While ASUS Republic of Gamers has already released quite a number of audio products, it’s only recently that they’ve ventured at least officially, into the TWS market.
It’s first TWS Earbuds, the ROG Cetra True Wireless actually seems impressive on paper. It features IPX4 water-proofing, Hybrid Noise Cancellation, Low Latency mode for gaming, and even wireless charging. Oh, and don’t forget RGB lighting on the case. What’s even better is that they’ve packaged all of this for a sub-PhP5K price tag.
What’s in the Box
Design and Build Quality
The case for the ROG Cetra TWS is still of a clamshell form, but looks different from the usual. In that regard, it’s also minimal, with just an embossed ROG logo at the front, and some product info at the back. The case is made of plastic, but it does not feel cheap or flimsy. It was also able to survive a drop from around 3 feet. (Yes, my fault) with only a minor dent.
Of course, an ROG product wouldn’t be one without any hint of RGB, so opening the charging case reveals the ROG logo with guess what? RGB lighting. As flashy as that sounds, I’m glad that they’re able to include it considering that this is priced below PhP5,000. There’s also a thin light at the chin of the case to indicate battery level.
The case can also be charged wirelessly, a feature that’s uncommon at this price range.
As for the buds themselves, ROG has opted to use the stem design, which a lot of people like, and a lot people don’t. The side of the earbuds also light up when charging, but not when in use, which is a missed opportunity in my book. I mean, if you are going to go flashy with RGB, might as well commit to it, right?
Controlling playback, activating ANC, and your digital assistant can all be done using the touch panels on the earbuds. These controls are fixed and cannot be remapped, unfortunately. The touch panels are very sensitive, so be careful when say, taking off the earbuds, so you don’t activate anything or stop/continue playback unintentionally.
Comfort and Connectivity
With its in-ear design, you can choose from the included tips to get the perfect seal. The medium ones worked for me. When worn, the earbuds remain secure in your ears even with some movement. These are surprisingly comfortable to use, and don’t cause any itchiness in the ears.
The low-end has a lot of presence and packs quite a punch without creeping into the other frequencies. House tracks shine on these earbuds. For vocals, it’s not too forward nor too laid back, clarity is also great, and there’s “s” sound is nicely emphasized without sounding too thin or harsh. Treble is Airy enough, without being piercing. It’s bright enough but not fatiguing.
The good thing about these earbuds is that they respond nicely to the built in EQ, which can come in very handy. For my own preference, I just slightly increase the 16K band and I’m all good. You can also enable Bass Boost the bass on the Armory Crate app, in case you still feel that it’s not enough. However, at max volume, there’s a scratching sound that can really be annoying. I find it evident in bass-heavy tracks.
There is a gaming mode that allows improves the synchronization of audio and video, and if you’re playing games that require fast reactions, the reduced delay means you can respond faster to clutch situations. Moreover, the improved synchronization is also noticeable when watching YouTube videos, though there is an occasional blipping sound that can be heard, as if the audio from right suddenly creeps to the left for a moment. I could not isolate it as it happens randomly, both when I’m using a phone and when it’s connected to my PC.
If you’re unable to play the sample, you can download it here.
The ROG Cetra TWS offers two levels of Noise Cancellation – Light and Heavy. Honestly, at a certain volume, I couldn’t tell the difference, but I always put it in heavy to cancel out as much outside noise as possible. At this level, the ANC does a good job of muting table sounds, the sound coming from my PC’s fans, the sound coming from the air conditioner, and even the noise that comes from cars passing by outside.
There’s also an Ambient Sound Mode for instant awareness when say, you need to talk to someone or crossing the street. To save battery, you can also completely disable ANC. All of this can be done using the touch controls on the earbuds.
To choose a sound preset or adjust the equalizer, you have to download and install Armoury Crate on your phone. You’ll then be able to access the devices’ settings using the app. Apart from those features, you can also update the firmware, and check the battery level.
With Heavy Noise Cancelling enabled, and volume at around 70 to 80%, I was able to get around 5 hours of playback with a single charge. This is actually very close to ROG’s claim of 5.5 hours of uptime. Pretty good for the price.
Even just for the sheer number of features that it brings, the ROG Cetra True Wireless punches above its PhP4,490 price tag. The ANC works great, the wireless charging is a convenient feature to have, and the customizable equalizer is a good plus. If you like bass, it also offers plenty, even without the bass boost feature, all while maintaining good clarity and a fun-sounding airy treble.
On the flip side, the non remappable touch controls and no RGB on the earbuds when in use are missed opportunities, while the scratchy sound when on max volume, and the random blipping/skipping sound when using Gaming Mode can be a bit distracting. The microphones are also average at best. I would suggest that you try it first for yourself before buying it.
Personally, I find that its pros outweigh the cons, and if they can fix those glitches with a software update, that makes this an even better value for the money. It’s just amazing how ASUS ROG was able to package so many premium features and good sound quality for a price tag that won’t break the bank.
Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.