Gaming headsets have it hard. They not only have to deliver on performance but also have to be versatile and adaptable to a wide range of use. Besides expecting excellent surround sound for gaming, you can safely assume that gamers will also be using their headsets for listening to music and watching movies. As if that's not enough, gaming headphones also need to provide extra comfort over extended periods of use.
We’ll start the evaluation of the Vengeance 1500 by relating on the level of comfort it accords. As mentioned earlier, Corsair has chosen velvet cloth for the cushioning around the ear-cups. Velvet, being a natural fabric provides much better tactile comfort when compared to synthetic materials. However, it also has a reputation was causing over-heating.
Due to the combination of velvet cushioning and a loose fit, we personally found the Corsair headphones to be extremely comfortable. However over-heating of ears, as was to be expected, was a problem after approximately an hour of use. The time period before the onset of over-heating is respectable and nothing to scoff about. An important point to note about velvet is the fact that the material is prone to getting dirty. Additionally, if your ears sweat due to over-heating, it would also be hard to clean the material. Keep these considerations in mind when debating on whether to procure the product.
In order to establish a baseline for the tonal characteristics of the Corsair Vengeance 1500, we began with our MP3 audio test tracks, picked specifically to test various aspects of audio reproduction. We use Sail On Soothsayer by Buckethead to test out how well the headphones can deliver on a mix of chiming guitars and crunching distortion. Unfortunately, the Vengeance 1500 got off to a bad start with loose, muddy distortion that lacked definition. The lead guitar lines lacked bite and on the the entire mix felt flat.
Matters improved somewhat when we switched over to Elements of Life by DJ Tiesto. While the bass and lower frequencies were still loose, they were sufficiently deep and resounding. Packing good impact, the play through of the track was not as disappointing as the previous song.
Next up was a live, acoustic rendition of Hotel California by The Eagles. On the whole, the song sounded sluggish and flat. The intricate lead guitar melody was not clear or crisp. Treble definitely suffered from the lack of definition that has been displayed by the headphones so far. Transient response was also a letdown and the supposedly crisp alternative percussions came across as dull thuds with no realism to the sound. Only the strong mids of the Vengeance 1500 prevented the entire performance from being completely unpleasant.
The middle frequencies actually turned out to be the forte of the Corsair headphones. Warm and melodious, they helped increase the enjoyment of Adele number Melt My Heart To Stone. However, the same muted highs and sluggishness of delivery prevented us from awarding high marks for the device’s performance.
For movies, a nice, wide soundstage is essential. After seeing the performance of recent contenders such as the Creative Recon3D, gaming headphones have no excuse not to provide great surround sound. Not to mention that any headphone claiming to be catered for gamers should deliver precise audio positioning.
So we popped in our DVD of Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring to check out the soundstage of the Corsair Vengeance 1500 with the opening sequences. Unfortunately we found the headphones' audio performance extremely constricted and had an extremely strong central channel which overpowered the surround sound effects. There was very little direction to the arrows whizzing past in the initial battle sequence of Peter Jackson’s epic reproduction of the Tolkien masterpiece. Similarly, the opening sequence of Swordfish features a massive explosion with shrapnel flying around all over the place. But as the Corsair headphones were unable to reproduce the strafing sounds with gusto, the scene lost its charm.
That being said, the good bass performance of the Vengeance 1500 does lend a certain gravitas to action sequences. In addition, the strong central channel helps bring the dialogue to the forefront. Certain scenes of Swordfish where Travolta delivers lines were reproduced quite well by the headphones. On the whole though, we were a bit disappointed with how movie scores were handled.
Finally we come to what is meant to be the core competency of the Corsair Vengeance 1500, namely gaming. While game soundtracks have improved dramatically from the early days of MIDI tunes, other audio element also play an important role with respect to gameplay such as sound used to provide information and cues to gamers. Sharp ears can definitely help you get an edge over your competition. We started off with Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, a real time strategy title. The soundtrack for the game was well reproduced and sounded good, with the low ends emphasized. The Corsair’s strong central channel meant that alerts for important in-game events such as when upgrades finish, armies being attacked and nuclear launches were immediately brought to the forefront of the gamer’s attention.
The real test however for any headphones claiming to be intended for gaming, is Battlefield 3. The strong central channel which worked well on Starcraft II counts against the headphone’s performance. With any first person shooter, surround sound is extremely important. Unfortunately the Vengeance 1500 does not help in any way to better pinpoint the direction gunshots were coming from. If you are expecting a boost to your gaming performance, sadly these headphones might not cut it.
|Hotel California - The Eagles||6.5|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||6.0|
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||7.0|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||7.0|
|Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings||7.0|
|Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty||7.5|