HTC announced a serious looking upgrade for its Vive headset earlier this year at CES 2017. The ‘Deluxe Audio Strap‘ replaces the original device’s harness and upgrades it with integrated headphones and a new, more robust adjustable head assembly.

Update (5/2/17, 3:16PM PT): HTC has confirmed both the price and release date of the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap: the accessory will launch on June 6th for $100. The company has also confirmed that all new purchases of the Vive ‘Business Edition’ headset will come standard with the Deluxe Audio Strap.

Original Article (1/4/17): At CES 2017, HTC may not be announcing the next generation of the Vive headset, but it is concentrating very hard on giving the existing Vive owner every opportunity to enhance their experience with their hardware. In a press conference today, the company released information on a significant number of peripherals for Vive.

Vive-consumer-unboxing-(5)
The consumer HTC Vive‘s standard headstrap.

When the HTC Vive went on sale in April this year, many reviews commented on the incredible experience the new hardware offered, but lamented that the consumer hardware perhaps fell short in the ergonomics and ease-of-use department. Chief among the concerns were around headset weight distribution and the niggling irritation of plugging in and then somehow donning a separate pair of headphones after you have the headset on. Compared to the (then) just-released Oculus Rift, the fit and finish of the Vive felt rushed.

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Well, HTC is returning to the original design and offering those customers who feel the above issues are worth it, a full replacement assembly for the head-strap which addresses at least some of those concerns. The new Deluxe Audio Strap (catchy!) acts as a slot-in replacement for the original head-strap. It’s a much more robust looking all-in-one design which includes adjustable integrated headphones (which connect to the Vive’s on-board audio jack). Additionally, the Deluxe head-strap does away with the elastic action of the original and instead puts a solid harness with ratchet tightening disc, similar to that seen on the PlayStation VR. Simply turn the disc to tighten the fit. Additionally there’s also a new 3-in-1 cable guide along one edge of the headset.

“We’ve continuously improved the core  Vive  experience, making it more comfortable and easier to use,” said Daniel O’Brien of HTC’s Vive. “The Deluxe Audio Strap evolves this mission further, offering a seamless audio solution that also fits more comfortably for Vive users.”

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The Deluxe Audio Strap will ship to retailers in Q2, and will be available to order on Vive.com. Pricing, says HTC, will be announced at a later date, which leaves us wondering how much we’d pay for such an accessory on an already fairly costly device. The answer depends on how comfortable is it and how good those integrated headphones are. Luckily, we’ll have a hands-on with the Deluxe Audio Strap for you shortly to give you insight into both.

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  • Bryan Ischo

    I’ll buy it.

    • Jim Cherry

      in for a penny in for a pound i guess

      • Bryan Ischo

        It’s the cost of being an early adopter. I fully expect to pay several times over for “the same” functionality, revised and improved each time.

        • Matt R

          Right there with you. instant purchase for me too. Plus 2 trackers for each foot and two for a belt for body tracking.

        • John Horn

          Definitely. Needing to buy some upgrades is a cost I was prepared for being an early adopter… I’m glad HTC were enough forward-thinking to at least allow for such an upgrade, with the harness being detachable.

  • jean thompson

    I’ll be getting this for sure!!!! Omg!

  • Mike McLin

    Really wish these were over ear. I removed my Rift headphones. Hearing the real world around me while in VR really kills it for me.

    • Sam Illingworth

      Yeah, they look quite rough don’t they?

    • DougP

      Agree – high quality over-ear headphones are a requirement for me.

      One of the reasons the Rift’s inclusion of phones didn’t impress me.

    • Get Schwifty!

      You should try the in-ear ones – much better.

      • Mike McLin

        I don’t think in-ear provides the same noise cancellation. However the biggest issue with in ear is the hygiene issue when sharing them with others.

        • Josh Yates

          i just got the Samsung galaxy s8 and it came with some decent noise canceling in ear head phones,The brand is called akg. Especially if your sound is loud enough, i’ve yet to test these headphones on a computer, and i would suspect they would be amazing on a pc unfortunately i don’t have an extension to plug them into. they would probably replace my Turtle Beach Stealth 450’s only based on the fact of them not being as loud as i want them to be as well as the noise cancellation is better on the akg’s

        • Tadd Seiff

          I’m quite sure none of these do noise “cancellation”. You mean “isolation”. In-ear elements require a near perfect fit (hard to get out of the box) for good isolation.

          • Mike McLin

            Sorry, internally in my head I’m comparing these to my Beats Wireless headphones which do noise cancellation. I should have made that clear.

  • dustynegative

    hoping the price one these stay low, they know anyone buying these things are already in for 800.

    • Jesse Thiele

      $900+* Shipping and tax really adds up on expensive orders.

  • Doesn’t look cheap.. but these plus some wireless functionality via one of the upcoming 3rd party options and I’ll be a happy VR…. er…

  • Roy Mudie

    So much want. This combined with the wireless tracker and I’ll be a happy bunny!

