Asus Strix Fusion Wireless Headset Review

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The Tracks - Music Playback

Asus ROG Strix Fusion 700, RGB Gaming Headset Review - Musical/Song Testing

The Tracks

Here, we look at the unit's performance in a variety of tracks, as well as a couple of films that I think have excellent soundtracks or audio... also, I just like them, if we're being 100% honest?

Anyway. I said earlier that there was a caveat to the good news presented in the gaming section, and this segment is that caveat. It should come as no surprise that if you are after the highest quality audio around, then you can certainly do a lot better than perhaps the vast majority of gaming-oriented headsets out there. They are, after all, more focused on being feature rich and good for 'all-round' than perhaps having the best quality audio. It's also perhaps a fair assumption to say that most (including me, I will admit) would be entirely content with their 100+ GBP/USD gaming headset purchase if the audio it provided was, for lack of a better term, 'good enough.'

With that, then, the first song on my list is one you've seen before (in fact, this list will be what you've seen before... have to keep things consistent). Again, all tracks used here were streamed/downloaded using Spotify's Premium service, which uses a 320 KB/s sample rate. This first track is vocally dominated, backed with instruments that are only there to give Draiman a platform to perform against. If you would like a specific point at which to sample the track at its crescendo, then I would go for 3:00 to 3:45, where the backing instrumentation kicks in a little more to match the vocals.

With the 700's, I was blown away by this track. With the new set of cans... actually, it's still very good. The lack of DAC/Amp is a little noticeable, but the potential weak spot of the Fusion Wireless' isn't revealed as strongly as it might be (for now). The track punched hard where and when I expected it to, and even with the volume cranked, there was no distortion. Naturally, I would recommend cranking volume on a unit like this to 100 on a regular basis, but it's good to know that it can. I did notice, finally, that the headset sounded just a little bit 'echo' prone? It's an odd term to describe a soundscape, but I think it works. Whilst I could happily listen to this track with this headset, something didn't feel entirely right with regard to echo. I digress, however, as that might just be me.

This, however, was said with the headset plugged in. Next, I wanted to see how well she held up to scrutiny when unplugged. Well, exactly the same, which was excellent to hear. Note, at this point, the software from Asus was left in the default mode, as it was downloaded. This led me to my initial conclusions of 'I guess it's decent. Little lacking but overall ok, and that weird echo is somewhat off-putting...' Patience, readers.


The Killers - Mr. Brightside

I've heard this track referred to before as 'Britain's Anthem', and it's not difficult to see why. For lack of a better term, 'nuts' is the word I'd use to describe UK public reaction to this long-loved bit of music history. Anyway, this provided a much sterner test for the product than the above track did. If 'The Sound of Silence' amplified the Fusion Wireless' strengths, then Mr Brightside perhaps highlighted its shortcomings in a way that either the gaming tests or the aforementioned track didn't.

This, naturally, all comes down to the lack of that Amp/DAC, resulting in weaker mid-sections and highs that, finally, became 'notable'. Vocals sounded a little tinny, and there was - overall - a distinct hollowness to the whole affair that degraded the experience for me as a whole. The aforementioned echo made a return, here, and it was actually pretty horrible to listen to. I confirmed the findings with another favourite track of mine, 'Human', also by The Killers. Echo heavy, tinny vocals, shallow mids... this was shaping up to be a bit of a nightmare, and I was beginning to think Asus had massively dropped the ball. It's worth mentioning that I actually did my testing in reverse, as I would normally do the gaming first, then the music.

They didn't drop the ball... more, left the ball in a different court? I dived back into the software, and there I saw something I hadn't previously noticed. Well, three things. Sound Optimization went to 'Music.' Reverb was turned off. Virtual Surround was turned off. And what a difference. It is utterly impossible to state just how much of a difference these three changes made. The Fusion Wireless' went from being possibly the most disappointing headset I had ever reviewed, to 'absolutely excellent,' in just three clicks. It was really that stark, and I am still a little bit surprised. Maybe, Asus, worth changing how the Armoury software 'boots' the headphones by default? I think it's a safe bet to say that most people aren't buying this as a communication device, so why by default configure it as one..?

With the above three settings changed, both 'Mr. Brightside' and 'Human' went from being pretty shoddy listening experiences, to 'damned excellent.' In fact, going back to my regular little earbuds (because even after all of the comfort offered by the headset, my head still got hot after a while) felt a little lacking, and I am very fond of my £22.50 Omars... Anyway. If I had to really, really nitpick, even with all of the software alterations, the Fusion Wireless' mid-sections still felt a tiny bit weak when put up directly against the Fusion 700's, but given that they're lacking some hardware, I'll take it.


Film Tests

At this point, having a look at a couple of films seems a little bit academic. We've already uncovered that the Fusion Wireless' performance when properly configured is pretty sublime, only lacking a little when compared directly to the wired 500's and much more expensive 700's in terms of mid-range. However, for what it's worth, let's have a look (or listen) at the Fusion Wireless in two of my favourite films. First up, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

This movie has, perhaps, some of the greatest film composition of all time. Bless you, Howard Shore. The bit I often go to for a sample of everything is right at the end, following Frodo's departure from the Fellowship and his rescue of Sam from an untimely drowning. We did see the return of some mids weakness, here, I will be honest. However, it was certainly not enough to detract from the listening experience anywhere near enough to tarnish the film/music for me, and to be honest I had to work very hard to notice it at all. Don't get me wrong, it's 'there,' but if these were your first high-end headset, I think you'd very satisfied. Perhaps the film choice is a little flattering, here, I will admit, primary due to the very drum/lows heavy segments during the Amon Hen sequence. Put it this way, however, if I had to watch LOTR to kill some time on a journey, and I had the Fusion Wireless for company, I wouldn't exactly be devastated.

Something that won't be so flattering is my next choice, Kill Bill: Vol 1. Film is wonderful, obviously. However, if the mantra 'A good soundtrack can elevate a film from 'great' to 'sublime' (which is a quote I made up just now) rings true, then it applies to Kill Bill in spades.

If it's worth mentioning, then, the headset again performed very admirably here, too. The highlight of the entire film is, in my view, post the defeat of O-Ren, with 'The Lonely Shepherd' playing. I have to say, it was truly fantastic, and here I really did struggle to pick out anything lacking whatsoever. I was thoroughly impressed by the headset's performance in this film, and quite literally have nothing bad to say about it. So, for the Fusion Wireless, a very solid ending to what was - initially - looking like a very ropey start.

With all of that said and done, shall we conclude?

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