Oculus announced its next iteration of Rift this week at GDC, Rift S. While there’s a few key differences about the upcoming hardware specs-wise, it seems the company has also taken a page out of Go’s playbook by including an open-ear integrated audio solution in the headstrap of Rift S. To that end, Oculus says they might bring out a bespoke audio accessory in the future.

Facebook’s head of VR product Nate Mitchell told Road to VR at the headset’s special GDC unveiling that the company was currently exploring the possibility of producing an aftermarket audio solution, something we suppose might work similarly to PSVR’s clip-on Mantis headphones from Bionik.

The company is decidedly taking a step back in terms of high-quality integrated audio with the entrance of Rift S. While we’re not entirely sure why at this point, it’s possible it’s a move to standardize the casual listening experience across their current line of products, which will soon include Oculus Quest this spring in addition to Oculus Go.

Photo by Road to VR

As with Quest and Go, you’ll find a pair of integrated speakers on the underside of Rift S’s headstrap. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack on the left side of the headset itself for users who want to bring their own headphones or earbuds.

SEE ALSO
Hands-on: Oculus Rift S is a Better, Easier to Use Rift (with a Few Tradeoffs)

In the end, plugging in a pair of headphone or earbuds may be somewhat inelegant for people who’ve used the original Rift though, as having a built-in over-ear headphone that partially blocks out noise (and at an acceptably high volume) is something of a convenience factor.

In that token, third-party manufacturers would be able to make their own aftermarket audio add-ons too; it all just depends on how much demand there is from new Rift S owners, something Oculus (or the market) will probably figure out when the headset launches this spring.

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  • Tesla

    Nobody cares after they released Oculus Rift S(hit) version. No reason to buy this when you have any WMR headset, cheaper and way better.

    • TJ Studio

      Are you saying you will no longer support and trust Oculus after this?

    • Darshan

      RIFT S might infect have much better controller tracking due to 5 Camera when you compare with WMR 2 Camera. There will be much wider tracking volume and very less chances of loose controller tracking. not to mention WMR uses light where as RIFT user IR which bound to be more precise in various light conditions so its how you want to see, in my opinion RIFT S need consideration if you are first time VR buyer looking for less cluttered setup and good games library RIFT S is direction to go.

      • Manuel Riger

        Tracking is better but the rest is a joke and the price is even more a joke. I don t think that we can compare the mother of vr made by us fans Oculus vs wmr. This headset should not cost more than 299 dollar at all. But nobody should support this in my eyes. Oculus could easy make 2 headsets one like this for less price and lower specs and a high end for better pc.

    • Cybis Z

      Unless you’re referring to the Odyssey+, or that new super high-rez HP headset, how is *any* WMR headset better than the Rift-S? Rift-S offers better software, integrated audio, and more tracking cameras.

      I’ll admit the S is a bit of a letdown, but it is better than the “cheap” WMR options. Also, don’t forget the S’s launch price at $400 is indeed lower than the launch prices of the Dell or Lenovo Explorer which were $450, just slightly over a year ago. The S will undoubtedly be on a decent sale this Holiday season.

      • knuckles625

        I gotta disagree here, while the Rift S may indeed eventually drop in price, the lower tier WMR headsets are regularly sub-$200 now, not eventually. And with even the lowest specs, you still get inarguably higher resolution, higher framerate, and it will run on lower min specs. As far as software, WMR has had passthrough for a long while, and I think most would prefer SteamVR to Oculus’s store. So where’s the software advantage?

        Beyond an improvement in tracking, I can’t find a reason for anyone right now to give $400 Rift S a second look vs any WMR headset, especially vs a now-$300 Odyssey+ for a massive improvement in clarity.

  • Grey Lock

    Very disappointed in the Rift S. No way I’m upgrading from Rift to it. Hopefully Vive Cosmos is better!

    • TJ Studio

      Disappointed means you don’t like it.

      • The Ods

        No, it doesen’t mean that he don’t like it, learn to read and think and research both meaning please before skank someones comment, thank you sir.

        • TJ Studio

          Kys.

        • TJ Studio

          No.

          • HordePlayer

            Yes

          • TJ Studio

            Kys.

    • disviq

      This is the source of most of the frustrated comments… Rift S is NOT an upgrade, it’s a revision… Surely not really that much of an upgrade for those that have Rift already. Wait for Rift2 or hopefully Valve’s new HMD.

      • Trenix

        So what is the S for? Even for smartphones, you get minor improvements without any downgrades until the next generation. The most believable idea is that they made another company build this devise and had the whole team focus on Oculus Quest. Better hope that no other upgraded headset comes out, or Oculus PC is done for.

        • disviq

          You can call it minor improvement, as long as you don’t expect it to be Rift’s successor and a headset that Oculus was exclusively working on since Rift’s production lock.
          Major changes that we are waiting for, are those that Mr. Abrash was talking about in his presentations.