    • Sam Illingworth

      That’s a point – HTC’s wireless adapter clips to the strap on the top doesn’t it – will it work with this thing? I hope they’ve thought that through!

      • Roy Mudie

        In the current mockups it does look like it would be a tight fit. But I’d zipstrap that bad boy to my to make it work :)

        • Sam Illingworth

          Yeah, it’d be hard to resist buying both even if it necessitates use of much duct tape!

  • Walhallo

    Will this be the standard mount when you buy a VIVE let’s say in Q3 2017? Or will this always be an upgrade?

    • Black Blade

      As its called Delux i assume an upgreade

    • Ghosty

      Well I think if everyone loves it then it will be standard in the second Gen hmd!

  • wowgivemeabreak

    I like that. I wish the Rift had a ratchet tighten like that. Would make it a lot easier when showing off the headset to others.

  • John Horn

    This is a MUST HAVE! One of my biggest gripes with the vive is the ergonomics of various headphones… and the elastic strap is pretty bad.

  • ummm…

    im not sure why headphones are such an issue to people. wouldn’t we rather have the choice to pick and choose. Ill use my noise canceling for seated experiences like elite or projects cars, or prepa3d – and ear buds for golf club vr or other room scale games. or i can just close my eyes and choose which headset. why would i want to be stuck with built in headphone? i understand the appeal, but being able to use mine isn’t so bad. i mean, we still have bulky displays strapped to our face.

    • Nadim Alam

      adding your own headphones is one of the most troublesome issues i have with my vive after the cables. Adding your own headphones just adds an extra cable or something extra heavy on top of your head, and you always end up having to adjust it multiple times when playing a game. I just want it to be like my rift, just put the headset on and forget about everything else!! I will be ordering this in a heartbeat as soon as its out!

      • ummm…

        yeah i supposed refining the vr experience is the way to go. However, seeing as this is gen 1 im not bothered. my priorities were workable accurate solutions and experiences. Vive does tracking and motion controllers wonderfully, and have been for the cheapest cost, from the start. They are constantly reevaluating this first consumer offering peripherals like this one are constantly coming out.

        The short chord headphones that came with it are great. My short cord noise canceling ones are great. It is just too risky for me to have built in headphones at the moment. I’d rather have the versatility and durability of a simple headphone jack. but thats me. if in 2 generations the vive hasn’t refined itself in terms of industrial design while others have, then i may have an issue. But at this point we are all early adopters. what is important is the store structure, tracking accuracy/roomscale, and developer offerings. Everything else is noise, in my opinion.

    • RockstarRepublic

      Personally I prefer wide soundstage open back headphones. You get more sense of depth and clarity…only downside being you can hear stuff around you as well… which in retrospect is probably a good thing.

      That said, it would have been just as good if not better if they could find some way to create a headstrap that you can hook your headphones onto so it becomes more like “one unit”.

      • ummm…

        both good points

  • Ian Shook

    Do any of you have the wireless thing for the vive? How is it?

  • Get Schwifty!

    This is good to hear…. ergonomics of the headset are vitally important. I’ve been debating on it, but with the revised controllers upcoming and now this I may have to consider investing in a Vive setup alongside my current Rift+Touch….

  • jimmey dean hiya

    there is a refined vive announcement coming.this new version includes the new headband.lighter weight.and battery pack/transmitter receiver.
    the existing vive will be the low end with upgrades available./they will never announce the really big news on d1.in order to save htc this must happen.

    • Get Schwifty!

      And you know this how?

  • ✨EnkrowX✨

    Looks like they acknowledged the ergonomic failings of the headset and took a few hints from their competitors. Great to see this improvement!

  • Ghosty

    If I could just get the head strap without the headphones I’d be happy and buy it in a second.. I also think they are floating this out there to get feedback because if everyone raves about it then you will likely see something similar on Vive2… If everyone says it still needs work then they will likely continue to modify it!

    • Jacob Mees

      I’m curious how easy it would be to modify a set of momentums into it instead or something. Looks like they’d mount right up with some wiring.

  • SHunter

    This just needs to be the standard setup sold in box with the vive kit.

  • Accessdenied

    Just use some apple airpods.
    Works great and less annoying when taking off the headset

    • Tadd Seiff

      And now you have a $259+tax strap…a bargain.

  • JustNiz

    Just make your own using something like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/221557344647

    • johngrimoldy

      Your suggestion isn’t getting the attention it deserves! Thanks!

      • Tadd Seiff

        OTOH, this is not an out-of-the-box solution. The two documented uses of this strap I have seen: The first guy taped it or something to the vive, and his forehead rests on the strap, not direclty on the vive, which seemed awkward at best. The other solution using was much better, but required 3d printing a bracket for proper coiupling to the vive. So either of these approach the 100$ mark pretty fast in any combination of time/energy/$ to actually make it work.

