True 7.1 surround sound, without the bulky speaker system.
PC gamers are spoilt for choice when it comes to headsets - even if quite a few of them look a whole lot better than they sound.
This is not one of those headsets.
Sure, the ROG Centurion has the aggressive, cyborg-inspired design that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Doctor Who, but the real bit of TARDIS-style trickery is going on inside. Asus has managed to stuff it full of enough speakers to put most home cinema sound systems to shame.
With five separate drivers in each ear, you’re getting true 7.1 surround sound - none of that digital nonsense here. That means accurate positional audio, which can make all the difference between life and death in a fast-paced online deathmatch.
Throw in a dedicated DAC/amplifier for on-the-fly tweaks, and a comprehensive software suite for fine-grain control, and you’ve got what could be the ultimate PC gamer-friendly headset.
ASUS ROG CENTURION FEATURES
The Centurion is a big, bulky headset, and comes in a big, bulky box. That’s partly to make room for the dedicated amplifier, but Asus has also managed to squeeze in a second pair of ear pads and a freakin’ headphone stand for putting your new prized possession on display when you’re not gaming.
Pop it on your head and you’ll really notice the extra heft of those 10 separate speakers. Thankfully there’s enough padding on the headband and ear cups that it doesn’t get uncomfortable, even after a few hours of gaming, but it’s definitely more rigid and a little tighter than most stereo headsets.
The headset ships with breathable, foam-filled leather ear pads, but you can swap them out for mesh ones if you find your ears getting a little too toasty. It’s an easy switch, but you’ve got to use quite a bit of force to get each pad off.
The boom mic folds up when you don’t need it, and sounds reasonably clear when you’re in-game or using it for VOIP calls.
Everything plugs into the base station through a thick HDMI cable - it’s not very flexible, and can get in the way a bit while you’re sat at a desk. It’s not all that long, either: you’ll need to keep the amplifier on your desk, not under it.
The big dial on top changes volume, and the one on the front toggles between different channels and settings. Red LEDs let you know what levels you’ve set each channel to - they’re bright, but not distracting when you’re playing at night. I just wish you could change the colours, as they didn’t match the rest of my PC setup.
The amp has a second HDMI port on the back, which lets you hook up any existing speakers and control them through it. This could be a great help if you’ve got separate speakers, but less useful if you’re rocking the ones built into your monitor. It also eats two USB ports to power the thing, which could be a problem if your PC is running short.
ASUS ROG CENTURION PERFORMANCE
Whether you’re listening in 7.1, 5.1 or stereo, the Centurion sounds a little bass-heavy out of the box. Just like almost every other gaming headset out there, then. Mids are a little muffled, and the highs aren’t exactly crisp.
That might sound worrying, but it also shows just how useful the amplifier can be. Without installing any drivers or software, you can tweak the subwoofers, mid-range drivers and tweeters to get a far superior sound - just spin the dial a few times and you’re done.
After those changes, the Centurion sounded brilliant, with a warm sound signature that does justice to music and videos as well as games. You’ll want to avoid a lot of the gaming presets if you’re just jamming to Spotify, as they can sound a little unnatural, but you certainly won’t want to switch to another pair of cans just to listen to some tunes.
It’s worth downloading the Asus Sonic Studio software once you’re ready to get gaming, though. The FPS mode isn’t exactly natural-sounding, but genuinely helps identify footsteps and effects.
Really though, it’s the 7.1 surround sound that makes all the difference. Virtual surround sound can end up confusing you, rather than immersing you, as your brain struggles to place where different sounds are coming from. Not here: sound moves convincingly around your skull, which is absolutely fantastic for first person shooters. It works great for RPGs and racing games too, in a way that stereo sound just can’t hope to match.
ASUS ROG CENTURION VERDICT
Is the ROG Centurion overkill? It’s a headset with ten different speaker drivers inside it - of course it’s overkill. The thing is, though, it really works.
Being able to hear enemies as they try to sneak up behind you. Working out if those footsteps are approaching from the left or right. It makes all the difference. I felt like I had a genuine edge over other players, surprising them with a quick flanking move because I knew where they were trying to hide.
It is, hands down, far more accurate than any virtual surround sound mode I’ve tried.
The bundled amplifier makes it easy enough to tweak your levels on the fly, in case you need to boost the rear channels while you’re in-game, and while I’m not a huge fan of its looks (or bright red LEDs) it’s much better than trying to cram all the dials onto a heavy in-line remote.
If you’re a die-hard PC gamer, and don’t have the room (or the supportive housemates) to run a surround sound speaker setup, this is the perfect alternative. It’ll play nicely with any speakers you do have, too.
It’s expensive, and the design is anything but subtle, but if you want the full surround sound experience from a headset, this is as comprehensive as it gets.