Audio Testing: Music

Listening to music is a big part of my daily routine on the hour to and from school and then at night as a source of background music while writing. Needless to say, the headphones that I wear need to also do a good job of playing music.  In this price range, people are likely looking to buy only one set of headphones that, granted are for gaming but, can do a decent job of providing good sound in a variety of situations besides just playing games.  In the previous tests, we found that the Corsair gaming headsets generally do a good job with game audio.  Now it's time to determine how they do with other kinds of audio.  For specific testing of certain songs, I chose songs from a variety of genres. Let's see how the Corsair headsets sound.

Crossfade: Wash Away

Audio Properties: 212 kbps, 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):

  • An okay experience.  I liked the hi-hat sounds better than the other headphones. Not as clear but loud and the vocals were nice and loud.

Vengeance 1300:

  • The audio was clean, and the volume could be cranked up without distorting. The headset did hit the highs well and made them loud.  It did a good job of balancing the sound such that the song as a whole seemed to be more level, and nothing really overpowered anything else.

Vengeance 1500:

  • And as a third way of playing this track, these headphones made the mids really loud.  In general, the audio was pretty clear and was somewhere in between the Siberia and Vengeance 1300 in terms of experience.

Conclusion: The Vengeance 1500 sits somewhere in the middle of the other two; however, it's hard to objectively say whether the Siberia with the bass and loud vocals  or the Vengeance 1300 with the clean and more balanced sound should be in "first place" so to speak.  I think it really depends on personal preference, but when it comes to this genre people generally would rather have more bass to rock out to (heh).  No clear winner here, just depends on what your ears like to hear the most.

Creed: Higher

Audio Properties: 160 kbps, 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):

  • They were bass heavy; although it hit the high notes, they weren't as clear.  The mid to low notes were nice and loud

Vengeance 1300:

  • Somewhere in the middle, with lows that did not distort.  Further, they were clear enough to hear the softer background sounds.

Vengeance 1500:

  • I would have liked the bass to be a bit deeper when they hit the really low frequencies but otherwise the audio was clear and the vocals were good.

Conclusion: This is a song that I've listened to a lot over the years, before I had the Internet even (man, I feel old! heh), so it is one that I know well.  I think the 1500 did a good job with the vocals and being clean enough to hear all the instruments while the Siberia cans did a better job of sneaking in that deeper bass.  Because I committed myself to "ranking" these headsets, I'll go against the grain of how I remember this song and go with the Vengeance 1500, Siberia, and Vengeance 1300 bringing up the rear.

Eminem: Lose Yourself

Audio Properties: 256 kbps 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):

  •  Had a lot of bass but at the expense of the remaining sound spectrum; I would have liked to see a bit less bass (for once, heh) emphasis and more focused towards the mids and sharper highs.

Vengeance 1300:

  • The Vengeance 1300 didn't distort, even when turned up to 11, though I would have liked to hear them reach a bit deeper bass wise.  This is a song that sounds better with a dedicated subwoofer, and being headphones I wont fault them for not going there but they seemed to come close and then stop, and it left me wanting just a bit more deep bass out of them.

Vengeance 1500:

  • Nice, clean audio, the vocals came through strong and it did a good job of keeping everything balanced.

Conclusion: I liked how the Vengeance 1500 handled this song because it did a good job of delivering clear vocals and the bass was also fairly good in this one.  The Siberia did okay but was not as clear as the 1500's.  The Vengeance 1300 headset on the other hand gave clear audio even with the volume cranked up, so I would put it above the Siberia cans on this song.

Heartland: I Loved Her First

Audio Properties: 128 kbps, 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):

  •  The Siberia headset had good mids that were nice and loud.  Slightly not as clear as the 1500, especially with the higher notes and the softer background instruments which tended to be overpowered by the bass.

Vengeance 1300:

  •  This Corsair headset delivered clear audio that didn't distort.  Vocals were nice and clear, background instruments were not overpowering.

Vengeance 1500:

  • The Vengeance headset had clear audio, no distortion, and a bit of bass that wasn't overpowering.  I could easily pick out all the instruments and they could all be heard, even the softer background ones.

Conclusion: I have to give this round to the Vengeance 1500 as it delivered very clean audio.  Using the equalizer (in the Corsair software) and upping the bass a bit further helped to get a good balance and it did a good job overall.  The Vengeance 1300 did an okay job of delivering clean audio.  Finally, the Siberia headset has a nice (relatively) deep bass but it tended to overpower the other instruments in certain parts.  Note that I did not compare the EQ'd 1500 to the others as that would not have been fair, rather I compared the default settings of each headset to each other.  Then I went back and compared the 1500 to itself using the equalizer and it was a nice improvement.

Johann Pachelbel: Canon In D (Piano)

Audio Properties: 320 kbps, 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):  

  • This headset, just as in previous songs, displayed the most bass.  They were rather loud in the low and mid notes.  The extra bit of bass versus the others helped to liven up the song as it started to build up in tempo and vigor.  Unfortunately, they do not have the same amount of clarity in the higher ranges as the Corsair headsets

Vengeance 1300:

  • While not as lively as the Siberia headset, the Corsair 1300 headset hit the highs well in the right places and were very clear.

Vengeance 1500:

  • The Vengeance headset's audio was clean; however, it was rather flat compared to the others.  Using the 7.1 mode helped a bit to make the song feel a bit more spacious but it wasn't enough to save it.

Conclusion: The Vengeance 1300 did very well on this song.  It hit the high notes well without overpowering the mid and low notes.  The Siberia would then take second place because the audio, while not as clear, sounded better than the 1500 which made the song sound rather flat and constrained..

