Asus Strix 7.1

Score

Pros

  • Excellent surround sound performance
  • USB controller is versatile and easy to use
  • Can switch easily between PC and HDMI inputs

Cons

  • Stereo performance only on par with headsets half the price
  • Not all that comfortable and creaks
  • Concerns about non-replaceable cable

Key Features

  • Review Price: £150.00
  • Real 7.1 surround sound
  • Detachable microphone
  • USB PC audio and HDMI console audio inputs
  • Adjustable speaker balancing
  • 5 drivers per earpiece

What is the Asus Strix 7.1?

The Asus Strix 7.1 is a premium,

multi-channel gaming headset that packs in five drivers in each ear

piece for true 7.1 surround sound. Coupled with a desktop volume

controller that can also take audio inputs from other sources such as

games consoles and you have a truly versatile and highly capable gaming

tool.

Oh, and the earcups have glowing eyes in them…

Asus Strix 7.1 – Design

The

Strix 7.1 headset is no shrinking violet. Large, angular, touched with

flashes of orange and with great big glowing orange eyes in the earcups,

it’s quite the sight. The earcups even have an eyebrow shaped section

that means this headset really does look like some sort of menacing owl

when the earcups are folded flat.

There is a touch of subtlety

in that the rest of it is mostly black but for the most part this is a

headset that means to be seen.

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Asus Strix 7.1

While

there is a nod to portability in the earcups being able to fold flat,

it’s a token effort. Flat or not this thing still takes up the same

space as a dinner plate and is a good couple of inches thick when laid

flat. What’s more the cable isn’t removable. In fact that’s an instant

black mark to our minds as it means the headset is ruined if the cable

gets damaged. Removable ones ensure you can simply swap in a

replacement.

Although nearly all plastic, overall build quality

is decent with big chunky pieces used throughout. The leather-covered

padding of the earcups and very-stretchy headband is ample and plenty

soft enough too.

Along with the headset itself comes a desktop

volume control. This follows the same design ethos of lots of angles and

orange lights. It’s well built too, with a decent heft to it. Combined

with three large rubber feet on the underside and you have a unit that

generally stays put, unlike some flimsy lightweight volume controllers

that just get dragged along by the headphone cord.

Asus Strix 7.1 – Features

As

well as giving you an easy way to adjust volume, the desktop unit is

also the heart of this headset. It can be used to adjust the balance of

the surround sound speakers (front, centre, side, back, sub) as well as

turn the lighting from ‘on’ to a breathing effect and switch between

different sound spectrums – EQ settings, basically.

Asus Strix 7.1

These

are all adjusted via the front selection dial and a top-mounted digital

volume dial, with surrounding lights used to show the selection or

level. It’s a simple but effective system, though a more prominent

marker on the front dial would be useful to tell which settings you’re

adjusting.

Four buttons along the front also allow you to choose

between 7.1 channel audio and conventional stereo, switch on the

in-built amp to boost volume, turn the mic on/off and engage the

speakers.

The latter option is for switching to a second sound

source. This can come either straight from an HDMI source or via the

quad-jack to HDMI converter included with the headset – the idea being

you can hookup a games console and enjoy surround sounds without

disturbing the neighbours. The headset can receive either stereo, 5.1 or

7.1 audio signals with the side drivers turned off for 5.1 output and

the side and read drivers turned off in stereo mode.

The headset

itself also attaches via an HDMI cable, again emphasising how it would

be completely ruined were the cable to be damaged – this would be no

easy fix.

As for connecting to your PC, the volume controller is also the sound card so connects via two USB plugs.

Asus Strix 7.1

Looking

again at the headset, each earcup packs in five drivers to create its

surround sound effect, with each earcup having a ‘center’ and sub driver

of its own, as well as front, side and rear.

You might think

the eye pattern would correspond to the driver arrangement but that

isn’t the case – the design was inspired by them, perhaps, but doesn’t

incorporate them.

A detachable microphone slots into the left

earcup and thankfully it uses a standard 3.5mm jack socket so can be

replaced by an alternative if the original is lost or doesn’t suffice.

