For testing I used several games and some decent reference quality headphones with an external DAC/AMP combo to get a solid impression of the Vulcan ANC with games. There aren't really any repeatability requirements for using the Vulcan, so the testing methodality was I watched several full-length moves and played several games for several hours each, switching between headphones to confirm my findings. Yes, this is the hardship reviewers must face for the benefit of our readers.
ASUS ROG Vulcan ANC headset
AKG K701 headphones
Corsair HS1 headset
Audio-gd Sparrow A
Intel i7-875K@3.6 GHz
ATI Radeon 6950
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2
Server 2008 R2 is an exceptional gaming platform, in case you were interested, after a few tweaks.
I was just messing around on Netflix and ran into Claymore, a strange, but fascinating anime that also happens to have a rocking soundtrack. The Vulcan is exceptional, actually, and if my ears didnt deceive me, I was able to tell compression artifacts better with the Vulcan than the AKG K701. Im thinking this is the sound isolation and up-close presentation of the Vulcan that delivers the fidelity.
I watched a few more movies, Memento, Shinobi no Mono, Kick Ass, and some Battlestar Galactica episodes. The short of it, the Vulcan are excellent with all of them, with dialog being just as clear as the K701. While I still preferred the AKG headphones for some things, the Vulcan ANC suprisingly held their own against the K701 with movies. At this level of audio performance, I really do start to prefer watching a DVD to the streaming versions, just because the audio is much better on the DVD.
Here is where we get to talk about the Vulcan's ANC performance. In any situation where you can't hear so well, the solution is more volume. I'm a more volume kind of guy. The other solution is to have sound isolation so you don't have to damage your ears with so much volume. The Vulcan have pretty good attenuation of external noise making volume levels comfortable, but with the ANC turned on, it was even better. I dont have a particularly noisy apartment, but I do have some urban noise. I live next to a city train line and we also get the air conditioner noise from the building next door. Of course, I didnt really notice all that noise until the Vulcan ANC eliminated it. It was little bit of a shock to me that I was unaware of all that noise!
It was also dynamic, as you would expect, snapping your fingers in front of you would be reduced to a 'tick'. Clapping your hand in front of you produced thuds as the shock came up your arms. Very nice.
The ANC does come with a price in fidelity, though. The ANC tends to remove some bass sounds making whatever youre listening to sound a bit thin. I havent heard any other good implementations of ANC, so I think ASUSs solution is actually pretty good. We received another ANC headphone from ASUS, something a little more portable than the Vulcan, so we cant wait to try that one out on a morning commute.
Continuing with more four-wheeled mayhem, D3 still has some of the best engine noises in a video game. Oh, yes, the soundtrack is also awesome. Codemasters updated the graphics consierably from D2 as well, but at least Codemasters kept the sound engine.
The Vulcan is excellent, as we expect. While there isnt an opportunity to use the mic with Dirt 3, the sound isolation is what really makes the game come alive and immerse you. Curve after curve, blurred scenery, full throttle until rev-limiter, grab another gear, back on throttle until the next bend forces you on the brakes, the engine backfires and echoes on the rocks nearby, dont miss the apex or youll slide off the track into the trees! Your hands sweat, your fingers tremble. You know, the more I use headphones for gaming, the more necessary I think headphones are for gaming. The Vulcan ANC are excellent for this intense immersion. I would not want to game on another pair of headphones, actually.
Uh, raise your hand if you hand if you still havent played SC2. Raise my hand if you believe in telekinesis. Starcraft II is fast becoming the new tournament standard, and it is a very impressive game. It's also a good break from WoW, at least until Diablo 3 hits. Anyway, SC2 is not exactly sound driven, but is much more about APM and that thing called tactics, both of which I am embarassed to say, I seem to lack. However, in the context of a headset review, it's not a problem. I played through a few of the campaign missions, and used the headset for a few online games with friends. One thing that was commented on was how good the voice sounded, but there was a lot of ambient noise as well. So, no noise cancellation on the microphone. I'll spare you the trash talk, however.
Battlefield Bad Company 2
While we wait for Battlefield 3 to come online in the next few months, there's still plenty of fun to be had with BFBC2. I have been using the Corsair HS1 for this game to good effect, however, the Vulcan have now displaced them. If I didn't need the microphone, I would still use my K701, though. The K701 give such a nice open sound I can become immersed much easier with them than with any other headphones. That being said, the Vulcan really do a good job here. Just a side note, the Corsair HS1 have a flexible microphone boom, so it picks up less ambient noise than the Vulcan.
The Vulcan ANC really shines in games. Number one on the list is how good the Vulcan sound with games. Then there's the microphone which is very good, but perhaps could use a little more flexibility and less style. Lastly, the active noise cancelling really does immerse you into a game world like nothing else. So, the Vulcan are now my new gaming headsets, and I think you should give them a try yourself and see what you think. I think you'll love them.
ASUS Vulcan ANC Headset review ASUS ROG Vulcan ANC headsets are possibly the best noise-canceling headset you can buy. They combine ultimate gaming features with audiophile sound to make one kick-ass product.