Corsair HS1A ReviewnVidia_Freak - March 6, 2011
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Insert mini-jacks into mini-plugs. One for stereo output, one for microphone input. Simple enough, right?
- Processor: Phenom II x6 1055T
- CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-C12P-SE14
- CPU Fan(s): Noctua NF-P14
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5
- Memory: 2x2GB G.SKILL F3 PC3 12800 9-9-9-25 2T
- Video Card: XFX HD6970 2GB + BFG 8800GT (PhysX)
- Power Supply: XFX BE 850w
- Soundcard: ESI Juli@
- Amplifier: Little Dot Mk. V
- Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 750GB
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
- Headset: Corsair HS1A
Comparison Headsets & Headphone:
- Testing Music: Afro Celt Sound System, Hubert von Goisern und die Alpinkatzen, Domenico Scarlatti (played by Vladimir Horowitz), Opeth, The Prodigy, Rammstein
- Testing Movies: The Bourne Ultimatum, The Matrix
- Testing Games: L4D2, Metro 2033
Dolby Headphone is a huge, if not the main, selling point of the HS1. Utilizing Dolby Headphone has the excellent effect of making movies and games were much more involving and much less fatiguing than listening in standard stereo mode. It's an excellent use of technology, and, although the HS1 is a good headset in its own right, packaging Dolby Headphone with the HS1 proved to be a wondrous experience. This technology was available only because the HS1 was a USB headset, and had, in effect its own sound card and thus could have its own drivers. The HS1A, however, uses 1/8" mini-jacks instead of a USB connection, and thus, it is entirely dependent on whatever sound card and external amplifiers are used in conjunction with it. Regardless, I'll test the HS1A with music to get a general sense of the sound signature, as well as with movies and games to test the stereo image separation and gaming appeal.
The HS1A's sound signature is very similar to that of the HS1. The soundstage leans toward narrow Bass is rolled-off very early, and although that prevents irritating 'boom', the steepness of the roll-off takes away much of the body, making bass lines and drums are rather pale and lacking in depth. Mid-range frequencies have a small hump, that is, they are dominant over the other frequencies. Unfortunately, since the majority of music is contained within the mid-range this usually gives it a honky tone, and the HS1A is no exception. Treble is mildly recessed, though by no means muddled by the rest of the frequencies. I can't groove with the music, but on the other hand I'm not repulsed by them. Overall, the HS1A's sound signature is unremarkable and entirely forgettable.
Unlike the HS1, the HS1A isn't a thrill with movies. Without Dolby Headphone, the HS1A is just another headset with a big price tag. I don't feel involved with the movie while using the HS1A. The mid-range bump and recessed treble does mitigate the the fatigue that I often experience when listening to movies with a standard pair of stereo headsets/phones. As it is with music, it is with movies - nothing special here.
Likewise, the HS1A isn't a spectacular performer while gaming. The narrow soundstage does make it difficult to pinpoint precisely where the shot fired at you came from, and only provides the general direction (left, right, up, down) of positional cues. The microphone performs just as well with the HS1A as its big brother, being a little clearer than microphones on other headsets.
Functionality & Utility:
Again, like the HS1, the HS1A is very comfortable. The earcups can lower and the headband can stretch, to fit even the largest of noggins. Additionally, the headband's luxurious padding is exceedingly comfortable. The cable is plenty long to be able to drape around yourself as you please and still reach the soundcard's mini-plugs. The cable itself is thickly braided along its entire length, and, the braiding is durable and sure to prevent any accidental damage to the cable or wires because of snags. The control pod is placed a few feet from the left earcup where the cable terminates, and as such is both in an excellent spot for grabbing and can be placed on a leg instead of dangling freely. The microphone feels sturdy and can be swiveled approximately 170° from vertical. Just as with the HS1's microphone, this microphone contains a flexible rubber midsection that can be twisted any which way to user preference. The earpads are comfortable and keep the baffle housing away from touching your ears. Both the felt and pleather earpads are very soft and both can be used for several hours without perspiration becoming a huge problem. The felt earpads do absorb sweat better than the pleather earpads, and can be used for about two extra hours without discomfort. The pleather earpads provide a small amount of extra outside sound isolation, however, no sonic differences were detectable between the felt and pleather earpads. Unsurprisingly, the HS1A is just like the HS1 with a very sturdy construction and high level of comfort.