There’s something of a boom happening in the headset market around mid-priced offerings. There's a great tangle of similarly priced models, and while choice is good, it's not always easy. This makes finding the best gaming headset for you difficult, particularly as retailers shave dollars off the recommended pricing. When it comes to Corsair, it has a headset designed for every budget, down to the last dollar you intend to spend.
The Corsair HS60 Pro Surround (MSRP $70 at the time of writing) is an updated version of the Corsair HS60. The HS60 had a lot going for it, including excellent build quality and solid sound and comfort levels. But compared to its predecessor, the HS60 Pro Surround offers better fine-tuned drivers, softer memory foam around the earcups and a better microphone. It's not enough to provoke existing HS60 owners onto their knees imploring the gods for their misfortune, but perhaps enough to tempt shoppers looking for a new headset.
Corsair HS60 Pro Surround Specifications
|Driver Type||50mm neodymium|
|Microphone Type||Unidirectional noise-cancelling electret condenser|
|Connectivity||3.5mm or USB|
|Weight||0.7 pounds / 317g|
|Cord Length||5.9 feet / 1.8m|
Design and Comfort
The build quality and material choices in this headset are absolutely exemplary. The stitched grid design along the inner headband is finished to a really high level. The headset comes in "carbon," which is black with white accents in the headband, or yellow, like our review unit. The bright yellow adds a touch of aesthetic interest without stepping over into Toy Town. There’s more yellow stitching, again immaculate, around the earcups. The memory foam encased within the protein leather outer layer does feel softer and more voluminous than in the HS60. It’s thick enough that your ear never makes contact with the flat, hard surface of the driver itself, which is something we’ve had minor issues with in the past with the cheaper HS-series models.
Weighing in at 0.7 pounds (317g), they’re middleweight cans that distribute their weight pretty evenly, thanks to a stern clamping force provided by the aluminum headband. This might be an area of concern if your head’s on the larger size. On this reviewer’s smaller head, the horizontal clamping feels resolute but just shy of constrictive. But it’s easy to imagine it being a little too snug for others. I even heard a worrying snap on one occasion when I picked up the cans and prepared to don them, but closer inspection revealed no obvious damage.
On the outer, hard-surfaced section of the earcup, Corsair’s odd grille design returns, giving the impression of an open-backed headset. These are still very much closed-backed though, and as far as we can see the grille’s purely aesthetic and doesn’t aid ventilation. I'm not in love with that look and would prefer another material here to maintain the clean lines of the headset. But that's a very subjective stance. There’s a smart and subtle banding of high-gloss plastic between the cushions and the matte finish outer, which feels incredible to touch, almost rubberized. While the gloss part shows fingerprints easily, it’s a very small area and you’re unlikely to touch that area. The matte finish is, thankfully, resistant to smudges, so overall it’s easy to keep these HS60 Pro Surround looking sharp.
The Corsair branding is very subtle. In the middle of the grilles in metallic silver are logos scored with fine lines to lessen their reflectiveness. There's also "CORSAIR" imprinted onto the pleather headband outer. And that’s it. RGB enthusiasts should turn to Corsair's Void range or the excellent Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE model for an implementation of the lighting we’ve never seen before.
Just like the other HS-series cans, you can find a volume scroll wheel and a simple mic mute button at the rear left side. While nobody will have any problem using the former, it's hard to keep track of whether you're muted sometimes. There's marginally more travel between its muted and active states, but that's not enough to substitute a clear audio prompt or a lighting cue like the Void uses to avoid broadcasting call-outs to nobody in online games. Or worse, the Mean Girls-esque social awkwardness of saying something while you thought you were muted. People might not do three-way calls a la Regina George anymore, but Discord offers the same potential for faux pas.
None of those minor gripes can take away from the HS60 Pro Surround's overall excellence in comfort and build quality, though. It's the new king of the HS series in this regard, as intended, but it's also arguably preferable to the Void line in terms of comfort, which ironically provides a bit of a headache for anyone trying to choose between the two.
As the name suggests, both stereo and 7.1 virtual surround are available here. The latter is available through a USB Type-A micro-sound card dongle supplied with the headset, which also allows it to interface with Corsair's iCUE software. The jury's been out on virtual surround longer than that bunch in Twelve Angry Men, and this headset isn't going to sway things.
In very specific usage scenarios virtual surround sound proved useful. Some competitive games can be tweaked to amplify important sound cues with some EQ loving, for example. But for everyday use, and especially for music, a stereo mix is always preferable. We're increasingly finding that with larger 50mm drivers, which are becoming de rigeur now in 2019, opting for stereo over virtual surround is more pertinent than ever. The increased bass response you generally get from a larger driver can really muddy the waters when you add the combination of complex mathematics and dark wizardry used to produce 7.1. While some 40mm sets can just about get away with it, of every 50mm model we tested has virtual surround that sounds artificial with the low-end reverberating in a manner that detracts from the overall tone. The HS60 Pro Surround is no different.
However, when used as a stereo headset, the 50mm drivers provide tight, enjoyable bass instead of a digital mire. The low-mids and mids are also nice and warm, bringing out speech in games and videos well. These are definitely tuned to games, though. There's an audible dip in the EQ rather than a flat response, which means Call of Duty sounded like an IMAX cinema exploding and action movies carried a cinema-like heft.
When I was listening to music, however, songs with acoustic instruments or warmer elements often sounded scooped. This V-shaped EQ prevails on a great many number headsets I've tested.
It's not just a taste issue; flat EQs can be molded with software presets, but hard-tuned responses like this one can't easily be flattened. Overall, you end up with less control over your sound in a trade-off for great out-of-the-box gaming tone. That makes sense in the old gaming headset environment, but in 2019 we want to take our headsets with us as we go outside and use them on different devices. It's why this HS60 Pro Surround comes with the option of both 3.5mm and USB connection types - a genuinely handy feature.
What does this all mean? The HS60 Pro Surround sounds great for its intended purpose -- like virtual surround sound while gaming or stereo audio for music. But for audio enthusiasts, they're not quite as malleable as you'd like.
Meanwhile, the mic does its job admirably. There's noticeably more clarity in this than in the HS50 and a bit more low end too. It's also great to have the option of paying extra for an additional pop cover. The mic's fully detachable, and a little silicone guard plugs into the socket when it's not in use.
Features and Software
The HS60 Pro Surround taps Corsair's iCUE software. The free app features five EQ presets, each created with genuinely useful usage scenarios in mind and welcomed restraint. You can cycle through each preset with the click of a mouse. The FPS Competition preset, which boosts low mids from 125Hz up to 2K, did successfully bring out the important cues in CS:GO, and the clear chat preset boots 1K to 4K for troublesome Discord calls when it's hard to make out what's being said. Interestingly, there are audio prompts for each preset and when surround sound is cycled on or off, but not for when the mic's muted.
The Corsair HS60 Pro Surround successfully improves on the existing HS60. The headset's virtual 7.1 surround sound can come in handy while gaming if you tweak the EQ to highlight sound cues. And in stereo mode, the 50mm makes game audio sing as well.
But for music, you'll want to move to stereo audio, and we'd prefer a flatter response here.
So the best reason to buy this headset isn't its virtual surround sound, but rather its great build quality and comfort. With these standouts, the HS60 Pro Surround makes a name for itself in a crowded mid-priced gaming headset market.