Corsair Gaming HS60 Surround Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

As with all the audio products we review here at APH Networks, it takes quite a bit of experience and training of the ears before we can begin making a fair judgment. Even for the best of audiophiles, it can be hard to produce an exact and accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as simultaneous reference. While I will not claim to be the reviewer of all reviewers for headphones, I can say quite a few other computer review sites have editors lacking in training for reviewing anything audio related. Give them anything and all you will get is some vague description of “awesome bass, amazing midrange, nice treble, no muffles, 10/10”. Do not get me wrong though; there are knowledgeable audio reviewers out there on respected online media outlets, but they are far and few. There are no true objective measurements for audio sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put the Corsair Gaming HS60 Surround through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating as possible. The tests were conducted with the HS60 plugged into my front panel USB port via the included USB sound adapter.

After over 50 hours of break-in time (Well above the typical required period), we put the Corsair Gaming HS60 Surround to the tests. All tracks are uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher. For gaming, I played Overwatch, League of Legends, and Fortnite. First-person shooter games are probably the most crucial games to test these headphones, as gameplay can heavily rely on hearing additional sounds. The other games have aspects where audio is helpful, but this is less of a factor.

At the lowest end of the frequencies, the Corsair Gaming HS60 Surround had a decent bass in both amplitude and quality. The low-end was not overwhelming either, which is a common trend with some gaming headsets. Low end instruments like the bass guitar and drums were reproduced with a good rounded oomph; with depth and fullness. In first person shooters, I was able to hear sounds like footsteps and explosions easily. This is especially important in Overwatch, as there are several different paths to the same place, so knowing the whereabouts of your team and your enemies is very important. Overall, I was actually quite impressed with the low-end here.

In the midrange, we had a good sound, though it was recessed compared to other frequencies. Vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, and pianos came through clearly, though they felt drier, especially near the higher end of this middle portion. Resonance still felt natural, especially in the wooden resonance of pianos and guitars. Along with the slight dryness, midrange vocals lacked a bit of warmth. The midrange performance was reflected in games through clear voice lines, firing weapons, and weapon reloading. Once again, voices also play a role in games like Overwatch, as you can tell when users are using their ultimate abilities, which tells you either to hide or go towards, depending on the situation.

At the upper end of the audible frequency, the Corsair Gaming HS60 Surround had only a few small issues with the treble. High-hat clashes and higher-range instruments like violins were clear, but as always, rolled off near the highest end of the treble. The dryness felt in the higher midrange continued here, as the treble felt almost too sharp at times. In games, the higher frequencies can be heard through things like glass breaking. In terms of overall balance, the Corsair Gaming HS60 Surround follow the similar V-shaped characteristic. With its sufficient bass and treble combined with a lesser midrange, this characteristic is pretty common for gaming headsets. While audiophiles may prefer a flatter response for a more neutral sound, I think the V-shape is actually desirable for gaming, so it is not too surprising here.

While testing this headset, I think what surprised me the most was how good the soundstaging was, even at this price level. I should be clear, its soundstaging and imaging capabilities are not the best we have seen, but it still provided an ample amount of depth and direction. For the price you pay, the HS60 was more than capable to help me identify both the distance and location of enemies in my many games of Overwatch. I also tested out the virtual surround capabilities here. While I am used to expecting a distorted audio output, the virtualization from Corsair actually was not too bad. It is still a given you should not use this setting for any music consumption still, but it worked well in gaming.

Together, all three layers produced a decently detailed sound. The entire audible range was present and relatively clean. In more complicated music, though it never seemed to lose any instruments, some started becoming harder to identify. There also was some muffle in the output, though this is most likely due to the digital to audio converter from the USB sound card. Otherwise, frequency ranges were separated but defined. Transitions between the ranges could have been smoother, though they were acceptable. In gaming situations, this does not matter as much, but it did affect overall audio performance.

Sound isolation on the Corsair Gaming HS60 Surround was good, as it was capable of sealing noise both internally and externally. It may not have been as great of a seal, though this did help in the soundstaging department. Using the microphone was pretty good, as it was able to record a clear sound, while reducing external noises such as my mechanical keyboard or my mouse clicks. However, my voice that was recorded sounded a bit nasally, as you can tell the recorded low-end was completely cut off. I personally think this is fine for gaming chat and calls, though I would not necessarily use this microphone for other purposes like streaming. Otherwise, the flexibility of the mic was helpful in finding an ideal placement, and the quick mute switch beside the microphone was also handy.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion