Corsair Vengeance 1300 and 1500 Gaming Headsets Review

Introduction

Corsair is a company brand name that is probably on your “short list” if you are a PC enthusiast shopping for quality memory modules, desktop cases, and cooling accessories. In the last year, the company has expanded its product lines to offer a rapidly growing list of PC audio products as well.

Corsair’s first PC audio product, the HS1 USB gaming headset, proved to us it was excellent for its price and performance when used for its primary purpose: PC gaming. The company quickly followed with an analog version of that product the HS1A Gaming Headset. Both products earned our Editor’s Choice gold awards for comfort, styling, and gaming performance.

Corsair recently released three new models in its second generation of PC gaming headsets: The Vengeance 1100, 1300, and 1500. We will tell you how the latter two of those three perform with some of the newest PC gaming titles and some older favorites too. We will compare both products to its older siblings and also see how these measure up to two of Thermaltake’s comparable new audio products as well.

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Pricing

Both of the Vengeance gaming headsets that we received for review can be purchased directly from Corsair. The Vengeance 1300 analog gaming headset can be purchased for $79.99 and $5.05 for ground shipping. Newegg.com carries the headset for $74.99 with $1.99 shipping. Amazon.com carries the Vengeance 1300 for $75.06 with free Prime Shipping.

Corsair sells the Vengeance 1500 USB gaming headset for $99.99 and $5.05 for ground shipping. Newegg.com sells the Vengeance 1500 for $94.99 and $1.99 for shipping. Amazon.com lists the product for $99.99 with free Prime Shipping. Shipping costs were calculated with our offices in Texas in mind, so your final cost may vary.

It is always good to see a popular manufacturer selling its products at launch at very competitive prices to those of two of the most popular and affordable online electronics retailers. Many manufacturers traditionally sell its own products at substantially higher prices than third party vendors.

Corsair’s third new audio product is the Vengeance 1100. It is a lightweight “behind the ears” model meant for light gaming and VOIP usage. That product is not covered today.

Packaging

The two Vengeance headsets that we received have very similar packaging. As you can see from the pictures below, if you are shopping for the stereo Vengeance 1300 headset, look for the black product box with distinctive yellow highlights and the words “Analog Gaming Headset” below the product picture.

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The lower portion of the product packaging displays a very rare tagline for a gaming headset: “Intensive gaming with audiophile quality.” It should certainly be interesting to hear this product’s analog sound signature.

The Vengeance 1500 product box has a similar theme, but it has blue highlights and the words “Dolby 7.1 gaming headset” in the bottom left corner.

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If you are a first time buyer of a gaming headset, you should know that the Vengeance 1500 features USB, not analog, connectivity. The headset literally has its own sound processing chipset. This feature and connectivity specification is hard to spot, but it is in small print on the back of the box.

Both products’ features and specifications are printed in six languages on the boxes’ side and back panels while the printed warranty and tech support guides can be found inside. Corsair did not include a driver and application CD with the Vengeance 1500 USB headset. The product’s literature contains a download link to Corsair’s Vengeance 1500 website for the driver and software package.

Warranty

All three of Corsair’s new Vengeance gaming headsets carry a two year manufacturer’s warranty. It is very good to see a warranty period of this duration for audio products in the sub $100.00 price range.

Product Styling and Appearance

Corsair’s first generation of PC gaming headsets had very simple and clean appearances. Both were primarily flat black in color with traditional semi-circle headbands and very large, round ear cups. The USB version had silver ear cups, while the analog model had flat black ones. Needless to say, these both had a “no frills” appearance. For its new Vengeance series of gaming headsets, Corsair went back to the drawing board and created bold, eye-catching designs for its two new full-size models.

Vengeance 1300

The Vengeance 1300 is a closed-back, stereo headset. It receives a significant portion of its sound signature from the user’s dedicated or onboard sound card.

This large headset sports circumaural ear cups that fit around, not against, the wearer’s ears. Such a design choice typically provides a wide sound stage and some degree of isolation from outside noise. The headband and ear cups’ rail design forms an angular horse shoe shape.

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Both of the thick plastic ear cup rails are stamped with Corsair’s familiar logo. Each rotates ninety degrees outward which allows the headset to be placed almost, but not completely, flat on a desktop or table when not in use. The plump ear pads are made of memory foam and are covered with pleather. Pleather pads usually restrict the flow of sound more than fabric pads do, so more bass or low frequency sounds are perceived by the wearer. The end result is a slightly smaller sound stage but you should feel more forceful impact from the range of sounds that you hear and also experience more isolation from outside noises in your environment.

