The key to immersion in gaming is engaging as many senses as possible. Second only to visual input is sound and headset technology aims to help with what you hear as well as what you don’t. We recently got our hands on the ASUS Republic of Gamers Vulcan ANC gaming headset and what we didn’t hear made a big difference in what we did.
The Vulcan ANC headset aims squarely at simplicity and will appeal to the gamers who appreciate clarity and noise reduction without the audiophile tweaking. Here’s the basic facts and features of the Vulcan ANC.
Most of the popular headsets work to increase the audio quality and comfort while bypassing active noise cancelling (knocking out the noise you usually hear in the room that is part of the PC or other people factors). Those other headsets use passive means to keep unwanted noises out. The Vulcan employs a powered system to defeat most of your outside annoyance noises in order to focus on the game sounds by putting out a noise of its own to negate the sounds from your surrounding from getting to your ears.
The Vulcan ANC headset has a comfortable over the ear construction to surround your hear in in a padded but breathable memory foam and uses the same memory foam across the bottom of the headpiece. The headset’s two main contact points (top of head and around ears) are supported and light enough to not be an annoyance during longer gaming sessions.
The headset goes for simplicity vs complexity and brings you solid gaming sound without attempting to get into the “surround” discussion. In our usage we felt that direction was conveyed well in a general sense which was enough to allow us to game effectively and feel confident that what we heard was off in the right general direction.
Being able to take your headset with you is a big deal and doing so with space in mind is a bonus. The Vulcan ANC headset collapses and fits inside a semi-rigid case which holds the detachable microphone boom and audio cord. We found the case and limited parts easy to take with us to work, to friends houses or anywhere we needed to take them.
We’ve all been there, great headset ruined by a cable that isn’t long enough so the potential for being startled and ripping the whole rig off your head or becoming a choking hazard becomes a real world problem. The Vulcan ANC has a cable long enough to manage your space issues comfortably even if you have to jack into the back of your PC. The rubberized cable at first puzzled me as it appeared to grip the various surfaces but soon I felt like it was an asset since the cable generally stayed where I needed it routed and wouldnt easily drag onto the keyboard or over the mouse.
The In-line volume control is simple, in easy reach and set to allow volume changes with a quick thumb movement and a fast switch for a quick mute of the microphone.
The microphone fits securely into the headset and gave no trouble as we adjusted the position of the mic. It worked well in usage for Skype calls and our favorite Teamspeak meetings. Friends on the line reported that the sound was clear and the noise-filtering did a great job reducing the background noises that the headset blocked us from hearing but left us wondering if those were going to be transmitted to our friends when we used ‘voice activated’ features.
Plug in, turn on and go. Here is one case where you wont be fumbling for controls. The Active Noise Cancelling is done through the electricity of one AAA battery meaning this headset isn’t looking to occupy one of your power points. No programs for settings means no installs and data transfer. The simple cord offers you two standard audio jacks, one for output (speakers) and the other for input (microphone).
One big case for simplicity is moving around. You can use the Vulcan ANC headset to listen to your favorite MP3 player, take it to a friends house if you like to use your own headsets vs borrowing or even grab it for the plane ride using the standard jack configuration.
We did notice that without the microphone and/or audio cord telling left from right becomes a quick visual inspection but it was a minor issue and worked itself out quickly with continued use.
Because of the timing of the review we had the unique opportunity to put this headset through a bit of a rough stress test at the NASCAR Geico 400 race at Chicagoland Speedway! With sounds up to 130 decibels every race fan has some means of protecting themselves from the race induced deafness and future tinnitus so our Vulcan ANC’s went into the case and into our backpack for 267 laps of pain.
The Vulcan’s held up in passive mode, cutting much of the general noise and we even felt that the announcements over the track PA sounded clearer. When we turned on the ANC it really cleaned up and took race noise to a very acceptable level. For 3 hours this headset was a fixture and even in the sun and 80 degree weather where the headset’s plastic warmed I never felt they were uncomfortable or were causing any sweating issues around the ear pieces. A very successful trip and a usage that bodes well for our friends who fly commercially OR get to fly with your friendly Air Force for long periods of time on your way to the two way rifle range.
The headset feels good, all cords and microphone are detachable and the overall feeling is very comfortable and not confining. The shape and color are complimentary of the ASUS ROG line in black and red with carbon fiber faux plastic accents.
We had two issues come up with the design that caused a minor annoyance and a potential problem. The annoyance is the headset height adjustments. The slides on both sides appear to be fabricated to facilitate the folding and travel functionality first and the users head size second. Everyone we had try these out said the same thing in that putting them off and on you felt like you needed to readjust them and while this isnt a long or unpleasant process if you have to dial them in each time you take that bathroom break or pull off your head to answer a call, it gets frustrating.
The potential problem presented itself in the ANC switch. During usage flipping this switch on/off sometimes appeared to allow the switch to stop in the center if not solidly moved resulting in no sound at all coming through the headset. We had to flip it back and forth with a little more attitude to reset the switch properly and return normal function. This could just be a quirk on this set or it could be a a design issue but it happened to a couple of us more than once so we’re pointing it out as something to consider.
Shuts down fan hum and general background noise that is mid/low range and consistent but during quiet periods you may notice the ‘active’ setting gives a soft hiss. This is easy to ignore and unless you play more quiet games you will hardly notice. Not having extensive experience with Active Noise Cancelling it is hard to tell if this is common but I suspect it is since ANC functionality technically IS making noise.
We were impressed how well this headset cut off general human outside chatter. Sharp sounds or deliberate attempts to get the users attention were heard and you’ll never miss the dog barking as zombie’s invade your house (important to prevent sneak attacks!). The great thing here was that if you are gaming or listening to music or in a room of others talking then you are going to enjoy not being disturbed or distracted.
The Vulcan ANC headset has a good solid sound. If you are not looking for that 7.1 surround sound where you’re searching for the heartbeat of the player next to you then you’ll be perfectly happy here.
We will note that the audiophile types are going to complain a little on the headsets range. When you are not gaming and you want to listen to high quality MP3s you may feel like there’s something missing but it isn’t a showstopper and to be fair, this headset isn’t made for your prized MP3 digitally mastered orchestral pieces. Just know that what they do right in gaming is get the game sounds to you, faithfully delivered and in a solid directional allowing you to react as the developer hopes you will.
The Vulcan ANC Headset is in what we would consider the 2nd tier pricing model. While you might be able to find a special deal and get under that $100 mark this model is going to mean your paying a little more for a few features that the lower end models do not. Our thoughts are that the Vulcan ANC are more fitting for gamers who are on the move and want to take them on the road or on a deployment. The case, the cords and all the detatchablity scream portable with comfort. Once you get over the Tier 2 pricing you’ll be sitting on extra cords, power restrictions and delicate higher end models you would worry too much about to take with you. Tier 1 models are your more entry level and then it’s all about lower quality but less stress on breakage.
Retails for approximately $100-$150
More information: http://rog.asus.com/audio/headsets/vulcan-anc/
The ASUS Republic of Gamers Vulcan ANC gaming headset is a solid performing headset that gives a mobile or multiple use gamer a lot of flexibility, comfort and quality. Our military friends will appreciate the case and being able to quickly clean up and clear out without cords and pieces being all over at an affordable price point.