At today’s Oculus Connect keynote, a number of new hardware announcements were made, including the reveal of a new pair of Oculus ‘Earphones’ that replace the removable headphones that come with the Rift.

Releasing on December 6 with pre-orders on October 10, the Rift Earphones are set to coincide with the launch of the company’s greatly anticipated Touch controllers which were announced with the same pre-order and launch dates.

For some, this might be their preferred audio choice, as Oculus have claimed that the earphones are designed for high noise isolation with optimized drivers that provide an even higher level of VR immersion; the standard headphones that ship with the Rift are on-ear and make it fairly easy to hear the real-world during your virtual adventures.

Without knowing the exact weights of each, we’re not sure yet how much the Rift Earphones will save over the headphones, but it may add up to a non-trivial amount. Looking back, it’s almost surprising this wasn’t the original audio solution for the headset.

Oculus emphasized the importance of audio and delivered quality audio with the original headphones, so we expect the sound quality of the Earphones to be pretty good, possibly even better than the headphones based on what Oculus is teasing. The company claims to have tested these Earphones against a similar pair priced at $900 and says that they were comparable in audio quality.

We’ll have our own impressions of these in due time as we have units on hand, but for now, you can take a look at these photos of the Apple-like packaging, and also note the different sized tips and headphone remover tool that come in the box.

In addition, Oculus will release CAD files for the design of their detachable headphones, so that anyone can make headphones that attach directly to the headset. CAD files for the removeable facial interface were also announced at the same time. Previous to this however, Audeze had shown a pair of earphones connected to the Rift directly, which, according to Engadget, was made possible with help from Oculus. That exchange was most likely the first successful attempt from Oculus to test the CAD design for a real third party product, allowing for them to finalize their decision to release the blueprints, so that any company could start making headphones for the Rift.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Matt R

    These earbuds are a good idea. The CAD files so 3rd parties can design their own? I really don’t see the point.

    • Well without the CAD files the manufacturer would spend more money on R&D which would increase the cost on newer earbuds. It is about choice in the end. There are some extremely high quality headsets out there that could become available and Oculus are encouraging that.

    • Justos

      Choices mate.

    • If you have CV1, then hand a caliper, pencil and sheet of paper, and find friend with 3D printer. ;P

  • Get Schwifty!

    “Looking back, it’s almost surprising this wasn’t the original audio solution for the headset.”

    Really? So the fact the Vive doesn’t even have headphones is okay, but since Oculus puts out a HMD with headphones that don’t match a later pair specially designed for even greater immersion is a lapse? Hmmmm….

    I don’t believe an anti-Oculus stance was meant here, but given that they did include a reasonably good pair of headphones with the unit and now are striving to give the option (not requirement) for an even better VR experience should be applauded.

    • George Vieira IV

      I think their point was that the new earbud solution was lighter, and since Oculus had so focused on weight, it made this solution seem more inline with that goal.

      • VR Geek

        Actually I think ben was referring to the quality of audio which noise isolating headphones would improve the immersion.

        • George Vieira IV

          Perhaps, but in the same paragraph he mentions it he talks about the weight.

          “Without knowing the exact weights of each, we’re not sure yet how much the Rift Earphones will save over the headphones, but it may add up to a non-trivial amount. Looking back, it’s almost surprising this wasn’t the original audio solution for the headset.”

    • rabs

      Well, Vive and PSVR provides earbuds with the headset.
      Now the Rift have a similar option, but higher quality and better integrated to the headset.

      On the Vive most people pass the cables through the straps, so the earbuds are always conveniently hanging near the ear, especially when putting the headset on. Don’t know if it will be possible with the PSVR.


    I find the announcement of these ear buds surprisingly welcome. Didn’t expect this. They really streamline the look of the Rift, and it will no doubt lead to a more immersive experience. I’m sure for some users, the ability to still hear their non-vr environment while using Rift is necessary, so the over-the-ear speakers are ideal. Personally, I’d rather have full immersion, so the in-ear option is perfect. I would characterize these ear buds as a force-multiplier for Rift.

  • Foreign Devil

    Any good noise cancelling headphones cover the ear completely. . I’ve never seen an effective noise cancelling solution that fits IN the ear. You need the combination of active noise canceling AND physical sound isolation.

  • DM

    My wife and I have our gaming PC’s in the living room, and I quite like the ability to lift the Rift headphones away and back from my ears when someone needs to get my attention, so I’ll most likely keep with the headphones, but the earbuds are a nice alternative option to have. I wonder if we’ll get a mic attachment at some point?