HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap review: The Vive finally feel complete

With the release of the new Deluxe Audio Strap, the HTC Vive finally feels like a finished product instead of a glorified developer kit.

[Check out all of our Top Computex 2017 coverage, here.]

When I reviewed the HTC Vive last April, I wrote that Valve and HTC had created “the most forward-thinking VR headset on the market,” with one huge exception: design.

The Vive had its sole competitor, the Oculus Rift, completely beaten—this amazing room-scale experience, motion controls, Steam integration—except that the Rift was simply more comfortable to wear for long stints of time. “The Vive is in line with the Rift’s second-gen developer kit,” I wrote, and I stand by it. The Vive felt like a work in progress.

But not so much anymore. The first change came early on, when HTC replaced the thick ribbon cable of the launch Vive with a lighter three-in-one cable, similar to the Rift. Now, about a year into the Vive’s lifecycle, HTC’s making another change and releasing the Deluxe Audio Strap—essentially its take on the Rift’s rigid plastic headband, built-in headphones and all.


Even better, you don’t need to buy a new Vive to take advantage. The Deluxe Audio Strap’s on sale for $99, and you can easily replace your launch Vive’s elastic headband in two or three minutes.

I think you’ll want to. I know, another $100 on top of the Vive’s already expensive $800 price is asking a lot, especially given that every Oculus Rift ships with this sort of headband installed. But if you’re a big Vive user it’s worth it.

HTC Vive + Deluxe Audio Strap IDG / Hayden Dingman

With the Deluxe Audio Strap installed, the HTC Vive finally feels like a finished product. It feels like Vive 2.0 actually, despite none of the internal hardware having changed—the experience is that much better.

Better even than the Rift, actually. Once again we see the leapfrog pattern so typical of VR at this stage, where Company A invents something, then Company B implements it a bit better, Company A folds in those improvements and adds a few more for good measure, and so on.

So the Vive “borrows” the Rift’s idea for a spring-loaded, rigid plastic headband. The Vive’s is better padded though, with a generous layer of foam cushioning the top and sides of your head. It feels great to put on.

The Deluxe Audio Strap tightens by way of a dial on the back, similar to a bicycle helmet or (if you’ve tried it) Microsoft’s HoloLens. Adjusting the Vive for different head sizes now takes a matter of seconds, where before it required a deft hand to get all three elastic straps in place. And while the Rift uses a rigid plastic headband, that legacy three-strap system is still in place, and it feels clunky by comparison.

HTC Vive + Deluxe Audio Strap IDG / Hayden Dingman

A quick twist of this dial and the Vive tightens right up.

Adjustments aside, I can’t overstate how much better a rigid plastic headband feels versus the Vive’s old elastic straps. Google Earth VR is a great example, because it entails a lot of looking down towards the ground. With the old elastic band, the Vive’s weight would pull the headset away from your eyes, causing you to over-tighten the straps to keep it in place—and, over time, causing soreness on your cheekbones and around your eye sockets from the pressure. With the more rigid design of the Deluxe Audio Strap, the Vive is always the same distance away, kept firmly in place while you stare at the miniature Grand Canyon or whatever.

This also applies to any active VR games, like Holopoint or Space Pirate Trainer. Before, I had a hard time keeping the Vive in place without cinching it so tight it dug into my face. I feel a lot more secure leaping around the room with the Deluxe Audio Strap. The headset’s weight is better balanced, it sits firm (but not tight) on my head, and I don’t notice nearly as much wobbling as I duck, bob, and weave around.


Then there are the headphones, a feature I thought was gimmicky when Oculus introduced it but which soon proved its worth once I had the Rift and Vive in my home. With the Rift’s built-in headphones, VR is only ever as far away as “Put on the headset.” Everything else is ready and waiting.

Next page: Audio quality continues, installation, bottom line

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags HTC Vive

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Hayden Dingman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?