The headset’s massive pleather headband is twelve inches long. It is thickly padded on both the top and bottom. It is worth noting that the headband is shaped so that it slants forward ten degrees in relation to the ear cups. It will rest closer to your forehead rather than the middle of your scalp and distribute the headset’s hanging weight differently than more traditionally shaped headphones and headsets do.

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Both ear cups are attached to the headband with collapsible rails. These allow for fourteen possible size adjustments.

The Vengeance 1300 has a uni-directional microphone that swivels up and down on a series of notches in a 150 degree arc. When not in use, it can be rotated directly upward out of the way. The mic’s rubberized coating only covers two-thirds of its length. You should be cautious when bending it towards or away from you if you are grasping it by its hard plastic tip. It would be best to grasp and bend its more flexible portion closer to the left ear cup.

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The unit’s inline volume control has an analog volume dial and a microphone mute button. The face of the control has a textured rubber coating which makes it easy to grip.

Corsair includes a Velcro cable tie and nearly ten feet of braided cable for connection to the user’s PC. This makes using either the front or back panel audio jacks of the user’s PC very easy and allows the headset’s wearer freedom of movement while he games or stands up to stretch occasionally. The analog microphone and stereo jacks are nickel plated rather than gold. One of the jacks is color coded with two green rings to indicate stereo output, while the other has two red rings to indicate microphone input.

Vengeance 1500

The Vengeance 1500 headset features USB connectivity. It contains a built-in C-Media USB chipset for sound processing duties. It does not rely in any way on the user’s current sound card for audio input.

The Vengeance 1500 features the same angular headband and styling as the Vengeance 1300, but this headset’s ear cups have micro-fiber cloth ear pads. These pads are made of breathable fabric so these should present a more open or wider sound stage than pleather and also provide a different style of wearing comfort. The porous fabric allows sound to emanate through it more freely, but it provides less isolation for the wearer than pleather.

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Corsair has added a touch of “bling” to the Vengeance 1500 to distinguish it from its analog sibling. There is a layer of brushed aluminum on both ends of the headband and the tops of the ear cup rails. This is not thin aluminum like that of a soda can. It feels thick to the touch and it does not bend or bind when the headset is flexed for sizing.

Although we see the same padded, stitched headband, the addition of the brushed aluminum trim really makes the sizing notches and Corsair branding stand out.

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The Vengeance 1500’s microphone is the same uni-directional model that the Vengeance 1300 has, but Corsair added a brushed aluminum tip to match the trim on the ear cups and headband.

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The control pod for this model features two illuminated volume control buttons that turn neon blue when the headset is powered by a USB port. The blue color becomes bright orange when the headset’s microphone is muted. It should make finding and using this headset’s control pod in a dark room very easy.

First Impressions

Both headsets look very sharp and feel durable when flexed back and forth or side to side in our hands. We had to spend a few moments learning how to position these on the tops of our heads and sizing the ear cups.

We feel that it would have been more convenient for the ear cups to fold inward rather than outward. When either headset is hanging around our necks, the open portions of the ear cups tend to rub underneath our jaws, rather than resting against the very top of our chests. The angled nature of both headsets’ headbands does not allow them to sit completely flat on a table or desktop, but this did not make either headset easy to tip over either. If we lift either headset by its headband or ear cup rail slightly to one side, the headset rests flat on the other as a result. The angled headband should be a non-issue after a few uses.

With its first analog headset, the HS1A, Corsair included two sets of ear pads: one made of pleather and the other made of fabric. We are sorry to see that Corsair did not include extra sets of pads with either of these headsets. That added level of customization and comfort preference was a nice touch for the HS1A that is missed in both of these new models.

Technical Specifications

Vengeance 1300

  • Headphones

    • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz

    • Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz

    • Dynamic Range: 95dB (A-weighted)

    • Drivers: 50mm

    • Cable Length: 3m

    • Connector: 3.5mm male

  • Microphone

    • Type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser with adjustable, rotating boom

    • Impedance: 2.2k Ohms

    • Frequency Response: 100Hz to 10kHz

    • Sensitivity: -41dB (+/-3dB)

There was no net weight listed for either headset on its respective product box. We weighed both models without their packaging ourselves. The Vengeance 1300 headset weighs 11.2 ounces. Its audio cable and control pod add two more ounces for a total of 13.2.

