Corsair HS1A ReviewnVidia_Freak - March 6, 2011
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Corsair- a name that conjures images not only of the style of ship, but also of exploration into strange and unknown lands. It is a name that brings intense feelings of wonder and exhilaration that come with the discovery of those unexplored paradises. Although this is not the Corsair I am speaking of, the Corsair I speak of certainly bears resemblance to what the ships of old represented. The modern day Corsair was created in 1994 as a manufacturer of computer memory, remaining a strong and familiar force in that category. Indeed, just as the corsair ships were guided to, from, and between new and breathtaking vistas, the mere beginnings of the modern world, so Corsair has probed and made a presence throughout much of the computer world.
Power supplies, cases, SSDs, heatsinks, and even headsets are just some of the areas that Corsair has entered with much success. Of those, the most recent addition to Corsair's repertoire are headsets. Corsair's introduction piece, the HS1 USB headset, was released earlier last year. It was reviewed here at OCC and received high marks for being a rather pleasing headset, in large part because of the use of Dolby Headphone technology and the unbiased, though sterile, sound signature. Earlier this year Corsair released a variant of the HS1 headset, the HS1A. The HS1A exchanges the USB interface for 1/8" mini-plugs, and necessarily lacks Dolby Headphone. Dolby Headphone is a very large portion of what made the original HS1 such a great headset, and indeed, worthy of the title 'gaming headset'. The absence of Dolby Headphone, then, may not fare well for the HS1A. Let's find out.
Look familiar? Boxing of the HS1A is virtually identical to that of the HS1. An immediately noticeable difference the HS1A sports from the is its black oriented paint scheme, rather than the silver and black two-tone scheme of the HS1. Looking at the blown-up earcup that serves as the backdrop for the HS1A, it seems that it's 100% identical in positioning to the HS1. The colors are a little off; not quite black, but but quite silver either. Yes, I'm completely certain that the same photo used with the HS1 was used for the HS1A, albeit after some convincing editing.
Corsair stepped up their game with the previous iteration of the HS1 by providing the tech specs and general marketing in six languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian. This time around, though, Corsair has chosen only to cater to speakers and readers of three languages: English, French, and Spanish. A curious choice, and a 'Piss off!' to the Germans, Italians, and the East Slavs. While I'm on the subject of marketing, let's take a closer look (see what I did there?) at what Corsair has to say about itself.
- Amazing sound for intense, immersive gaming It's all about the audio. That's why the HS1A uses massive 50mm drivers for a level of sonic detail that's just not possible with the 40mm drivers found in most gaming headsets. The result is detailed audio reproduction with clean, accurate bass sparkling clarity in the mids and high, even when everything's coming at you at once. Superior audio isn't just more enjoyable - it lets you listen longer without fatigue. The circumaural, closed-back earcups offer superior noise isolation at LAN events and other high-distraction environments. They keep outside noise out, and your head in the game.
- Certainly, larger drivers will, in general, reproduce sound better than smaller drivers, however, there are plenty of headphones contrary to this; the Sennheiser HD457 and 202 spring to mind. Really it depends on the driver itself and its design. Sparkling mids and highs are also not indicators of quality. In fact, if there's noticeable sparkle, that would indicate a rather large bias toward treble, which is not necessarily a good thing, because, too much spark can give a headphone a rather overbright and honky tone. Neither characteristic is pleasant, nor is either a mark of quality. Closed headphones do offer superior noise isolation to open headphones, though this isn't a clear indication of how much it isolates outside noise.
- Built for comfort. You can't play for hours with a headset that binds or pinches. This HS1A uses replaceable memory foam earcups for a custom, reliable fit. They're covered in plush microfiber for improved comfort and moisture absorption. The extra-large diameter and deep-dish design help prevent them from touching your ears.
- Headphones that apply excess pressure to your ears will fatigue them very quickly and will make playing uncomfortable before long, and, for the same reason, keeping the baffle housing large and away from the ears will prevent any physical irritation.
- Great for music and movies, too. A lot of gaming headsets have frequencies response [sic] tuned for gaming, at the expense of acceptable audio quality for music, movies, and everything else you listen to on your PC. The HS1A is different. The same amazing game performance also gives you the precision audio response your favorite media deserves.
- This is a load of rubbish. Games use the same frequency range as other audio sources. Headphones that are muddy, or honky, or tin can-y will have those characteristics no matter where the audio is sourced from. In a way, Corsair is correct in saying that crappy headphones are crappy, and good headphones are good, though this hardly needs clarification.
- The Corsair advantage. With more than 15 years of building enthusiast-grade memory and component, we've earned a reputation for quality, compatibility, and performance. Need help? We're available by phone call, email, or web forum.
- Though a reputation earned is a reputation earned, it can easily by tarnished by the slightest misgiving. Are you so confident of the HS1A, Corsair?
Balderdash or the bee's knees we'll find out soon enough. Let's get a good look at the HS1A and what all comes with it.