Most gaming headphones opt for a more-is-more approach to design and consequently they’re large and bulky, such as the excellent Plantronics GameCom 777; the only real alternatives are dinky, one-ear Xbox 360-style headsets which are lightweight in terms of both mass and sound quality.
So it’s surprising that it’s taken so long for a company to create gaming focussed in-ear headphones, but Roccat’s Vire are exactly that; a pair of in-ear headphones with an inline microphone on the cord.
They come wired for use with an MP3 player (i.e. they’ve got a single 3.5mm plug), but there’s an adaptor in the box that splits them into mic and headphone connections for use with a PC too. You also get a soft carry case emblazoned with the bright blue Roccat logo.
The Roccat Vire comes with a carry pouch included
The earphones themselves are lighter than the bubbles in a settling meringue and the microphone is compact. Annoyingly for people who want them to function as iPhone earphones, there’s no button on the mic for remote control or call functions for your phone though, which means they aren’t as universally useful as they first appear.
A far bigger issue in testing the Roccat Vire though was how comfortable the Vires were, or rather, weren’t. There’s basically no cushioning or padding on the earphones at all, so unlike other in-ear models with silicon or foam tips, they don’t form a snug fit in your ear canal. Instead, they just hang on one of the inner ridges of your ears, and it feels as if you’re wearing a rather peculiar pair of ear-rings rather than earphones.
While the Vire tips aren’t an utterly uncomfortable shape, the looseness of the fit makes them irritating to wear for long periods of time and they the seal in your ear isn’t as tight as it should be.
The actual in-ear fit is disappointing at best
The fact they don’t seal the ear canal also means you need to listen at a higher volume than with most other in-ear models. As a result, the sound is less immediate, too, although for a budget priced pair of earphones, the actual quality of the sound isn’t too bad. The high end gets squeaky and the bass is a little light, but they’re perfectly fine for listening to most music on, especially when compared to other games in this price range.
The Roccat View perform fairly well in games too, but again, in our experience proved difficult to wear for long periods of time, rendering sound quality a moot (if not mute) issue.
When it gets right down to it, the Roccat Vire are a pair of headphones which again remind us of that age-old adage; you get what you pay for. For the Vire, you aren’t paying an awful lot and you get about the same in return. They function OK, but the ergonomics are all gone to hell and that means that, even if they did sound fantastic, you still wouldn’t want to use them for long.
Verdict: Vire by name, vile when it comes to comfort, it’s a shame they’re so difficult to wear for long periods of time as in-ear gaming headphones aren’t a bad idea.