As we said earlier, the Vengeance 1300 headset relies heavily on your onboard or dedicated sound card for its sound signature. If you have a poor sound card, you will have a poor experience with this headset. The 32 ohm impedance rating means you should not require a dedicated headphone amplifier to get the most from these headphones. Either your onboard or dedicated sound card will provide the Vengeance 1300’s bit depth and sample rate playback and recording abilities

Vengeance 1500

  • Headphones

    • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz

    • Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 1kHz

    • Dynamic Range: 95dB (A-weighted)

    • Drivers: 50mm

    • Cable Length: 3m

    • Connector: USB Type A

  • Microphone

    • Type: Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser with adjustable, rotating boom

    • Impedance: 2.2k Ohms

    • Frequency Response: 100Hz to 10kHz

    • Sensitivity: -44dB (+/-3dB)

The Vengeance 1500 headset weighs 11.4 ounces and its control pod and cable add an additional two ounces for a total of 13.4. The headset’s brushed aluminum trim adds a negligible .2 ounces to its total weight.

The Vengeance 1500 provides its own sound processing capabilities with C-Media’s 6302 USB chipset. It provides the following bit depths and sample rates for playback: 16 bit, 8, 11, 16, 22.05, 32, 44.1, 48, and 96 kHz and 24 bit, 44.1, 48, and 96 kHz; for recording: 16 bit, 44.1 and 48 kHz. These rates are significant to note as many USB sound chipsets typically provide much more limited choices.

The frequency response for both of these headsets is a typical 20 Hz to 20 kHz measurement that usually indicates the standard range of human hearing. These products were obviously designed for gaming and not for accurately reproducing the “lowest of lows” and “highest of highs” that more expensive studio and audiophile headphones would be known for.

Both headsets utilize 50 millimeter drivers. This driver size usually reproduces a wider sound stage than smaller drivers do in both closed and open-backed models.

Installation

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Installing the Vengeance 1300 analog headset is as simple as plugging its two jacks into the front or back panel audio and microphone ports of the user’s desktop or laptop PC.

Installing the Vengeance 1500 USB headset requires that the user have a single free USB port on the front or back of his machine. We downloaded and installed Corsair’s 29.3 meg driver and software package to begin the product’s installation. One minute later, we were prompted to reboot our test PC before the product’s first use.

After our reboot, we had a small black and white Corsair-branded icon now residing in the Windows’ system tray. Clicking the tray icon instantly opens a single panel interface for controlling the headset’s functions.

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A user can choose Bypass, Dolby Headphone, or 7.1. Bypass places the headphone into simple stereo playback mode. Dolby Headphone up-mixes 2, 4, or 5.1 audio stream input to 7.1. The 7.1 mode is for native 7.1 channel input and it allows the use of “Virtual Speaker” which allows the user to alter the positions of individual sound channels heard during playback.

The new interface is much easier to navigate than C-Media’s previous version. Buyers of the older Corsair HS1 USB headset can upgrade to Corsair’s new software package free of charge.

TV Shows

Sons of Anarchy

We purchased a recent episode of Sons of Anarchy from Amazon.com in both stereo and 5.1 formats for playback with the two Vengeance headsets and respective stereo or 5.1 playback capabilities.

At the episode’s fifteen minute mark, we see two rival gangs meeting in the middle of a large, abandoned garage. The two gang leaders come together to discuss a business deal. A third gang enters from the right, causing everybody to draw guns. With the Vengeance 1300 headset, we could hear character voices clearly and distinctly in front of us and we also heard the shuffling footsteps and whispers of the many rival gang members to our left and right. Character voices had a natural real world timbre.

With the Vengeance 1500 USB headset, we could perceive the many echoes that were occurring when the scene’s characters were speaking in the middle of the empty garage. We could hear guns being drawn behind and in front of us. The 5.1 channel playback also made us perceive more individual gang members whispering and walking around.

At the show’s seventeen minute mark, we see the “mother” of the biker gang as she finds a slain member in his cabin. She curses at him for having gotten killed. The camera pans to his body, then to her face, and back to his body. We could hear her voice screaming downward at the dead body as the camera is focused on its cold, open eyes. With the Vengeance 1300, we heard good stereo imaging and panning dialogue as the camera repeatedly changed views. We were always able to focus on the scene’s main character and her sad, angry voice.

Playing the same scene with the Vengeance 1500 USB headset was slightly different. Instead of just hearing the biker mother cursing and pacing, we could hear flies buzzing all around us as they landed to prey on the dead body. We heard crickets chirping outside the cabin while we heard the woman’s footsteps creaking inside on the cabin’s floor as she paced back and forth.

