Corsair Vengeance 1500 Dolby 7.1 USB Headset Review

Indybird - 2011-11-23 00:07:29 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: Indybird   
Reviewed on: January 6, 2012
Price: $99.99

Introduction:

In just under a decade, gaming headsets have gone from repurposed general-use headsets to being a market of their own. Other than the obvious, ever-growing online gaming community there are several other reasons for having a headset purpose built for gaming. A couple of important features in a gaming headset would be comfort for long periods of use, clear positional audio, retractable microphone, and inline controls. Manufacturers often make specially add features, such as a built-in sound card, surround sound or cross platform compatibility to make the headset stand out as being made for gaming. However, these features are less common because they are harder to execute well. Often times these features are not well implemented, resulting in an overall mediocre headset.

Corsair, a company known for its memory products and now computer cases, has begun its own line of gaming products. Based on its offerings so far it's obvious that they are aiming for the premium peripherals market; no sacrifices here. Today we are taking a look at the high-end digital gaming headset, the Corsair Vengeance 1500. This headset touts superior comfort, a built in USB sound card and amplifier, 7.1 audio processing, and a sleek appearance. The Vengeance 1500 is essentially the bigger brother to the Vengeance 1300, which is a more basic analog headset. All these special features make this is a pretty attractive sounding package, especially for its sticker price of around $100. Let's see if the Vengeance 1500 delivers on all fronts, making it a true enthusiast gaming headset.

Closer Look: 

The Corsair Vengeance 1500 comes in a relatively flashy box. The front is dominated by a detailed picture of the headset itself with a quick description of the most important features. Around the back you get a slightly more detailed description of the headset's features in 6 languages. On the right side you have a plastic window that allows you to take a look at the headset inside. The left side offers the detailed specifications of the headset's hardware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theres not much to look at inside the box; you literally get the headset and nothing else; no driver disks, no extra cables.

 

Now let's take a closer look at the headset.

Closer Look:

The Vengeance 1500 is a pretty attractive piece of kit; the brushed chrome coupled with the glossy and matte black plastic really gives the headset the professional headphone appearance. The faux leather headband is pretty well padded and definitely looks supportive and comfortable. The over-sized ear muffs have a velvety fabric texture that looks equally comfortable. The Corsair logo is embossed over either ear and is subtle enough to keep the appearance sleek. The ears both fold 90° forward while the microphone rotates approximately 135° from its fully retracted position to being directly in front of your face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inline controls are about 3 feet down the cable from the headphones. This unit has digital volume controls and a the mic mute button. Also contained in this unit is the sound card and amplifier. The connection on the end is a standard USB 2.0.

 

 

Let's take a look at the technical specifications and see how it performs.

Configuration:

Basic installation of the Corsair Vengeance 1500 is incredibly simple as it is Plug and Play. However you will be pretty limited by the Window's built-in processing options. Corsair provides control panel software for the Vengeance 1500 on their website. It definitely would've been nice if they included this software on a disc with the package.

The software itself is pretty straightforward and definitely worth the download. On the main section it provides you with basic volume and mic level adjustments. At the bottom it has a useful 10-band equalizer function with several gaming oriented presets such as "F.P.S Gaming" and "M.M.O Gaming". The right-hand section of the control panel is where you adjust the headphone surround sound processing. The first option up top is "Bypass" which directly sends audio output to the stereo earpieces. The second option is Dolby Headphone, which provides 5.1 emulation in stereo headphones; selecting this option allows you to change the simulated environment type at the bottom. The third option is 7.1 Virtual Speaker shifter which sets the headset into 7.1 processing mode and allows you to fine tune the "position" of each speaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifications:

 

Model
Vengeance 1500
Channels
Stereo/Dolby 7.1
Driver
50mm
Impedance
32 Ohms @ 1kHz
Ear Coupling
Circumaural
Ear Cushions
Memory Foam + Microfiber Covers
Frequency Response
20Hz – 20,000Hz
Mic Pick-up Pattern
Uni-directional
Mic Frequency Response
100Hz – 10,000Hz
Mic Impedance
2.2k Ohms
Mic Sensitivity
-44 dB (±3dB)

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of Corsair available at http://www.corsair.com/vengeance-1500-dolby-7-1-usb-gaming-headset.html

Testing:

To test the Vengeance 1500 I’m going to be primarily gaming since that is its target purpose, but I'll also be throwing in a little bit of music for good measure.

Testing Setup:

 

Gaming:

For Gaming testing I have a large suite of 7.1 compatible games that covers most of the gaming audio bases. The suite includes Battlefield 3 for fast paced highly directional sound, Skyrim for detailed environmental sounds, and Race Driver: GRID for a wide range of sounds from cars and tracks. For all three games I have the headset set to 7.1 in the windows control panel and 7.1 Speaker Shift in the Corsair control panel.

