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On The Bench: Corsair's HS1 USB Gaming Headset

Corsair's First Headset: The HS1

Corsair isn’t the first company that jumps to mind when it comes to audio, but the Fremont, California company aims to change that with the release of its HS1 USB gaming headset.

You might think that motherboards or graphics cards would be a logical next move, given the company's forays into PC cases and power supplies, coupled with the manufacturing experience gained from its bread-and-butter memory products. But motherboards and graphics cards force tight margins and high support costs. Given VP of marketing Jim Carlton’s roots in Creative Labs and Logitech, it’s probably not a big surprise that Corsair is moving into the audio space, though. Still, there are a ton of good headsets on the market. So, Corsair decided to focus on two things: price and audio quality.

The result is a headset that won’t (pardon the pun) turn any heads for its looks, but will please your ears your wallet. The HS1 offers 50 mm drivers built into fully circumaural, close-backed cups. Completely surrounding the ear and closing the backs made the challenge of designing this headset a little easier, while simultaneously masking outside noises better than cups that partially cover the ears. The boom microphone is of the now-common noise cancelling variety, and rotates out of the way.

The inline volume control is quite large, and easy to find in the dark. The controls couldn’t be simpler: microphone mute and large, tactile buttons for increasing or decreasing volume.

Building headphones, much less a complete headset, using 50 mm drivers can result in a heavy unit with the potential to be fatiguing over long periods. The padded headrest is comfortable enough, but the cups are what set this headset apart. The ear pads are made of cloth-covered memory foam, which is easily user-replaceable. Corsair says it will be offering replacement pads directly from its Web site.

We wore the HS1 for extended listening periods (six hours in one case), and it proved to be one of the most comfortable headsets we’ve ever worn. Of the three headsets mentioned in this review, Corsair's was the only unit that didn’t actually rest on part of an ear, which made it more comfortable right out to the box.

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