The SCUF H1 Headset Seems Like A Bad Deal
Corsair bought SCUF Gaming, purveyor of premium customizable game controllers, at the beginning of 2020.
One of the first results of that partnership is the new SCUF H1 headset(official site here), and I don’t think it seems like a great buy. The headset starts at $129.99 in its base configuration, but if you kit it out with all of the extra options, it quickly approaches $175. And that’s before shipping.
That puts it within spitting distance of the $179 starting price of the Corsair Virtuoso, the headset that the H1 is based on. At first glance, this seems like a fine deal. You’re getting a Corsair Virtuoso, but for a little bit less money and with different color options and other small customizations.
Except you’re not getting anything close to a Virtuoso. The H1 is a wired-only 3.5mm headset, and cuts the wireless connection, USB hi-res connection, and RGB support of the Virtuoso models. These were some of the standout features of Corsair’s budget-priced flagship, which mostly succeeded at offering the premium frills of $300 headsets but at a much lower price (my original review here).
The pricing of the H1 puts it up against a huge swathe of tough competition. The sub $150 category is a mainstream price packed with so many excellent wireless and wired options. I’d rather have a Cloud II Wireless, Stealth 700, or a Roccat Elo 7.1 AIR before a cut-down edition of the Virtuoso. Wireless is the current growth market in gaming and general audio listening, and losing that option seems wild for a premium product that used to offer so many connection choices.
Hilariously, the H1 has the cheapest base-price of any currently-available SCUF product, a curiosity for a brand known for making high-end gaming goods. And the customization options aren’t that robust. You can choose from a huge array of two whole base colors, black or white. You can choose hybrid velour ear pads or the original leatherette Virtuoso-style pads. You can customize the color of the ring around the magnetic speaker tags. Instead of the large and small mics offered on the Virtuoso SE and Virtuoso, you can pick from uni-directional or omni-directional capsules.
I’m not sure why you’d ever want an omni-directional capsule on a premium headset mic, but hey! The option is here, and for the low price of $10, you can have some background room sound in your mic audio for no apparent reason.
Finally, SCUF offers a collection of 31 different plates that will snap onto the back of the headset’s ear cups. These offer a few different colors and some psychedelic designs as well. Some of them even look like original work and not like royalty-free internet images. There’s currently no way to upload your own art but I imagine that’s coming in the future.
I’m surprised that SCUF isn’t offering more than two base frame colors to pick from. And again, I can’t believe how many of the Virtuoso’s premium features are just gone. I enjoyed that headset in my review and I still own and use my personal pair from time to time. In addition to a solid 3.5mm connection, it also offers great wireless with better-than-average mic audio, RGB lighting, and certified hi-res audio support through a wired USB connection for the audio-obsessed. Those features are all more than worth a few extra dollars and the lack of magnetic side plates, in my opinion.
If the H1 were a fully color-customizable Virtuoso that started at $200, I wouldn’t even be writing this article. But as a weird play for the mainstream headset market, I just don’t know why anyone would go for the SCUF H1 over so many other great options. It feels like a weird side step, or like it was thrown together hastily to make as much profit as possible. The margin here has to be so much greater for Corsair with no battery, lighting, amplifier, or wireless radios.
This seems under-built and under-featured for SCUF’s main hardcore audience, and unnecessary for more casual fans. I think both would be better served by the dramatically-enhanced feature set of the Virtuoso, or by any of the other great headsets at this price point that don’t come alongside build and shipping wait times.