Corsair HS1 £76
25th Oct 2010 | 10:14
Can Corsair muscle in on Sennheiser's headphone territory?
Corsair HS1 review: Overview
If you're familiar with Corsair, it'll be because you're the type of person that likes to open up their PC and fiddle. A well-respected brand for memory, power supplies, solid state hard drives and USB keys, Corsair isn't a name that you'd normally associate with audio.
That's because the HS1 is the first headset that Corsair has ever designed. Don't think for a moment that the HS1 isn't still quite techie, though.
It's pitched directly at demanding gamers with its large, 50mm stereo drivers and support for Dolby Headphone surround effects, while a swinging boom on the right contains a unidirectional condenser mic to pick up your desperate calls for more DOTs.
As impressive as the spec sheets for the HS1 look, this sort of price point isn't for the faint-hearted. It's inhabited by highly established names such as Sennheiser, Logitech and Steelseries. Has Corsair got what it takes to compete?
Corsair HS1 review: Verdict
Design-wise, the HS1 gets everything right. The headphones themselves are fully hinged on the brace so that the entire bulky kit folds down for taking to LAN events and the like.
Once unravelled, the build quality is excellent and while adjusting the position of the ear cuffs is a little stiff, once it's on your head it's an exceptionally comfy set of cans. You should find the HS1 unobtrusive for however many hours you game.
The only slight complaint is that the mic boom sits a little too far from your mouth, so you'll have to increase the gain and pick up background sounds to be heard.
When it comes to sound quality, the HS1 is balanced for powerful midtones rather than booming bass response. The headphones are distortion-free and give a hi-fi feel to music and movies, but they can sound a little clinical when blowing the heads off of zombies in //Left 4 Dead//.
Still, most gaming headsets err too far towards the low end and threaten to shake your eardrums loose. The Corsair is preferable to those, and the sound is worthy of the high price point, competing comfortably with similarly high-end sets.
There is, however, one big drawback: the HS1 is USB-only, with no 3.5mm jacks to attach to an internal soundcard.
If you're gaming on a laptop, it's a credible way to get accurate surround effects mixed into a stereo feed. On a desktop PC, however, the Steelseries 7H is a better set of cans and can be combined with a cheap pre-amplified soundcard such as the ASUS Xonar DG for an overall package that's more powerful, more flexible and sounds better than the HS1.
A good first attempt from Corsair, nonetheless.
An excellent design that feels professional, tough and comfortable, the Corsair HS1 has a cool and crisp sound that doesn't overwhelm the ears no matter how frantic the in-game action and brings almost hi-fi clarity to music and movies too.
The distant mic boom is a small niggle; the real problem is the USB-only connection. It can be installed driver free, but the quality of cheap soundcards these days means we can only recommend the HS1 if you're a laptop gamer who can't upgrade.
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