ROCCAT Renga Boost Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.

As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Given these are analog headphones, tests were conducted primarily with the SilverStone EB01-E dedicated external digital to analog converter (XMOS XS1 TQ128 USB decoder, TI PCM1798 DAC, TI NE5532 OpAmp) and amplified with the SilverStone EB03 headphone amplifier (THAT 1646W 16-U monolithic audio differential line driver, THAT 1512S14-U preamplifier). Some analog tests were conducted with the Auzentech X-Fi HomeTheater HD sound card as well (Creative CA20K2 DSP/APU, National Semiconductor LME49720NA OpAmp, JRC NJM4580 signal buffers, Cirrus Logic CS4382A DAC, Nichon MUSE ES capacitors). These are high quality consumer sound equipment and will reduce its potential to be a limiting factor in our auditioning.

After over 72 hours of break-in time -- well above typically required period -- we put the ROCCAT Renga Boost to the tests. All tracks were uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher.

It did not take long before I already had a conclusion about the auditioning results of the ROCCAT Renga Boost. The sound reminded me of the stock audio system in my 2017 Honda Pilot, which is, simply put, not good. Immediately after putting these headphones on, I could not help but notice its overboosted upper midrange and lower treble, which is strange for a gaming headset and certainly not studio grade sound. Normally, gaming headsets will have a V-shaped frequency distribution profile, but the Renga Boost was actually quite controlled on the lower range.

Now, if it was just overboosted upper midrange and lower treble, it would not have been a big issue; some people may actually prefer this. The big issue is the treble is tinny and clashy, making it very uncomfortable to my ears. Add on its unclean and dry characteristics, what did I just listen to? You can also hear some attenuation in this area. The midrange is not much better -- it is thin, unnatural, and hollow. While I can hear voices and vocals clearly, they sound cold and unsaturated. I have also not heard so much sibilance in any audio device in a very long time.

Coming back to the bass, the amount is well-controlled, which is uncommon to a lot of gaming headphones. The depth is about average with reasonable solidity and roundness. Its smoothness is also acceptable, but lacks punchiness, definition, and articulation. I personally prefer headphones with a flat frequency response, and the quantity of bass the Renga Boost delivers is about as faithful as it could be to its studio grade headphones claim.

If you are using the ROCCAT Renga Boost for gaming where direction is important, these are not bad for telling direction. However, its soundstage is narrow with little depth, making movies and especially music not as immersive or enjoyable to listen to compared to headphones with a wide soundstage.

Coming in to the auxiliary characteristics, I found the Renga Boost to sound coarse and rough -- the lack of resolution and detail mean its frequency separation is unclear. The sound is not very cohesive either; it is all over the place. Simply put, it does not sound clean. If I were to wrap up its audio characteristics in one phrase, I would say the Renga Boost is not acoustically pleasant. These headphones have relatively balanced bass, but the very overboosted upper midrange and lower treble does not sound clean at all.

Since this is a headset, I have given the microphone a quick test. The quality is as expected.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion