Corsair HS50 Wired Gaming Headset Review
I think Corsair is going to sell *a ton* of these!
Corsair has thrown their hat into the $49 budget gaming headset ring with the HS50’s, which just launched at the end of November 2017.
I liked the Void Pro Wireless enough that I ordered this new model the second I learned they were a thing.
Do they stack up to other recent budget greats like the HyperX Cloud Stinger, RIG 400, and Astro A10?
Corsair’s new HS50 is just $49.99. It’s a wired, closed-back gaming headset with a detachable boom microphone. It comes in three different accent colors: Carbon, Blue, and Green. The base color of each headset is black, and the accent color is featured around the ear cups and in the headband stitching.
The cable is a bit over 5 feet long and they include a PC y-splitter in the box.
This is a fun-sounding headset!
It has punchy bass, slightly relaxed mids, and crisp high frequencies that only sound a little artificial.
Detractors would call it v-shaped…but it’s a good v-shaped. Vocals are a touch more distant than I’d like them to be, but without either a muffled or “cupped hands” quality.
It reminds me a bit of the HyperX Cloud II or the Beyerdynamic DT770.
In fact, the Cloud II was clearly the design model for the HS50 in many different aspects.
Now, the sound is both boomier and edgier than audiophiles will want…but really fun for gaming! And natural enough for music that I don’t hate using them for that either.
Soundstage is decently-wide for a cheap closed-back pair. You won’t ever feel like you’re totally surrounded by audio, but they’re not at all claustrophobic.
I was expecting these to be a muddy mess but I was pleasantly surprised. I say that about a lot of gaming headsets these days. I feel like the gaming market as a whole has moved completely away from the shuddering overdone bass boom that so dominated it just a few years ago, and that’s great.
The HS50 still has the essence of that bass boom, but without the mud.
In this price range, the RIG 400 has a more natural, even, neutral tone. The Astro A10 sounds a little more amped up and “movie-theater” like, with less aggressive highs. The HyperX Cloud sounds comparable, with highs that are slightly less artificial but mids that are more hollow…and the Cloud Alpha sounds cleaner overall, but costs twice as much.
The headset is very easy to drive, which is great for those of you planning to use this with a PS4 controller jack.
This is one of the best-sounding $49 gaming headsets.
You can buy these knowing safely that you’re getting the sound more or less as intended, with just a bit of extra push/fun in the bass and treble. Those are good places to emphasize in a gaming product, since they bring out explosion rumble and footstep noises. The bass emphasis also helps improve their isolation, good for noisy LAN/tournament environments!
The fit of the HS50 is good, but a touch clampy especially when you first put them on. The slightly high clamping force probably helps with bass response and isolation, and it’s not aggressive enough that I felt like I needed to bend or stretch the headphones.
They clamp on at about the same level as the Sennheiser 500 series, if you’ve ever worn one of those. I actually like the way these clamp on. The too-loose clamping force was one of my only complaints about the Corsair Void Pro.
And aside from that, I can’t think of anything negative here!
The ear pads are nice and big, with plenty of space inside for my ears. The padding is not the thickest in the world, but it’s thick enough and made of a decent-quality memory foam. They seal well around my head even when I’m wearing glasses.
Each ear cup has a small plastic hump inside to hold the cables hidden in the headset…but neither of these bumped into my ears.
The headband is thick and padded…but the padding is surprisingly rigid compared to other headsets. I wondered if this would cause discomfort over long sessions, but it didn’t at all!
On the adjustment side, they’re quite flexible. They have eight clicks of adjustment, and even on my large head, I only needed to extend out to five clicks on each side. Corsair continues their tradition of accommodating a wide variety of head sizes!
The ear cups rotate vertically and horizontally, and are nicely damped in both directions. I’ll talk a little more about this below.
These aren’t pillowy and invisible due to their decent clamp and slightly rigid headband…but they’re still very comfy and I can wear them for hours without issue.