To start off I played some Battlefield 3 campaign and online. I immediately noticed how clear the headset was. Foreground sounds such as explosions and voices were very well rounded and generally realistic sounding, while background noises such as people in the distant and environment sounds were properly subtly rendered. Unfortunately, the surround sound really didn't come through for me. Although the left and right were very well defined, the front and back kind of melded together either into left or right or "the middle". This of course affected multiplayer much more than single player as surround sound adds immersion in single player but is a tactical advantage in multiplayer. The quality of the sound in multiplayer was still very full, but the surround sound just wasn't there.

The next game was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Out of the gates, this too played well on the Vengeance 1500. Voices were notably clear, while clanking shields, swinging swords, and magic explosions were very well defined. Perhaps due to the larger drivers in each ear or the noise cancelling ear cup design, I found myself well-immersed in the audio of Skyrim. All of the subtle sounds in deep dungeons, wet caves, wide open fields, and mountain peaks came through quite clearly. Though Skyrim is a little less reliant on the quality of the surround sound, I still found the surround sound features of the headset to be very lacking. I found the same problem here; front and rear sounds were very poorly distinguished.

Lastly I fired up Race Driver: GRID. Yet again the headset does not disappoint. The solid range of sound produced by this headset coupled with the power of the built in amplifier really helped bring the engine sounds to life. Car damage, vocals, and track noise were also well rendered here; the headset really does immerse you in the game. The lack of realistic surround sound I had noticed thus far was definitely less prevalent here; but this is most likely due to the fairly limited directions that sounds could be approaching you from in a racing game.

Music:

Though primarily touted as a gaming headset, good music performance is still important to many users; be it if they have their own music playing in the background or if they just really appreciate the in-game score. To test the music capabilities of the Vengeance 1500 I used my usual lineup of music genres: classical, 70's rock, and modern electronic. Starting off with Camille Saint-Saëns’ 'Samson and Delila' I was not quite as immediately impressed as I was with the games. I found the headset to be quite strong in the high mid range of sound, but very well defined in the rest of the range of audio. A quick bit of equalizer work and I was able to balance it out to my liking. Next I played "Us and Them" by Pink Floyd. With the equalizer settings from the classical piece I found this song to be pretty balanced all around; vocals, effects, guitar, bass and drums were all there and decently clear. Lastly I threw on "Propane Nightmares" by Pendulum to really push the limits of the headset. Here I found the the deep bass to be a little lacking, but the song sounded otherwise good. Even with the equalizer maxed in the bass, I was not able to sufficiently recover the lows.

Microphone Quality:

I tested the quality of the mic during online gaming in Battlefield 3. With the help of my friends playing with me, I was told that my voice was overall clear and full; they had no trouble hearing me clearly. There were no complaints of echoing so the mic loopback feature definitely does its job. Using Windows Sound recorder I recorded myself to listen first-hand to the quality. While listening, I could definitely confirm their statements; my voice was very clear and well defined. 

Comfort:

During the course of the testing the headphones were relatively comfortable. The headband kept the relatively low weight of the headset completely off my ears, but the headset clamps to your head pretty hard and I found that to be slightly uncomfortable after prolonged use. This would've been much worse if the ear pads weren't so comfortable themselves.

Conclusion:

The Corsair Vengeance 1500 headset has proved to be one of the better gaming headsets I've tested to date. Out of the box the headset definitely gave the simultaneous impression of an enthusiast gaming peripheral and professional headphones. The headset is very well built and feels very solid in your hands and on your head. Over the course of testing I found the comfort of the headset to be a mixed bag; the headband does a great job of keeping the weight of the headset off your ears and the padded ear cups are extremely soft to the touch but the headset clamps pretty hard to your head, which detracts from the overall comfort over time.

Setup of the headset and software was pleasantly straight-forward and I found the features of the Corsair control panel to be more than adequate. Unfortunately all of the fine tuning that the control panel provided just couldn't make the surround sound a solid experience. In all of the games I tested the positional audio just was not there; I consistently found the front and back to be indistinguishable. However, despite the poor surround sound performance, the range of sound the headset produced in these games was so good that I would overlook that negative. Powerful sounds such as thumps and explosions were loud and full, vocals were extremely lifelike and the detailed background sounds were well rendered every time. The music performance wasn't initially as good as the gaming, but thanks to the powerful equalizer function in the control panel I was able to fix that.  It should also be noted that the built in digital amplifier really allows you to crank the volume on this headset way up. The Vengeance 1500 can go loud enough to clearly listen to them from a couple feet away without any distortion.

Overall testing and using this headset was a very pleasurable experience. Though it is touted as a 7.1 headset and doesn't really deliver on that front, it makes such a good stereo gaming headset that I have a hard time considering that as a negative. Great build quality, premium look & feel, and an extremely full range of sound make this headset worth every penny of its $100 suggested price tag. If the 7.1 processing isn't a make-or-break option for you, then this headset is without a doubt one of the top gaming headsets available to date.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: