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Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming Headset E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Audio
Written by Joey Peng   
Tuesday, 08 February 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming Headset
Closer Look: Corsair HS1NA Headset
Corsair HS1NA Headset Detailed Features
Corsair HS1NA Headset Software
Corsair HS1NA Headset Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Corsair HS1NA Headset Testing & Results

Test System

  • System Memory: 12 GB
  • Processor: Intel i7-920
  • Video: GTX 285
  • Operating System: Windows 7

Results

We'll start first with stereo quality. Because the Corsair HS1NA comes by default without any bass amplification, higher and mid-range frequencies are overly sharp, completely wasting the 50mm drivers' potential. In order to get decent results, the EQ bands need to be adjusted, or you can load some of the presets including amplified bass. Sound quality is usually fairly subjective but comparing to several other high-end headsets around the same price, the Corsair HS1NA performed top of the pack. In particular having a vibrant bass did not come at the sacrifice of other frequencies. Vocals still sounded crisp and clear even with an amplified bass. For almost every other headset out there, the higher tones get a little fuzzy once the base get tuned way up, but the HS1NA does not have this problem. Corsair stresses the HS1NA is tuned to an ideal audio curve so that audio experience matches closely to what the designers intended, and they're not lying.

Typically up-scaling stereo sound into 7.1 surround sound gives mixed results for music. However for the HS1NA, Dolby Headphone mode can be turned on and off separately from Dolby Pro Logic IIz. Dolby Headphone modifies stereo signals to create the effect of sound playing around you instead of right into your ears. Dolby Pro Logic is used to upscale stereo to 7.1 surround. Dolby Pro Logic tends to be the one that causes the mixed results. After experimenting with many albums, I conclude that music is more enjoyable with Dolby Headphone turned on. The reduction of ear fatigue is a major reason.

While it may sound odd to be talking about stereo and up-mixed 7.1 surround sound, I stress its importance as a demonstration the Corsair HS1NA's audio quality.

Corsair_HS1_Headset_Mic.jpg

On the virtual surround side, Dolby Headphone technology is able to take in native 7.1 audio signals and transcode them as stereo signals with audio cues. This allows stereo headphones to play surround sound. Performance is measured solely on the strength and clarity of directional audio. As a USB Gaming Headset, games are naturally the best measurement for performance. Some of the games I tried include Call of Duty: Black Ops, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and StarCraft II.

Thanks to Dolby technologies, the Corsair HS1NA delivers excellent directional audio. This is especially noticeable in first person shooters when the character's direction constantly rotates. One thing I like is the smooth transitions as audio sources move. Some headsets tend to have noticeable sudden changes in directional output as a sound source switches from, for example, front to back speakers. This may happen in RTS games where the screen pans above or below a sound sourcet.

For serious gamers having a good mic is extremely important. The Corsair HS1NA's noise cancelling features work very well at the sacrifice of lower volume. For the longest time I had the mic turned on but tucked away along the headset and it barely picked up any ambient noise. The unidirectional mic ensures the capture of your voice and nothing more. However this is really intended to be a mic used for gaming and the mic volume needs to be maxed out to capture voice clearly.

Lastly comfort is a major element for any headset. This is an area where the Corsair HS1NA excels. Because the ear pieces are so huge, they fit right around your ears. The flexible headband grips onto your head comfortably helping the HS1NA stay on without slipping. Absolutely no stress is put on the ears. I own several high end headsets that are comfortable for gaming sessions of several hours but none can match the Corsair HS1NA in terms of comfort.

The Corsair HS1NA USB Gaming Headset is designed and built well. It delivers top-notch audio, implements Dolby Headphone technologies for surround sound, and has a decent mic, all of which fits into an extremely comfortable package. For their first audio product Corsair definitely did a great job.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming HeadsetStupido 2011-02-09 04:08
How they fare against other headsets like: Logitech 930, Xense combo & Mad Catz?
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# RE:RE: Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming HeadsetJoey Peng 2011-02-09 12:15
Depends what you're looking for.

Purely in terms of audio quality I'd go with Corsair's. It's cheaper than the rest by at least $35. Also the most comfortable. Logitech G930 is wireless, has a great mic, audio quality good but slightly worse than Corsair's, but again it's wireless.

Mad Catz's headset is true surround sound, not software driven. You will get much better surround sound results if the content does support true surround sound and do it well, but most don't. Make sure you know it matches what you do.
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# Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming HeadsetDRS-Reaper 2011-02-09 14:43
How does Corsair mustard up to Steel Series 7H. I know SteelSeries is a bit on the spendy side, then again you get what you pay for....
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# RE:Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming HeadsetJoey Peng 2011-02-12 15:21
Unfortunately we don't have a sample of the 7H for comparison. However here's what I can conclude (for the 7H USB version):

It's performance should be similar to the Corsair HS1. Both 50mm drivers. However SteelSeries seems to use proprietary software over industry leader Dolby for surround sound. You also won't get anything like Dolby Pro Logic that upmixes stereo to 7.1 surround. But the 7H has some interesting things going for it too like the external USB sound card which you can mix and match headsets/sound cards. Seems like a much better travel mate.
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# RE: RE:RE: Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming HeadsetStupido 2011-02-10 00:49
Thanks for the clarification! :)
Currently I use Roccat Kave and I'm very found of.
But at some point of time (not that far) I'm planning to build mini-ITX system and for that one I would like to have nice USB headset

My Kave doesn't play that well with onboard audio (realtek 889A) - it gives bit hallow and muffled sound compared to the dedicated sound card, so I'm using XtremeGamer from Creative to drive it...
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# RE: Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming HeadsetVik 2011-02-10 16:44
I'm still using some older Razer Barracuda HP-1's which I am pretty fond of, but I do have to be careful with them. These Corsair ones at least seem sturdy and look like it could survive an accidental drop or several :) That said, a quality set of speakers around your ears is a welcome edition to any robust computer setup. A nice entry into a new area by Corsair!
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