Isolation is slightly above average thanks to the big memory foam pads and the closed-back design. I used these in my favorite loud coffee shop without issue.
I feel like some folks at Corsair had a meeting where they looked at the HyperX Cloud II and said “Let’s build this better, but make it cheaper.”
They nailed it.
The HS50 has two big oval ear cups on a nicely-curved headband that’s made entirely of metal. So it uses a classic headphone design that has its roots in the 80's.
But, Corsair made some tweaks to that classic design that I actually really like. Instead of having the ear cup forks go right into the headband, there’s a plastic piece in the middle that also allows the cup to rotate laterally a bit. I like this.
On other models that use these forks, they have to function as both the rotation and adjustment mechanism. Splitting this up makes these feel more durable, and expands the range of head sizes they’ll fit. And the rotation is very nicely damped and premium feeling.
The adjustment mechanisms are numbered and nicely ratcheted, stiff, and clicky!
The backs of the ear cups have a metal mesh that looks like it’s an open back, but it’s really just for show.
The headband has some nice cross-hatched stitching on it, which reminds me of LucidSound’s headsets.
Instead of having little exposed cords coming out of each cup that then run up into the headband, Corsair cut tiny channels into the metal of the forks to run the cables through. This is amazing!
Branding is kept to a minimum. There’s a small chrome Corsair logo on the back of each ear cup, and the word Corsair is embossed into the top of the headband.
Build quality is great for the price. I like how much metal is present here. The plastics used are lightweight, but not hollow or cheap. They feel really good in the hands, and don’t creak or squeak anywhere.
The headset has the same flexibility and feel I’d expect from a more expensive product.
This is a really well-designed and built headset. Sure, it’s copying a lot of things from other past headsets and headphones…but I feel like Corsair really learned from those products and tried to give some classic design elements their own spin.
The biggest strength of the mic is that it’s removable.
Why is this such a big deal?
A removable mic makes the headset much easier to store and pack in a bag, and much more suited to portable/office use. People don’t always want to sit around with a mic sticking out of their headphones.
How does the mic sound? Totally fine!
It’s not as natural or resonant as the microphone on the Astro A10, and not as clean as the mic on the RIG 400. In fact, it reminds me of the totally fine mic on the HyperX Cloud Alpha. It has good background noise cancellation, a slightly nasally tone, and good sensitivity.
The mic is not the best choice for podcasting or streaming, but it’s perfect for online game chat.
The left ear cup has a smooth-scrolling analog volume wheel, and a little toggle button that will mute the mic. I like that these controls are right on the ear cup.
There’s a little rubber stopper with the Corsair logo printed on it included to plug up the microphone jack when you don’t have the mic plugged in.
The cable is nice, and a little longer than the average gaming headset cable. It’s made of a soft-touch rubber material, and only a little springy. The cable has a Velcro cable-tie permanently affixed to it that you can use to stow the cable away when you’re not using it…or you could just cut this off.
This doesn’t have the extra ear pads or case that some other headsets feature…but those all cost more. This also doesn’t have a removable cable…but it’s cheap enough that if it ever did break outside the warranty, I wouldn’t feel bad about buying a new one.
This is a wonderful product that actually does all of the things it claims to do on the box/website. That’s cool!
Just like the Creative Aurvana Live!, you can buy this budget product and still be confident that you got a nice thing. This is my new personal go-to recommendation for gaming headsets at this price, and it’s not a horrible music headphone either.
It’s only real deficiencies are that it might be a little clampy for the first day or two (for some users) and the mic is not the absolute best. Also, if you don’t like the black base color of all three models, the styling might not be for you.
But this is an easy recommendation for just about anyone. It’s probably a great safe gift idea too for any gamers you know who need a new headset. They might scoff that it’s not “the brand they were looking at,” but then they’ll be pleasantly surprised by how nice it is, just like I was.