[Review] Big Bucks for Big Quality: The ROG Theta 7.1 Gaming Headset
Got roughly RM1.2k in cash to spare? Then this headset is something you should add to your list of goodies to buy.
To be frank, when I heard that the ROG Theta 7.1 headset in my hands costs roughly half of the average person's salary, I almost dropped it (but didn't, cause I have no interest in eating grass for the rest of the month). At that price point, ROG had better be sure that this headset is some good sh*t - and as it turns out, it is.
Even unboxing was an experience
As with most premium headsets, ROG was not content with merely one box, opting for the usual box-in-sliding-cover design instead. However, the even inner box was no run-of-the mill box.
Instead of opening a flap, you stand the box upright and fold down the wings on each side, revealing the headset resting on a stand within.
Here's a slideshow for you to experience the process:
After removing the headset, you'll find the usual paperwork (manual and warranty booklet), along with a detachable mic, a second set of earcups, and a USB-C to USB 2.0 adapter.
A chonky boi that's surprisingly comfortable
My first impression after lifting the Theta off its stand is that it's one hefty device. Not only is it large, it is pretty heavy as well, weighing in at over 600g.
This is probably due to the fact that the Theta houses 4 discrete drivers in each earcup, along with a home-theater grade 7.1 DAC and ESS 9601 quad amps. Surprisingly, the headset felt cool and comfortable even after extended periods of use, despite the thin-looking headband which was actually pretty cushy.
This might have something to do ROG's temperature-reducing thermal compound in the earcups - yeah, apparently your CPUs aren't the only thing to benefit from additional cooling methods now.
If the default pair of earcups aren't to your taste, there is also a second pair in the box. The default pair is made of protein leather and mesh, while the second pair is thicker but adds more fast-cooling fabric for long, potentially sweaty gaming sessions.
One thing to note is that the earcups are super large and roomy, which is perfect if you have Mickey Mouse-sized ears, but otherwise provides a lot of wiggle room for the average human.
It ain't leaving home any time soon
Although comfort was taken care of, portability certainly wasn't. One major gripe I have with the Theta is that the earcups don't fold flat, which makes them near impossible to stow on the go or even rest comfortably on your neck. The only way it folds is to the position pictured below, which looks hilariously like your anime waifu splooting on the floor.
The cables are also non-detachable, and instead of one, they have two! Due to my lack of knowledge regarding the construction of audio devices, I'm going to assume that it needs more power than usual, hence having twice the usual amount of wires. The wires meet at a chunky plastic junction, which smacks uncomfortably into your breastbone when you move, and makes me feel like a tourist wearing a farmer's hat.
How it looks vs how it feels
Wide compatibility with most devices
Now that we've established the Theta's lack of portability (which is perfectly fine - that's what TWS earbuds are for), let's talk about its connectivity.
This baby is powered by USB-C, so it works with most modern phones and even the Nintendo Switch. For PCs, laptops, and PlayStations which lack a USB-C port, a USB-C to USB 2.0 adapter is included. What it doesn't have is a 3.5mm header, which most of us probably won't need due to the proliferation of USB-C ports and decreased use of 3.5mm jacks in mobile devices.
I gave it a quick whirl via USB-C on my phone, laptop, and Nintendo Switch, and all of it worked perfectly well with no hassle in recognising the device. Plugging it into my PC via the USB 2.0 header also went without a hitch.
Overall, the Theta should work with virtually every device you own, so compatibility won't be an issue at all.
A treat for the ears
Now, the most important aspect of a headphone: does it sound good?
The short answer is yes, yes it does.
For a gaming headset, it certainly sounds luxe, both for gaming and music. The sound is very balanced and rich with excellent sound separation. A little game I like to play when testing new headsets is to see if I can pick out new sounds that I never noticed before, and the Theta certainly delivered, with minute details slowly surfacing as I immersed myself into the music, like stars gradually emerging during twilight.
Out of the box, it already sounds great, though the bass may not be sufficient for bass heads. However, after installing the Armoury II software and tweaking some settings from within, the sound quality went from great to exceptional in just a few clicks - though it may only be the fact that I was tweaking the sound to cater to my personal tastes, I'd highly recommend for everyone to do the same. I know, I know, I'm usually lazy and use headphones out of the box too, but be rajin just this once, alright?
In-game, positional audio worked as well as expected, while Luigi from the 3D barbershop also sounded as real and terrifying as ever (the dude put a plastic bag over my head, seriously.)
Another highlight of the Theta is their AI noise-cancelling mic, which is Discord and TeamSpeak certified - although I don't know exactly what this certification entails (doesn't pick up sounds of your heavy breathing or toddler screaming in the background perhaps?)
Either way, the mic isn't actually that great - while it picked up my voice clearly, it had a strange echo and didn't really cancel out environmental noise as well as I'd hoped. But if your sole purpose of this is to scream at pubs in Dota, it'll do the trick (with the slight echo adding a dramatic flair to boot).
Lastly, it also has RGB lighting control, which cements its status as a premium gaming headset - more RGB, more skill hor? In the Armoury software, you can choose from 4 presets - static, breathing, colour cycle, music - which is plenty to work with considering the only lighting zone is comprised of the logos on each earcup.
If you want to fly under the radar at work, you can also long press the volume slider on the back of the left earcup to toggle the RGB lighting on and off.
Buy or no buy?
Honestly, I've grown so attached to the Theta that I don't want to return this review unit to ROG; unfortunately I'm not interested in having my name, face, and publication plastered all over social media as a thief. :(
In case you didn't catch my drift, yes, this is an excellent headset with few downsides. Sure, it's not very portable and the mic isn't top-tier, but the lush audio and premium build quality easily outweighs all the cons. It is expensive for sure, but it won't be easy finding this sort of quality in a gaming headset, so if you do have big bucks to spend, the ROG Theta 7.1 is definitely an option worth your attention.
If you're looking for a smaller alternative both in size and pricing, the ROG Delta is also a great option (and has more RGB lighting). You can check out our review for that unit here.
The ROG Theta 7.1 headset retails for RM1,199 and is available at your nearest ROG store and authorised retailers. For more details, you can visit the official product page here.