In the capitalistic world we live in quality has it’s price. Especially so when talking about headsets, as cheaper models tend to have audio quality that will send shivers down your spine (and not in a good way). The affordable, yet extremely good quality gaming headset Corsair HS50 wants to proof us differently.
The audio is good for gaming and the unidirectional noise-cancelling microphone does a great job. If your intention is to purely use this headset for playing videogames, then you’ll get extremely high value for the measly $ 40.00 the headset gets sold for.
Audiophiles, you can stop reading here. The audio quality is not on par with premium headsets and it doesn’t need to be. Obviously there had to be some compromises for the headset to be sold for such a competitive price. What the HS50 offers is a strong build quality and decent performance for less than the price of a newly released title.
Looking at this headset almost feels like a dip in the past – but in a good, tasteful way. The design is straightforward, with no distracting RGBs or other gimmicks. The headband and the large ear cans are made of faux leather coated memory foam and are connected to each other via big metal arches. On the inside of the headband there’s faux leather with stitching diligently worked into the design, while the top part is made of robust plastic displaying Corsair’s brand name. Not only does the HS50 look good on any desk, but the high quality materials make it very durable.
Next to the standard all-black edition, you can also opt for a green or blue edition, to identify with either Xbox or PlayStation. The only added astheticism to the design can be found on the outside of the ear cups: They feature the company’s logo, as well as a honeycomb pattern to make the headset more breathable. The design isn’t extraordinarily special, but it’s also not screaming for attention.
It’s bulky design might not make it an ideal fit to wear in public, but this lightweight pair of cans surely is a comfy one. The cups are big enough to easily cover your entire ears, making it easy to wear them for long periods of time. At the same time, the adjustable headband and the flexible metal arches ensure a perfect fit for any head size.
Connecting the HS50 is easy and versatile. It can be plugged into any device that allows a connecting with a 3.5mm cable, like PCs, smartphones, or consoles and doesn’t need any software to unleash it’s full potential.
For media control, you can find a small volume dial, as well as a mute button for the microphone on the left earcup. Next to the controls there’s the port for the flexible microphone, which allows for quick unplugging if not needed.
However, a good looking headset doesn’t help if the audio quality doesn’t come with it. And here we do get some mixed feelings. The audio quality isn’t great and can hardly be compared to a more expensive headset, but to be fair, it’s probably as good as it gets for the money you pay.
Usually on budget headsets you get a frequency range of 20Hz to 20,000Hz and this is true for the HS50 as well. You might think that’s a good thing, because it’s exactly the range a human ear is capable of hearing, but unfortunately there’s more to it. Sound resonates above and beyond those frequencies and cutting the range short will make an audible difference. Sound will get a bit muffled and peaks and lows may not be perceptible to the same extend.
This is one of the reasons why the HS50 isn’t as crisp when compared to more expensive headphones and the soundstage might not be the broadest you’ve ever heard. The voices in dialogues come off a bit flat and chaotic sound settings tend to blend together.
The Corsair HS50 is a gaming headset and it’s clearly designed for exactly that. When it comes to music, it does fall short and the same problem as mentioned earlier persists. The soundstage gets blurry, but when listening to music this is a lot more noticeable and prominent issue than while gaming. The bass isn’t overtoned, but the individual sounds are still not clear enough to be easily identified.
On a positive note though, the sound is well balanced, with a strong, but not overwhelming bass and good spatial perception. This came in especially handy in a tactical shooter like Valorant, where precisely locating sound cues is essential. The HS50 allowed for easy and accurate evaluation of direction and distance of gunshots and footsteps. Overall the sound is passable and probably as good as it gets on a $40 gaming headset.
A real surprise was the quality of the compact boom microphone. According to Corsair the mic is Discord-certified, which it prove with clear and undistorted sound during our tests. Admittedly, the pickup is a little quiet and the transmitted voice could be a tad thicker, but there are no serious complaints here.
If you’re looking to grab a dirt cheap headset that’s solid quality and does fine for gaming, this is probably the way to go. This headset has a tasteful, decent design and can be connected to pretty much all devices you probably intend to use it with. The price is incredibly competitive and it’s probably the best gaming headset you’ll find for that little money.
If audio quality is your highest priority, then you might want to invest some extra bucks in a more expensive headset. For example, SteelSeries Arctis 3 goes for about $80 and has a much richer soundstage. And for a bit more, but still less than $100, you can either get the HyperX Cloud Alpha or the Razer Blackshark V2, which are even contenders for the best gaming headsets we’ve tested.