ASUS HP-100U Dolby Headphone Set


So what thoughts and conclusion can we draw from all this?
Testing the ASUS HP-100U Dolby Headphone Set has led me to have quite a conflicting opinion upon it. There is no doubt that initial impressions are good. The packaging is excellent being both sturdy, clean to look at thanks to the excellent Velcro door system, and containing all the information someone planning to purchase could ask for.
Each of the three items are packaged well within it, and certainly look the part. Build quality is excellent, the design appears to be very good and the connections are simple. Because ASUS haven't gone the route of "install the drivers before plugging in the hardware" that can catch out the impatient, even the most manual-phobic person could be up and running in a very short period of time.
However it would be a good thing if you were one of those people who only reads the manual when all other avenues fail. The manual that comes in the box is slim at best. In fact it's barely sufficient to be called a quick start guide. The driver/utility CD does come with a more comprehensive PDF manual, but why go to the effort of printing one manual and then expect people to sit in front of their computers reading the real one? PDF manuals are a pet-hate of mine. There is nothing to compare to having a hard copy of it all in front of you.
Once installed again that was a difficult first impression. Despite the many claims of the manual and repeated attempts to reinstall the software, the including control software refused to do almost anything it promised. The four DSP buttons for Music, Gaming, Films and Hi-Fi mode certainly change the button that lights up, but I couldn't find any obvious changes in the sound quality between the setting. Luckily the Hi-Fi mode that it defaults to is excellent, and so this is a small issue. The volume control in the software not being "attached" to either the volume within Windows, or the volume control built in to the Xonar U1 is also a huge oversight. To have one of them reading zero, but still have the volume working as expected is not impressive. Maybe there are some early bugs in the software or early compatibility problems with Windows 7 64 and the problems will be ironed out. But still, as this is a retail package, it's unimpressive to say the least.Fortunately once I just ignored the ASUS utility and purely treated it as a headphone, microphone and volume package it shone.
The sound quality of the microphone is incredible. The short amount of cable that initially presented a problem actually doesn't matter because the combination of the noise-reduction built in to the microphone, and it's exceptional ability to detect voices at natural volumes means it can be left it one place and not moved as and when you need it. The base is still far too light for my liking and a even a small amount of extra heft would aid the stability, and the users peace of mind, greatly.
The Xonar U1 provides good quality sound and is certainly built like a tank. The volume control has a tiny notchy quality to it, think of a good scroll wheel, which doesn't interfere with it's usage. Although I'd love to have the capability to change how much each turn increases or reduces the volume because sometimes that extra four percent changed something quiet into something very loud indeed. And my word does this do loud. On half volume I could barely tolerate it, so if you're a bit deaf or wish to become so this is absolutely the product for you. Assuming you don't want to put it too far away from your computer, thanks to ASUS giving you so little cable to work with.
Finally the headphones themselves are the star of the package. Large comfortable ear pieces coupled to a light frame meant that even after a solid eight hours in them I wasn't desperate to remove them unlike most other headphones. The sound quality is fantastic with surprising amounts of definition between loud and quiet things, and the ability to differentiate multiple sounds and their source from each other was quite an eye opener. Or an ear opener if you will.
Final thoughts and rating
Rating this is very difficult. It has an expected retail price of around £75 so it's certainly not cheap. It's marketed as a Mobile Dolby Solution, but clearly fullsize headphones and a weighty volume/controller are not the kind of items you can slip into your pocket. The multitude of issues I experienced with the software certainly put a dampener on my initial feelings and if having the capability to adjust if you are standing in the Albert Hall or a tiny corridor is vital to you, they are tough to recommend.
However, if you need an excellent microphone and a fantastic pair of headphones for all around usage, it's very difficult not to recommend these. The sound quality is good enough that I never once felt the need or desire to tweak any equalisers.
The Good
- Comfortable headphones for long usage
- Fantastic sound quality from the headphones under all conditions.
- The microphone is truly outstanding and I will miss it greatly.
- A good value all-in-one sound solution
- Excellent packaging, apart from the manual and disc being just "in the box"
- Cable lengths. Why do companies insist on being so stingy with the cables?
- Pricing. Reasonable for a sound-card and headphone package.
The Bad
- The manual is woeful, and despite the PDF manual being quite good a hard-copy would always be more welcome.
- That software. Risible. So many of the extra features are controlled with it. Or not in this case.
Thank you for Asus for providing the review sample today. Discuss these in our forums.
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Most Recent Comments

24-11-2009, 11:33:08

Great review mate. As a bit of an audiophile myself i am quite into my headphones, been contemplating a pair of AKG 701's for quite some time, but these have me second guessing. Bundled with a mic and soundcard, sounds a good deal. The weight issue on the mic shouldnt affect my set up, as it would be beside my screen.

But yea, great review Quote

26-08-2011, 12:53:25

Lorren Bell
I think that the reason why manufacturers only include short cords has more to do with liability than the cost of the wire. Lets face it, including a 15 foot headphone cable as opposed to a four foot cable would only add on a few dollars at the most to the cost. However, someone tripping on a 15 foot cable and suing the company can cost thousands, even if the company wins the case. Alas, that's why we don't have sufficiently long cables. That's also why places like Monoprice will always be in business.Quote

26-08-2011, 14:45:31

Nice review. A good set of headphones, although I don't like the look of them.Quote

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