      • Chris Campbell

        But, it’s not appealing to new people either IF you know that there are downgrades coming with it from the original Rift OR you don’t have a PC to run it. If you’re new, you’re probably going to end up with the Quest – a product targeted at new entrants, correctly. $400 is not a casual purchase, especially when it requires you to modify an existing PC or purchase/build a new one. Even the most reckless spender is going to do some research and they’re going to find a bunch of people telling them not to buy it and to wait for something else if they’re “serious about getting into VR”. They’ve served nobody with this product, not old fans, not new entrants to the market (the Quest is a cheaper/better choice for them), and does nothing but create a frustration cloud that will follow the Rift S until it drops to $200 or they drop a Rift 2 – whichever happens first.

  • Dodo Zapp

    I am underwhelmed by the Rift S too though there was no expectation of greater advancements, but the decrease in performance on some aspects together with an official price point of $399 just sends the wrong message to the market.
    The Rift S would make sense if you want to lower the threshold for new users to VR by offering it somewhere between 200-300$ and needed to save some manufacturing costs along the way by using cheaper screens etc.. But then don’t reveal it with an official price tag of $399. At that price, three years after the release of the CV1, people expect a substantial bump in performance, not just a generally equal offering with some pro’s & con’s.
    I fear that at the end the rather disappointed first reaction of the VR community will outweigh the attempted suggestion of a bargain & higher value by applying a high price tag now just to discount it permanently after just a few weeks. The disappointment will stick more than the suggested value proposition.
    The Rift S is not a bad device, it’s just not a real bump over the CV1, and CV1 owners hardly have a reason to replace their CV1. Oculus’ pricing confuses these owners as they would have understood the message of “the same for a lower price” and not expected to be tempted by the Rift S, but at its official price point they will scratch their heads.

    • Darshan

      It might not be upgrade for CV1 users at all, its more targeted to newer base who may not like to occupy so many USBs and hard setup but wish to enjoy ease of use with just a USB and Display Port. 5 Camera setup seems capable to reduce controller occlusion to bare minimum, using LCD instead of QUEST OLED is bad move otherwise i still believe its good refresh.

      • Luke

        I’m not expert but S camera placement seems bad to avoid camera occlusion on the front in those situations when controllers get close the face (box games) or for fps as Onward vr, where there are dual handed rifles so one hand is close to the face to aim. I wait for tests: is oculus S tracking freak it out it’s not a suggested buy.

      • From what I’m reading the OLED was partially to blame for the screen door effect.

        • sfmike

          The plus in black levels and color fidelity outweighs the negatives in SDE. This downgrading on visuals kills this headset for me.

          • crim3

            I switched from Vive to Lenovo Explorer the last Black Friday and for me the benefits of LCD over OLED with pentile layout are worth it. Of course, the blacks are very poor in the LCD, but the RGB layout is fantastic. Colors are vivid enough and the screen is very bright. Clarity doesn’t depend on colors like it happens with a pentile display where greenish things are clearer than reddish things. And I didn’t expect this but, after several months wihout using my Vive regularly, I have adapted to the black levels.
            Not trying to convince anyone, to each its own. Even more, I was convinced that OLED was best for VR as you before buying the Lenovo Explorer. It’s not all black or white.

          • Rainfox Wolfstone

            what happened to all the stuff Michael Abrash was talking about at all these Oculus Connect events?

      • Dodo Zapp

        Sure, I get that, but still I don’t think that this offering, with almost as many downsides as improvements, is paricularly attractive even to new users who are roughly aware of the original Rift (and its competition). And it leaves all of the VR enthusiasts scratching their head as to what Oculus was thinking when putting together the Rift S business case.
        Even more so when considering that the Quest is being released by the same company around the same time for the same price.

      • Chris Campbell

        OMG stop saying hard setup – you plug in and aim two friggin cameras – it’s a 2 minute job. The only hard part is getting the adhesive on the cable banding to give up. They are cry babies that make an invalid argument, and you may not be one of them, but using phrases like “hard setup” gives their nonsense life and legs. Just stop it. If a person can’t be asked to do the sensor setup, how do you expect them to play VR with all its body motions, standing, etc? They’re not VR fans, they just want a shiny new toy because someone else has it or they saw the Jonah Hill commercial

  • gothicvillas

    I am in the market to upgrade my original Vive but unfortunately it will not be Oculus S model. I really hope Valve come out with announcement.

  • disviq

    I wish I could use my Rift earbuds with S (if I ever get it).

  • JP

    It would have been a much better deal for $500 if they just added to the quest the necessary hardware for virtuallink.

    • Darshan

      Why they did not do it… they could have made it all in one unbeatable champ.

