New Corsair wired gaming headsets: great sound at a low price

the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless is one of our favorite gaming headsets at Digital Trends. But it’s expensive, there’s no doubt about it.

Fortunately, Corsair has announced a trio of new wired gaming headsets: the HS65 Surround, HS55 Stereo, and HS80 RGB USB. Each sells for less than $100 and offers many of the features and design elements that made us love the HS80 RGB Wireless.

The three headsets differ in price, yes, but also in features such as surround sound support, high fidelity audio, microphone optimization or RGB designs. I tried all three headsets and came away thinking that most gamers would probably find one of the three that meets their needs.

The Corsair HS65 headset with its open microphone.

Specifications

Surround HS65 Stereo HS55 HS80 RGB USB
Dimensions 186mm (L) x 78mm (W) x 196mm (H) 184mm (L) x 87mm (W) x 193mm (H) 205mm (L) x 97mm (W) x 183mm (H)
Mass 282g 273g 373g
audio driver 50mm Custom Neodymium 50mm Custom Neodymium 50mm Custom Neodymium
Response frequency 20Hz – 20kHz 20Hz – 20kHz 20Hz – 40kHz
Impedance 32 ohms at 1 kHz 32 ohms at 1 kHz 32 ohms at 1 kHz
Sensitivity 114dB (±3dB) 114dB (±3dB) 116dB (±3dB)
Microphone type Omnidirectional Omnidirectional Omnidirectional broadcast quality
Microphone impedance 2.2K Ohms 2.2K Ohms 2.2K Ohms
Microphone frequency response 100Hz – 10kHz 100Hz – 10kHz 100Hz – 10kHz
Microphone sensitivity -41dB (±2dB) -41dB (±2dB) -40dB (±3dB)
audio Surround Dolby Audio 7.1 Stereo Surround Dolby Audio 7.1
guarantee 2 years 2 years 2 years
Price, availability $80 $60 $100

Design

The Corsair logo pasted on the side of the HS65 Surround headset.

The new Corsair headsets all have distinctive designs for their prices. They’re all wired headsets and made mostly of plastic, but they’re all sturdy enough to look like they’ll last a long time. Coupled with two-year warranties, Corsair also puts some parts and handling support behind the products.

Corsair seems to be drawing inspiration from its previous models, notably the HS50 and HS60. These models have been criticized for their easy-to-lose parts, such as their detachable microphones, but the newer headsets all have built-in microphones, which cannot be folded away.

As you would expect with most gaming headsets, be prepared for software setup. Some models come with dongles to make sure their highlight functions work. One unique aspect is the use of USB-A ports and adapters, especially at a time when USB-C connectors have been associated with high-quality audio.

At 282 grams, the headset packs a little weight.

The HS65 Surround model is available in a white, gray and silver color option. The silver accents shimmer in the light to give a premium look, but you can still tell the headset is more mid-range. That’s not exactly a problem — as said, the design isn’t flimsy at all.

The head pad and ear cups are made of a leather-like material, and the innermost cups are covered with a fabric. The outermost cups feature the Corsair sail logo embedded in a grid for a different design touch than other models.

At 282 grams, or 0.62 pounds, I found the headset to be a little on the hefty side, although it was tighter than heavy. Adjusting the band helped a bit, but overall I wonder how comfortable this headset could be for those with larger heads.

The Corsair HS55 stereo headset on a table.

I noticed scuff marks on the matte white parts quite early on, so that’s something to keep in mind. If you’re someone who likes to keep your devices clean, keep a few wipes handy.

The HS65 Surround features a volume rocker on its left cup and its Dolby 7.1 surround sound USB adapter helps the headset maximize audio for PC gaming. Installing Corsair’s companion software unlocks other features, such as SoundID audio customization. Without the dongle, the headset supports a 3.5mm audio jack.

The HS55 Stereo model has the simplest design of the three. The all-black matte frame with a black leatherette head pad and ear cups, and gloss black logo accents on the outer cups give the headphones appeal.

