I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an audiophile, but I’m extremely fond of a quality, good sounding headset. That said, equally important is comfort. I spend most of my working day listening to music, and the last thing I need is a headset I constantly need to remove because it is uncomfortable. It also has to be balanced, since the same headset will be used in the evenings and on weekends to catch up on some gaming time. Last, but not least, is cost. Since I’m not an audiophile, I’m not prepared to spend thousands of rands on a headset. The Corsair HS35 stereo headset is Corsair’s attempt to address all of the above, by offering a low cost, good sounding, quality headset for PS4, PC, Switch, mobile….well pretty much anything with a 3.5 mm stereo jack.
Removing it from the box there was some slight cracking from the plastic, giving the impression was that of a cheap-ish headset. Fortunately, that’s where the “cheapness” ends. It certainly doesn’t look cheap. The headband, yolks, and ear cups are made from simple matte black plastic. The areas around the earcups contrasts this with glossy black plastic for a premium and stylish aesthetic, without being gaudy or a fingerprint magnet. I am a huge fan of this. The set is also extremely comfortable. It is light, the headband padding allows the set to rest comfortably on top of your head, and the cups have just enough pressure as not to fall off. The metallic adjustment sliders has sufficient length, and the earcups have enough pivot and swivel to fit a variety of head sizes.
The memory foam padding is covered with mesh to improve the breathability, and even though our climate didn’t allow me to test it to its limits, it never felt overly warm or uncomfortable around the ears. The caveat, however, is that it provides very little noise isolation. for someone like me, who wants to listen to music in your work cubicle without disturbing your colleagues , this is definitely not the headset for the job. For gamers who want to be immersed without being isolated from the outside world, this is the perfect set. Most of the background noise could easily be heard during moments of silence.
Inside the cups you will find 50 mm drivers with a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. Even though this is pretty standard for most headsets, the first thing you will notice when you put on the set, is the dominating bass. This is more pronounced at higher volumes, but even at lower volumes the low end is too heavy and drowns out the higher frequencies. The 3.5 mm also doesn’t allow the balance to be adjusted with Corsair’s management software iCUE. Fortunately my Dell computer’s audio management software allowed the frequencies to be equalized, providing a much more balanced response, but this made the music feel somewhat flat and lacking some “umph”.
On console things were much better. Even though you don’t have the luxury to adjust the balance, the imbalance was less distracting. In fact, the slight imbalance helps to add extra punch to weapon sounds and explosions. You almost get the impression that this was by design. It is, after all, classified as a gaming headset. You do get accustomed to the sound profile over time, and in all honesty, its a quite decent all-rounder for the price. The left earcup has a port for the detachable, uni-directional microphone. On the back you have a switch to mute the microphone, as well as a dial to adjust the volume. The microphone has a frequency response from 10 Hz to 10 kHz, and is Discord Certified. Performance is decent, but nothing out of this world. A form of noise cancellation is included, but background sounds is still somewhat audible. Voices are fortunately clear and not muffled.
The Corsair HS35 is an excellent headset for the price. It is well built, well designed, light weight and extremely comfortable – all the characteristics of a good headset. It is a budget headset intended for those on a tight budget, disguised as a premium product. The sound quality holds it back somewhat, but at this price it is somewhat to be expected. Fortunately, this issue takes the back seat while gaming – which is exactly what this set was designed to do. Its a solid headset at an excellent price, and I love it. in fact, I might just go out and buy myself a set.