Asus ROG Delta S ReviewJanuary 22, 2021
Asus ROG Delta S – Design & Features
The Asus ROG Delta S features some strong technical upgrades, but the design of the headset is largely a carryover from the original ROG Delta headset, which launched in 2019. With vaguely triangular “D-shaped” earcups, lined with RGB light bars and logos, its flashy, eye-grabbing look comes on very strong. Even with the lighting off, the Delta S design feels like a statement piece that’s meant to stand out.
The Delta S is primarily furnished in black plastic hardware, with a plastic and steel frame. The top band is coated in black leatherette stamped with the full “Republic of Gamers” name on top, and padded with memory foam. The forks connect to rotating bases on the top band, allowing the cans to lay flat on your chest (or a table). Weighing in at 294 grams, it sits light on your head and the padding keeps you from feeling any weight on the top of your head. Likewise, the top band clamps softly so you rarely feel the padding of the cups pressing against you. Despite this, the earcups create a good seal to provide solid passive noise protection, minimizing but not wholly shutting out ambient noise.
On the cans, the Delta S keeps onboard controls to a minimum. On the left can, you have a switch to turn RGB lighting on, off, or switch to a “soundwave” lighting mode, which theoretically glows brighter when you speak into your microphone. There’s also a switch that can raise and lower volume levels, or press in to mute your mic. At the bottom of the triangle, there’s an audio port for plugging in the detachable boom mic.
In the cans, the Delta S features 50mm Neodymium drivers, and an updated version of the Delta’s quad-DAC. The ESS 9281 converter uses four separate chips to independently process four different ranges of tones – low, mid, high, and “ultra-high.” In theory, this allows the Hi-Res certified headset to produce clearer, more distinct sound throughout its range.
The Delta S is also the first gaming headset – among a small set of audio gear – that features rendering support for MQA-encoded high-fidelity audio files. “Master Quality Authenticated” or MQA files is an audio file format that can stream “studio quality” music. Pairing the headset with MQA files like Tidal’s “Master”-grade streaming tracks, which you can access with the service’s $19.99 HiFi-tier subscription, delivers a different grade of sound. Softer, clearer, and more balanced, the MQA-enabled versions of songs sound noticeably different than their streaming-standard counterparts.
The question is, how much are you willing to reconfigure your listening routine to get better quality music? If you rely primarily on streaming services for music, you’ll need to use the Delta S with a PC or Android phone and, potentially, switch to Tidal and/or a handful of more niche music streaming services to get MQA tracks. Considering the lengths audiophiles go to secure the best possible audio – spending thousands of dollars on specialty gear, downloading lossless files, and so on – this is a pretty easy way to get a taste of the difference between the good and hobby-grade audio gear. For many users, though, it’s still a big ask and, thus, a relatively niche upgrade for curious PC players.
The detachable unidirectional boom mic looks and feels conventional, but it’ll fool you. It has some great, upgraded features that ensure you’ll send strong, clear voice quality, including a larger driver (6mm versus 4mm in the Delta) and active noise-cancelling to keep ambient noise out of chat. The physical construction of the mic, however, leaves something to be desired. Its short, flexible stem is coated in a thick plastic that’s easy to bend, but difficult to bend precisely to the perfect pickup spot. The microphone also popped out of the audio jack just enough to stop working after I adjusted it, leading to unnecessary complications.
Next to the boom, you’ll find the base for the Delta S’ built-in USB-C cable. The cable is only 58 inches (4’10”) by default, which is fine for using with a laptop or a handheld Nintendo Switch Lite, but won’t reach from a console to a properly distanced couch. It comes with a USB-C-to-A converter cable, which extends the cable another 38 inches to a much more reasonable 8 feet. It feels like more of an inconvenience than it really is. PS5 owners should expect to plug the headset into the console’s front USB-A port, rather than use USB-C, but that’s the only real consequence.
Asus ROG Delta S – Software
On Windows, you can customize audio and RGB settings through Asus ROG’s configuration software, Armoury Crate. Crate allows you to adjust EQ settings, toggle virtual 7.1 surround sound, and software-based audio enhancements like bass boost and voice clarity. You can also set a noise gate for your microphone and adjust its enhancements, including noise-cancellation. On the lighting side, you can choose from seven different lighting patterns, and customize their colors.
As with many config apps, Crate can create multiple app-specific profiles with fine-tuned audio and lighting for different games and apps. Though you can only access the app on Windows, the changes you make on the default profile carry over to consoles. Still, there’s a big divide between what PC players can do with Delta S and everyone else between the config app and the MQA support.
Asus ROG Delta S – Gaming and Music
Though the Delta S definitely puts its best foot forward on PC, it’s an extremely capable headset that generates clear, detailed sound on all kinds of games. Testing primarily on PC and PS5, the Delta S produces all the little details in sound effects, like the differences between the firing sounds of different rifles in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, or the crackling of a campfire in Dead by Daylight. Reproducing the complete texture of sound effects is one of the clearest differences between a good headset and a great one, and the Delta S clearly asserts itself as the latter.
It also creates proper separation between sounds. In Immortals: Fenyx Rising, a game where gameplay voiceover interjects frequently during gameplay, the voices of Zeus and Prometheus are clear, but so are the sounds of your adventuring. Where a lesser sound system might muddle the mix, the Delta S allows you to focus on one or the other, or take in both clearly.
The Delta S features 7.1 virtual sound, which creates strong positional audio. In both Dead by Daylight and Call of Duty, I was able to pinpoint the direction and, often, distance of gameplay-relevant noises, which both enhances your immersion and becomes a useful tool. When playing as a survivor in Dead by Daylight, it’s much easier to avoid a killer when you don’t need a visual prompt to reveal their location.
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