Both headsets were very good for watching this episode. The Vengeance 1300 did a great job of keeping us focused on the actors onscreen while the Vengeance 1500 USB allowed us to notice the many individual sounds that recreate the scene’s environment. Although we preferred the Vengeance 1500’s 5.1 playback and its movie-like immersion, the Vengeance 1300 was very good for simple stereo playback as well. If you watch TV shows with either of these headsets, be sure to purchase and download the version with an audio track befitting the respective headset’s stereo or 5.1 capabilities.

Movies

Fast Five (2011)

At the movie’s nine minute mark, we see two characters riding on a train through the desert. They speak back and forth of their plans to travel the world after they rob the train. Suddenly, we see a dune buggy outside the train speeding through the desert. We hear it sliding all over the sandy road, left to right. As it speeds towards the train, we hear gravel spitting from its tires all around us. The crew in the buggy attach themselves to a train car and we can hear their power saw screeching and cutting through the train car’s wall. The buggy crew pulls the wall away from the train, revealing the bounty of their mission.

With the Vengeance 1300 analog headset, we could hear and feel force from the speeding buggy’s impacts against the desert floor. We felt and heard the sounds of the train car wall collapsing and ripping itself away from the rest of the train. With the Vengeance 1500 USB headset, the same sound were present, but with more subtleties. We could discern sparks flying from a cutting torch, the movie’s score quickening, and the train rocking quickly back and forth as its speeds along its tracks.

At the movies eighty-two minute mark, we see four of the movie’s main characters racing against each other in stolen police cars. The cars are speeding through the Brazilian streets in every direction. With the Vengeance 1300 analog headset, we could hear and feel the car engines revving and brakes squealing as these darted in and out of traffic. With the Vengeance 1500 USB, we perceived the cars coming at each other from behind us, in front of us, and to our sides. The Vengeance 1300 analog headset always provided a more fierce, gritty sound for each scene, but the Vengeance 1500 allowed us to focus on more points of action from nearly every direction. If you like a more realistic feel that keeps you focused while watching a movie like this, you might prefer the Vengeance 1300 analog headset and your own sound card. If you want to notice the many small details happening in a scene in addition to the characters talking back and forth in front of you, you would probably prefer the Vengeance 1500 with its dedicated center channel playback and surround capability.

The Vengeance 1500 only has two drivers in its ear cups, but it did a great job of reproducing a true 5.1 audio track. We have used many USB headsets that do an awful job of 5.1 or 7.1 surround simulation. Some of those tend to produce the front stereo channels in the top of the headset’s ear cups and the rear channels in the bottom. With the Vengeance 1500, we heard all of the movie’s surround sound actions where we expected them to be: in front, to our sides, or behind us.

EQ Settings

When we first began our testing of movies and TV shows, both headsets had a very “bright character.” By this, we mean we were hearing mid-range sounds for character voices and high frequency sounds for special effects very clearly, but we heard and felt very little bass. It felt like watching a movie at a high volume level in a room with no furniture. Corsair has included a number of presets in the Vengeance 1500’s included software. We chose the one titled “music+bass.” This setting added a missing richness to the movies’ sound playback and alleviated some of the fatigue that we felt was caused by hearing mids and highs in voices and special effects. We chose a similar setting in the Creative Titanium HD’s console launcher for use with the Vengeance 1300 analog headset.

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With any set of headphones or gaming headset, you should save a few presets in your sound card software to find the best fit for your personal tastes.

Music

For our PC listening tests, we used a playlist of recent hits from Billboard’s Top 100 as well as older music from Creed, Queen, Lil’ Wayne, Jamie Foxx, Static-X, Ray Charles, Diana Krall, Brian Setzer, AC/DC, Op 32-The Planets, Nirvana, Metallica, Armin Van Buren, The Sound of Dubstep, and some of Rap and Hip Hop’s Top 500 singles of all time.

For the Vengeance 1300 analog headset, we began our music testing with a flat EQ setting in the Creative Console Launcher for the Titanium HD sound card. For the Vengeance 1500 USB headset, we began with Corsair’s “default” EQ setting in its mixer applet.

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After a dozen songs, we found music playback to be extremely vibrant and slightly fatiguing with both headsets, regardless of the musical genre played. In the Vengeance 1500 USB headset’s mixer applet, we found that Corsair included a “music reference” setting. The two headsets have very similar sound characteristics during our earlier playback experiences, so we decided to use a similar “music reference” setting to Corsair’s with the Titanium HD sound card and the Corsair Vengeance 1300 analog headset.

