Palmer Luckey wants you to give Oculus Rift’s built-in headphones a chance

Oculus Rift
Brad Bourque/Digital Trends
One major takeaway from CES this year is that VR is a big deal and will, for the time being, constitute a luxury not only because it’s new and unique, but also in terms of price. The Oculus Rift, for instance, is going to cost $600, and that’s not completely without warrant. While the main culprits for this pricing are the two high-fidelity OLED displays built into the headset, another obvious factor is the pair of audio headphones integrated into the Rift.

In a Reddit AMA posted last week, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey addressed the headphones, citing why he believes they should be included:

“The overhead of managing a SKU without headphones would cost more than the savings of removing headphones. The integrated audio hardware is better than most cans out there, even expensive ones – the Rift has a built in low-noise DAC and amp, and our audio SDK is tuned around that hardware. Good audio does not cost much to build, especially when it is piggybacking on existing materials and distribution (ala the Rift). Give it a chance!”

Essentially, Luckey wanted to include an audio headset on at least one Oculus Rift model and adding a more affordable headphone-less option would cost too much money for Oculus. Fortunately, Luckey says, the onboard headphones compare “favorably” to entry-level professional studio headphones like the ATH-M50x from Audio-Technica. He goes on to compare the Oculus Rift’s audio setup to the ATH-AD700x in that it consists of “open-back drivers with pretty accurate response and a great soundstage.”

Furthermore, some of you may be disappointed to find out that the Oculus Rift may not even be compatible with the headphones you already have. That’s because, although there’s a DAC+amp built into the device, Luckey claims that “without a little hardware hackery,” the integrated DAC+amp won’t be usable with third-party headphones you might already have in your possession. In fact, you’re probably “better pairing off with an external DAC,” he continues.

Despite the inconvenience this poses, it’s at least reassuring that the company founder is so confident that consumers won’t be disappointed with the Oculus Rift’s built-in headphones, and based on my own experiences with them, it’s not hard to see why.

Mobile

From the road to your wrist, see how Android has evolved over the past 10 years

Android started out as just a mobile operating system, but 10 years in it's pretty much everywhere. Check out our round-up of all the different Android variations that have cropped up so far, and what might be coming in the future.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

Between sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Computing

Oculus VR could upgrade the Rift with a new display in 2019

Oculus could be set to release a new version of its Rift headset in 2019, but it will be more of a modest upgrade than a true sequel. The Rift S, as its purportedly called, will have a new display, and inside-out tracking.
Mobile

Google awarded patent for using eye tracking to detect expressions in VR

Google was awarded a patent that involves using eye tracking to infer facial expressions using machine learning in virtual reality. The tech could help make virtual reality a whole lot more immersive than it already is.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.