        If there was a kit for it, for $50, I would buy it before I bought this official VIVE strap, yeah, totally.

        CORRECTION:
        In my first example, it wasn’t taped, but the VIVE strap had to be dissasembled and attached. Also notice the forehead doens’t rest on the vive itself, not sure how this works, maybe it does:
        http://imgur.com/a/3x2xN

        Here is another example showing that the original strap had to be cut and what looks like “sewed”:
        https://i.redd.it/whz86i4qhwrx.jpg

        And here is the 3d print example, as linked from a reddit post (https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4ng4ka/another_welding_mask_headgear_mod/d43rm9f/). Note the origianal strap was still modified, not sure if it is reversible or if you have to permanently butcher your original strap:
        http://i.imgur.com/fQNmyEC.jpg

        • johngrimoldy

          You make a good point of quickly approaching the $100 mark by attempting a DIY. You addressed the biggest question I had of “How do you get the aftermarket-mount to attach to the Vive?” I’d really want to avoid permanently butchering my elastic head strap. I scrutinized the buckles on either side of the Vive. I think you’re right — you’d really need to 3D print something.
          At $100, the official HTC solution is just at the point of being annoyingly expensive yet still within reach considering the alternative.
          Thanks for the additional info though — I was quite surprised your post didn’t get any other feedback.

          • Tadd Seiff

            I’ll take your word about examining the slots, I haven’t had a chance to do that. If the buckles that attach the strap to the HMD can be removed without damaging the strap itself, then probably some webbing or elastic could be purchased at the fabric store to connect the buckle to the new strap. I maybe jumped to conclusions that the example pictured was the original strap cut and sewn; although they may have done that, it might not mean it is necessary.

            So just unthread the elastic strap from the HMD and replace with something purchased. 3D printing might be overkill even, so maybe not all that complicated.

            I know we are being very pedantic at this point, but I love it. Thanks for discussing. I think these DIY topics don’t get love here because anyone with the scratch for the initial VR buy-in has the money to just buy the new strap…but saving money is only part of DIY, there are other reasons for the…obsession….

          • johngrimoldy

            Perfectly said: It’s the obsession!! There’s something so rewarding in doing a high-quality DIY.
            I gotta say though that the official HTC offering looks VERY sweet/polished. It’ll be VERY nice to have part of the bracing lower on the back of my head like the HTC looks to provide. It’ll also be nice to get the 3-in-1 cable off the top of my noggin and routed a little better (a lighter-weight cable sure would be nice!)

          • Tadd Seiff

            Hmm, never noticed the new routing…I am not a fan of it being non-symmetrical. I prefer the over-the-head routing, having it on one side would flare the OCD…

            The one gripe I have about the current cable/strap is:
            1) pressure sore where the cable hits the back or the head, where it runs between the nylon straps.
            2) (ok, 2 things) it affects the fitment because the weight of the cable starts to crunch up the forward/backward strap.

            Just having a more rigid strap would fix both of these, but routing to one side…seems like it would be more tangly because it runs along your leg…hmmm.

            P.S. I ordered the miller electric strap, $27 shipped (slowly) on amazon. Will report upon experimentation…

          • johngrimoldy

            I’m conflicted on the non-symmetrical cable routing. It will be nice to not have the damned thing crunching up the strap like you mentioned – it’s particularly annoying when using full-earcup headphones. OCD issues aside (ha!), if it’s firmly mounted to the side of the new strap it may not throw off the balance much.
            I can say that at least *I’ll* be very interested to see how you fare with the Miller Strap. I came this close > < to getting one myself. The stark realization that paying the $100 for the sharp-looking HTC strap will be much less frustrating and time-consuming.

          • Astro Ocean

            Maybe you are just a twelve year old and don’t know any better: wait that’s not an excuse; get educated. OCD, the real thing, could kick your butt every day all day , not be just a funny preference. Anyone have any good Vive experiences to tell of, anyone??

          • Astro Ocean

            Don’t joke about OCD, you know nothing about (the real) illness. It is not something to lightly speak of and mock, having real OCD is quite painful and limiting. Also heck yeah I’m getting these accessories, the old strap sucked!

  • J.C.

    The only thing giving me pause on this is the rather flimsy looking connection between the word Vive and the headphones. That had better be metal, if it’s plastic it won’t survive a month. I want this, very badly. My biggest issue with my Vive is I can’t get it tight enough to not flop around without it hurting my cheeks. I’m hoping this thing makes the headset still reasonably comfortable after 45 minutes.

  • NooYawker

    I haven’t used my Vive in a month but I’m buying this because.. I just have to.

    • johngrimoldy

      Best comment tagged to this story!!!

  • Tadd Seiff

    Not worth $100. $50 maybe. I know it is well designed, but it’s just plastic, unless the headphones are really nice, but as stated in other comments, then I choose NOT to by new headphones, just the strap. But other have replied to that saying “the headhphones are not the majority of the cost”, so, then, WHAT IS? $100?