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Blues/Jazz/Big Band/Classical

Playback of the Ray Charles and Diana Krall albums with the Vengeance 1300 now provided a pleasant, warm sound with the electric organs, bass guitars, and piano present. Charles’ voice had its distinctive, rich timbre that was heard just slightly above the music. We also really liked Krall’s slightly deep, female voice as it accompanied her piano playing. Every song was rhythmic and relaxing. The Vengeance 1500 USB was extremely similar using the same tracks, but we detected a slightly more spacious sound because of its fabric ear pads. Brian Setzer’s album was very lively with his scratchy vocals and the prevalent jazz horns playing throughout. Different band members could be heard playing their respective instruments from every direction. Playback of these genres was very good with both headsets, but the Vengeance 1500 provided the bigger sound stage of the two.

Rock

The Static-X, Nirvana, and Queen albums sounded exceptional with both headsets. We heard and felt vibrancy throughout the albums’ constant guitar riffs and screaming vocals. The Vengeance 1300 made us feel the constant intensity of drumming throughout the songs, but the Vengeance 1500 presented the cymbals and guitars within the songs with more clarity. Both headsets reproduced each lead singer’s commanding vocal style very well.

AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” was very good as we could hear slow guitar playing distinctly in the background with Bon Scott’s growling vocals up front. The Vengeance 1500 USB reproduced a sense of the band playing around us, while the Vengeance 1300 made it seem like the lead singer was performing very close to us. The Creed album sounded best musically with the Vengeance 1300 analog headset because of the ever-present bass guitar being played, but the vocals sounded best with the Vengeance 1500 USB. It simply allowed us to hear the singer’s voice carry more clearly.

Dubstep/House/Trance

During our testing of these three genres, we always heard a “big club sound” character as if the music were being played in the middle of a huge warehouse or dance club, but we felt very little impact from the characteristic bass beats that are also in the music. We could hear the bass tones slowly decaying, but we simply felt no impact from any of them. These genres sounded very lifeless and empty with both headsets.

Hip Hop and Rap

During playback of these genres, we heard lead and backing vocals and raps very clearly, but the music tracks’ rhythms and beats were weak. We expected to hear a harder bass sound from the closed Vengeance 1300 headset, but it simply was not possible with any of the different EQ settings that we tried.

Billboard Top 100/Pop

We played songs from Lupe Fiasco, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, the Black Eyed Peas, Jessie J., Maroon 5, and Death Cab for Cutie. All of these songs gave us good results with both headsets. The Vengeance 1500 USB reproduced the songs’ large dance club character very well. The Vengeance 1300 analog gave the songs a snappy and quick bass punch that kept us listening.

Both headsets performed very well with the rock, pop, blues, big band, classical, and jazz tracks, but both were disappointing with the bass-heavy genres. It seems that it might have been a better choice on Corsair’s part to have included fabric pads with Vengeance 1300 analog headset, as those would have helped it to present a larger sound stage that would complement the music that the headset reproduces best. The Vengeance 1500 USB headset performed much better than we expected with music. With its built-in USB sound chipset, It rivaled the Vengeance 1300 in both its playback quality and clarity.

Voice Recording and Chat

Both headsets’ microphones rest an inch from our lips when they are placed in a downward position, near our mouths. We made a series of voice clips in various tones of voice using the Vengeance 1300’s microphone and the Titanium HD sound card in our test PC. Playback of each clip sounded very clear. We heard no static or lapses in the audio of any sort.

We continued making test clips using the Vengeance 1500’s built-in USB sound card and microphone. These were also very clear and distinct. We could hear no obvious differences in the quality of our respective test clips when using either headset. The Vengeance 1500’s USB chipset is capable of making stereo recordings so there is no reason that it’s quality should differ greatly in comparison to the Vengeance 1300.

We chatted with several friends using Skype. Each said he or she heard and understood us very clearly. If you think that people will not be able to hear you talking simply because you placed your microphone out of the way of your mouth as you speak, you would be mistaken. Friends could still hear us, but just barely. There are microphone mute switches on both headsets’ volume control units that would prevent this.

Games

Battlefield 3

This game has sound channel playback options for headphones, stereo, 5.1, and 7.1. We chose the headphone option for the Vengeance 1300 analog headset. The Vengeance 1500 USB headset allowed us to choose the “home cinema” 7.1 option. We played through the entire single player campaign, alternating between the two headsets.

One of our favorite levels was “Night Shift.” We found ourselves trapped in a three story building while we protected a dying enemy leader. Enemy forces entered the building from 200 feet away in front, above, and below us.

