Vive started selling the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap today, but unless you already have one on order, you’re in for a wait. The upgraded head strap appears to be sold out everywhere.
Vive revealed the Deluxe Audio Strap upgrade in January at CES. The new head strap features rigid construction and a mechanical adjustment mechanism. The new head strap also includes integrated over-the-ear headphones, so you don’t have to worry about having a third-party headset.
We recently had the chance to test the new head strap at length, and we found that the upgraded head strap system is a vast improvement over the original fabric harness. It’s so much better than the original setup that we’d say the upgrade is almost necessary for anyone who uses their Vive regularly. And we’re not alone in our assessment. Almost every reviewer that wrote or talked about the head strap had great things to say about the system, though, there were a couple of exceptions.
At least two YouTubers reported trouble with their Vive’s after installing the new head strap, but the problem appears to be minor. A Torx screw seems to have backed itself off in both cases, causing the clips that hold the harness to the HMD to come off the headset. We reached out to Vive for comment, and the company lets us know that it was aware of the issue and it was working with the people who had trouble to determine the route cause.
“We are aware of these reports and are working with both of the streamers to pinpoint the underlying cause. We will provide updates as the investigation continues,” said a Vive representative.
In the meantime, Vive pushed forward with the release of the Deluxe Audio Strap, and the problems haven’t deterred Vive owners from rushing to get their orders in. Vive started selling the Deluxe Audio Strap this morning and sales came to a crashing halt within hours of the launch. The Deluxe Audio Strap is sold out everywhere.
If you try to order a Deluxe Audio Strap on Vive.com, you won’t get very far. When you click on Buy New, your empty cart opens with a message that reads: "We're sorry, but Vive Deluxe Audio Strap is currently out of stock and cannot be added to your cart. We apologize for any inconvenience."
You won’t have any better luck at Microsoft.com either. Microsoft jumped the gun with pre-orders a couple of weeks ago, so it’s no surprise the company burned through its allotment already. The Vive Deluxe Audio Strap store page doesn’t even have a buy button anymore.
The situation at Amazon appears somewhat better. However, it could be an illusion. You can order a Vive Deluxe Audio Strap from Amazon.com right now, and it won’t give you a warning that the hardware is out of stock. When you get to the checkout page, the truth reveals itself. If you place an order now, the Deluxe Audio Strap will ship from Amazon’s warehouse in “1 to 3 weeks.”
Why Is This Happening?
Frankly, the lack of inventory is perplexing. Vive knows exactly how many Vive HMDs are in end users' hands. (Or, well, on their heads.) It’s beyond comprehension how Vive wouldn’t be ready for this launch. The Vive VR system’s weakest link is the uncomfortable head strap system, and Vive knows that. The company should have expected that a large number of its loyal fans would line up to upgrade their hardware to get the best experience that they can from it. Hopefully, Vive can get its inventory deficit sorted out in short order.