Conclusion: Needs More Cowbell

As Corsair's first gaming headset, the HS1 is a strong opening but there are some weak points Corsair needs to figure out. One of my biggest gripes may be one of the easiest to fix: put the drivers up on the Corsair site. It's a small request, but I barely keep CDs around anymore and getting the most out of the HS1 shouldn't involve having to store the CD in a safe place. Calibration out of the box isn't that hot either: the headset is capable of producing decent lows, but the way it's tuned when you plug it in obscures that and threatens to blow your eardrums with tinny highs.

On the plus side, the USB connector makes setup a cinch (as long as you have the CD) and you bypass any interference/static from onboard audio. That's good news for noisy (cheap) laptops and desktops, and it's also nice that you only need a single USB port and one wire instead of separate headphone and microphone jacks. (The downside is that if you have a nice audio card in your system, it goes to waste, so keep that in mind.) As a pure gaming headset, the HS1 also gets the job done. The biggest credit may actually be just how comfortable the HS1 is: Corsair clearly designed these to be worn for extended periods of time. Sound quality in games is excellent, though some may have better experience with the simulated positional audio than I did.

At the end of the day it's going to be a matter of whether or not you want to drop a crisp Franklin on a gaming headset. A lot of higher quality kit is floating around in the same price range, so Corsair isn't exactly gouging you with the HS1. The 50mm drivers—when properly tuned—can definitely produce sound that beats most speaker sets below its price range (as it should). The sound is also better than the $30-$50 headsets I've used, though that's like saying your car is better than a used Kia Spectra.

I think the real shame is that the HS1 isn't the same kind of homerun Corsair struck when they entered into the power supply and enclosure markets. It's not a bad product—certainly a solid one, actually—but it's not mind-blowing either, and it doesn't set a high water mark. Still, you can't discredit a piece of kit because it's merely good and not amazing. If you're in the market for a comfortable gaming headset and are willing to fiddle with it to get just the right sound quality, you could do a heck of a lot worse than the Corsair HS1.

The HS1 in Practice
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  • jav6454 - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    any data on how the headphones hold up to highs and lows without distortion?
  • softdrinkviking - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    I think the first page of the article explained that he (Dustin) doesn't believe these headphones warrant the purchase of equipment capable of delivering the data you are requesting. From what I understand, his reasoning is that they are too cheap to reveal excellence under testing scrutiny.

    Whether or not you agree with that reasoning is another matter.
  • liweifr - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    never use it .<strong><a href="">Headphon...
    <strong><a href="">Best Headphones</a></strong>
  • liweifr - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link
  • AnnonymousCoward - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    Unless you have distortion from an integrated sound card, I think anyone would be much better off with $90 Sony MDR-7506 plus a separate mic. Same price, eons better sound quality.
  • Amart - Saturday, November 6, 2010 - link

    Good advice, I forgot about it in my comment - but that's another good option. That Sony model is superior to any BOSE product. Should have good Soundstage too.
  • Bseic - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Let's be honest, anything in that price range from any reputable headphone manufacturer is going to be a far better option... AT, AKG, Beyer, Grado, Senn, we could name them all. At the end of the day almost all 'gaming' headsets should be avoided. Unfortunately it seems the majority of customers are sold by the marketing, and why wouldn't they be, without any prior knowledge '7.1 SURROUND SOUND' headphones seem very appealing.
  • Theguynextdoor - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    I wonder how this stacks up against Logitech's G35's and G930?

    I've had teh G35 for over 2.5 years now and absolutly love it with a few minor quirks.
    From the pics I can already see one quirk with the HS1 and that's the controls are still on the cord which is annoying, thus why I leaned towards the G35 when I made my purchase years ago. I like them ON the headset.

    But the price seems attractive I'll probably get some for friends and family.
  • Will Robinson - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    Yes,its better to have the controls on the headset where you can see them while you are gaming...oh wait....;)
    Actually I agree,in line controls tend to screw up after the cable's been yanked a few times taking the headset on and off.
    The Creative Arena headset is a better choice.
  • Sufo - Thursday, November 4, 2010 - link

    Nice to see a headset review. Any chance we could get a few more of these? The Sony DR-GA500 particularly interest me. They also claim to be able to simulate 7.1 and i'd be interested to find out if they fulfil those claims.

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