Many owners of HTC Vive virtual reality (VR) systems have been yearning for an easier way to manage the audio portion of the VR experience. HTC delivered on its promise of creating a new product aimed specifically at meeting that need when it introduced the new Deluxe Audio Strap at CES 2017 in January.
HTC announced a release date of June 6, 2017, for the product at the beginning of May, and that date has finally arrived. Unfortunately, as Tom’s Hardware reports, HTC is having a particularly difficult time keeping the hot new item in stock, and it’s presently completely sold out.
In addition to general inventory shortages, HTC is aware of a minor issue with a Torx screw coming loose on early production models. The company has promised a fix but hasn’t said anything about the lack of Deluxe Audio Strap inventory.
We took a look at the Deluxe Audio Strap recently, and we found it to be a must-have for the HTC Vive system. The root of the problem lies in HTC’s decision to break audio out separately from the rest of the VR headset wiring, something that Oculus avoided by bundling audio into the Rift’s cabling. That means that without an alternative, hooking up audio takes an already complex process and makes it even trickier.
The HTC Deluxe Audio Strap, however, clips directly onto the side of the HTC Vive headset, making it easier to get the whole thing strapped on and ready to play. We found the cranial strap and adjustable headphones extremely comfortable, with excellent build quality. Setting things up was easy, with clear instructions and a simple step-by-step process that only needs to be implemented once.
When the Deluxe Audio Strap is installed, it’s easy to put the headset on and get it adjusted. And, just as important, we thought audio quality was just fine for a $100 device. It provides a good experience for VR generally but falls short of higher-end dedicated headphones for directional audio and bass response.
You’ll have to wait a little while for stock to show up at Vive.com, Amazon, and other retailers. Right now, there’s no word on when you’ll be able to get the product set up with your HTC Vive, but at least you know it’s on its way.