Corsair HS65 Surround review: A lightweight and reliable gaming headset

Advantages

  • Great sound quality
  • Dolby 7.1CH virtual surround sound
  • good mic
  • Comfortable
  • PC and console compatibility

The inconvenients

  • Unable to enable surround sound with consoles
  • No microphone windscreen included
  • The SoundID test is confusing

Introduction

The Corsair HS65 Surround is a streamlined mid-range gaming headset that offers quality construction, great sound, and no-frills connectivity.

It’s compatible with Windows and macOS computers, mobile devices, and most game consoles so you can connect it to whatever you use to play games.

And while it doesn’t offer as much control over your audio input and output as other headsets on the market, which it lacks in special features, it makes up for it by delivering a comfortable, quality gaming experience.

Features

audio Surround Dolby 7.1CH
Connectivity USB module, 3.5mm AUX
Color Black White
Material Plastic, imitation leather
lester 4.5 ounces (127.5 grams)
Dimensions 6 x 8 x 3 inches (50 x 200 x 75mm)
Compatibility Windows, MacOS, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Cable length 6 feet (1.8 meters)
Driver size 50mm

The left side of the Corsair HS65 Surround headset worn by Taylor Clemons playing a game on his PS5

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

Pricing

The HS65 Surround sells for $79.99 (£79.99, AU$119, CA$99), which is a little high for a wired headset, but still affordable enough for most gamers. With this price, it is on par with models like the Razer Kraken V3X ($69.99) and the HyperX Cloud Alpha ($99.99); both designed for long-lasting quality, comfort and immersive sound.

The price of the HS65 Surround also seems steep because it doesn’t have many of the bells and whistles that other similarly priced models include, such as RGB lighting and audio EQ settings. But I certainly think the level of comfort provided by the helmet and the quality of its construction more than make up for the no-frills design.

Comfort and quality

Rear view of Taylor Clemons wearing Corsair HS65 Surround headset and playing Shredder's Revenge on PS5

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The HS65 Surround is incredibly lightweight, weighing just 4.5 ounces. There’s also not much clamping pressure around the ear cups, so if you wear glasses (prescription or blue light filtering) or have a larger head you’ll still be quite comfortable. The ear cups and headband both feature foam padding and a leatherette shell which together give the whole unit a premium feel – and the leatherette helps keep the headphones clean very easily. The earcups also swivel outward, allowing the headset to lay flat, which is great when you need to wear it around your neck and for storage.

Taylor Clemons wearing a multicolored striped shirt and the Corsair HS65 Surround headset while playing a game on the Nintendo Switch

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The tethered microphone flips up and out of the way when you don’t need it, although I wish it was removable as I use a separate microphone for game chat and work calls. The microphone doesn’t come with some sort of windscreen to prevent audio clipping, but that’s a minor complaint; you can get one Pack of 10 generic windshields on Amazon for around $20 if you really need to filter out unnecessary sounds.

The whole helmet is made of plastic, which contributes to its lightness, but it still feels like a solid and reliable helmet compared to, for example, the Turtle Beach Recon 500, which has a similar all-plastic construction and feels very cheap and flimsy. I wore the HS65 Surround for about 10 hours a day between work and quick gaming sessions on my PC and two consoles (PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch). And the headset always felt like a secure and very comfortable fit, even when I was wearing my blue light filtering glasses.

Audio and Connectivity

Taylor Clemons wearing the Corsair HS65 Surround headset and playing Bayonetta on the Nintendo Switch

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The HS65 Surround connects to your computer or console via a 3.5mm audio jack or USB adapter. The 3.5mm audio jack is ideal for plugging in controllers for more freedom of movement or more streamlined connectivity for PC gamers who may not have enough USB ports to plug in a headset. The USB adapter is what enables Dolby 7.1CH surround sound for the headset, which is great when you need more precise and somewhat spatial audio for games like Apex Legends where localization of audio signals can make the difference between victory and defeat.

