In FPS (First-Person Shooter) games, knowing exactly where the enemy is, is key to staying alive. But here’s the problem with stereo headphones. Everything from footsteps to gunfire is relayed in a relative sense! That’s why pro-gamers use surround-sound headsets like the ASUS ROG Centurion 7.1. Will it take your gaming to the next level? Read on to find out!
Build Quality and Design
The Centurion 7.1 looks like it got left behind by an extraterrestrial from Tron, but in a good way. It looks sleek from the sides, each side with a fierce glowing ROG logo, with two different glowing options. (If you prefer, it can be switched off) Like other serious gaming headsets, the ROG Centurion is bulky, but its generous headband and polycarbonate construction distributes weight evenly enough for extended gaming hours. Plush synthetic leather cushions make more longer gaming sessions beyond your usual bedtime! The Centurion also comes with a pair of mesh-cloth memory foam cushions that are more breathable. It’s got a foldaway boom-mic that can be flexed to your mouth for better in-game comms and VOIP calls.
The Centurion 7.1 is packed with 10 Neodymium drivers, which are magnets 10 times stronger than regular driver magnets, enabling Asus to reduce the drivers’ size. This allowed Asus to pack a full surround sound suite in a pair of headphones. Four 20mm surround drivers, three 40mm front and subwoofer drivers and a 30mm center channel.
Features and Performance
A thick non-detachable cord connects the headphones to the audio station supplied by Asus. Like the headset, the box could have been passed off as a prop from the movie Prometheus. It’s palm-sized and will override the sound card in your PC, so that it doesn’t matter what PC you plug it into, it will sound just as good. The dial on top handles volume gain while the front one manages channel and mode selection. You’ll get to set the headphones to sound profiles optimised for certain genres, such as FPS or RPG games. I always prefer to stick to the default profile but I like the fact that you can fine-tune the sound on the fly rather than having to access a PC to do it!
But if you prefer to perform further tweaks, you’ll need to use the ASUS Sonic Studio app. Unfortunately, the app can only be installed on PCs using ASUS motherboards. The box is also decorated with motifs that glow red-hot, but weren’t glaring enough to be distracting. The audio station also has a microphone that’s part of a noise cancelling system, detecting keyboard and mouse clicks and cancelling them out.
Another reason you’ll need the box is that is has the ESS 9601 DAC, a high quality chipset that’s used in actual home theatre systems! The downsides are that you’ll need two standard USB-ports to power this thing. Got a Home Theatre system? You can connect the box to it through HDMI, to make use of its 7.1 channel sound card.
Asus maintains that the various driver sizes are designed to mimic the different speaker sizes used in a home theatre setup, but will it actually sound like a home theatre?
When I first heard it, the headphones subjected me to a wicked lashing of bass. Like most gaming headphones, this one prioritises the bass extension out-of the box. But I could quickly tweak the bass from the pre-amp, and not just! I was also able to manipulate the volume gain of all eight channels. This isn’t exactly home-theatre calibre, but the soundstage was wide enough for me to feel the atmosphere in RPG games.
In FPS games, instead of stereo up-mixed to virtual surround (pseudo-surround) which always got me killed, the 7.1 surround sound empowered me to (fairly) accurately pinpoint where my teammates are – or if an enemy was around a corner. I could even hear my teammates’ footsteps behind me (actually, more like the back of my head). Height effects are decent too, for maps with multiple elevations. With FPS mode activated, footsteps and gunfire became more amplified, but I actually preferred a more even soundscape.
Explosions were too overwhelmingly massive for me, so I had to turn the bass down a few notches. Overall, these cans were impressive for games with accurate surround sound and good phasing effects.
The headset was great for movies encoded with 5.1 Dolby Surround too. It’s far from using an actual speaker system, but you won’t be able to blast those trumpets with the kids asleep, anyway. The included audio station came in handy again – tweaking the headset for louder vocals and surround sound was a cakewalk. For stereo recordings the headphones were fared well with decent imaging and sound staging. My only gripe is that the headphones sounded a bit muffled and tensed up, especially in the mid-range frequencies. But it would be unreasonable looking for audiophile-grade performance in a pair of gaming headphones.
At S$469, the Asus ROG Centurion 7.1 is premium-priced for a pair of wired gaming headsets. The best wired headsets from other brands, such as the popular Razer Man O’War 7.1 and SteelSeries Arctis 5 costs less than S$300. Plus, the wireless SteelSeries Siberia 840 costs just a small bump away at S$549, enough to give potential customers serious pause.
The ROG Centurion 7.1 is without a doubt, a serious gaming headset built for gamers who want to jack up their Kill/Death Ratio. With great 7.1 performance and an audio box that lets you adjust your sound in the heat of battle, it’s a worthy contender for your wallet. Considering that a plethora of platform-blind wireless headsets are finding their way to gamers’ heads (and hearts) at competitive prices, the Centurion 7.1 finds itself in a middle of an intense firefight.
Build Quality and Design (Gaming Headset)
- Pros: Sleek and futuristic look with illuminated motifs. Two different glowing modes. Generous headband and cushions distributes weight evenly for comfort. Comes with both synthetic leather and soft mesh-cloth memory foam cushions. Foldaway boom-mic that can be flexed to your mouth. Packs a full 7.1 surround sound drivers suite in a pair of compact headphones.
- Cons: Bulky.
Score: 6/7 (28.54%)
Features and Performance
- Pros: Comes with a palm-sized audio station which sits on your desk. On-the fly volume gain tweaks and profile-switching can be done easily. Two different genre-specific modes available. Asus Sonic Studio App gives you granular control over the sound. Audio station is part of a noise-cancelling system that detects and cancels out keyboard and mouse clicks. Includes a home-theatre grade DAC (The ESS 9601). Can be connected to a Home Theatre through HDMI. 7.1 or 5.1 channel surround sound works well with accurate 360 degree positioning. Great for game, movies and music with decent imaging and soundstage.
- Cons: Only for PC/Mac. Sonic Studio App is only for PCs with ASUS motherboards. Cannot connect to game consoles or other sound sources. Sounds a bit muffled and tensed up in the mid-range frequencies.
Score: 9/13 (23.05%)
The ASUS ROG Centurion 7.1 is average-priced for a pair of solid wired gaming headphones, and will appeal to hardcore fans of ASUS products, and those who already have an ASUS-powered gaming rig. First time buyers can put this on their list but it faces stiff competition from wireless headsets.
Score: 3/5 (19.98%)