ASUS ROG Vulcan ANC Headset ReviewBluePanda - May 14, 2013
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ASUS ROG Vulcan ANC Testing:
Testing the ASUS ROG Vulcan ANC headset required some serious music listening sessions, a movie or two, and some intense gaming sessions. Granted, there's no easy way to measure sound quality, but I will do my best to describe any flaws or drawbacks in the sound reproduction that these sound-quality oriented headphones can deliver.
Also, since this particular headset also has the ability to turn on and off the active noise canceling feature – I spoke to both the feature enable versus disabled for each situation.
- Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz 100 x 44
- CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 991996 Redline PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 8 GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970
- PSU: Antec TruePower New TP-750
- Hard Drive: Corsair ForceGT 240GB
- Optical Drive: N/A
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit SP1
As you all know Borderlands 2 has been out for a while now and it's quite the hit game for all of us who loved the first round. I've found myself playing quite a bit with my friends, so it wasn't a problem throwing on these headphones for a couple rounds of killing. It wasn't too bad wearing them for long periods of time – they are rather comfortable and don't squash your head like others I've had in the past. As for sound quality, they don't sound too bad. For game play you can hear around you alright and turn and shoot it before it shoots you. The mic works like any decent mic and is generally functional, sounding fine. My only disappointment at this point is the lack of punchy bass. If you've got a machine gun or a rocket launcher that you are used to having a nice little thump when shooting, well it just isn't quite the same. Nonetheless they allow you to get up to level five quick enough with your Mechromancer to get that Deathtrap without you being the dead one.
I played with the active noise canceling on for a little bit but it wasn't something I was able to tolerate for very long. With no sound playing at all switching to the ANC is somewhat painful. It feels like pressure in your head that you just can't shake. However, if you turn it on in game or when something is already making noise it isn't too bad. It seems to really cut out some of the mid-range frequencies. It sounds "cold" and lacking a "full" sound. I'm not sure what it is, it just causes a sense of fatigue after listening for very long. It canceled out the noise around me – but in reality turning them up a bit (like normal) does just enough for me. I ended up turning the ANC off and not using it much more than to test it out for this review.
Different movies requires different expectations. Watching the Matrix one expects one thing versus watching a simple cartoon such as Despicable Me. But if you are anything like me, you go to the movie theater to feel the bass, not just enjoy the movie in epically large form. As I've already mentioned before these headphones really just lack the bass. The kick isn't there to make you feel it, let alone even hear it. You can crank them up a bit to try for more bass, but turn it up too much and they do actually start to distort. Overall, these aren't much of a step up from even your cheapest in-ear headphones.
The active noise canceling in movies was about useless. The quiet parts in movies that are hard to hear aren't improved with the noise canceling; they are actually harder to hear with the ANC on even if there's a lot going on around you. Too quiet of a section and you get that strange pressure feel back in your head and you end up turning it off anyway. I'm rather disappointed with the ANC, as rather than helping me out – it's just causing me more problems.
Music for me is something I really enjoy. I was a band nut in middle school and high school and though those years are quite a bit in my past now, I've always enjoyed listening to music of all types: classical, jazz, rock, and even more so today the Billboard Top 100. I really like bass and having two 12" subs in my car I get what I like. So perhaps I'm a bit picky when it comes to getting this, but I feel if a song has bass I want to hear it and I want to feel it. These headphones fell in the bucket on the music test. There just isn't any bass impact. Just like when I was shooting in Borderlands 2 it felt flat and, for lack of a better term, empty. I didn't get the full sensation of my music and even the world's new hit Gangnam Style couldn't be listened to without feeling like I was just missing something. No matter what I seemed to listen to, the Borderlands and Borderlands 2 opener songs, LMFAO, Gotye, Beethoven, Calvin Harris; it just didn't matter. It just all missed its bass.
With active noise canceling enabled, music was a loss. Not only was there not much bass to start, now I've lost both mid-bass and mid-range sounds. They just sound "cold" and lose the warm feel of a song. It's rather thin, I'm guessing because so much range is lost in turning on ANC, but this isn't the point of ANC. There is such a dramatic change between having the active noise canceling on or off. You can sit and listen to a song flipping the switch on and off going between what about sounds right, to something completely removed and "wrong" sounding. It was quite disappointing.