Scratch Another One Off the List

Scratch Another One Off the List

I’ve been a fan of Corsair’s recent headset output.

They’ve got two mainstream headset product lines.

The Void is their oldest currently-sold design, and it was made in collaboration with BMW’s DesignWorks outfit. And going to look at it for this article…I see they’ve now renamed it the Void Elite, but still haven’t made the changes I’d want in a modern iteration of the design.

It’s a large, angular, different-looking thing…and when I finally got around to reviewing one, I mostly loved it. The frame accommodates a massive adjustment range, the comfort is exceptional, and the virtual surround implementation and mic are both decent. Its only big flaws are that the mic isn’t detachable and the battery life of the wireless version looks increasingly short compared to the market as time goes on.

The HS lineup is the real star of Corsair’s audio offerings. It’s a complete set of budget gaming headsets, with both wired and wireless options available. They took the value proposition of HyperX’s Cloud series and improved it a little further, with an impressive tank-like build quality for something starting at just $50. The comfort isn’t quite there compared to the competition, but it was, and continues to be, a great choice.

I’ve laid out all of this background to explain why I was interested when Corsair announced the Virtuoso recently.

Corsair has finally moved into the higher-end audio space…but a number of their choices confuse me. The two Virtuoso models are priced at $179 and $210, putting them in an awkward middle ground between the midrange $150 price of most wireless headsets, and the ~$300 price point of the truly high end stuff.

That big area in the middle is sort of a market wasteland, and while perhaps Corsair thought they might stake out an easily-defensible claim there…perhaps there’s a reason almost nothing in the gaming headset market is priced at that target.

For the first time in a Corsair headset, the more expensive SE version actually has different features. It comes with more aluminum in the build, a bigger microphone capsule, and a nicer presentation of the RGB lighting.

In spite of the weird price point, the round ear pad shape, and a design that looks suspiciously like the LucidSound lineup, I was still interested.

All of that went away when I tried them on yesterday.

The comfort just isn’t there with the Virtuoso. Not at all. Not for my head size and shape, at least.

I have a larger head, and I had to extend the headband all the way out just to get it to fit. I don’t normally have to do this. Even on smaller headsets, I usually have at least one extra click of adjustment.

The round ear pads are a big problem too. While the foam is nice enough, they’re not very big and not very deep. So every part of the ear cup smashed into my ear.

They’re like Beyerdynamic cups, but smaller.

Any interest I had in the headset immediately evaporated once I felt how generally uncomfortable they were on my personal head, which is a huge bummer given how wonderful their earlier products are to wear and use for long periods.

Since you don’t have my head, your experience with the Virtuoso may be different. If you have a Best Buy in your area they should have a demo unit you can try.

After spending a few minutes adjusting them, I couldn’t even remotely justify spending the relatively-high amount of cash to get one and put it through the review process. My whole review would have been: This headset sounds and works just fine…but the fit isn’t good on my head.

If the Virtuoso had instead been an aesthetic update of the Void with a removable microphone and a bigger battery, I would have bought two of them.

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