Unfortunately, virtual surround sound is only compatible with Windows and Mac computers, which means gamers who primarily play on consoles will miss out on one of the HS65 Surround’s biggest assets.

A screenshot of the Corsair HS65 Surround headset audio settings in the iCUE desktop app

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

However, even without Dolby enabled, the audio quality you get from the headset is excellent. Low bass, midrange, and even high notes all sound crystal clear, even at higher volumes. Even with the volume pushed to the max, the audio drivers never sound breathy, crunchy or garbled; So if you need your game audio turned up high, you’ll never miss a line of dialogue or audio cue due to distortion.

In fact, I prefer turning off the surround sound feature when watching videos, making video calls, and playing games. While virtual 7.1CH surround sound makes it easier to pick up cues like gunshots and footsteps, it also adds a bit of an echo effect to most sounds that can be grating after a while, making especially with dialogue.

I found enabling Dolby surround sound worked best when listening to music, as the echo effect made songs and albums sound similar to high-end studio recordings; it was easier to hear layered harmonies and backing vocals, which allowed me to enjoy everything from new songs that appeared on my Spotify playlists, as well as discovering how complex old favorites are .

Also: The best cheap gaming headsets for immersive sound on a budget

Normally I’d have a separate section to talk about how the headset works with Corsair’s iCUE desktop app, but the app is really only needed to turn Dolby surround sound on and off. So you don’t necessarily need to download the iCUE app to use the headset. I wish Corsair had taken a page from the HyperX Cloud Alpha S, which has inline controls for its own virtual surround sound module, allowing you to skip downloading the Ngenuity app altogether. Since the HS65 Surround only uses the iCUE app to turn 7.1CH surround sound on and off, it would have made more sense to have in-app or in-line controls rather than requiring users to download an app than they won’t use very often. .

A screenshot showing individual Corsair iCUE SoundID test results

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

It’s worth noting that the iCUE app is also the only way to set up custom audio profiles with SoundID. The app lets you choose a music loop, then presents you with a series of filters and settings to choose your preference. The results are a bit confusing: a few of the settings don’t really seem to have made a difference, and instead of explaining how your choices affected the final profile, it just displays a series of shapes with one highlighted to indicate your personalized profile. I would have preferred a short textual description.

At the end of the line

Taylor Clemons wearing Corsair HS65 Surround headphones with the microphone down while playing

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The Corsair HS65 Surround is a reliable and solid mid-range gaming headset, ideal for PC and consoles. Simple plug-and-play connectivity makes it easy to set up the headset with whatever you use to play games, while the 3.5mm audio jack lets you use the headset with mobile devices as well. With the included USB adapter, you can enable Dolby 7.1CH virtual surround sound for more immersive sound, though it only works with PC and Mac computers, not consoles. And while you don’t necessarily need to download the iCUE app to use the HS65 Surround, audiophiles might want to consider doing so as it allows you to create a custom sound profile.

Alternatives to consider

The HyperX Cloud Alpha is an excellent mid-range gaming headset. The aluminum frame gives it strength and durability without adding a ton of weight, making it comfortable enough to use even during marathon gaming sessions. The included microphone is detachable so you can use something like the Quadcast S or another separate mic for streaming, in-game chat, and Discord. It is also compatible with most consoles, mobile devices, PCs and even Macs.

This headset from Logitech is very similar to the HS65 Surround. With 50mm audio drivers, DTS Headphone:X audio, and a flip-to-mute microphone, the G432 can deliver clear voice chat with friends as well as rich, clean sound in-game. The headband are crafted from soft leatherette for a premium look as well as long-lasting comfort during weekend gaming sessions.

This updated version of the original Kraken headset is designed to deliver a quality gaming experience without breaking the bank. It also features 7.1CH virtual surround sound for more immersive sound as well as a lightweight design for long-lasting comfort. The built-in microphone features a cardioid pickup for crystal-clear conversation and can easily be positioned to keep out of the way or where you need it.

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