Till very recently, one would only associate Corsair only with computer hardware and memory solutions. About a couple of weeks ago, the company launched a premium gaming headset, the Corsair Vengeance 2000. It landed on our test bench and we’ve been hooked on since. We are now ready to tell you whether you should be too!

First impressions

Hardcore gamers probably like their virtual protagonists they play to be big, mean and chunky. If they do, they’ll probably take a liking to the Vengeance 2000 which is similarly built. However, though it is one of the more high-end products in Corsair’s lineup, parts of the headphone feel a shade lower in quality.

The microphone’s retractable boom, however, feels a little sturdy and doesn’t hang around loose. Overall, the headset sits comfortably on the head, with ample cushioning over the headband and the ear pieces. Even after using the headset at a stretch for close to five hours, the unit hardly felt like it was weighing down on us.

Tech Inside

To connect the headset to your PC or laptop, you need to plug in the wireless USB adapter, which is included in the box. The Vengeance 2000 is supposed to be functional within a range of about 40 feet and remained true to the estimate in our tests. The device comes with two 50mm drivers, concealed inside the ear cups and padded up with micro-fibre covered memory foam.

Surround Performance

The most impressive thing about this gaming headset is its surround sound quality. The Vengeance 2000 employs an optimised HRTF (head-related transfer function) positional audio technology and can reproduce 5.1 and 7.1 surround audio on the headset. This makes sure, that the surround sound performance, as promised, is really good. While playing Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2, the sound environment was strikingly realistic. Opponent gunfire, friendly player position, radio chatter and bot footsteps/movement sounds seemed dangerously real.

With games like Counter Strike and Call of Duty, where locating an enemy player or bot who is beyond visibility is part of the strategy, such audio cues are very crucial.

We also tried out the headphones while playing Need for Speed Carbon and Dirt Showdown and the audio experience was fairly realistic making the gaming experience richer. The HRTF positional audio technology works to ensure that the right sounds came from the right directions.

One convenient feature of the Vengeance 2000 is the fact that even if you are immersed in a really long gaming session and happen to run out of power, you can continue using it by plugging in the microUSB cable to charge it. During our gaming sessions, the headphone could be used wirelessly for close to 7-8 hours (the box claims it to be 10 hours).

Bass Performance

Despite the realistic audio it delivers, the Corsair Vengeance 2000’s bass levels sadly fail to impress. The bass experience is just about average and lacks the powerful thump necessary for first-person shooters, role-playing, racing and open world games.

While playing Dirt Showdown, the car crashes lacked the realistic thud and crunch you’d expect. With Call of Duty, the gunshots sounded fine but the sound of grenade blasts weren’t as realistic as they could have been. The background score on NFS Carbon sounded like it was being blared out from a much cheaper piece of hardware. For a headset which has 50mm drivers built into it, the bass is disappointing.

General sound quality

One of the main issues with the over-the-ear headset was sound leakage. Even without pumping up the volume to really loud levels, audio still leaked into the surroundings. The unit we reviewed also had a slight problem with sound balance. The volume levels on the left ear piece were noticeably lower than that on the right. We needed to manually equalise them on the PC’s mixer to fix the issue, as Corsair’s equalizer needs to be downloaded from the website. It would have been lot better if the dongle had a plug-and-install feature for the Corsair Equaliser.

Voices were clearly distinct from gunshots and engine sounds promptly heard over background music. In short, multiple audio effects didn’t get jumbled up or muffled and overall clarity was excellent.

However, when we pumped up volumes to the max, both on the PC and in the Game menu, the audio started to distort. The grenade and bomb explosions on Counter Strike Source were cracking.

The microphone performed seamlessly while playing a multiplayer game of Counter Strike. There was no lag, and it reduced the noise of the ceiling fan, which was right overhead. The boom is placed very ergonomically; so while it doesn’t stick out prominently under one’s nose, it is also not too far making sure that the user doesn’t have to scream into it.

Performance on other media

A gaming headset might not always be used for gaming. Keeping this in mind, we tested the headset with a range of other media. Surprisingly, the headset performed slightly better with movie viewing than with gaming. The surround sound, which by then had been established as being excellent, performed brilliantly while watching the DVD of We Were Soldiers. It seemed as if The Battle of Ia Drang was happening right in the living room.

As if that weren’t a little queer, the bass performance improved significantly while listening to one of Joe Satriani’s G3 concert on a PC. This was surprising because the video file was in a compressed format, unlike the other test media, which were all original DVDs.

The headset is definitely a good asset in a serious gamer’s kit, as the long battery life, good range and terrific surround sound reproduction assure good, uninterrupted and untangled gaming sessions. Only, it comes sans the thump.

Rs 6,600

Love – Realistic surround sound, long battery life

Hate – Unpredictable bass performance, sound leakage

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 19, 2012)
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