Corsair H1500 Headset Review: Raiding the Competition
Review unit of the H1500 provided by Corsair.
Apparently repeatedly running over a thin cable with a computer chair can have some negative effects on headset performance (who knew?), so I have recently been in the market for a replacement. Corsair's H1500 gaming headset came up, and at $80 I figured it was worth giving a try.
I want to give this a pretty solid run through the testing gauntlet, so I am focusing on the following main points:
1. All About That Bass
There are a few main questions I have about the sound quality of a new headset:
- Does it sound great?
- Can I hear that bass, that treble and everything in between?
- Can I hear my cat meowing when I'm listening to sick beats?
If the answers to those questions are Yes, Yes, and No, But I Should Probably Go Feed Him Anyway, then the headset rates well enough for my purposes.
This is my cat. He is adorable, but doesn't appreciate being used for Science.
Corsair also advertises 'lethally accurate' audio positioning, which is becoming more and more important as I delve into horror games like Five Nights At Freddy's and Outlast.
2. If It Fits...
Comfort-wise, there are a few important things I keep in mind:
- Does it expand comfortably to fit my big head?
- Do my ears sweat after I wear it awhile?
- Do I have a headache afterward?
Ideally, those answers are Yes, No, and No. Corsair advertises that their 'microfiber-wrapped memory foam' makes gaming for hours (days?) at a time a breeze, so I'm somewhat optimistic on that front.
3. Can You Hear Me Now?
While I don't spend too much time on the mic while gaming, I do make video tutorials that I want to sound clear and crisp and easily understandable, so the hardcore raiders, FPSers, and I have the same goals on that front. The only criteria I have for this one are...
- Can you understand my voice?
- Do I sound like a robot?
- Is the microphone ridiculously irritating to push out of the way when I don't need it?
The best answers will be Yes, No and No. Clarity is important, and much as I enjoy sounding like a robot, that should be limited to Halloween and Mr. Roboto karaoke.
To ensure thorough research, I used a variety of tools:
- Minecraft, because their positional audio system is amazing;
- Some solid music and movie trailers from a variety of sources, to check treble/bass/all that jazz;
- Camtasia, to make sure that tutorial videos that I make still make sense;
- My cat, to check if I can hear his plaintive cries for food and ear-scritches over game sounds;
- My office, also to check noise-dampening.
I played a fair amount of both Minecraft, listened to my music to make sure there is a wide range of testable material and recorded a couple quick tutorials for my day job to run through my typical use cases.
I chose tracks from a few different genres to cover a variety of musical stylings. Some headsets will drop out in the mid-range between heavy bass and treble, so it was important to check from a smattering of areas instead of just blasting dubstep for a few minutes and calling it a day.
How It Panned Out
Firstly, the headset sounds fantastic. Highs and lows come through clearly; while there is a bit of a drop in the mid-range, it is only the teensiest, tiniest drop. So yes, it sounds great and yes, I can hear that bass, that treble and all the in-between. I could recommend it based on that alone.
Minecraft works particularly well for testing directional sound, and the headset did not disappoint. The directions of various sounds (from bubbling lava and zombies) came through very well, and in my newest world actually saved me from a long first night because it helped track down some sheep that were hidden in a little mountain meadow as I made my way to a village.
Tracking them down was much easier than using my speakers (and a few other headsets that I've used), so worked out extremely well.
That being said, outside noise gets through pretty easily. At home, I can hear my cat pretty clearly (which is great for him, but not so much for my opinion the sound-dampening of the headset). At work, even with music playing, I can hear the hum of the air conditioning (very lightly, but it's still there) and my coworkers' music/talking, even when I'm listening to my own music through the headset.
Sound Quality: 9/10
This is a bit of a mixed bag.
First the positive: the earphones themselves actually give enough space for a human-sized ear! Very important thing to note, and definitely something this headset has over its competition. Most other headsets in this price range practically have earphones for ants, which tends to make for a difficult gaming experience.
E-Tank mug sold separately, included for scale. It can practically sit in there!
Unfortunately, the headset does not fit particularly well for me. The top band is a bit long and shallow, so the middle of the headset presses down against the top of my head. Adjusting the headset doesn't solve anything, even when they are almost fully extended. When exended, the earphones actually tilt away from my ears.
It ended up giving me a bit of a headache the more I used it. I managed to find a not-uncomfortable middle ground that only pressed a little bit, but overall the headset was uncomfortable for me. Since it could have just been bigheadedness on my part, I had a couple of my coworkers with smaller heads (which made for interesting water cooler conversation) test them out. They had similar issues.
The earphones are cloth instead of the plastic-foam that others come with, which worked well to make it so my ears didn't sweat. I appreciated that, although the cloth also made them itch a bit, so again: mixed issues.
The microphone records impressively well. It picks up the hum of the air conditioning in my office, which means a bit of tinkering on my end, but overall the dulcet tones of my voice come through loud and clear. I even sound like my usual recorded self, not a robotic monster bent on conquering the world through cleverly-recorded user tutorials.
This is what a video recorded on this headset sounds like:
The microphone itself is a bit boxy, which threw me off guard for a second, but it works with the overall aesthetic of the headset, and makes it easy to move when push comes to shove. I don't feel like I'm going to break it when I try to pull it down, or that it's going to bend at an awkward angle and cause all sorts of fun issues.
I think the Corsair H1500 gaming headset has a lot of great technical things going for it. Sound and recording quality are fantastic, and the earphones themselves actually fit over the ears of a relatively normal individual. The headband is a bit of an issue, but adjustments should fix that for most non-giant-headed folks.
Despite it's few flaws, for $80 it is a solid choice for anyone's gaming needs!
Final Rating: 7/10