Sound Advice: Five Gaming Headphones Tested - HotHardware

Sound Advice: Five Gaming Headphones Tested

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Going in alphabetical order, the first up to bat is the Corsair Vengeance 1500 Dolby 7.1 USB Gaming Headset. This is Corsair's flagship USB headset, though it sports a middling price tag of $100 MSRP and around $80 street. It has a built-in DSP (Digital Signal Processor) and, as you'll see below, an aggressive design befitting a hardcore gamer looking to intimidate his foes at a LAN party.


Corsair Vengeance 1500 Dolby 7.1 USB Gaming Headset
Specifications & Features
Frequency Response
20Hz - 20kHz
Impedance 32 Ohms @ 1kHz
Dynamic Range 92dB (A-weighted)
Cable Length
USB power consumption
USB Type A
Type Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser
2.2k Ohms
Frequency Response 100Hz - 10kHz
-44db (+/-3dB)
$100 MSRP (~$80 street)
2 years

Design and Comfort

The hardest thing to wrap your head around with Corsair's 1500 cans is the price tag. At around $80 street, you might expect Corsair to skimp on build quality or features, but that's not the case here. This is a heavy-duty headset that comes ready to rumble with no setup required (a software download is optional). And don't worry if you're not known for your delicate touch, it would take some effort to destroy the 1500s. The gigantic ear cups attach to solid chunks of plastic that are screwed into a second layer with a brushed aluminum motif on the outside. Each ear cup swivels, a welcome feature if you're one-handing the headset like a DJ.

A thickly headband provides a layer of protection on your head for those late-night gaming sessions, and combined with the featherweight design, you can wear the 1500s comfortably for long periods of time. The headband is adjustable on each side, and with each ear cup fully extended, you could wrap these things around King Kong, with room to spare.

On the flip side, younger gamers and those with small heads might find these a bit large, even on the lowest setting, so keep that in mind if you fall into either category.

Speaking of large things, the padded ear cups themselves are rather big and feature extra-deep memory foam. These will encircle all but the biggest ears (Mr. Spock might need a custom headset, but most everyone else will be okay) and provide a bit of distance so that they're not mashed up against the sides of your head.

Inside the large ear cups are 50mm drivers. According to Corsair, the extra size compared to more common 40mm drivers allows for less distortion and more accurate sound reproduction.

Extending down on the left side is a somewhat flexible boom microphone that's adjustable with a series of clicks, just like the headband. We like that mic and headband arms click into place, which prevents you from accidentally readjusting them over time.

An in-line control module extends about a foot-and-a-half down the cable and allows you to adjust he volume up or down, as well as mute the microphone with a dedicated button. A ring surrounding each volume button glows blue when the headset is plugged in. When the microphone is muted, the rings flash red and blue. The module isn't heavy at all, though we still wish it came with a clip, which we could use to attach to our shirt for convenience.

Sound Quality

Installing Corsair's software isn't required to use the headphones, but it's definitely recommended if you want to get the most out of these cans.

Corsair's software gives you access to an equalizer with several built-in presets for music and FPS gaming. The headset sounds good without any tweaks, and even better when you custom tune the settings based on the source. As you might expect from a gaming headset, lows and mids are where the 1500s really shine. Even still, it's a serviceable solution for classical, bluegrass, and other types of music that venture into higher territories, though audio purists who are only interested in listening to music may be left a little wanting.

When we turned our attention to gaming, the 1500s perked right up and delivered bone crushing sound effects, though it largely depends on the source. In Counter Strike: Source, for example, we found ourselves getting trigger happy with the shotgun because of the satisfying blasts that emanate from the 50mm drivers. But in Duke Nukem Forever, the sound effects weren't as pronounced, in case you're one of the three people playing that game.

One neat feature of the 1500s is Virtual 7.1 surround. Through software, 5.1-channel audio gets up-mixed to a virtual 7.1 sound stage to help with positional audio. We never felt the need to use it, as the 5.1-channel audio does a good job of letting you know when a enemy is sneaking up your six, but it's there nonetheless.

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Hi long time readere here that just signed up (and i mean long time)

Thanks hothardware for all the years of great reads good revieuws and insight

But i have to say this one im not feeling.

