Corsair HS70 Wireless Gaming Headset
Holy affordable headset, Batman.
Affordable can be, sometimes, a bit of a pejorative word. By affordable nobody means affordable to Bill Gates, they mean affordable the majority of people. In fact, affordable is only ever really used on products that are within the budget of nearly everyone. It's almost like a qualifier. A caveat emptor if you will. A burger from a famous large chain is affordable, but that doesn't make it good. If you've got two quid and want a burger it'll do, nobody will mistake it for a Wagyu beef burger cooked by Heston Blumethal and clearly if you have more than a paupers budget you shouldn't buy one. That tends to be the implication. We always use affordable to mean the quality of a product higher up the food chain but within the realms of the average person who understands that owning a PC is a bit of a luxury and not as important as bread and shoes. Thus the Corsair HS70 is affordable, because it's as brilliant as a model costing twice as much without doing so.
Just opening the box usually clues you in to where the manufacturer feels that this product fits in the grand scheme of things. You can have cheap packaging with the budget going on the product, or the bare essentials because it is designed simply to fill a gap in the market or, as is the case with the HS70, packaging which makes you feel that the company has gone above and beyond to give you the experience of a premium item without the hole in your wallet. Having a special hole for the accessories, and each of those accessories coming in its own plastic bag, shows an attention to detail which gives a good initial impression. The stiffness of the plastic that keeps the HS70 in place is equally telling. No "could double as the inside of a Dairy Milk box" flimsiness here.
The headset itself backs up this level of quality. The first thing that grabs your attention is the diamond stitching on the headband. The thick white heavily contrasts with the otherwise all-black nature of the HS70. This steel band with U shaped hinges design is one we've come across before and manages to perfectly marry a light weight for comfortable sessions, with a flexibility and rigidity that means we'd be totally comfortable chucking this in a backpack and it arriving in the same condition as when we left. The mesh panels on the side of each ear piece have no flex in them either, whilst the foam on the ear pieces is supportive but comfortable. Lastly the buttons have a little squish to them but nothing intolerable, whilst we'd have liked to have some resistance on the volume wheel it at least isn't of the "infinite spin" type and so it's quick to get it to a level you'd like. The Wireless dongle is simple to use being already paired with the headset, and although you can utilise the CUE software to adjust the EQ on the PC - though obviously not on the PS4 - the HS70 works perfectly happily without installing anything at all beyond Windows 10 doing a quick new hardware driver install. There is no lag at all, and whilst it might not have the absolute range of some of the very best on the market, we can wander around most of the office without the signal dropping, and certainly if you only wear it when you can see the screen on which your media is playing then you'll have no issues at all.
So it's ticking the build quality and wireless boxes, surely then the reason for this low price must be the sound? Nope. Not at all. In fact, whisper it, this is one of the nicest sounding headsets we've reviewed. Sometimes we have ones that sound this good after a bit of tweaking with the EQ, or maybe sound this good but are seriously expensive. We can't think of a sub-£100 headset that sounds this good straight out of the box. Everything is clear from percussive explosions through to subtle whispers and all in between. It finds itself amongst that elite band of headsets that can bring us new experiences in old favourites. Unless you're packing some insanely high-end headphones already then we guarantee the Corsair HS70 will cause you to hear effects or instruments that you have never heard before.
Are there any negatives? Maybe two minor ones, and one that is nothing to do with Corsair at all. The battery life is very good, but on particularly lengthy days we have had to spend our last couple of waking hours running on charge and play mode. The only real solution is the Steelseries Arctis Pro 'two battery' concept, but that clearly is unfeasible at this price. Or we guess don't wear the headset from noon til night. It's an issue for very few but the hardcore. Secondly it does, by default at least although changeable in the CUE software, turn off very aggressively. Stop gaming for a moment, check your emails, maybe reply to one, and by the time you're back in your game it's automatically turned off and needs to be poked back to life. Lastly a problem that is inherent to Windows rather than an issue with Corsair, but when the headset turns off Windows forgets the volume setting, so you turn it back on and get 100% volume. The HS70 is a headset for the deaf at maximum volume, so if you've got hearing good enough to make the most of the outstanding audio quality, you'll need to get used to adjusting the on-headset volume before hitting that power button. Again we stress it's a Windows issue (along with its habit making our monitor the default audio option every time we upgrade our GPU drivers) but something to be aware of. Just turn off the automatic power saving and this issue goes away.
At this price we'd expect one of the key elements - sound quality, ruggedness, wireless performance - to be compromised. In fact the opposite is true. The HS70 is of such high calibre it makes us reconsider how good the pricier alternatives really are. Out of the box it has a nice savoury soundscape as happy to cover the subtleties as it is handing out ear-pounding wonderment. We genuinely can't understand how Corsair have managed to build a headset which so comprehensively spanks the Corsair Void, and indeed most of the competition, at a price that you would expect to pay for a very midrange headset, let alone one that is in our top three 20Hz-20kHz headsets on the market. There are no real weaknesses at all. It's spot on. Glorious.