Taiwanese technology giant Asus recently launched its in-ear gaming headphones; the ROG Cetra series in India. The series includes the top-of-the-line ROG Cetra in-ear gaming headphones and ROG Cetra Core. The India launch of the in-ear headphones comes months after the international launch. Looking at the pricing, Cetra Core is aimed at an affordable option while Cetra is the best-in-line. For some context, the Cetra Core is priced at Rs 3,999 while Cetra comes at Rs 7,699. This announcement came with its latest flagship smartphone in the market, the Asus ROG Phone 3. Also Read - Asus is working on four new smartphones; likely the ZenFone Max M2 lineup
The highlight of the in-ear gaming headphones is the Hi-Res Audio compatibility support along with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Both these features will work together to offer a more immersive audio experience for gamers. Interested buyers can head to Flipkart to make the purchase. However, before the purchase, we are sure that you have questions regarding the ROG Cetra. Here is our review for the Asus ROG Cetra in-ear gaming headphones after weeks of rigorous testing. Also Read - Asus ZenFone 7 series launched with flip camera: Check price, full specifications
Watch: Asus ROG Phone 3 Review
Features on the Asus ROG Cetra in-ear gaming headphones
Asus has added a few impressive features in the ROG Cetra for the asking price. Let’s talk about everything on paper diving into the features and specifications of the ROG Cetra. As mentioned above, the highlight of the headphones is ANC and Hi-Res Audio support. Beyond this, the company has opted for an in-ear design along with fins to ensure a perfect fit. Asus has also opted for a Type-C connector in favor of a 3.5mm audio jack. The company confirms that the headphones will work with a multitude of devices including PC, Mac, smartphones, and Nintendo Switch. Also Read - Asus ROG Phone 3 goes on sale at 12 noon via Flipkart; check details
Talking about the internals, ROG Cetra comes with 10.8mm ASUS Essence drivers while offering a 20-40kHz audio frequency response. The company has also added an Omni-directional microphone along with a 50-10kHz frequency response and in-line controls. These controls allow users to adjust playback, volume, ANC, and a new Ambient mode. It also ships with a circular travel case, three silicone ear tips, a foam ear tips, three ear fins. We get a 1.25-meter cable to offer some versatility. The last feature that makes Cetra stand out of the crowd is the Red lighting effect on both the earbuds.
There are few in-ear headphones that come why as many customization options along with a dedicated app. However, it is worth noting that we are not talking about a smartphone app here. The built-in ROG Cetra profiles only work with an Asus branded smartphone. Other users will have to use other OS or third-party app-based equalizers to gain some of the lost control. Moving back to the dedicated app, Windows 10 users can fine-tune their experience with the help of the Armoury Crate app. It provides the option to upgrade the firmware of the ROG Cetra along with multiple profiles, and sound optimization.
Users also get the option to control the bit rate and frequency response of the 7.1 (8) channel configuration. We also get the option to enable Reverb based on different environments, channel volume, and equalizer levels. We also get options to control the level of bass boost, compressor, voice clarity, noise gate, and perfect voice. Beyond the levels, users can even turn off these properties altogether for more control. Talking about Asus smartphones, we get built-in profiles in the “AudioWizard” section in the “Sound & vibration” menu in the Settings app.
Design, comfort, and build quality of the Cetra
ROG Cetra features a conventional design when compared to most in-ear headphones. We get a rubberized wire to connect the Type-C port to the in-line controls module. Beyond this, we also get Silicone ear tips with rubberized ear-fins and a sturdy plastic base connecting the wire to the earbuds. The one thing that makes the ordinary design stand out is the built-in Red lighting.
On the comfort aspect, the headphones come with three distinct sizes including a memory-foam option. This provides enough options for a comfortable ear fit. Beyond this, the ear fins also come in three varied sizes to cover a wide range of ear shapes. You do need to make a little adjustment to the ear fins while placing the earbuds in your ear canals. However, after the initial adjustment, you won’t mind wearing them for hours at length.
If you feel uncomfortable with the out of the box size, then you can make changes depending on your needs. The earbuds also come with a small label of “L” or “R” to guide first-time users. This is especially useful to users wearing the ear fins for the first time. The cable length is ideal to be used on laptops or even PCs where the CPU is placed at a distance from the monitor.
The build quality on the ROG Cetra is decent but it requires some improvements. Inspecting the product, we would have preferred nylon or a braided cable at this price along with a much better in-line control module. Right now, the in-line control module is made from cheap-feeling plastic with quite unimpressive buttons. A more premium material along with more tactile buttons would have fixed its flaws.
Audio performance: Bass, Treble, and Clarity
Asus ROG Cetra manages to offer a really impressive audio quality with some conditions applied. First, if you are looking at it for purely gaming purposes then go right ahead. Considering that Cetra is a wired headphone, there are no lag or connectivity problems. Though USB Type-C connectivity is not uniform across all Android-powered devices and this may cause some issues. So, we would advise you to run a quick Google search for any issues with your Android device before buying. Beyond this, there are no problems with PC or Mac devices.
The second condition is letting the Hi-Res audio capability shine. This means that you won’t find it much different while playing or streaming music on YouTube Music, JioSaavan, or Spotify. Here, it will sound like any other headphone in the market. But if you source high-res audio files or play at Studio quality “Master” level on Tidal; this is the absolute best.
We enjoyed our time while listening to Hi-Res audio tracks on Asus ROG Cetra across the board. Software features like Treble, Bass boost, 7.1 channel, and even Reverb drastically improved things based on my taste. Overall, the audio profile did sound a bit flat but that is expected with such headphones. For some examples, we loved the clarity in vocals and audio equipment separation while playing “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. The highs in “SICKO MODE” by Travis Scott were clear with good audio decay.
“Money” from Pink Floyd highlighted that the Cetra offers a good sound stage without any problems. Tunes like “Star Wars” theme and “Hymn To The Fallen” from John Williams display excellent surround sound experience. “Ahimsa” from AR Rahman showcases that it can handle Indian instrumentals. The bass and treble are decent and can be increased from the app.
Before we talk about ANC, it is worth mentioning that Cetra does a respectable job in offering passive noise isolation. Few (or any from our research) headphones offer at the price, especially in this in-ear headphone segment. This makes Cetra unique in the market. However, the performance of the ANC feature is not groundbreaking. Though, the mix of passive and active noise canceling with the volume of the song will ensure that you not hear anyone around you even if they are talking to you.
We are not saying that the ANC feature is terrible here. It is fine but not Sony or Bose by any means. For the requirement, this feature works fine. Asus has also added an interesting “Ambient” mode where Cetra can help you listen to both the music as well as your surroundings. Other modes include ANC on and ANC off. Tap on the ANC mode button on the in-line controls module to cycle between these modes.
It is also worth noting that ANC will demand some power for operation, especially from a smartphone. This means that it will result in a slightly higher battery drain from a smartphone when compared to traditional, non-ANC Type-C headphones. So, be wary of (and avoid) leaving the Cetra plugged into your device overnight. Finally, the in-line control module also gets slightly warm during extended usage.
Verdict: Should you buy Asus ROG Cetra in-ear gaming headphones?
Asus ROG Cetra in-ear gaming headphones do the job that they are meant to. Though, the asking price of Rs 7,699 makes the product a challenging proposition. You will likely get a number of wired options at an affordable price that offers identical performance in the audio section. However, if you want a very immersive gaming experience along with ANC then Cetra is the way to go. Beyond this, if you consume Hi-Res audio content and want 7.1 channel support at an inexpensive price then again, Cetra is an ideal option. Otherwise, save money and look at something inexpensive.