|Corsair CA-HS1NA USB Gaming Headset|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Audio|
|Written by Joey Peng|
|Wednesday, 09 February 2011|
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Corsair HS1NA Headset Testing & 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.
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.