These are not headphones, they are gaming headsets.
Gaming headsets generally have really poor price quality.

Many of these wont be an exception.
Ur paying for tacky/flashy looks, volume control stuff, and gimmick features.

The gaming sticker also costs you money.
This surround stuff is pretty much a gimmick aswell.

If you want good sound, buy actual headphones, preferably of brands that actually know their sound.Youll save money and get a better product.

None of these things is really good if you would compare them to real quality headphones. Ive used some of them.
Dont buy if you really want quality sound.

Im saying this as a long standing competitive gamer in counterstrike.

Who also loves his music and occasional movie.

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I think we were pretty fair in pointing out that gaming headsets aren't intended for audiophiles, especially when it comes to hitting high notes. We also covered that 5.1 channel audio in a headset is not like a speaker setup.

None of that negates the gaming headset category, however. The headsets in this roundup pump up decent audio for what they are, especially at their respective price points.

It's like most anything else, in that the more you spend, the higher quality you'll get in return. At the same time, there's a marked difference between the headsets in this roundup and lower quality cans that are on the market. I think most gamers would be happy with any of these five.

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Hi thanks for your reply i agree with you you did a good job.
I kinda forgot context in the end (for lack of a better word maybe not a native speaker)

But i hope it could perhaps be usefull for some my first post was a bit blunt i think sorry.
Still its maybe worth noting that even compared to other headphones/headsets it might be the same story for 5.1 etc.

Why would a brand like sennheiser make their more expensive headsets such as the PC360 just stereo?
After over a decade of playing games were positional audio is key i can honestly say i have not felt any benefits to surround in the surround headsets i have tried.
(This while they are always worse for music etc)....

One other tiny intresting note perhaps about this same PC360 as example is that its open
I still think its worth to consider for some people who are only going to be using their headset at home in a lot of cases quiet enviroments a open style would be a little better choice for several reasons

There are i think quite a few cases were people would have been better of getting headphones.
Just for better sound both on games and entertainment, often while saving money.
I like having a seperate mic aswell

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No worries, feedback is always welcome. :) And yes, "context" is precisely the word you're looking for.

If you have any recommendations on specific headsets, feel free to post them. Who knows, we might even do another roundup of audiophile-class headsets (no promises and nothing in the works towards that end, just saying it's possible if there's enough interest...).

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No specific recommendations for you to review, but what i believe would be most intresting then is to compare some of the higher priced 7.1 or 3d headsets and throw a hi-fi headphone or maybe 2 in the mix, maybe of a little lower price range..

Perhaps brands that produce both hi-fi headphones and gaming headsets.
So sennheiser, beyerdynamic has a few gaming headsets, akg has one but not high end, same for audio technica
Its maybe hard to compare but maybe it would be intresting..

Whats perhaps also intresting to look at is the virtual surround amp beyerdynamic sells.
That can be used with the gaming headsets but is not required.
Also note the price tag... oouch

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Thanks Paul for taking the time for this review. I have been looking for a few low cost headphones to use when one of my kids visit and they happen to be here on a night that falls before my wife's workdays. The Rosewill Cans look like they'll fit the bill perfectly. (and I can afford them too)

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Paul, I stopped reading when I saw that every single headset you've reviewed uses the 5.1 or 7.1 "surround" gimmick,

That's a lot of extra money for something that honest people will admit they simply can't hear.

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Morley, I stopped reading when I saw you stopped reading. :P I kid, I kid. But seriously, did you look at the MSRPs and street prices? The Rosewill set is especially affordable. I'd say more, but it's all covered in the roundup, which you didn't read. 

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That would be great for those who really want to have a good sound quality. If you're like many people, you know that if you pay attention to books, music and talk while on the go, your headsets are likely to break. Sometimes it's simple wear and tear, but other times it is low quality and manufacturing that lead to broken cabling and damaged earpiece. Rather than allowing yourself to go into debt during the process of constantly updating your ear speakers before they should reasonably need to be, learn how to save your headsets to be able to maximize your listening investment.

Source of article: Payday loan to fix things if needed.


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