HTC Vive Integrates Audio With New Deluxe Headstrap Similar To Rift’s (Update)

by David Jagneaux • January 4th, 2017

Instead of revealing a brand new Vive 2.0 of some kind, which HTC already told us wouldn’t be happening, the Taiwan-based company is using CES 2017 to unveil a slew of new accessories consumers can integrate into their already purchased HTC Vive VR headsets. One of the most surprising new additions is the “Deluxe Audio Strap.”

If you’ve ever seen or used the Oculus Rift then there’s a good chance you recognize the design. One of the biggest differentiating features between the Rift and Vive is that, from the very start, Oculus’ debut headset included integrated audio, while the Vive required plugging in your own headphones. Now, the Deluxe Audio Strap lets you replace your stock headstrap with on-ear devices that look essentially just like the Rift’s.

According to a press kit briefing from HTC, the Deluxe Audio Strap features “interior padding, a new 3-in-1 cable path and an easy-to-adjust sizing dial”. Installation of the new headstrap looks simple and the form factor and fit are similar to the existing headset’s design, albeit much more structured and less reliant on velcro straps.

High-quality sound is an incredibly important piece of a VR experience — perhaps just as much as the visual stimulation itself — putting you into digital worlds with a believable sense of immersion and presence as the sound surrounds you.

We asked HTC Vive’s general manger Daniel O’Brien about the deluxe headstrap and why it wasn’t a feature for the headset at launch. He responded by saying that it “wasn’t ready at launch” and that his company didn’t want to release something unless it was up to snuff. He also spoke to the eventual commercial launch stating that Vive is currently “working with retailers now to determine whether it makes more sense to sell the new strap as a new SKU. Right now it’s just an accessory and we may leave it that way so as not to force anyone to use only our audio.”

O’Brien stated during the announcement press conference that the Deluxe Audio Strap would be shipping in “Q2 2017” and that they would be announcing a price closer to that date.

With this new headstrap, the wireless Vive accessory from TPCAST and the new Vive tracker accessories shown today as well at CES, there are more ways than ever to iterate and improve on the base model of the HTC Vive without the need for a brand new iteration just yet.

Update: According to Daniel O’Brien, HTC Vive’s GM of VR, this headstrap is fully compatible with the TPCAST wireless accessory we unveiled last year. Here he is taking to Twitter with visual confirmation:

We’ll continue updating you on all of the HTC Vive announcements from CES 2017 as they come in. What are your questions about the Vive’s Deluxe Audio Strap?

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  • MrGreen72

    Sold my Vive a while ago but with this new headstrap and the wireless thingie I might buy another one when that ships! Hopefully they’ll ship better controllers soon!

    • DougP

      You sold your Vive because of the headstrap?

      • MrGreen72

        Preferred my Rift for both comfort and image quality.

        • DougP

          The new headstrap won’t change image quality.

          Re: image quality
          Interesting to see how people prefer one or the other (/come to diff conclusions) based on the same criteria.

  • Nadim Alam

    I would snap this up in an instant!! My biggest issue is the headphones and wires with the Htc vive!! This would make it so much easier to play. Can’t wait

  • MikeVR

    Why would they announce a 2.0 product?
    They launched with 0.5 cleaned up dev kit, added the 3-in-1 cable to get it to 0.7 and now integrated headphones for a 1.0 product a year later!
    We can only hope 2.0 has some actual industrial design behind it…

  • koenshaku

    I’ll take it.

  • Paulo

    Another 1-200$, + HTC shipping price. no thanks.

  • I’d only buy it around $50 anything over is a no go tbh…because I only want it for the headstrap…don’t need the headphones I got my own. :T

    • DougP

      TL;DR = not buying?

  • I cant shake the feeling that HTC is now going to be selling a lot of add-ons to get the “optimal” experience just to catch up with what the Rift offered at the beginning… how much is that going to cost in the end?

    • Your Mom

      – just to catch up with what the Rift offered at the beginning

      Like 2 controllers?

    • spamenigma

      – just to catch up with what the Rift offered at the beginning

      Like Roomscale?

      Like controllers?

      Like longer cable?

      Like actually delivered at the beginning?

      (My rift has collected dust until December whilst playing Vive, its only now just almost caught up with my Vive…. still more accessories to buy before my Rift can do the same)

      • Sebastien Mathieu

        agreed the rift sensor are a pain to setup, for roomscale, really for standing VR tough, but since I use the 2 and i use roomscale, i prefer the simplicity of the lifhthouses I’ll gladly buy the integrated audio upgrade…

    • Konchu

      both sides made compromises at the beginning. Both from shortcoming and shortsightedness. But one addon gets it to what the rift had pretty much at the start. Just like the Rift just had a little accessory come that brought it some parity.

      • elev8d

        I don’t think it was shortsightedness, it was because competition forced both manufacturers to rush their releases. In fact, I would argue that making the Vive easy to mod shows foresight on Valve’s/HTC’s part. I think what we are seeing as mods and add-ons are what HTC and Oculus wish they could’ve released day 1. They even talked about tracking pucks prior to release. Limited resources are what’s driving these staggered releases. Second gen should be pretty exciting for both platforms.

    • Nicholas

      Probably not anywhere close to $280 that you’d have to pay to get the Rift up to the Vive spec. And at least HTC is improving their product with better cables, headstraps, wireless tethers, controllers, etc. Haven’t seen anything from the Oculus camp other than Touch…which was late to the game.

    • James Friedman

      Yup everyone has been bashing the rift because oh you need a 3rd sensor to do roomscale. You get the headphones and a xbox one controller bundled so that makes the rift just as affordable. Most people will still use their own headphones and probably have a controller but when attracting a new user that doesn’t it balances itself out. Haters gonna hate.

  • Konchu

    Hmm I like this design it is similar to the rift but it is also similar to the welding helmet mods people have done. Though it sort of sounds like if you want to use this and the new 3 in one cable you have to use its audio not sure if I like that as not being a choice. I think making this the defacto would be smart(with removable headphones)at least till they can properly rip off the PSVR design 🙂

    • DougP

      Re: “if you want to use this and the new 3 in one cable”
      Fortunately you don’t want to use this with 3 in one cable, you want to use this with TPCast/wireless! hehe 😉

  • CTRL+C, CTRL+V

  • Altares

    They should also integrate that TP Wireless receiver thing into this. That would make a wonderful Vive1.5 if sold as a complete set.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      wow that would be awesome!

  • polysix

    great. but we need Vive 2. asap.

    • Get Schwifty!

      Good luck with that… probably be late Q1 2018.

    • UserID10T

      Vive 2 would sadly be useless, IMO, without content and hardware to drive it. Vive 2 needs to wait for GPUs to catch up to dual screen 2k,4k and 8k at the minimum FPS while on wireless tech. Otherwise, we’d be getting a mid release Vive 1.5 that will need more add-ons or accessories to hit the needed performance.

  • blueredgreenyellow

    First time of been jealous of the Vive. I had no idea that the head strap could come off. The possibility to upgrade an already puchesed product is awesome.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      Yep!!!!

  • DAVE

    They should just start including it for future vive purchases, saying they might not because they want to give customers the option of using there own headphones seams a bit of a cop out, why not just make them detachable or adjustable

  • BJU

    I am wondering how the main cable is now routed. It had been mentioned, it is now routed from side, but I could not find any pictures showing this more in detail as by now. Does anyone have a picture of that detial, yet? Would be great to get it shared, too.