Asus ROG Cetra Review

A pair of wired USB-C gaming headphones tailor made for the Nintendo Switch and Android smartphones

Verdict

The Asus ROG Cetra headphones provide a USB-C listening experience and offer significantly less bulk than a fully fledged headset. However, the price point, average sound and confusing compatibility make them hard to recommend in a crowded market.

Pros

  • USB-C connectivity for Switch, PC and some phones
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable fit
  • Good range of tips and buds

Cons

  • USB-C compatibility is still a mess
  • Disappointing active noise cancellation
  • Middling audio quality
  • Chunky in-line controls
  • Garish lighting

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £115
  • USB-C
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Omni-directional microphone
  • Ambient mode
  • Weight: 26g

The standout feature of the Asus ROG Cetra gaming headphones is their wired USB-C connection, potentially making them the go-to option for the Nintendo Switch and select modern Android smartphones.

Along with the benefits of USB-C connectivity, the ROG Cetra headphones offer a couple of extra features to help you focus on the best gaming experience possible.

Do the Asus ROG Cetra headphones achieve their aim, or could value for money and complicated compatibility be their Achilles’ heel? Let’s take a more in-depth look.

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Asus ROG Cetra

Asus ROG Cetra design – Not exactly a looker

In terms of design, the Asus ROG Cetra headphones are a mixed bag. Their main benefit over other headsets is portability and they certainly deliver in this respect. They also come with a small, round carry case.

The rest of the design looks sleek – almost all black with a flattened cable running end-to-end. The downsides come in the form of the I/O and some iffy lighting.

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Asus ROG Cetra

The inline controls feel quite cheap and the buttons are far from tactile, but they do work as intended.

While Asus describes the lighting on the headphones as a subtle effect that “adds a stylish touch”, we think it looks a tad silly and over the top, but this is the style for many gaming-focused products.

The Asus ROG Cetra comes with a good range of silicone tips and fins along with one set of foam ear tips, so you can make sure they comfortably fit your ears securely. Whichever options you choose, you can pack them into a handy travel case that comes with the headphones.

Asus ROG Cetra audio and features – Cursed cancellation and compatibility

The audio and mic quality of the Asus ROG Cetra are decent enough. You won’t be blown away by bass or amazed by detailed sound, but if you are primarily using them for what they are built for – gaming and voice chat – then you’ll be pretty satisfied.

Along with the middling audio, the Asus ROG Cetra headphones offer a couple of standout audio features – the headliner being active noise cancellation (ANC).

Not many devices at this price point offer this feature so it’s a welcome inclusion. However, there might be a good reason cheaper ANC is usually omitted.

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Asus ROG Cetra

The Asus ROG Cetra’s ANC just isn’t all that good. To say it is bad would be unfair, and it’s a case of getting what you pay for, but these headphones simply block out what can be described as peripheral sounds.

If you are using them in a quiet office then you will notice a difference, but if you use it anywhere busier it really isn’t all that effective.

There is also the issue of the USB-C compatibility of these headphones. USB-C compatibility remains complicated – despite many Android phones moving over to the port in recent years.

Results differ phone by phone, so it is worth checking out Asus’s compatibility list here. On this page, Asus says “It’s fully compatible with Asus phones including ZenFone and ROG phone. As for other mobile phones with USB-C connector, some support music but not communication due to different chipsets and connector definitions among various models.”

When testing the headphones using the unlisted Oppo Reno2 smartphone, the Asus ROG Cetra initially didn’t work at all. I then discovered that turning on the OTG Connection mode in the Android settings corrected this and the headphones became fully functional. So it might be the case of just fiddling with your settings to ensure compatibility, but there isn’t a guaranteed workaround for every USB-C phone.

Asus ROG Cetra

As per Asus’s comment, some phones still may not support all the functions that the ROG Cetra offers. For now, if you intend to buy these headphones and your phone isn’t on the list, it’s probably best to check with Asus first so you aren’t disappointed.

It must be said this issue isn’t necessarily Asus’s fault, but simply caused by ongoing problems with the USB-C ecosystem that will hopefully be solved soon.

Should you buy the Asus ROG Cetra gaming headphones?

I find these headphones extremely hard to recommend, unless you have one of the phones on Asus’s official compatibility list, or a burning desire for some gaming-friendly Nintendo Switch headphones,

And even if you do have a compatible device, the ROG Cetra headphones are pricey for the audio quality and features they offer. There are many wireless earbuds and other USB-C wired headphones at a similar price point that offer a lot of the same features and often better audio (they may lack ANC but the ROG Cetra’s isn’t much to write home about).

However, using wireless earbuds would negate the ability to use them with the Nintendo Switch. Conversely, opting for wired headphones with a 3.5mm jack to use with the Switch could mess with using them with your phone – which potentially doesn’t have a headphone jack.

The Asus ROG Cetra are a very similar offering to the older Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC headphones, which we reviewed more favourably and can now be picked up for around £20 less. If you need some wired USB-C headphones for on-the-go Switch gaming then these could be the ones for you.

The Asus ROG Cetra headphones still provide a decent USB-C listening experience and offer significantly less bulk than a fully fledged headset. However, the price point, average sound and confusing compatibility make them hard to recommend in a crowded market.

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