Corsair HS65 surround gaming headset review
Corsair promises a lot given the low price tag, but have they promised too much?
Corsair recently dropped a range of new budget-oriented headsets, the HS55 Stereo, HS80 RGB USB, and, the subject of this review, the HS65 Surround. These headsets have been long overdue as Corsair Headsets typically come with pretty hefty price tags, for example, the Corsair Virtuoso. Their budget offerings haven’t seen an update in a while so we’re excited to see if the Corsair HS65 Surround will impress, despite its relatively pedestrian price tag. Let’s take a closer look.
Corsair HS65 Surround wired gaming headset
- Very comfortable
- Impressive audio fidelity
- Stellar build quality
- Cheap-feeling cables
3.5mm, USB (Surround sound requires USB)
Unidirectional noise cancelling, flip-to-mute
PC, PS4, XBOX, mobile
What’s in the box & setup
It would appear that Corsair has saved some money with the unboxing experience as it is identical to the HS55 Stereo. The headset will certainly be safe in transit, but the unboxing is nothing special. Given the price, we can forgive Corsair for this so we aren’t too upset about it. Opening the box reveals the HS65 cradled in cardboard and shrouded by a soft-to-the-touch plastic bag.
- HS65 Surround Headset
- USB 7.1 surround adapter
- Warranty Card
The setup process is one of the more straightforward we’ve seen of late. In our case, plugging the headset into the included USB sound card, and the soundcard into a vacant USB port worked flawlessly. The PC picked the headset and mic up immediately, which makes a change as we still frequently encounter headsets, gaming mice, and keyboards that can struggle in terms of setup.
It’s worth noting here that the USB sound card isn’t necessary to use the headset, as the combination 3.5mm audio jack allows for base functionality of the mic and headset, however, you’ll need it for gaming as the virtual 7.1 surround sound cannot be enabled without it. This actually forms the crux of this review as the headset itself is identical to the HS55 Stereo, the only thing that makes it the HS65 is the inclusion of a sound card. This puts us in a slightly odd position as this means a large section of this review will be identical to our HS55 Stereo review, but copy-pasting is boring so let’s get to it.
As with the HS55, Corsair has played it safe here with an elegant, simplistic design that bears suspicious levels of similarity to the Logitech G Pro X wireless headset. However, we think corsair has actually done better with this general shape, especially if you opt for the white variant as it looks sleek, modern, and just a little bit sci-fi. Put it this way, it wouldn’t look out of place hanging over a screen on the bridge of JJ Abrams’ Starship Enterprise.
Additionally, the asymmetrical shape of the yoke is clever as it both reinforces the modern vibe and saves a significant amount of weight. It also adds a little bit of visual flair and keeps the front side of the earcups clean, we also suspect it allows the flip-to-mute mic to fold up further than it otherwise would, so it can stay out of your eye line when not in use. If this is the case, Corsair certainly has some smart designers.
In terms of branding, the HS65 is identical to the HS55 once again, with a reserved application of logos and brand names. There’s the obligatory ‘C O R S A I R’ across the top of the headband and the ship logo on each earcup. While we’re on the subject of the earcups, Corsair has actually differentiated this from the HS55 as they’ve implemented a chrome mesh sort of design around the ship logo. This differs from the HS55 as that headset had textured concentric circles instead and we certainly prefer the mesh more as it gives the headset a more premium, slightly automotive aspect and we really like it.
Given the price, the build quality is supreme, despite the mostly plastic construction, it’s super sturdy and resists flexing even under frankly unrealistic pressure. Subjecting the HS65 to a vigorous shake only produces superfluous and unworrying rattles which is impressive given the feathery 282g weight and plastic materials.
Speaking of the plastics, we aren’t sure exactly what corsair uses here but they feel fantastic and premium to the touch. They appear matte, but have a very smooth texture, not unlike powder-coated aluminum and they might just be the best-feeling plastics we’ve encountered. The flip-to-mute mic is also an area of excellence as it clicks through its tactical bump in a smooth and satisfying way. We normally find mics of this style to feel prone to wearing out and a little too cheap, but the HS65 is an exception and probably the best implementation of flip-to-mute technology we’ve seen recently.
Unfortunately, the unremovable cable feels rubbery and cheap, and it’s prone to kinking very easily which is disappointing given the stellar build quality exhibited by the headset itself. It functions reliably, but even some of the most budget-oriented headsets often come with braided cables these days.
Sound quality & gaming performance
After completing the ‘Sound ID’ test in Corsair’s iCue software, we were very satisfied with the audio performance of the HS65s. While the sound ID test isn’t a flawless way of defining equalizer settings, we are confident that the vast majority of users will be satisfied with the result. We feel compelled to mention that when you’re personalized Sound ID profile is enabled, you cannot mess with the EQ settings. This is unfortunate as it limits the customizability of the headset, those of you with high audio standards should skip this step and go straight to the EQ menu to fine-tune the HS65 to your liking.
Once you’ve done this, the HS65 headset sounds great, with reasonably punchy bass and a surprising amount of definition up in the higher frequencies. Unsurprisingly the mids are super standard which is a good choice as the mids are where the vast majority of sound lives, so getting a bit too creative here could totally ruin the soundscape, which is why most companies play it safe here.
With the assumption that you’re using the included sound card, the virtual 7.1 surround performance in-game is also decent. We could accurately discern the location of enemies in Apex Legends and CS:GO. Using the FPS EQ preset made the gunshots sound more explosive and helps enhance the fidelity of footsteps too. However, voice chat was marginally less clear, so depending on your gaming audio priorities, you might want to opt for the ‘clear chat’ preset instead.
The HS65 does very well here as it has some of the nicest feeling memory foam earcups in the sub-$100 price bracket. The faux leather covering also feels comfortable and premium, of course, it can get a little sweaty depending on your climate and the length of the gaming session in question.
Corsair appears to have been kind here, providing far more padding on the headband than is necessary for the 282g weight. This of course increases comfort but we think it’s also here in order to increase longevity as padding inevitably flattens out over time, so increasing the amount of padding also increases the length of time before the headset becomes unwearable.
Corsair has done very well here, providing a budget-friendly headset that feels far more premium than its price tag would suggest. The soundstage is decent, but won’t blow anyone away, especially the audiophiles out there, but for gaming, it’s perfectly serviceable and you won’t lose any performance here. If you’re in the market for a new surround sound headset under $100 and don’t mind being tethered to your PC, the Corsair HS65 is one of the best gaming headsets within that bracket.
Corsair HS65 surround gaming headset review
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