Conquest VR is almost ready to bring its HD audio VR headset adapter to market. After talking with CEO Raghu Bathina last month, the company invited me to try out their product ahead of the public release.
A Refresher on Conquest VR
Honestly, I’m glad that I got the opportunity later to try out the adapter at home. It allowed me the opportunity to get some photos, dive into some experiences, and test the adapter with both of my headsets.
The adapter was designed for the Quest 2, but only requires a standard audio jack to work – which is a standard feature on VR headsets. So, for this review, I tried it out with both my Quest 2 and my Pico Neo 3 Pro. Both are stand-alone 6-DoF headsets with default onboard speakers.
What Comes in the Mail
Before we dive into the demos, let’s take a look at what’s in the box.
Headsets, adapters, most things that I’ve ever demoed, my initial comment is that there’s no way everything is going back into the box the same way that it came out. That is not the case with Conquest VR.
The device comes in an attractive, apparently durable, and very tidy carrying case. The inside of the lid of the case is a zippered mesh storage area.
Inside the case are the left and right on-ear-phones, the single required wire, a set of interchangeable fashion plates, and literature. The single wire has three heads, but comes bundled with handy velcro ties to keep everything in order.
The adapters are easier to use than they look, but the included booklets spell everything out and include a link to video tutorials on how to connect the adapters to your headset and adjust them to your head for maximum sound quality and comfort.
Test With the Meta Quest 2
I have a standard strap for my Quest 2, but, just for fun, I left my KKCOBVR battery pack on. That nifty little kit hasn’t left my headset since I reviewed it this spring, so I was naturally curious about how the two would work together.
The individual Conquest VR phones aren’t very heavy, so head weight and discomfort weren’t a problem, despite the added weight of the battery pack, which should be good news for users that also have battery-life extenders on their headsets. However, KKCOBVR’s battery pack also has external wires, so the complete rig looked a bit messy but that wasn’t a problem.
The cable management steps for Conquest VR can seem like a lengthy process, but they really do work. Once everything was put together, the wires were never a problem. The heads plug into the phones, which then rotate to collect extra wire length – which is a stroke of design genius.
I noticed the phones when I was putting them on and adjusting them to my ears and I was worried that they would be a constant physical sensation, breaking my immersion at every step. But, I didn’t really notice them until I took them off again. And, I took them off a lot.
That wasn’t due to any kind of problem. The sound felt so natural, that I kept lifting the phones off my ear to make sure that the sound was coming from the phones and not from the Quest 2’s onboard speakers.
While I’m not a fan of the Quest 2’s default strap, I honestly didn’t realize how wanting the audio could be, until I tried something better. I liked the idea of the Quest 2’s off-ear audio, and I was expecting the audio through Conquest VR to sound more “canned” but this wasn’t the case at all.
Test With the Pico Neo 3 Pro
The phones came off of the headset and went back in the case. Then, after a rest (to quiet the queasiness – it happens to the best of us), it was out of the box and onto the Pico Neo 3 Pro. It was immediately apparent that Conquest VR was designed with another headset in mind.
The phones worked with the Neo 3 Pro, but the headset’s straps taper off and become pretty thin pretty quickly. Between this and the Neo 3 Pro having a more protruding faceplate than the Quest 2, it took a little more work to find an anchor point for the phones.
Further, on the Quest 2, the audio jack is on the left-hand side, and the buttons are on the right-hand side. On the Neo 3 Pro, everything is on the right-hand side. Not only does this mean that the installation is mirrored, it also means that if your cable management isn’t just so, the wires get in the way of the headset controls. That said, it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
While with the Quest 2 I was constantly checking that the phones were really the source of the audio, I noticed the difference immediately on the Neo 3 Pro. I’m not sure if this is because I knew what to expect or because I hadn’t noticed that the Neo 3 Pro has lower quality audio than the Quest 2 but the Conquest VR was clearly doing some work here.
While Pico recently expanded its consumer support into Europe, there’s still no word as to when it will reach the States. As a result, most readers who have Pico probably use it for enterprise. That shouldn’t reduce the appeal of Conquest VR, particularly for people using Pico products for training where quality spatial audio can be crucial for simulating situational awareness.
Is It Worth the Money?
Now comes the big question: is it worth the money? We asked this question when we met Conquest VR last month even though we didn’t know how much the adapter would cost.
Essentially, we came to the conclusion that the price would have to be low enough that the Quest 2 and Conquest VR together would not cost more than a high-quality audio headset like the HP Reverb G2 or the VIVE Cosmos. This was a different conversation this time last month.
For one thing, Meta raised the price of Quest 2 which now starts at $400. Second, we now know the price of Conquest VR. The headset will have a preorder price of $179, with a list price of $200. That would put the price of a Quest and a Conquest together at the same price as a Reverb G2 ($600) and within spitting distance of the Cosmos ($700).
This doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth it. After all, the Reverb G2 and Cosmos are both PC-based headsets that not everyone has the computing power to run. As far as consumer-focused stand-alone headsets, Quest 2 is still the only real option for most people.
Further, when looking at adapters and accessories it’s important to remember that they move the entry point. Someone who has $600 to spend on VR headsets and accessories over the course of a product cycle may not have it all at once. Part of the beauty of adapters and accessories is that they allow the initial purchase to be low with incremental improvements.
Quality Audio Comes at a Price
Will I be buying Conquest VR? Frankly, I was happy enough with existing VR audio quality that I have some sticker shock at this price tag. But, I’m not everyone. I’m not a professional gamer or a streamer, and I’m not using my headset for enterprise training and remote work site visits. But, those use cases are out there, and I encourage them to explore Conquest VR as an option.