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 HS60 Pro 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 Pro Surround plugged directly into the included USB sound card.
After over 50 hours of break-in time -- well above the typical required period -- we put the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround to the tests. All tracks are uncompressed or high bitrate audio files. For gaming, I played Overwatch and League of Legends. 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 useful, but this is less of a factor.
At the lowest end of the frequencies, the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround had a more noticeable emphasis this time around. For the most part, these regions were decently defined. However, there was some hollowness noticed, as it did not feel as solid or rounded-out as I would have liked. 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, the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround was slightly more pronounced than the previous HS60. Vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, and pianos still came through clearly, though they kept a dry sound, especially near the higher end of this middle portion. Resonance from some of the acoustic instruments still felt natural, especially in the wooden resonance of pianos and guitars, but the same dryness was found here. Along with the slight dryness, midrange vocals lacked 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 hear abilities being used, which tells you how to react on the situation.
At the upper end of the audible frequency, the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround had similar issues with the treble that we heard in the first HS60. High-hat clashes and higher-range instruments like violins were present, but 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 HS60 Pro Surround follows a similar V-shaped characteristic, albeit with a more prominent bass this time around. Even so, 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 works fine for gaming.
When it comes to soundstaging, the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround was adequate at this price level. I should be clear, its soundstaging and imaging capabilities are not the best we have seen, but it provided a good amount of depth and direction for gaming purposes. For the price you pay, the HS60 Pro was capable in helping me identify both the distance and location of enemies in my many games of Overwatch. I also tested out the virtual 7.1 surround capabilities here. While I am used to expecting a distorted audio output, the virtualization from Corsair was once again pretty decent. It still altered the sound, but it worked well in gaming.
Together, all three layers produced a decently detailed sound. The entire audible range was present but I did notice a bit more of a muddiness or muffle this time around. In more complicated music, instruments started to blend in with each other, lacking the clarity I would have liked. Part of the muffle in the output could have been affected by the digital to audio converter from the USB sound card, but I think Corsair could do some work to clean this output. Otherwise, frequency ranges were somewhat separated but the lack of cleanness affected it here. Transitions between the ranges could have been smoother, with notable gaps found in the midrange and the treble. In gaming situations, this does not matter as much, but it did affect overall audio performance.
Sound isolation on the Corsair HS60 Pro Surround was alright, as it was capable of sealing noise both internally and externally. It does leak noise however, so you may want to keep it at lower volumes in quieter environments. Using the microphone was pretty good, as it was able to record a clear sound, while mostly reducing external noises such as my mechanical keyboard or my mouse clicks. Once again, 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 made it easy to keep the microphone in a known place, and the quick mute switch beside the microphone was very handy.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware and Software
3. Subjective Audio Analysis