Corsair is a premium PC hardware manufacturer known in the industry for their PC cases, power supply units (PSU), RAM, and gaming peripherals since 1994. In addition, Corsair has won several industry awards for their products, so it’s with special interest that I’m reviewing their entry-level HS50 gaming headset.
Audio: The Corsair HS50 comes to the table with 50mm neodymium drivers within the unit. These neodymium drivers allow for a lighter and smaller magnet and a larger speaker to deliver crystal clear sounds. The frequency response of the unit comes standard from 20Hz – 20,000Hz, which matches the range of the human ear perfectly.
The only drawback to the HS50 with regard to audio is this unit is not Dolby 7.1 Surround compliant. Dolby 7.1 Surround is important (critical actually) for online gaming, as it produces a 3D sound experience, so when you’re gaming, you can hear the footsteps of your enemy and know the direction they’re coming from. If you plan on watching movies with this headset, you’ll be limited to standard audio that doesn’t utilize the feature-rich Dolby 7.1 Surround.
The HS50 ships with a 3.5mm cable so you can connect it directly to your smartphone and use the headset as a pair of headphones while you’re out and about. Where Corsair hits a home run in the cable connection department, is with the addition of the audio and microphone splitter that comes with the headset. Unlike Turtle Beach which requires you to purchase the adapter separately, Corsair includes it, right out of the box – This really speaks to their customer focus.
The only downside to all of this is the rubberized cable is wired directly into the left ear cup and cannot be removed. If you end up stepping on your cable, or having it get caught as you get up from your chair, you could potentially rip the cable out of the ear cup, thereby ruining your headset.
Microphone: The HS50 comes with a flexible plug-in microphone so when you’re not using the mic, you can unplug it from the unit (again, if you want to use the headset as a pair of headphones around town). The microphone is a unidirectional microphone, so it does want to pick up a bit more background noise than I’d like, however it also features noise cancelation that tries to remove much of the ambient background noises.
I found the microphone flat on the bass department and it does tend to produce a low, constant “hiss”. For online gaming, this unit is decent, but if you’re purchasing this headset with dreams of creating YouTube videos, I think you’ll be regretting it.
Cushions: The cushions are made from soft memory foam, covered with a stitched leatherette material. These are extremely comfortable and easy to wipe clean.
The only issues I have with the ear cushions are that the larger 50mm internal drivers protrude into the ear cup itself, as you can see in the photo to the left. Depending on your ears, this could force the driver to press into your outer ear and become very uncomfortable.
The left ear cup not only has the hard-wire connection going into it, but it also has a decent sized mute button (note: some units like the SteelSeries Arctis 5 has a minuscule mute button) and a volume control.
Headband & Adjuster: The quality of this headset really shows with the headband and frame construction. The frame is made from a flexible aluminum with provides extra bend and flex in the headset without it breaking.
The padding on the top of the headband is made with soft memory foam, covered with a beautifully stitched leatherette material. It’s important to note that the headset comes with four color on the ear cups – black, yellow, green, and blue. The color matches the stitching, so if this headset had the green color on the ear cups, the stitching shown above would be green.
The adjuster is part of the metal frame that slides in an out of the unit within small increments. What’s strange (and I’m a huge fan of headsets where the frame is made of flexible metal), is frame part of the adjuster doesn’t continue down into the fame of the ear cups. It appears that it does, but upon further examination, the flat metal frame stop and inserts into a metal swivel joint. While this swivel joint provides a bit of additional flex to the headset, I think over time, this will be a breaking point due to the force applied to this one small joint.
What I Like
I absolutely like to see a manufacturer not skimp on the internal frame of a headset and spend a bit more to design a quality product. That occurs when a manufacturer uses a flexible metal internal frame which we see in the Corsair HS50.
I really like the quality workmanship of the headband with the gorgeous stitching that matches the color on the ear cups.
Lastly I think Corsair went the extra-mile by including the cable adapter, so that uses of the device are not limited. To include it and not force a customer to ‘buy’ an additional non-included part – that’s ethical and I really respect Corsair for this (take note Turtle Beach).
What I Don’t Like
I don’t like the fact that the internal speakers extend into the ear cups and press into your ears. My ears tend to lay flat(ish) so this wasn’t really an issue for me, but there’s enough people complaining about this online that it should be addressed by Corsair.
While I raved about how great it is to see an internal frame made of metal, this one left me going “huh?” when the frame didn’t continue down into the ear cups and instead inserted into a small swivel joint. For this reason alone, there’s no way I could get my son a pair of these, as they’d be snapped at that joint in a short time – I guarantee it.
Lastly, the lack of Dolby 7.1 Surround is a deal-breaker. I honestly don’t know why anyone would produce a headset in today’s market that doesn’t have this feature.
Verdict – Would I Buy It Again?
This actually pains me to say this, but I don’t think I’d buy or recommend this headset. Sure it’s better than most others in this price-range, but for me personally, there are things that are critical to me that are missing and these things end up putting the nail in the coffin for this headset.
The absence of Dolby 7.1 Surround is too much to give up. That’s like telling someone you’re going to remove the FM band on their radio, but there’s still some top-40 stations on the AM band – it’s just not the same and doesn’t sound the same.
The other thing that turns me away is the metal frame not continuing into the ear cups. I’d love to sit down and talk to someone at Corsair and ask about this and why they didn’t continue the frame into the ear cups. This is just a recipe for disaster and I’m sure Corsair has had plenty of these shipped back due to breakage.
What I would do – I’d buy the HS60 (next model up), which is the identical model of the HS50, except that it comes with Dolby 7.1 Surround.
Detailed Product Information
Product: Corsair HS50 Stereo Gaming Headset
Cheapest place to buy: Amazon
Warranty: 2 Years
My Rating: 6 out of 10