The helmet is designed to be lightweight at just 273 grams. Its main port is a 3.5mm audio jack, but it also includes a Y-cable adapter with a microphone and audio ports for PC input. The HS55 Stereo requires no additional software support.

The HS80 RGB USB headset in black.

The HS80 RGB USB is the most high-end model with an RGB logo to highlight its design. The helmet comes in an all-black and matte texture, with an interesting Velcro adjustable interior headband and a leatherette cushion. They are slightly difficult to detach and adjust compared to a more standard adjustment method.

I imagine this design serves an ergonomic purpose, as, at 373 grams, the headset isn’t as heavy as it looks. It also includes plush ear cups in a deeper black than the rest of the headphones. Its port selection is strictly USB-A, with no additional adapters available.

Features

Each of the different headsets includes different software features. In particular, the SoundID function is highlighted on the HS65 Surround model and the RGB lighting effects on the HS80 RGB USB model.

Corsair's iCue 4 software in SoundID.

The HS65 Surround SoundID is basically an audio test that allows users to create their ideal sound experience, using different audio styles as the base melody. I kept that in mind, especially when listening to the music.

I chose Electronics Beats 1 and Cymatics as the base track from various tests. You will need to identify any changes in the audio until the test is complete. You can retake the test at any time to reset your audio preferences for SoundID. You can also turn the feature off completely to enjoy standard stereo or surround sound.

Corsair iCue 4 software.

HS80 RGB USB RGB lighting effects settings are also available to customize the Corsair logo on the headset. There are a number of preset options including watercolor spectrum, color pulse, color shift, and rainbow, as well as a lighting link section with more designs elaborate and editable such as color wave, rain, rainbow wave and spiral rainbow. There is also a custom section where you can create your own designs.

A stain on the cups of the Corsair HS80 RGB USB headset.

Both models also support audio equalizer settings in addition to microphone volume and sidetone settings.

Sound quality

All headsets have free sound that most will find enjoyable. The HS65 Surround, however, definitely stood out in terms of quality. The Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound USB Adapter really makes a difference in almost any state of use.

I didn’t go too far in a session of Destiny 2, but running around the yard really took advantage of the surround sound capability, picking up various voice and footstep details from all around my character. There was a noticeable difference in stereo audio when I plugged in the 3.5mm audio jack. While some detail can be picked up by turning up the volume, it’s not quite the same.

With the HS65 Surround, I preferred the audio experience with SoundID disabled.

Then I played some music to test the SoundID feature, using the song Believer by Imagine Dragons as a track for all helmet models. However, for the HS65 Surround, I found I preferred audio with SoundID disabled. I enjoyed both states, but favored surround sound, which feels richer and fuller overall.

As mentioned before, I repeated the test several times and with different base tracks. However, SoundID appears to be a user-orchestrated equalizer. In particular, the preset equalizer cannot work when SoundID is activated.

The HS55 Stereo offers great optional sound with no bells and whistles. I found myself adjusting the volume for a better experience. Similar to the HS65 Surround without its adapter, voices and footsteps in gameplay sounded a bit further away, but I was still able to pick up detail.

With music, the heaviness that can be present when listening to surround sound was removed, but the quality was still there. I had to adjust the volume of the headphones and the computer to make everything go well.

The HS80 RGB USB audio is also very good. I found that I could set lower volumes than the other two headsets when listening to music. The built-in surround sound on this headset is a bit muffled compared to the attached surround sound on the HS65 Surround, but I still found myself enjoying the audio experience while exploring a new game or watching a movie. The details were pronounced and easy to decipher.

I found that with the software installed, the headphones support the computer’s master volume. I was able to use the volume rocker and see a dial appear on the screen showing what I was listening to and the volume level.

Price and availability

The HS65 Surround will retail for $80, the HS55 Stereo for $60, and the HS80 RGB USB for $100. The headsets are currently available on Corsair.com, Amazon, and Newegg in limited quantities.

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