This article first appeared in HWM Dec 2011.
While ASUS is known for their gaming components and laptops, they do have a lineup of computer peripherals as well which includes the CineVibe Rumble Feedback USB Gaming Headset. The headset packaging is covered in marketing spiel such as “optimal bass vibration” and “breathable and antiseptic Japan-made protein ear cushions”. Running the headphones through our standard tests, we tried to gauge the validity of these claims.
Sporting 30mm drivers, the Asus CineVibe does have the hardware to back up its assertions of high-quality sound, to an extent. The Rumble Feedback, which can be turned on an off, switches impedance from 32 Ohms (at 1 KHz) to 16 Ohms (at 1 KHz) respectively. The option’s effects are instantly recognizable since the vibrations and movement of the drivers in the headset can be perceptibly felt. Sound quality also benefits from the feature. With the Vibrations turned on, the bass sounds more responsive and packs a greater punch. However, if you switch the vibrations off the lower frequencies suffer and sound muddied.
Our usual test tracks were employed to put the ASUS CineVibe through its paces. Impressing us with its good response on the live version of Hotel California by The Eagles, the headphones generally gave a good account of themselves throughout with an assortment of MP3 tracks. But as their name suggests, the ASUS CineVibe came into its own when used to provide audio for video games. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty has an excellent soundtrack and the Asus CineVibe did reasonably well to provide an immersive experience.
Another important factor to consider when making a successful gaming headset is comfort, and this is where the ASUS CineVibe unfortunately falls short. The leather ear cushions are said to be breathable, but in actuality they do little to stop your ears from overheating after long periods of use. While the headband is adjustable, the mechanism isn’t as smooth as we’d have liked, and also clamped a bit too tightly around our ears which contributed to fatigue over extended use.
ASUS chose to go with USB connectivity which restricts the CineVibe to be used with just your computer systems. While it works for gaming, it does mean you will not be able to use the headset with portable music players which generally employ a 3.5mm audio jack.
With a price tag of US$52, the CineVibe is by no means expensive, as it provides reasonably good sound so long as you aren’t looking for audiophile-class performance. Granted, the tight fit could loosen with more use, but we’d recommend that the CineVibe be used pretty much only for gaming, unless bass-heavy tunes happen to be your thing.