Reviews

Razer Barracuda X With the Immerse HIVE Audio Plug-In Review

8.0

Review

Immerse HIVE Audio Plug-In

Developer

Embody

Reviewed On

PC

MSRP

Subscription based on one year - $14.99

Review copy provided by the publisher

By Rachael Fiddis

August 24, 2021

The Immerse HIVE Audio plug-in offers a new and fresh way to enjoy the sounds from your favourite games.

I want to start this review with a disclaimer: I’m certainly not an expert when it comes to audio design nor do I come packed with knowledge on the subject like many audiophiles. All I usually care about is that I can hear clearly what’s going on around me and in what direction when diving into some of my favourite games.

If you’re like me and just want to know if something works in the way it’s supposed to with no interruption, you have come to the right place to check out Embody’s latest gadget for your PC to make those in-game sounds feel like you’re actually in on the action itself.

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Audio in video games has always been an important feature but more so over the recent years with game studio’s pushing the boundaries on every aspect of design. Forking out for an expensive set of headphones to really dig into those deep levels of audio delights can be a costly business. Embody’s plan is to change that with a new piece of software kit that does the hard work for you and also that works with a selection of headphones you won’t have to break that piggy bank for.

What is HIVE?

The HIVE PC gaming plug-in uses HRTF (head-related transfer function) to create your very own unique 360 sound field all by using your game’s native multichannel audio and also a picture of your ear that you take using your phone. The app, which can be downloaded from the company’s website, promises to bring “precision-enhancing directional awareness to visceral immersion” with the choice of three powerful game genres engineered specifically for a wide variety of games that include FPS, MMORPG, MOBA, Racing, and Fighting.

The headline grabber for many is the fact that this app can be used on all headsets but for this review, I’ll be using the Razer Barracuda X that Embody kindly supplied me with to check out the HIVE software and that is also on their list of recommended headsets to use along with many others.

Setting up the HIVE plug-in

Thankfully, the entire setup is really straightforward and with the use of your phone, you’ll be able to connect to the app via scanning a barcode and then taking a side profile of yourself that really isn’t very flattering but its purpose is crucial to your overall experience.

Everything you need to get started is clearly outlined but to begin with, you’ll need to pick what mode to use, Close combat, Immerse mode and Awaken. This of course depends on what kind of game you’re playing so if you’re diving into a racing title, Closer Combat is the one for you or if it’s FPS, give Immerse a shot to hone in on opponents faster and, possibly, give you the edge.

Is the HIVE plug-in worth it? and what is the price?

For anyone that plays titles like Call of Duty: Warzone, pinpointing where certain sounds are coming from or if someone is trying to be a sneaking snake by creeping up on you is a game-changer. To try out the HIVE plug-in, I jumped into a game of CoD using the Razer Barracuda X in which, I have to say, are extremely comfortable, lightweight and already produces quality sound.

I could immediately tell by using the spatial audio how much clearer and immerse the game was compared to using my older headset. I’m not sure how much that definitely came down to the HIVE device or because of the quality of my new headset, but I certainly could pick out sounds I didn’t notice at all before like actually judging the distance of gunfire and the faint shuffle of boots close by.

Another feature I tried was the HIVE’s Sonic Radar. This implementation isn’t new and can be switched on in many games’ accessibility area in titles such as Fortnite that allows visual cues on the direction of sounds. Although, in saying that, it definitely felt like a better and more rounded system that actually felt like it was part of the game and not just some add on. Most importantly, this feature will be a great welcome to those with auditory problems so it’s a thumbs up from me.

With a price of $15 a year or $39.99 as a one-off payment, after your two-week free trial, the HIVE PC gaming plug-in could be seen as expensive but you do get some bang for your buck. Also, with the device working on any headset, it could easily get you another year or two out of your old headset saving you some money in the process.

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Rachael Fiddis
@Irish_Soulful

Rachael, who is Deputy Editor & Head of Stakeholder Relations, has been gaming for many years. Some of her favourite video games include The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us but also loves a good indie title. Gaming Culture is where her heart lies and spends many hours sieving through gaming fan art and cosplay displays. Other than gaming, Rachael is a book nerd and music lover.

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