Asus Vulcan ANC review
UK price (as reviewed): £79.99 inc VAT
US price (as reviewed): N/APreferred Partner Price: £82.78 (inc VAT)
As simple as headsets appear to be, manufacturers for some reason seem to struggle to strike a balance between comfort, ease of use and the all-important factor - sound quality. To prove our point, the last four gaming headsets we've reviewed - the Tt eSports Shock
, Sharkoon X-Tatic SX
, Roccat Kulo
, SteelSeries Spectrum 5XB
- have been lacking, in some cases severely, in one or more areas.
However, while it's pleasing to see companies such as Razer
come up trumps, we're all in favour of welcoming potential new king of the hill's to the scene. With this in mind, say hello to Asus' first foray into the world of gaming headsets, the Vulcan ANC, which as you can see is a Republic of Gamers-branded product.
Looks-wise, the Vulcan is simple and maybe even unremarkable, with subtle ROG insignia - some of us here at bit-tech
liked it, others preferred the more classic look of Razers Carcharias. The Vulcan's shape lends itself to several useful features though. Firstly, you're able to fold the ear cups inwards, so that the headset fits neatly into the included semi-hard case. There's a good inch and a half of adjustment on each side of the headband and a large, padded cushion across it meant that in this area at least, comfort is epic.
The ear cups themselves feel a little wobbly, but in the case of the Vulcan, this is a good thing. The headband is quite a stiff affair, and its the ear cups that move to fit your head when you put the headset on. The large circum-aural ear cushions and supremely comfortable too and provided one of the best fits we've ever seen from a gaming headset. There's enough pressure to limit noise leakage both in and out, but even after prolonged use they remained pleasantly firm without the feeling your ears are being starved of oxygen.
Apart from the hefty 40mm drivers, in-line microphone and volume control and removable microphone boom, the most interesting feature sported by the Vulcan is its active noise cancellation or ANC. While it's not a wireless headset, the Vulcan requires a single AAA battery in the right ear cup to provide what it claims as 85% ANC to filter out sounds like low frequency computer fan noise and 30dB passive noise cancellation to reduce a wide range of ambient noises, including background voices.
Donning the headset and switching on the ANC via a toggle switch, the effect is immediate - the constant throb of the air conditioning in our lab disappeared and the already low noise leakage into the headset got even better. Only the faintest hint of white noise from the ANC remained. It's a bizarre experience, but it also seemed to have an unwanted effect on audio. The bass and mid-range, which were absolutely stunning with the ANC disabled, lost their pizazz - it seemed to have a similar affect to Creative's CMSS technology - artificially widening the soundfield. Thankfully, tweaking our music player's equaliser reversed the situation near enough meaning the ANC turned out to be a useful feature after all.
The bass is stonking and wonderfully punchy but somehow managed to remain crisp at the same time without impeding on the mid-range or high-end. The mid-range itself was the best we've heard from a headset in a long time, while it and the high-end seemed to benefit hugely from the ANC - a fact clearly demonstrated when we donned Razer's Carcharias, which sounded a little lifeless in comparison. The extra detail discernible was surprising but even with the ANC turned off, the Vulcan seemed slightly superior, particularly with it's clear base and mid-range, which stayed undistorted even at high volumes.
Finally, then, we've found a headset that raises the performance bar yet again and ticks practically every box. The Vulcan ANC is supremely comfortable, portable, very adjustable and most important of all, sounds absolutely stunning. The active noise cancellation is the icing on the cake and can make a real difference in many situations. While you may have to fork out for replacement AAA batteries, especially if you forget to switch off the ANC, at a fair bit less than £100, the Vulcan is a fantastic buy and our choice for a premium gaming headset.
- Cup type Circumaural
- Connection Wired, 2x 3.5mm mini-jacks
- Driver(s) 40mm
- Frequency response 10Hz to 20kHz
- Impedance 32 ohms