There’s

also a microphone in the USB hub which is used in conjunction with the

headset mic to offering background noise cancelling.

Asus Strix 7.1

Asus Strix 7.1 – Comfort and ease of use

Setting

up the Strix 7.1 is a breeze with Windows instantly recognising and

installing the controller as a 7.1 speaker system that shouldn’t need

any configuring. If you want to listen in stereo mode rather than

surround you can just tap the 7.1 button on the controller and it’ll

flip to a normal stereo presentation.

Likewise, if you want to

switch to another source, it’s just a button tap away, while the dial

surround-balancing system works really well – we were setup and ready to

go in no more than a couple of minutes.

Sadly, we were less taken with the ergonomics of the headset.

For

a start, we’re never fans of folding earcups on large headsets as they

just make the headset unwieldy, with the whole thing flopping around and

being far more difficult to put on and remove as well as find a secure

place to lay them when not in use.

Asus Strix 7.1

More

importantly, though, the earcups themselves aren’t all that

comfortable. Understandably they’re fairly large so that all the drivers

can be squeezed in but we just find them a bit too cavernous, resulting

in them moving too freely on our ears.

There’s also no means of

adjustment, with them instead relying on the stretchy headband to find

the right balance. However, we found they sat just a little low for our

liking.

The earcups also don’t pull out very far meaning you have

to squeeze your head in to get them on, plus they do creak quite a bit

if you move your head.

Thankfully the padding and headband are

reasonably gentle so there’s no long term discomfort from any pressure

points. The large volume of internal air also means your ears don’t get

too sweaty.

Asus Strix 7.1

Asus Strix 7.1 – Sound Quality / Performance

In

terms of day to day stereo listening the Strix 7.1 are definitely a

step up from your average gaming headset but don’t blow us away when it

comes to music.

Bass is as high in the mix as you’d expect for a

gaming headset, and there is an impressive depth to it here, thanks to

those separate sub drivers. It also comes over without muffling the rest

of the presentation making for a fairly easy-going fun sound that still

has detail.

There’s definitely a lack of top-end sparkle,

though, and the mid-range is just a little low in the mix. The result is

that cymbals fizz rather than shimmer and vocals sound a little flat.

All told, they’re adequate for music but nothing special.

Asus Strix 7.1

It’s

switching to surround mode where they really come alive. While the

overall sound quality doesn’t change, the surround presentation is

excellent. Movies are far more immersive as sounds dance around you

while gamers are given a distinct competitive edge as it becomes much

easier to pinpoint the direction sounds came from.

As ever with

surround sound in games, the audio balance can be a little off, with

things like character footsteps and the rocket jump sound in Titanfall

sounding like they’re coming from behind you rather than… well, from

you. Largely, though, these are a big step up from stereo headphones

when it comes to hearing the virtual world around you.

As for

the noise cancelling microphone, it does an excellent job, delivering

clean, crisp audio. We also particularly liked the mic arm which can

really easily be bent to whatever position is needed.

Asus Strix 7.1

Should I buy the Asus Strix 7.1?

The

Asus Strix 7.1 is a great gaming tool that brings impressive surround

sound to both PC and console gamers. Its accompanying desktop controller

is also a useful and easy to use addition.

The headset isn’t

the last word in sound quality, particularly for music, but for the

price it’s about the level we’d expect given all the other features

you’re getting here. Plus, the surround sound experience is excellent.

However,

we didn’t find the headset particularly comfortable and it had an

annoying habit of creaking. Also, we’re always wary of headsets that

don’t have removable cables. Headphone cables break – it’s just a matter

of time – and the system used here would be nearly impossible to

replace it the worst were to happen.

That, and we just aren’t into having glowing eyes on the side of our head.

Don’t think the Asus Strix 7.1 is for you? Then check out out Best Gaming Headsets roundup.

Verdict

The

Asus Strix 7.1 is a great surround gaming headset that will be a great

addition for gamers that don’t have a surround-sound graphics card and

do also have their console next to their PC. In one unit it’ll provide

surround sound gaming for both. However, we’re just not that into the

styling or fit and we’ve concerns about spending so much on a system

that doesn’t have easily replaceable cables.

Score

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