Hardware Review: Corsair returns with more gaming products, but are the new Vengeance headsets any good?
We were excited when Corsair announced and subsequently launched their Vengeance series of gaming peripherals; which happened to review quite well and even nudge their way into Kitlog. Filling out the Vengeance series are the 1100 and 1500 headsets; both designed for PC.
Aimed at gamers who demand style and functionality, these headsets claim to fulfil both while being relatively affordable – coming in at $45 and $95 respectively. The smallest outlay of cash will net you the 1100 headset, a behind-the-neck design in black and blue plastic. It’s got two 40mm drivers that sit behind comfortable foam pads in a supra-aural design, held onto your ears by the plastic headband (which we’ll mention again in a minute). 1.8 metres of cable with a volume dial and mic toggle give enough length for most setups, leading to twin 3.5mm headphone jacks that go into an included USB sound adapter; meaning the 1100 can be used with other devices such as MP3 players.
The 1500 headset is a different beast; clad in brushed stainless steel and plastic, it sits across the top of the head in a more traditional position, nicely padded by a faux leather-covered foam strip, and features two 50mm drivers that sit circum-aurally over each ear. Corsair claim that the foam around the closed earcups is ‘memory foam’, and our impressions back that up – they’re very comfortable, and seem to spring back rather quickly when depressed with a finger. As the 1500 connects via USB only, the sound adapter is located most of the way along the 3 metre cable and features volume and mic toggles.
Though they both look pretty cool, performance of these two headsets couldn’t be more different. The 1500 tends more to the bassier end of the spectrum, but do a decent job at letting high-end frequencies come through. Mid-range sounds that feature frequently in rock, such as guitars and singing, can be quite muddied – drum-n-bass, rap, or anything else with a strong bassline really shines. Performance in games is good, and wearing them for long periods proved comfortable due to the good padding and shape; they can get a little warm though.
The 1100 is comparatively awful. Sound reproduction across all frequencies is muddy and lacks clarity, leaving them ill-suited to music listening of any kind. Given the price we couldn’t really expect miracles, but the quality is similar to the headphones they hand out on planes – you can hear the sounds, but they’re not pleasant to listen to. Comfort is another area where the 1100 fails to impress; though others in the office had no issues, I could not wear them for more than half an hour at a time due to an intense pressure on my head just above my ears, and it did not improve when I removed my glasses.
As a more premium product the 1500 headset comes with additional features, and notably has a driver that is downloadable from the Corsair website that enables Dolby virtual 7.1 surround sound. This had no effect in stereo content, predictably, though made a large difference when watching movies – positioning was much improved, and it was easier to track objects as they moved across the screen. Our anecdotal experience has been that software surround lowers quality with expensive gear; but in this affordable segment it is a worthwhile inclusion.
The 1500 also trounces the 1100 when it comes to microphone quality. Linked at the bottom of this page are two samples recorded with each headset, and though the volume of the 1500 did not reach quite as high as the 1100, the clarity was significantly better.
The many pitfalls and potential comfort issues with the 1100 headsets make them impossible to recommend for anyone at all, period – but the 1500 headset is a solid product that offers good quality for the price, albeit with some restrictions on audio inputs.
Corsair Vengeance 1100 Microphone Sample (MP3 383KB)
Corsair Vengeance 1500 Microphone Sample (MP3 427KB)