY: MOVIES
General movie playback is a bliss with the ASUS STRIX PRO. Explosions sounded authentic, and you can actually enjoy DTS & THS certified titles. Vocals / dialogues sounds natural too, as far as movie playback goes. See music playback for more details on how this set of cans truly sounds.
SOUND QUALITY: GAMING
Battlefield 4 is our game of choice here as sound cues are indispensable allies to those who know how to wield them. If you’re playing the game, spotting is a matter of life and death, and this is where a good audio solution comes into play. I.E. spotting a T-UGS (motion detector) and a spawn beacon of the enemies. Without a good audio solution, finding these pesky gears in-game is a pain in the arse.
We are happy to report that the ASUS STRIX PRO passed our test in Battlefield 4 with flying colors, as it has a great imaging. Meaning, audio positioning is pretty good. We never had problems locating our enemies, as we have a pretty clear sonar vision around us. It doesn’t matter whether the enemy is at the same floor or higher than you, as you’ll easily notice the difference in the battlefield even though bullets and explosions are whizzing around you. In game comms were actually clear too, enough to separate the squad chatter to the game’s messy environment.
SOUND QUALITY: MIC INPUT
Since the ASUS STRIX PRO comes with the ENC, or Environment Noise Cancellation for the boom mic, we tested that feature to check out if it’s actually a worthy addition to the headset’s features. Turns out that somewhat it is, as it could magically blocks outside noise substantially to create a clearer communication between you and the team mate. Damn thing could even block mechanical keyboard noises except for Cherry MX Blues. That thing hits hard.
Although the ENC is plausible, I sounded a tad unnatural when it is turned on as per my squad-mates reported. I suggest keeping this feature on in dire situations where comms matters more than your voice and K/D Ratio if you’re gaming on a noisy environment.
VALUE & CONCLUSION:
The ASUS STRIX PRO is a good headset to introduce a new line of series. It sounds good enough to level itself among those who are worthy of their pricetag. Bass is particularly good, along with a crystal clear high-end that is favorable when it comes to listening to a wide variety of genres, and when gaming. Mid-range isn’t the best, but its decent enough to enjoy a whole track. As for the aesthetics, ASUS is spot on with the owl based design which looks good, and will actually turn heads upon contact. It’s not for everyone though, as some might find the design over the top.
Build quality seems to be okay, although we find the STRIX PRO creaking every now and then when we are playing with it on our head. Comfort needs some improvement especially in the clamping force department. Another thing worth improving at is the control hub, which is a total mess due to the bulky cables. Even with its non-slip base, it will still wreak havok on your desk. Only the volume knob, mute, and the ENC function saved it.
At 99 USD, it looks like a good pair of peculiar looking cans. We certainly heard better, but if you’re all in for a nice looking headset that performs what a gamer should expect across all gaming platforms, then the ASUS STRIX PRO is for you.