With the Vengeance 1300 analog headset, we could hear glass breaking and doors being breached as our foes approached. When they started firing at us, we could feel the force of the shots as these ricocheted off the walls to our sides. When an enemy on the floor below us began shooting, we could hear by sound that he was below us and to the right.

With the Vengeance 1500 USB headset, we had a slightly different experience. As the enemies approached from different floors and landings, we could hear two snipers above us and to our right. We also heard two soldiers shooting at us from a hundred feet in front of us as they peaked out from behind a beam.

Next, we played the “Kafarov” mission, where our task was to infiltrate an enemy compound that was located on the side of a cliff. We exited a garage and were faced by a group of enemies shooting at us from behind their cars and trucks. We could literally count the number of enemies that were firing upon us by the different directions and heights that their shots originated from. We always perceived a more muffled sound if we ducked behind a car or other soldiers. Both headsets gave a great reproduction of depth and distance.

Once we entered the compound, we were faced with a more closed, indoor experience. A few opponents shot at us from the bottom floor, while others outside the house shot at us through its windows. We could always pinpoint the direction of gunfire coming at us and also perceive how many rooms away we were from our attackers. The Vengeance 1300 analog did a good job of reproducing enemy direction and the impact of their fire, but the Vengeance 1500 USB made it easy to literally count how many enemies there were shooting at us from any given location.

Although we felt more intensity and urgency while playing with the Vengeance 1300 and our dedicated sound card, we were able to pinpoint all of our enemies more easily with the Vengeance 1500 USB. So for this game, its seems as if you have to decide if you want a frantic pace where you feel and hear what is happening around you, or do you want to remain more calm so you can precisely discern the different points of action all around you. This game provided a great sound experience with either headset.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The game has no option for sound channel selection. We selected Creative’s CMSS-3d and headphone mode in our sound card software for use with the Vengeance 1300 analog headset. We selected 7.1 for use with the Vengeance 1500 USB.

We began the Hengsha Construction Site level where our objective was to “Save Malik,” our helicopter pilot. As we began the level, we ran into an open area near Malik’s helicopter to see what would our sudden presence would cause to happen. We could hear two snipers beginning to shoot at us, from above, in the building directly in front of us, two guards charging us from the right from the first floor of a parking structure, and another group of snipers, that were located the highest above us, to our left. The snipers’ bullets from above were bouncing off metal wreckage to our right as a new enemy in front of us was powering up his heavy cannon.

The Vengeance 1300 headset made us feel the sheer force from enemy gun shots and grenades, but the Vengeance 1500 USB always made us aware of exactly how many enemies were close by or still alive. When we look at the way this game is played, it would seem that it would better to play in stealth mode with the Vengeance USB as we could always hear every point of action so we could plot our path of travel. If we wanted the more fun and visceral experience, then we should play in a “guns blazing” style with the Vengeance 1300 analog.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

We tried this game in single player mode with both headsets. We made sure to select the audio options that were appropriate to our headsets’ respective capabilities.

During the single player campaign, we could never discern a good sense of enemy positionality or objective direction with either headset. Playing this game was like watching a war movie that was turned up too loud. The single player campaign had a pre-recorded feeling to it, so sounds always occurred in the exact same place anyway. Currently, there is no way we know of to lower or mute the volume of the game’s blaring musical score while playing and that ruined our feeling of immersion. So if you buy a new gaming headset and think you are going to have a great audio experience with this particular game, then you might be wrong. It would not be the fault of your headset of choice though.

Older Games

Left 4 Dead 2

For this game, we chose the level “Blood Harvest: The Woods.” We did our first run through of this level with the Vengeance 1300 analog headset. We used the game’s sound menu to choose “headphone mode.”

The level takes place on a very slanted mountainside, so it should be a great test of both headsets’ ability to reproduce a sense of vertical positionality. We began the level and started walking down the mountain. We heard our teammates speaking from behind and above us as they followed. We heard a Spitter from over our shoulder, above us and to the right. As we got closer, we could hear two of our teammates shooting at him, while we heard our third teammate running behind us to catch up. A moment later, we heard and felt a boomer approach. We could literally hear and feel his heavy footsteps as lumbered down the mountain towards us.

We switched to the Vengeance 1500 USB headset and changed our sound mode in the game to match the headset’s native 7.1 mode. The first thing we noticed were the many sounds of locusts in the air that we did not hear in our previous test. It felt as if we were walking in a much larger area. This time, we heard a boomer below us, exploding after being shot by our teammate. We heard a witch crying over our left shoulder above us. We found her location by sound alone. Our experience in this game was very good with both headsets. The Vengeance 1300’s more intense playback kept us on our toes while the Vengeance 1500 gave us more of an ability to keep track of everything happening at once.