      • q23main

        Because they don’t want to kill that new cash cow – Quest

      • Matt Clark

        Product segmentation

    • daveinpublic

      Because then, they couldn’t lower the price of the PC only version in the future. WMR is making the greatest gains of anyone in the Steam Charts, and it because of convenience and price. With this Rift S, they could lower the price to compete with any WMR headset in the future or for Black Friday, but not so with the Quest. And Quest may yet have the ability to wirelessly hook up to the PC, TP Cast confirmed their accessory will allow it.

  • Luke
    • dk

      https://i.redd.it/rz68yrqkebn21.jpg except the lenovo is 90hz and higher res …but I guess facebook will most likely lower the price to 250

      • MeowMix

        Well, except the actually HMD part of Rift-S looks like a modified Oculus GO. Even the foam padding looks like an extended version of the GO padding.

        Only the Halo part looks like the Lenovo contribution (which they licensed from SONY)

        • dk

          I don’t have a problem with it being a lenovo it’s just a funny meme …the Go is made by xiaomi ….but there is no good reason to go with the cheapest screen in any desktop vr headset

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    Zuckerberg can shovel over-ear headphones in his ass. FB bought diamond in the rough with Oculus and transformed it into pile of shit.

  • Adrian Meredith

    Remember when oculus used to talk about audio presence being as important as visual and that high quality sound was important. Miss those days

    • Who’s this?

      Remember when they were supposedly all about “premium” and “cutting edge” VR, then their brightest and best quit because they lied?

  • Firestorm185

    I’m glad this is just an iterative update and that something much better will be coming with Rift 2 down the pipeline. An iterative update like this is about a year and a half late, unfortunately, but when Rift 2 officially comes out that’s when I’ll be upgrading, once they decide to actually give us something more significant.

    That said, for people entering the Oculus ecosystem right now, I’m very happy with this. Yes, the resolution isn’t as high as some other HMD’s, but if you think about just the Oculus ecosystem, and exclusives specifically, being able to use Touch controllers with a slight resolution bump and comfort improvements for newcomers I’m really excited about. I just have to think of the S as an updated newbie headset, not *my* next headset.

    It is quite the shame that they nixed the headphones though, that was one of the Rift’s golden touches, being able to slip the headset on and off so quickly with the headphones. Although I currently use the earphone attachments for more noise-cancelling, not having the option on newer headsets to use them is a real bummer. Really hope they come out with an aftermarket headphone adapter. (one that uses the original headphones even would be amazing)

  • coltair

    no one really cares

  • FireAndTheVoid

    Here is Oculus’/Facebook’s thinking:
    1. Embedded headphones that don’t move also don’t break
    2. They are cheaper to build, keeping prices down and improving profit margin
    3. They make it slightly easier to take the headset on and off
    4. They are now the common configuration between their mobile 3DOF, mobile 6DOF, and PC VR offerings
    5. It’s easier for people outside of VR to communicate with the person inside VR when they don’t have headphones covering their ears (reduces the isolation issue with VR that tends to cause people not to return to VR as often)

    Unfortunately for us VR enthusiasts, they are trying to appeal to the masses – not to us.

    • sfmike

      Profit margins are all that counts. This is America!

  • Gonzax

    The lack of integrated headphones is a HUGE disappointment. I like everything else about the Rift S but this is the last thing I was expecting, an incredible letdown to have to use external headphones. That was one of the main reasons why I stopped using psvr, I can’t believe they went the same route.

  • MosBen

    I don’t at all mind using earbuds for myself, but when you’re passing a VR HMD around nobody wants to be jamming in ear buds that have been in 5 other sets of ears.

    • Dave

      Why would you pass your earbuds to somebody else? Let them use the built in audio – the earbuds are an option if you want to improve the sound.

      • MosBen

        I find that having the on-ear headphones in Beat Saber really improves the game. They’re not exactly super high fidelity, but they’re good enough that they isolate you and allow you to feel the music. I guess I’ll have to see how good the audio is in this, but I don’t feel like Beat Saber would be the same through shitty laptop speakers.

  • Lgb160

    Pretty sure the psvr headphones will clip on this

  • George Vieira IV

    I’m glad they went with the PSVR style headband, even if the rest isn’t really interesting to me yet.

  • bliglum .

    This is why I love comment sections.. Above, the journalists take, which may or may not be shilling. And below, in the comment section, you’ll find less puffy and more condensed chunks of TRUTH.. The media calls these blunt truth sayers “trolls”.. Thank goodness for trolls then I say.
    And yes, the Rift S is a terrible disappointment. Downgrade in many ways, and a single, cheap Oculus GO LCD instead of the Quest’s higher res OLED’s?!? Wow, way to give the middle finger to your existing customer base there Oculus. Have a Rift but will be looking elsewhere for my next set.