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Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova review: Versatile in-ears

Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova review: Versatile in-ears

Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova
Low-latency 2.4GHz mode for gaming
Good sound quality for music and video playback
Poor on-device controls
Ambient Sound mode not very useful

The Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova connect wirelessly to your smartphone using Bluetooth, and to a PC or console via a 2.4GHz dongle. Now this is not a new idea — gaming headsets such as the Steelseries Arctis Nova 7 also feature both wireless connectivity options. However, in those cases, they are primarily gaming headsets with the bonus feature of connecting to your phone via Bluetooth. The Asus, however, flips the script by focusing on the smartphone audio experience — like last year's Razer Hammerhead Pro Hyperspeed — but they can also function as a competent low-latency gaming headset.

Available in black or white, the Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova has a traditional stem design like Apple AirPods or Nothing ear earbuds. What sets it apart are the LEDs. Faithful to its ROG branding, the Speednova's stems feature RGB lighting with colours and lighting modes that can be configured using the Armoury Crate companion app. Granted, you're not going to be able to see them light up unless you look in a mirror or are livestreaming, but it's a nice feature for those happy to wear the gamer look. 

Quick specs

  • Bluetooth and 2.4GHz (via dongle)
  • USB-C charging case
  • RGB lighting on case and earbuds
  • ANC and Ambient Sound modes

These in-ear headphones fit snugly without exerting too much pressure in my ears. I used the default medium eartips, but these can be swapped out for the included S and L tips. For reference, I use M-sized tips for AirPods Pro, and found the Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova to be more comfortable for longer sessions, while still blocking out sound effectively. Audio quality on the Speednova was about on par with my first-generation AirPods Pro. While not exactly audiophile-worthy, these earbuds produce great sound for music and video playback. 

Credit: John Chan/Can Buy or Not

As for its active noise cancelling (ANC) performance, the Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova block out ambient noise like a bus engine or the droning of a fan pretty well. Where it falls short is its transparency mode — Asus calls it “Ambient Sound”. When enabled, you can hear your surroundings in a messy, muffled way which doesn't let you pick out any specific sound. While it lets you hear traffic noise while crossing a road, this Ambient Sound mode doesn't work well when someone is talking to you. I found myself still having to remove a earbud to hear and reply to someone asking me a quick question.

The quick-touch controls on the Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova aren't great. You have to tap the area above the stems, which I found finicky, with multi-tap actions failing half the time. Furthermore, there are gestures that range from tapping once to four times. It's hard to remember what action does what, and I found using the mobile app more efficient.

Credit: John Chan/Can Buy or Not

Gaming performance is where the Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova shines. Using the USB-C 2.4GHz transmitter connected to a PC, audio latency drops to negligible levels. Where previously you would see a slight audio lag in a video (e.g. mouth not syncing with voice), the Speednova in 2.4GHz mode has no such issues. I tested these earbuds in a competitive FPS with no issues. They felt almost comparable to my regular over-ear gaming headset (also using 2.4GHz).

The larger over-ear gaming headset did edge out the Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova by providing a better sense of where sounds like footsteps were coming from, but these earbuds held their own, and can certainly be used effectively as someone's regular gaming headset. I found battery life to be close to Asus' claims, getting 5 hours in 2.4GHz mode with ANC and LEDs on. In Bluetooth mode, battery life goes up to over 10 hours if ANC and RGB are turned off. The charging case provides another three full charges of the earbuds.

See Also
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The Asus ROG Cetra True Wireless Speednova does well as a double-duty device. As a gaming headset, it will be particularly helpful to someone who just doesn't like larger over-ear headsets because of warm weather or pinching around the ears due to glasses. You do have to pay a higher price for the versatility as these earbuds cost S$339, which is at the higher range, from Shopee and Lazada.

Note: Review unit provided by Asus.

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