Date: December 22, 2017
Author(s): Jamie Fletcher
Corsair’s new budget headset, the HS50, is a no-nonsense headset for gamers, be it PC or console. While there are plenty of $50 headsets on the market, Corsair has used a very solid OEM design that shares a number of features with more premium headsets. The result is a surprising headset that should be good for any gamer.
Gaming headsets have gone through a bit of a transition the last year or so. They often conjured images of gawdy lighting, stylized plastic enclosures, horrible sound curves, and a million and one speaker virtualization. The end result was often expensive tat that sounded awful – but you could wear them for hours at a time!
While headsets like that still exist, at least a few companies are trying to make gaming headsets actually sound good with some third-party help from a few streamlined OEM designs. Corsair’s HS50 is one such design that shared many similar aspects with a few familiar, yet well-regarded headsets on the market.
Looking at the shape and features, the HS50 looks like a slightly different variation of many other headsets on the market; the Qpad QH-90, Takstar Pro 80, HyperX Cloud, and even the Creative H5. While they each have slightly different ear cups, they all share some of the same basic elements (likely because they’re all made by the same OEM). This is not a bad thing… not in the slightest.
The yokes and frame inserts for extension are metal, and attach to a rigid plastic earcup. There is some flex in the band itself, despite being covered in plastic, but it has a metal frame on the interior, and will hold up to a fair bit of abuse. The mic attaches via its own molding like many others by the same OEM, and uses a very flexible goose-neck boom. The only real downside to the HS50 is a lack of detachable cable, but for $50, this is to be expected.
While there is mesh on each side, this is purely for looks, as it’s a closed-back design for isolation. The pads are very soft with a faux leather covering, so these will help isolate things further, while providing a nice snug fit. One note with the headband though is that while the padding is two types of foam, a hard internal one and a soft, but also thin, outer covering, it does put a bit more pressure on top of the head. It’s not uncomfortable, but it does feel slightly firm to begin with, after moving over from a thick foam headband on other headsets.
The HS50 is very much built for larger heads – even with no extension, the headset is slightly loose, and my noggin ain’t small. There isn’t much you can do to reduce it further either, unless you add additional foam or something to the headband to bring down the resting point – so bear that in mind if you have a small head.
For a cheap headset, this thing is well-built, and as I said previously, it shares a lot of similarities with other headsets to come out from the same OEM, but what about the sound quality? Well, no surprise here, since it’s built very much like the others, it sound like them too, which is to say, very good.
If you’ve used something like the Cloud or H5 headsets, then Corsair’s HS50 will follow suit, just with some mild nuance to the curve. The 50mm neodymium drivers are very much on the flat side of things, no over-driven bass or ear-piercing treble you get with many cheap ‘gaming’ headsets on the market. In fact, it follows many characteristics of more premium headphones, although it does lack a little bit of detail, and a slight increase in the mid-range frequencies. Will it sound as good as a $200 pair of headphones? No, but the HS50 is certainly pleasing to listen to, as you can concentrate more on what’s being played, rather than how it’s played.
One criticism though is that the membrane used for the speakers is very thin, and you can hear it pop in and out-of-place if you press the sides of the earpads in quickly. This is a problem common to most of these headsets from the same design. While they sound great in use, moving your head and depressing one side or the other on your shoulder, can cause the speaker to become muted or click from the thin membrane deforming under the trapped air from the pads sealing around your ear.
The volume control wheel is responsive, and works across a wide range. It does go out of sync at low volume though, which is a problem with pretty much all in-line analog volume controls (balanced rheostats for audio are very expensive, and are rarely used even in premium headphones).
The microphone that’s provided is very flexible, easy to maneuver, doesn’t pick up heavy breathing, but the sound quality is best described as ‘adequate’. It’s certainly no premium mic, and it does leave a lot to be desired. While it does a fair job of isolating some background noise, it’s not the most sensitive (and may require a soundcard with sufficient bias power to make it useful). It’s weighted to typical vocal ranges, but as a result, it’s prone to strong sibilance (S and C sounds). The mute switch is placed just next to the volume control wheel on the left earcup.
At $50, Corsair’s HS50 is a really good entry-level gaming headset that ticks all the boxes. It’s comfortable, has surprisingly good audio quality, can connect to PCs or consoles, and is of a rugged design. The mic is a bit lackluster, and the headset is a bit on the large side, but apart from that, Corsair’s HS50 is excellent value for money.
Corsair HS50 Headset
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