Call of Duty: Black Ops

We chose the multiplayer level, Jungle, for this test. We began with the Vengeance 1300 analog headset and a headphone setting in the game’s sound menu. As we approached our first enemy and began shooting at him, we could hear our own bullets bouncing off the rocks to his left. Another enemy began shooting at us from above, so we stepped behind the rocks we were just shooting at. We could hear the occlusion of his muffled shots as they hit the wall in front of us. We heard an active grenade beeping as it sailed over our heads, and then we heard it explode over our left shoulder. We heard a very distinct difference in shots we fired and those that were fired at us when there was cover shelter between us.

We switched to the Vengeance 1500 USB and we chose a 7.1 setting in the game’s sound menu. We re-entered the map and immediately heard a distinct difference in our perception of enemy and ally distance. We heard a series of slightly muffled shots to our right, so we ran towards the sounds to find out where there were coming from. We traveled quite a few yards until we found our teammates peering from behind a building as they were being shot at. With the Vengeance 1500 USB headset, we could literally hear shots across the map.

Our testing in this game gave us much better results than this game’s brand new sequel.

In-Game Coms & Lobby Chat

We chatted in a normal tone of voice with several friends in-game and in the Steam lobbies using both headsets. Both microphones performed very well. The physical flexibility of both microphones proved useful during gaming. Once we found microphone positions that we liked, both remained in place and never rocked back and forth against our lips or cheeks.

Product Comparison

Corsair HS1A vs. Vengeance 1300 analog headset

Corsair’s first generation analog headset, the HS1A, is currently available at Amazon.com for $41.99 with free Prime Shipping. The two headsets look very different but we found the sound signatures to be nearly identical when used with the same style of ear pads. The HS1A comes with two sets of ear pads, one is made of pleather and the other is made of microfiber.

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Both headsets are very comfortable but for a different reason. The HS1A feels very sturdy and it has a more traditional fit and styling than the Vengeance 1300. The Vengeance 1300’s redesigned headband relocates it weight to a different portion of your head than the HS1A.

If you already have the HS1A headset and are happy with it, they would be no reason for you to buy the Vengeance 1300 unless you simply prefer its appearance to your current one. It would be a lateral move, not an upgrade.

Thermaltake Shock vs. Vengeance 1300 analog headset

Thermaltake’s Shock headset is the analog version of the Shock One USB 5.1 headset that we reviewed in September. It is currently available from Amazon.com for $57.65 with free Prime Shipping. Thermaltake currently sells it direct for $79.99 and $9.98 ground shipping.

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The Shock comes with fabric ear pads, a flexible frame, and a very bass heavy sound signature. It feels and looks very similar to the more expensive Shock One 5.1 USB headset, but its control pod is much smaller and is harder to grip and manipulate its controls. We spent a few weeks with the Shock headset and we found that it heavily favors bass over treble and basic clarity in general. Its fabric pads do give it a passable, but not great, sound stage for music and some casual gaming. The only reason we would recommend the Shock headset over the Vengeance 1300 is if you play bass heavy music as much or more than you game. For its current low price from Amazon.com, the Shock analog headset may suit your purposes if you are on a tight budget.

Corsair HS1 USB vs. Vengeance 1500 USB

Corsair’s first generation USB headset, the Corsair HS1, is currently available at Amazon.com for $68.70 with $7.67 shipping. It has a traditional headband design and styling. Corsair has not abandoned its previous customers though. It has made its new Vengeance software available as a free upgrade to buyers of it first generation USB headset.

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The HS1 USB and Vengeance 1500 USB have very similar, if not identical sound signatures. The HS1 functioned perfectly with the new software upgrade. If you already own this headset and you are trying to decide if you should upgrade to the new Vengeance model, it too would be a lateral move, not a true upgrade.

Thermaltake Shock One USB vs. Vengeance 1500 USB

The Shock One USB headset is currently available from Amazon.com for $112.39 with free ground shipping.

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Although the headset looked sharp and was very comfortable when using either of its two sets of ear pads, Thermaltake’s usage and implementation of the VIA Envy USB chipset and software resulted in a very poor sound signature when used for gaming and movie watching. The Vengeance 1500 is definitely the superior choice without a doubt.

Comfort and Compatibility

When we first began wearing and testing the Vengeance headsets, we had to keep reminding ourselves how to place these properly on our heads. If we placed the headband in the middle or our head like more traditional headsets, the headset’s ear cups would tug our ears forward. Once we had worn these a few times, it became very easy to size and wear comfortably for hours at a time.

