Having spent a lot of time with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, we’ve grown accustomed to the limitations and benefits of each platform. One of the issues we have with the HTC Vive is that it has a lot of pieces, and handing them to someone who has never played, or even managing them by yourself, can be tricky.
Oculus, by contrast, cut back on confusion by bundling audio. That makes it easier to put the headset on, snap it in place, and dive into VR. The Vive requires a bit of juggling, as you first have to put the headset on, then put on the headphones separately, which are connected through a headphone jack.
Enter HTC’s Deluxe Audio Strap. This $100 accessory clips onto the sides of the HTC Vive headset, adding a plush new cranial strap and adjustable headphones. And as it turns out, its audio capabilities are only half the reason to buy it.
Buy it for audio, keep it for comfort
The Deluxe Audio Strap’s build quality marks a huge step up from the velcro straps on the retail HTC Vive. Each band is made from durable, flexible plastic, and is backed with the same foam found on the Vive’s faceplate for a comfortable, snug fit.
Thankfully, setting up the new Deluxe Audio Strap is a breeze. The included instructions walk through it step by step. You pull the current strap off the device, snap the new one in place, and then run the 3-in-1 cable out across the back of the headset. The only clumsy piece is applying a Velcro wrap to keep the cable attached to the back of the headset, but it isn’t really necessary, and doesn’t change the comfort.
It’s far more elegant than the standard Vive’s standard strap.
Once installed, the Deluxe Audio Strap makes putting on the headset simplier, and not just because of the built-in audio source. A dial on the back loosens and tightens with an easy twist (similar to a bicycle helmet), so you can loosen it up, pull it over your head, and notch it down a few times until it’s comfortable.
It’s far elegant than the original straps, which are adjusted by tearing Velcro on and off, then fiddling with fabric lengths. Adding the Audio Strap turns the somewhat awkward Vive into a more cohesive unit that’s easily on par with the Oculus Rift in comfort and ease-of-use.
Audio quality is about what you’d expect from a $100 accessory. Directional audio and bass response will be dramatically better on a nice pair of headphones, but you’re likely to spend more than $100 on a pair of those, anyway. The Deluxe Audio Strap’s audio quality is well equipped for some VR gaming, and its on-ear design wards off sweaty ears during long sessions.
If you have a Vive, get this now
HTC’s Deluxe Audio Strap is a must buy for Vive owners. It makes putting on and taking off the headset simpler, and more comfortable, every time you do it. Anyone who has run demos for friends, or spent a lot of time in the headset, will appreciate not having to juggle controllers and headphones anymore.
If anything, the Deluxe Audio Strap highlights just how cheap the straps the retail Vive unit ships with. They’re flimsy and require a lot of adjustment, something the Deluxe Audio Strap makes simpler by leaps and bounds. For enthusiasts who’ve already $800 or more on a virtual reality setup, another $100 feels like a nominal cost for this major quality of life upgrade. Don’t buy a Vive without it.