Mr. Jack: Blue

Audio Properties: 160 kbps, 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):  

  • These headphones brought a nice amount of bass and overall sharp audio that brought the track to life.

Vengeance 1300:

  • They brought to the table an clean, and an okay experience but the headset did not have a very "lively" character (vocals felt a bit flat, for example).  Instrumentation came through sharp though.

Vengeance 1500:

  • The Vengeance 1500 headset delivered sound that was sharp and hit the notes with good clarity but they were not very punchy, especially on the low end of things, which isn't a terrible characteristic but not ideal for a song that uses heavy bass to convey emotion.

Conclusion: After some consideration, I ranked the Siberia headset above the two Corsair offerings.  It's not that the Corsair headsets produced bad audio, it's just that they don't feel as tuned into music as more mid and low heavy Siberia cans that pair better with the kinds of music that relies heavily on bass.  The 1300 took second place, and the 1500 brought up the rear of the pack.

System of a Down: Sad Statue

Audio Properties: 192 kbps, 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):  

  • On this song, the headset delivered a bass heavy experience where the hi-hat and highs were very soft.

Vengeance 1300:

  • These delivered clean audio but, again, the bass was just not there.

Vengeance 1500:

  • Using these Corsair headphones, the mids were the loudest and most clear.  There was very little bass but the highs were okay.

Conclusion: One good thing about the Corsair headsets is that they hit the highs really well and things like the hi-hats come through nicely.  The downside with these is that you don't really feel the bass, and even when messing with the EQ (equalizer), it just doesn't match the baseline.  The Siberia cans win this round, though if you aren't as accustomed to lots of bass, you may find the Corsair headsets a good alternative.

Trapt: Wasteland

Audio Properties: 200 kbps, 44.1KHz, Stereo MP3

SteelSeries Siberia (the baseline):

  • This go around, the SteelSeries cans had punchy bass and did an okay job with the song; however, the speakers were a bit muddy.

Vengeance 1300:

  • They did not do so well on this song because they sounded muffled and were too quiet.

Vengeance 1500:

  • Not much bass but the audio in general was clear.  Playing with the EQ in the Corsair Headset software helped a bit but they still didn't match the big bass feeling of the Siberia cans.

Conclusion: Reading over my notes, this song seemed to be a tough one for all of the headsets to pull off well.  Although the Siberia cans were a bit muddled, I think they gave the right amount of bass without being too heavy and sounded the best with this song.  The Vengeance 1500s were the next in line with clean audio (but a bit too neutral for my taste), and the Vengeance 1300s did the worst on this song with audio that, and this may sound weird, felt heavy and slower.

Music Testing Conclusion:

With the specific tests finished, let's tally up all the music testing results to see how well the Corsair Vengeance headsets performed.

  SteelSeries Siberia Corsair Vengeance 1300 Corsair Vengeance 1500 
Crossfade   Okay  Best  Good
Creed  Good  Okay  Best
Eminem  Okay  Good  Best
Heartland  Okay  Good  Best
Pachelbel  Good  Best  Okay
Mr. Jack  Best  Good  Okay
System Of A Down  Best  Okay  Good
Trapt  Best  Okay  Good


As you can see in the chart above, the two Corsair Vengeance headsets managed to take the majority of 1st place rankings. If we dig a bit deeper though, individually, the Vengeance headsets do not win outright. In keeping with the methods on the previous page for game audio testing, I assigned point values of 1, 2, and 3 for rankings of "okay," "good," and "best" respectively. I then added up a total score for each headset. The Vengeance 1500 emerged with 17 points, and the Vengeance 1300 ended up with 15 points. The remaining 16 points went to the SteelSeries Siberia, making it the second place headset according to the "benchmark" chart.

However, just like the game audio page, the benchmark chart does not tell the whole story. It does give you an at-a-glance idea of where the headsets stand, but I encourage you to read the individual conclusions behind the chart instead of just looking at the chart itself if you want the full picture.

In daily usage, I managed to rack up quite a few hours on Pandora, Spotify and VLC (I did the above tests using VLC to playback downloaded or ripped songs as noted) and while they aren't perfect I never got frustrated with them or wanted to take them off. The Vengeance headsets do have bass capabilities, but they just don't seem to "dial it up" as much as my SteelSeries cans do. The more neutral sound is in theory a positive thing, but really threw me off at first. After using them for a few weeks I grew accustomed to them. The audio is clean but it may just not be what your ears are used to, or want to, hear when listening to your favorite music.

In the end, I thought all three of the headsets did at least an okay job with each of the songs. The two Corsair Vengeance headsets in particular were decent and delivered clean audio. If you are coming from a speaker system with dedicated sub-woofer or otherwise more bass biased headphones, these headphones will certainly take some getting used to. They don't sound "bad," just different. I think that was the biggest hurdle for me when reviewing these headsets, and especially with the music testing.

Now that I'm faced with compiling my notes and making a conclusion on whether or not they handle music well; however, i would say that they do. There were definitely some areas where I would have liked to see a bit more character, a bit more bass, or to have them emphasize something another way but in the end they did deliver clear audio that sounded okay. I don't think i would recommend these headsets solely for music listening, but they work well with music listening as a secondary goal.

What I mean by that is that the headsets sound good, but there are better options out there for situations where you primarily listen to music. As these are gaming headsets, they aren't aimed at that market; however, they will hold up well to the occasional song jam session so long as you keep your expectations in check and recognize that these are geared towards gaming.





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