Corsair...audio equipment?

Over the past few years, Corsair has gradually leveraged a strong brand identity in the memory market to introduce new product lines elsewhere. Corsair RAM begat flash drives, begat solid state drives, and over time they've also added power supplies and cases to their lineup. Each introduction has gone swimmingly, with Corsair power supplies generally regarded as among the best quality you can put in your machine and Corsair cases commanding high price tags and mostly earning them, going toe-to-toe with entrenched competitors like Antec and Cooler Master. I'm not sure what the most logical next step would have been, but a set of gaming headphones? That was a little unexpected.

Yet here we are, with the Corsair HS1 gaming headset in hand. The fundamentals aren't too remarkable: the ear cups are circumaural, fully enclosing the ear to block out ambient noise, and there's heavy padding on the cups and bridge. An adjustable microphone stems out from the top of the left piece and can be raised or lowered on a single axis. The HS1 is a wired affair, using a single cable with an in-line volume control and microphone toggle that ends with a USB connector.

Where the Corsair branding and attention to quality come in is the overall build. The ear cups are surrounded in soft felt and extremely well-padded, and the bridge is also soft enough that it doesn't feel like it's driving an indentation into your head. Inside the phones Corsair has installed 50mm drivers, which they claim substantially improve the quality and range of sound the headset can produce. Finally, the audio cable is braided, and naturally there are blue lights on the volume controls that will flash at you incessantly until you install the included sound driver.

On the whole the HS1 at least looks and feels comfortable and well-made. I wear glasses and have had a history of being picky about headphones. Ear buds aren't comfortable and generally don't do a great job of blocking out ambient sound, regular on-ear phones just never fit right, and so while I've always preferred circumaural headphones, I've also had to deal with them jamming the sides of my glasses into my skull. As a result, the only headphones I've ever used and been happy with have been (cue the audiophiles screaming) a pair of Bose. They're cheaply made and break if I so much as look at them funny, which is utterly unacceptable for the pricetag, but they produce crisp sound and strong lows, and most importantly, it doesn't hurt to wear them.

So with that said, Corsair seems to have made every effort to address those of us cursed with having to wear glasses. The HS1 fit gently but snugly, and believe me when I say they block out everything. At the very least, from quality and comfort standpoints you can be reasonably certain that the HS1 is a good investment.

The HS1 in Practice
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  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    For the 24 hours that I had them, they were.... ok. Then one of the ear pieces fell off and I had to send them off for replacement. HardOCP gave them a glowing review for some reason. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    Dustin - You can download the drivers from here - http://www.corsair.com/software/hs1/HS1%20Setup.zi... Unfortunately the only way to find them is search their forums.... :-( Reply
  • WiredWired - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Don't need to search, they're on the sidebar (and have been there since October 20th). Still a good question as to why they're not on the website though. Reply
  • warisz00r - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    As it has been suggested by a poster here earlier, it makes much more sense to buy a cheap clip-on mic and spend the rest on a headphone that will sound miles better than these 'gaming headsets'. Sure you need to do quite a bit of research but at the end you'll get a much sweeter-sounding setup with an equally functional mic. For example, you can get a Shure SRH440 from your favourite American headphones retailer for about the same price the Corsair headset goes for in Newegg, and spare the chump change on a Zalman clip-on. Reply
  • Qasar - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    directly to the optical or coax output of a sound card...

    i have the Azuntech X-Meridian, being able to listen to DD or DTS 5.1 from my comp regardless of the stereo source ( games music ) is awesome.. just wish i could do the same with headphones late at night..

    the only way i can do this right now, is via a home theater recevier with pre-outs, Zalmans 5.1 channel headphone amp (ZM-RSA ) and Zalmans 5.1 headphones ...

    just need the reciever, and 5.1 headphone amp ..... which i am working on getting ...
    Reply
  • yelped - Thursday, November 04, 2010 - link

    You mentioned in the article that you didn't find any comfortable headphones with glasses; You could try Sennheiser HD-555s. Great SQ, great price, excellent build quality, and very comfortable, even with glasses; it just molds into it. Reply
  • Gonemad - Friday, November 05, 2010 - link

    I had them for eons. From the moment I bought them, they didn´t have that vice-grip feel on the head at all. You can barely feel them on the head. They feel bulky and heavy on the hand, but your neck says otherwise, which comes as a lovely surprise. It's not like you would be turning the head a lot while gaming or anything hooked to a PC.

    I had yanked its cable more than often, and it didn´t fail so far, and its been... 7 years!?! I mean, they worked straight from the box even in Windows 98 *First Edition.* Just like Thrustmaster, they actually labeled the box with the warning "NO CD" inside. Simple and efficient plug'n'play by design.

    If you are good, you can dodge bullets; but if you are REALLY good, you don´t need to. Ouch.

    There is a "bass enhance" switch that shows up straight on the Windows tray, inside the volume control, and trust me, the bass gets so much boost it hurts, so I keep them off. It appears these guys make the DSP-400 up until this day, which apparently folds itself for storage or airplane usage, I don't really know, but the audio section is the same, I guess.

    Only 3 buttons on the mid-cable rocker: volume and a mute for the mike. You know, the red bright led is there to show you that nobody will hear you, until you hit it again. When not speaking you cant just fold up the mike and enjoy some neighbours-quiet songs. Speaking of cables, this one is really long, suited even for back-plane desktop USB hookup. Just don't expect your original sound card to do anything while it is plugged back there.

    They (plantronics) provide headphones of all sorts since 1961 (geez, I had to google that!!), they ought be good. It is not loud or fancy; it gets the job done, and the microphone rarely picks up your breathing; the position of the mike boom appears to have been thought for that purpose since day one, should you ever consider why it doesn´t flex much in any other direction besides the up-stay-away position and usage.

    If you are just listening to music, go somewhere else, it isn´t for you, earbuds are more suited for that; but if any TeamSpeak, skype, or online chatting will be involved eventually, it is on the spot. Counter-Strike coupled with Teamspeak gets a whole new feel to it.
    Reply
  • 43st - Friday, November 05, 2010 - link

    Why do hardware enthusiast websites review cheap headphones? Processor reviews are usually the latest and greatest on the market as well as GPU, storage, etc. Shouldn't you be reviewing audio hardware at the level of the HD800 instead? Reply
  • Gonemad - Friday, November 05, 2010 - link

    After blowing the best part of $500 on a great GPU, a speedy SSD (er, storage), and a 7.1 audio system, you forgot that everybody is asleep and you can't have the amplifier as loud as you'd like, but you still want to hear it loud. Enter the budget headphones.

    Plus your brother stole your good headphones for his (insert fancy mp3 player here). Try that with a USB socket now! hehe...
    Reply
  • Amart - Saturday, November 06, 2010 - link

    Your Audio quality comparison is BOSE? I stopped reading.
    You shouldn't be writing audio reviews if you are ill-informed enough to use their products.

    Please visit head-fi.org and take a long hard look at the sub $130 Headphone market.
    BOSE is somewhere at the bottom. I'd rather listen to my $15 KSC 75 backups.

    A good gaming Headphone to use with a clip-on Mic would be Audio Technica AD700 - less then $100, great soundstage (to read opponent positions), and good audio quality for the price.
    Reply

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