Asus ROG Cetra Active Noise Cancelling Earphones Review
Even with the low-latency modes offered by popular wireless earphones, nothing beats the accuracy and timing of good old-fashioned wires when gaming. This is especially important with smartphone gaming; popular titles such as PUBG Mobile allow you to use sound cues as much as visuals to stay ahead of the competition. Although smartphones such as the Asus ROG Phone 3 are focused on the mobile gaming experience, not too many gaming-focused headsets for smartphones can be found.
Furthermore, with the 3.5mm headphone jack barely featuring on premium smartphones anymore, gamers are finding themselves running out of good audio options. That’s where the Asus ROG Cetra comes in.
Priced at Rs. 7,699, the Asus ROG Cetra is a wired in-ear headset designed primarily for gaming. It features active noise cancellation and USB Type-C connectivity so it can draw power directly from the connected source device. It works with various devices including smartphones, PCs and laptops, and even the Nintendo Switch. If you’re serious about gaming, you might be considering this headset already. Find out if the Asus ROG Cetra is all it claims to be in our review.
The Asus ROG Cetra is powered by the source device
While most wired earphones are just a way to get the sound signal from your smartphone to your ears, the Asus ROG Cetra does a bit more in between. There’s active noise cancellation on this headset, as well as illuminating lights on the outer casings of the earphones which light up when the Asus ROG Cetra is plugged in. Both of these functions draw power from the connected device; the Asus ROG Cetra doesn’t have a built-in battery.
The earphones are quite large, and there are plenty of additional ear tips and ear hooks included in the sales package to ensure a good fit. I quite liked the included foam tips, but I found the earphones more comfortable to use without the ear hooks. There’s also a small carry case and shirt-clip in the box.
The Asus ROG Cetra has an in-line remote with controls for the active noise cancellation, volume, playback, and call handling, and a separate microphone a bit higher up the cable. The earphones, remote, and microphone unit are all plastic, but look decent and feel well-built. There are separate microphones for active noise cancellation on the earphones, and the cable length is 1.25m which is long enough for most use cases. If you have a Windows PC, you can install the Armoury II software which lets you customise various functions and settings on the earphones, such as equalisation, sound optimisation, various volume levels, and more.
While the USB Type-C plug for connectivity would suggest that the ROG Cetra is meant for use with smartphones, the headset is compatible with other devices as well, including PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices. Although Asus states that Android device compatibility is limited and has listed only a small handful of smartphones on which all features are guaranteed to work, the ROG Cetra worked fine with full functionality on my OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition, which wasn’t on the list.
The earphones feature 10.8mm dynamic drivers, a frequency response range of 20-40,000Hz, and an impedance rating of 16Ohms. The earphones are Hi-Res Audio certified, and didn’t require any additional setup when used with a compatible Android smartphone.
Sound tuned for gaming
As was to be expected, the Asus ROG Cetra has its sound tuned for gaming. While the headset naturally sounded best while gaming, it was decent for music and calls as well. The USB Type-C connection and ease of use with smartphones meant that there was no latency to worry about, and the headset could be plugged in and used quickly when needed without having to worry about battery life or adapters.
I used the earphones with an Asus ROG Phone 3 (Review) for much of my review, apart from occasional use with a OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition. I tested the earphones with a variety of games on the ROG Phone 3, including PUBG Mobile, Asphalt Xtreme, and Hitman: Sniper.
With PUBG Mobile, the Asus ROG Cetra was truly in its element. The sound was detailed, loud, and sharp; I was able to get an accurate sense of direction from footsteps, gunfire, and aircraft flying overhead. The ROG Cetra is quick to react to movements, and does a tremendous job of simulating direction despite having only two audio channels.
Games such as Asphalt Xtreme and Hitman: Sniper which rely on the background score to set the mood tended to boost the volume of the music and some in-game sound effects, but the core elements of the sound weren’t lost. Everything from the car engine to gunfire and radio chatter were clear, and sounded considerably crisper than with most standard wired earphones I’ve used. That said, there wasn’t as much directional tuning with these busy soundtracks as I’d have liked; the ROG Cetra does rely on a relatively quiet in-game environment (as is found in most shooter games) to properly simulate direction.
Active noise cancellation on the Asus ROG Cetra wasn’t quite as impressive as I’ve heard on premium true wireless earphones such as the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro, or even on more affordable wireless headphones such as the Sony WH-CH710N. Furthermore, there’s plenty of cable noise to contend with if you’re using the ROG Cetra while moving around.
However, it was functional and eliminated the distractions that typically get in the way of a gaming session. There was a noticeable reduction in background sounds such as the hum of my ceiling fan and AC, or even the general buzz of being outside. This made gaming and listening to music a bit easier, but stopped far short of the level of quiet that good active noise cancelling headphones and earphones offer.
Although in-game background scores did sound decent on the Asus ROG Cetra, playing music highlighted that the earphones aren’t tuned for this. Dolby Atmos audio did sound impressive with a distinct sense of direction, and high-resolution audio tracks sounded detailed, but highs were a bit shrill and the subdued low-end took away from the fun of many tracks. The ROG Cetra is fine for occasional music listening and decent for calls as well, but is best used for gaming.
If you’re serious about gaming, particularly multiplayer gaming, you’ll agree that a wired connection is the best way to hear sound effects that can give you a competitive advantage. With the 3.5mm jack rapidly disappearing from smartphones, the next best option is USB Type-C connectivity. The Asus ROG Cetra offers exactly this, sounds great for games, does a fine job of simulating direction, and has active noise cancellation that is functional enough to make listening a bit easier.
However, at Rs. 7,699, it’s definitely a bit expensive, and doesn’t sound very good with music. This is a niche pair of earphones that gets its core function right and is very easy to use, but there’s not much else to talk about. The Asus ROG Cetra is a worthwhile option to consider if you’re looking for a dedicated gaming headset for your smartphone, computer, or Nintendo Switch, but you could also consider a good pair of true wireless earphones such as the Lypertek Tevi for everything else.
Alternatively, if you do have a source device with a headphone jack, the ROG Cetra Core is a much more affordable option to consider for gaming. It costs Rs. 3,999 but lacks ANC, LED lighting, and PC software integration.
Price: Rs. 7,699
- Looks good, easy to use
- Sound well tuned for gaming
- Functional noise cancellation
- Works with lots of devices
- Doesn’t sound very good with music
- Expensive for a wired headset
Ratings (Out of 5)
- Design: 4
- Performance: 3.5
- Value for money: 3
- Overall: 3.5
Which are the best truly wireless earphones under Rs. 10,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.