Initial Impressions: Aesthetics, Packaging, Ergonomics, Sound, and Software
This section describes my initial impressions of the headsets including how they differed from my usual headphones and how comfortable I found them to be.
When I wrote the news story about the Corsair Vengeance headset's release, I thought that the Vengeance 1500 looked really nice (and shiny) with the brushed aluminum accents. The 1300 also looked really nice with the mostly matte black and small touches like the blue ring around each ear cup and the patterned mesh headband. The braided cables on both headsets are further nice touches that help to make the headsets pleasing to the eye. My daily headphones are the Steel Series Siberia cans and they are almost completely shiny black plastic, and can be a magnet for fingerprints. Therefore, the matte black color is a good choice by Corsair to keep the headsets looking good over time with less maintenance.
After getting my hands on the review units and seeing them in person, my initial thoughts (above) were confirmed. They look really nice and people gave me positive feedback on how they looked when they saw them on my desk. Between the two headsets, I think I have to go with the 1300 for looks because the synthetic leather ear cups are easy to keep clean, while the microfiber material on the 1500 seem to pick up my corgi puppy's hair from feet away and are harder to keep lint and hair free. Taking the long term look case out of the equation, the 1500 wins me over with the brushed aluminum.
Both the Vengeance 1300 and 1500 arrived to me without issues. The retail boxes are brightly colored and feature a window on the front-right and right side of the box that shows off a bit of the shiny hardware. The Vengeance 1300 is housed in a box with a yellow and black theme while the Vengeance 1500 gets a blue and black color scheme. They both prominently feature the headset name and Corsair logo on the front, and a list of specifications on the back and sides in various languages.
After opening up the box, the user is greeted with a from fitting cardboard insert that snugly holds the headset and cable(s). Also included in the box (not pictured) are three pieces of paper that detail where to get software (if necessary), a warranty guide, and a red sheet of paper with RMA information. In short, it's very basic packaging, but it does its job of protecting the headset well- sometimes simple is better.
The two headsets have headbands that angle slightly forward (when viewed from the front) and the ear cups and top of the headband have plenty of padding to ensure that they are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Corsair has used memory foam in both the Vengeance 1300 and Vengeance 1500 headsets, and it makes them very comfortable to wear. The ear cups on both headsets tend to push against your ears (which you get you used to over time) to make sure they are isolating your ears from outside sound, and at first it feels like they may even be a bit too snug. However, the memory foam does help to keep your head happy enough while you get used to the way that the headphones hug your head. Another thing I noticed when I started testing them is that they work best when the headband is placed towards the back of your head across the crown. This is in contrast to my current headphones which are more comfortable when the band goes across the middle of the top of my head. The way the Corsair ones need to be worn took some time to get used to.
With that said, now that I've been able to wear them for the past few weeks, all the little issues have essentially vanished for me now that I'm used to how they feel. If you are used to your current headphones, naturally new ones will need some time to break in and for you to get used to the different fit. Specifically, wearing the Corsair ones across the back of the top of my head doesn't bother me anymore, it's just how I wear them for the most comfortable fit, and the "snug-ness" also doesn't bother me. I've worn these for a few hours each day for the past few weeks and thus have had ample time to get a sense of how comfortable they are. The Corsair 1500 was very comfortable and I could easily put them on and start writing, or watching a movie, and even a couple hours later they did not bother me at all. As much as I wish the microfiber ear cup cloth was not such a hair magnet, it is comfortable and breathable enough that I don't get any "ear sweat" from wearing them for extended periods.
The Corsair Vengeance 1300 is just as comfortable for short periods of use, and the leather ear cups make for a nice environment of sound isolation. There is an issue when wearing them over long periods of time, however. The synthetic leather ear cup covering results in "ear sweat" – the situation where the material is not breathable enough to keep your ears, and parts of your head covered by the leather, (I can hear Josh making dirty jokes at this point in the article!) cool enough causing your body to sweat to keep your cool. So while the 1300 is just a bit lighter and more comfortable than the 1500 when only used for short spans of time, when considering using them for more than approximately an hour or more at a time they start being less and less comfortable.
Do note that, at least in theory, the synthetic leather material should do a better job of sound isolation versus the microfiber cloth. The tradeoff is how breathable the material is, however. In my opinion, the microfiber is the best compromise of the two materials, and it would have been nice to see Corsair include both a leather cover and a microfiber cover with the headsets to allow the users to choose – especially if they want microfiber and do not want the USB headset or vice versa. Just a minor issue, but something to keep in mind if you are wanting headphones to wear for extended periods of time.
Last up is weight, which is not something that Corsair lists on its product pages. According to HardOCP, the Vengeance 1300 (just the headset itself, not the cable) weighs in at 11.2 ounces while the Vengeance 1500 weighs in at a slightly heavier 11.4 ounces. Compared to my SteelSeries Siberia set of cans, the two Vengeance headsets are noticeably heavier. With that said, after wearing them over the past few weeks, I've easily acclimated myself to wearing them without feeling fatigued. Interestingly, after wearing the Vengeance 1500 for a couple of hours and then switching back to the Siberia headphones, it was almost like not wearing any headphones at all. Therefore, they are a bit weighty, but they are also feel to be very sturdily built. The focus on a closed ear design also inherently adds a bit of weight (my Siberia are technically open backed as they have three small vent slats in the back of the ear cups). Again, it's a tradeoff that is likely worth making. In short, they are comfortable but if you are used to other designs, you may need a few days to fully get a sense of whether or not they are the headphones for you. Now that I've had plenty of time to get used to them, I think I'm ready to make my final judgment. First though, the next few pages will cover audio testing.
I have been using my personal headphones for a bit over a year now on an almost daily basis. Needless to say, I'm rather used to them and the way they sound. When I first got the Corsair gaming headsets, they sounded very different from the SteelSeries. Not bad, just noticeably different. The first thing I noted was that they did not have anywhere near the same bias towards bass sound frequencies. It was a bit jarring to go from headphones that delivered a lot of bass to the Corsair headsets!
After using them for a while, I did get used to the way the headsets handled sound, but I thought it was worth mentioning here that if you are looking for headphones to rock out to with very heavy bass these Corsair models might disappoint, at least as far as first impressions. Luckily, they have some redeeming qualities, mainly that they deliver clear audio that is more balanced and doesn't distort or sound "muddy."
Keep in mind that these were just my first impressions of the headsets, please read on for the full review and what I thought of them after living with them for a while.