Introduction: A Closer Look at the Hardware (Continued)
On the previous page, we took a closer look at how the Vengeance 1300 headset. Now we will examine how the USB powered Vengeance 1500 surround sound headset is put together and how it works.
Corsair Vengeance 1500 Gaming Headset
Following up the successful launch of the USB powered Corsair HS1, the company has released the Vengeance 1500 series headset. In general, the two headsets are very similar, and owners of the original HS1 should not feel shorted by Corsair for releasing the Vengeance series. I would liken the situation to the difference between upgrading from a mechanical hard drive to an SSD and from and SSD to another SSD. Newcomers who are looking to jump on a headset from Corsair should opt for the Vengeance series; however, users who are already rocking the HS1 should likely stick with the HS1 as they already have a good headset and Corsair is still supporting it with drivers (more on those in a bit).
Construction and Layout:
The 1500 series headset is constructed primarily from a matte black colored plastic like that of the 1300; however, Corsair has further added brushed aluminum accents to this higher end model. The top of the headband has a similar memory foam padding covered with synthetic leather and has a mesh pattern along the top for aesthetic purposes. Moving down the headband, we see matte plastic spacers breaking up the design of the leather headband and brushed aluminum headband. This is in contrast to the 1300, where these little pieces are glossy black. The headband has an inner piece of matte plastic and an outer piece of silver colored brushed aluminum. The brushed aluminum has notches indicating how far the headband has been extended at the top and towards the bottom opposite the ear cups is an etched Corsair logo. The ear cups themselves are constructed of a matte black plastic and they have a blue ring just under the ear cup pads. These pads contain memory foam and are covered with a black microfiber material. A thin piece of cloth also covers up the 50mm drivers on the inside of the ear cups.
The headband, just like on the 1300 series, is able to be extended a bit more than an inch on each side by holding the top of the headband and pulling on the brushed aluminum piece of the headband. Small notches show how much you've extended them on each side. The ear cups are further able to swivel outwards a bit further than 90 degrees, which you can see in the photo(s).
While comfortable, the microfiber is a dust, lint, and hair magnet!
Attached to the left ear cup is a boom microphone that sticks straight up when put away and is capable of rotating about 130 degrees downwards, enabling you to find the best angle and accompanying voice quality. The boom is approximately 5" long and starts a slight angle inwards in the later half of the so that it is angled towards your mouth. Corsair has added a brushed aluminum accent to the tip of the microphone as well.
The USB headset attaches to the computer using a single USB connection. The cable that Corsair used for the Vengeance 1500 is braided and 3 meters in length. The black cable attaches to the bottom of the left ear cup and features an inline control pod approximately a foot down the cable from the headset. The control pod has two large "+" (plus) and "-" (minus) buttons for volume and a microphone mute button. When the microphone is live, the control pod lights up blue around the two volume buttons, and when muted the volume button lights turn a red-orange color. The blue lights can be rather bright, especially at night or in a dark room while the orange color is much tamer. Finally, Corsair includes a small Velcro strap to bundle up and hold the cable when not in use. At just under nine feet, the cable is plenty long enough to rear rear audio ports on most any PC. The downside of course is that there is a lot of cable to deal with if your PC is close at hand.
The control pod and USB cable
Inside the control pod resides a Cmedia CM6302 chipset that powers the headset and acts as the sound card to convert the digital PC sound into the analog sound that the drivers use to produce the sound you here. For a small chip, it is fairly capable hardware and can process a wide range of input sources. The two channel DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and ADC (analog-to-digital converter) used to convert the headphone audio output and microphone input has a 16 bit resolution at 8kHz, 16kHz, 44.1kHz, and 48kHz sampling rates. And of course, it is able to implement the Dolby Headphone technology to achieve psuedo-surround sound.
The buttons on the control pod, like the ones on the Vengeance 1300, have held up well over repeated usage. The volume buttons could stand to be a bit firmer/harder to press down or have a bit more feedback but such a design would also make the pod heavier. They get the job done.
The Vengeance 1500 is a gaming headset that is not only USB powered but purports to deliver 7.1 surround sound performance. The cans are able to deliver surround sound using Dolby Pro Logic IIx technology to matrix or up-mix stereo, 5.1, or 6.1 content and deliver sound to all 7.1 channels. The ProLogic technology tries to take the sound source and apply filters and processing to make it seem like the sound is coming from speakers rather than the headphones resting right over your ears. Alternatively, the headset has a "7.1 Virtual Speaker" mode that will allow you to adjust "speaker" placement to allow you to customize the sound if the Dolby Headphone mode is not getting the sound spacing correct. As a tip, if the sound content is already 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound give the Virtual Speaker mode a shot first as it allows you to tweak the sound to your individual preferences better. The Dolby Headphone mode generally did a good job of upmixing stereo content and was easier to "set and forget" compared to playing around with the virtual speaker mode.
As the Vengeance 1500 is a USB headset, it requires driver support in order to work. The headset's sound card is inside the inline volume and mute control pod; however, the computer still needs drivers to know how to communicate with it and pass along/receive the audio output and input streams. Currently, Corsair has drivers to support all (recent) Windows operating systems. The latest version of the driver software is version 1.1, and it also includes a control panel program that allows you to control the surround sound capability and equalizer. The application in question is called the Corsair USB Headset Control Panel (version 1.1).
Within the control panel application, you can enable Dolby Headphone, Bypass (stereo), or the 7.1 virtual surround sound mode. Further, you can adjust the microphone gain, and adjust the equalizer settings (including activating presets).
Fortunately, users of Corsair's previous USB headset, the HS1, are not left behind with the new software version(s), and Corsair is continuing to support the older headset in addition to their new Vengeance lineup.
Corsair does not include a driver CD in the packaging, which is most likely a good thing because it forces users to grab the latest drivers. They do include a sheet of instructions on where and how to get the drivers, however. Specifically, they have made the drivers available for download on their website here.
|Frequency Response||20Hz to 20kHz|
|Impedance||32 Ohms @ 1kHz|
|Dynamic Range||95dB (A-weighted)|
|Cable Length||3 meters (approximately 9.8 feet)|
|Connector||USB Type A, (250mW power consumption)|
|Features||Noise canceling, adjustable boom|
|Frequency Response||100Hz to 10kHz|
Continue onto the next page to read my initial impressions of the two gaming headsets.