The Vengeance 1500 USB headset requires that its full software suite be installed for it to function with its full capabilities. Although the software ran resident on our test system, we never had a single crash or conflict with our operating system or dedicated sound card. The Vengeance software never consumed more than 1% of our system resources at any time.

Isolation

If you are looking for good isolation in a gaming headset and you already have a quality dedicated sound card, the Vengeance 1300 analog headset might be the better choice over its Vengeance 1500 sibling. The Vengeance 1300’s pleather pads tend to prevent sounds from leaking and disturbing others around you. Those same pads also block out a good amount of noise in the physical environment around you. If you prefer the Vengeance 1500 USB headset because of its built-in sound chipset, you should also know that its fabric ear pads leak more sound. Those around you will hear everything you do.

Tech Support

Web Based Support and Documentation

Corsair has a web-based customer support forum where users may post their technical questions and issues and expect an answer within 48 hours. These forums are manned by both official and volunteer moderators. The company has also created many lengthy FAQs and YouTube links that contain helpful technical specifications, solutions, and short videos for using its products.

In regard to the Vengeance headsets, we found some useful information that will give users a starting point for making their own EQ settings. It is under the “learn” section of the product website. You may not find it at first glance, but it is there. There are more FAQs specific to the product that will be posted very soon on that same page. None of this information is included with the software and driver package that is available for download, so be sure to check the Vengeance products’ website for more postings in the coming weeks.

For those of you that prefer thorough paper documentation to be included with your product, you will not find it with either of these headsets.

E-Mail Support

One of the most frequent issues that gamers encounter when using their headsets with their PCs is that one of the ear cups suddenly begins to produce intermittent static or stops producing sound altogether. This is usually caused by not having the headset’s audio jack securely plugged into a front or back panel audio jack of the PC. We wrote Corsair on a Monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Central time asking for a possible resolution or suggestion to alleviate this “issue.” An hour and a half later, we received an e-mail reply from Corsair.

The technician stated that we should try our headset with the audio jacks of a different PC or laptop. He then said that if his previous recommendation did not work, that we should respond to his letter without hesitation to request an RMA and get our product exchanged.

It seems that no matter how simple or complex the solution to our “issue” might be, Corsair was willing and prepared to help us solve it. It’s good to see this kind of quick “no fuss” product technical support.

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The Bottom Line

You may wonder why Corsair would release its second generation of gaming headsets so soon after the first, but this rapid follow-up is actually a good thing for the gaming community. When a company releases a steady stream of quality products, it creates healthy competition with its rivals in regard to products, performance, and prices. It also provides more choices for you, the gamer.

Corsair now has four headset models to chose from. If you were interested in either of the first generation products, but you were on the fence about buying one of these, now is a great time to pick either of these up at a very good price. If you did not like the fit and styling of the first generation models, perhaps you will like those of the second.

If you already have a dedicated gaming sound card in your PC, then it would seem like a no-brainer to buy the Vengeance 1300 analog model instead of the more expensive USB one. The “gaming with audiophile quality” mentioned on the box is a bit of a marketing stretch though. If you are looking for a more budgeted form of audiophile quality and expect that audiophile quality to extend to music, we suggest picking up a pair of Audio-Technica AD700 headphones for $30 more. The Corsair Vengeance 1300 surely provided a great gaming experience while less precise than the 1500, but the 1300 provided more punch and more “fun.” This is what the person that has to be in the middle of all the action would likely choose.

The Vengeance 1500 USB though, very much impressed us. Its revamped C-Media interface makes it very easy to use. Other manufacturers, such as CyberSnipa and Arctic, use the same C-Media chipset that Corsair does for its USB headsets, but those products simply implement it poorly in the physical design and function of the final products.

Since the Vengeance 1500 features USB and not analog connectivity, you can use it on your primary gaming desktop or laptop and also use it on any other secondary system as well. You would carry the same signature to whatever machine you decided to game on. The product may be more expensive than its analog counterpart, but its built-in sound card does give it additional value. The supplied fabric ear cups support a solid sound stage.

If you decide to buy either of Corsair’s new Vengeance 1300 or Vengeance 1500 headsets, we are confident that you will have a great PC gaming experience. And that is exactly what these headsets are designed for, PC gaming.

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Corsair Vengeance 1500 – – – Corsair Vengeance 1300

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SOURCE:http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/12/12/corsair_vengeance_1300_1500_gaming_headsets_review/