Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/Corsair_Vengeance_1500_1300/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
The first products from Corsair's Vengeance series have started to trickle into the Neoseeker labs, and while the arrival of the "K" and "M" series products are still anxiously anticipated, we are able to get up close and personal with the Vengeance 1500 and 1300 gaming headsets in today's review.
The flagship product here is the Vengeance 1500 USB Gaming headset, designed for enthusiasts and gamers who want to hear movies and music in high-fidelity but also prefer a headset versatile enough to play games in multi-channel audio. To ensure the audio is of the highest quality, and that the audio will shine across multiple media types, Corsair has built upon the HS1 headset by including an updated processing unit that simulates 5.1/7.1 channel sound along with a 50mm driver, and by adding Dolby Digital support. All of these features ensure the Vengeance 1500 is ready for virtually any type of use, but the sound quality does come with a slightly premium at $99.
The Vengeance 1300 is also geared toward the gaming market, but since it uses an analog design it does not natively support 5.1 audio. However, it still offers outstanding audio clarity via 50mm audio driver and when paired with a quality sound card, they can provide greater dynamic range, a higher signal-to noise ratio, and lower distortion. The Vengeance 1300 also comes with a lower MSRP, as this set can be purchased for $79.99.
|Vengeance 1500 Specifications|
||3m (9.8 feet)|
||USB Type A|
|20Hz to 20kHz|
|Impedance||32 Ohms @ 1kHz|
|Type||Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser with adjustable, rotating boom|
|Frequency Response||100Hz to 10kHz|
|Vengeance 1300 Specifications|
||3m (9.8 feet)|
|20Hz to 20kHz|
|Impedance||32 Ohms @ 1kHz|
||Unidirectional noise-cancelling condenser with adjustable, rotating boom|
|Frequency Response||100Hz to 10kHz|
The Corsair Vengeance 1500 is packaged in a predominantly blue and black box that has a image of the headset on the front along with the key features and a clear panel that allows a portion of the headset to be seen. A small Dolby Digital icon on the front of the box indicates that the headset has built-in support for said technology.
The back and side panel of the packaging highlights the technical specifications and benefits of the unit as the frequency response range, cable length and Dolby Digital support. Once the outer packaging is opened, the headset slides out the top of the box stored in a custom formed casing.
The Vengeance 1500 consists of six main features which include the circumaural closed back design, Dolby 5.1 Surround support, optimized baffle geometry, replaceable memory foam ear pads and a uni-directional, noise cancelling microphone. The 1500 model also includes an improved aesthetic design via brushed metal accents that are found on each side. While the material used is actually plastic, it nonetheless does improve the visual appeal.
The Vengeance 1500 also includes a large 50mm driver. The size of the driver ensures the speakers will produce accurate sound across a wide range of frequencies without being affected by distortion issues that are common with smaller drivers. Another benefit of the increased size is that audio will be more accurately reproduced, and according to Corsair this model is capable of producing a frequency response that ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz.
The Vengeance series also comes with a unidirectional, noise-cancelling microphone. The mic is attached to the base of the left speaker and sits on a rotating boom to make it easy to position. This allows the Mic to be adjusted to the appropriate location for different users, and also ensures it doesn't get close enough to the breathing zone to be obnoxious to anyone on the other end.
The mic also includes a noise-cancelling design that cuts down on unwanted background noise and provides clean voice reproduction.
Even at the smallest headband setting, the Vengeance 1500 easily fits on my head, and of course this can be adjusted to accomodate many other users. If you extend the headset out fully from the default position, an additional 3-inches of length is available on each side.
This view also clearly shows off how the faux-metal surface adds to the appearance of the headset. We have to assume the reasons Corsair went with plastic over metal was to save on the cost of manufacturing the headset and also to ensure the unit won't be too heavy to wear for long durations of time.
The Vengeance 1500 utilizes the USB connection interface. On the positive side, the USB interface allows the headset to support Dolby Digital Surround sound, and have excellent sound quality across virtually any device using a USB connection. However, it will also deliver less precise audio compared to an analog connection, so some quality will be lost. The big benefit however is that unlike an analog headset, a USB headset doesn't require an output source to sound its best. In addition, the Vengeance 1500 has software that allows the user to tweak the audio quality even further.
Along with the USB connector, the Vengeance 1500 also has an in-line control hub. This this where on-the-fly alterations to the volume level and Mic are made. With this panel, the user can make quick adjustments to the volume as well as muting the mic. The control hub is located near the top of the cable, making it easily accessible, even while gaming.
On the controller are two buttons. One of the buttons lowers the volume while the second button increases it. While both buttons have a different function, they each are surrounded by an LED that indicates the status of the mic. When the Mic is active both of the LEDs will be blue, but when the Mic is disabled they will both be red. However, we did notice that before installing the control panel software for the headset the lights would alternate between red and blue when the Mic as set to mute. After the software was installed the LED would permanently stay red, which was much less annoying than having a flashing light just a few inches from your face.
The Vengeance 1500 comes with two memory foam ear pads that conform to the shape of your head without binding or pinching. This allows the fit of the headset to be further customized for each individual and will also ensure the headset is comfortable for long-term wear. Unlike the previous headsets released by Corsair, the Vengeance series does not come with an extra set of ear-pads, but they are still replaceable.
The Vengeance 1500 also uses a circumaural design. This means that the ear cups totally surround your ears. Along with the tension provided by the sides, the unit has excellent noise-cancelling features. The closed-back design means that fewer external sounds penetrate the headset, isolating you from the outside world and pulling you more in the game.
The Corsair Vengeance 1300 gaming headset is packaged similarly to the 1500, but the main difference being the color scheme and of course the listed specifications.
The inner packaging is also the same, as the headset is stored in a custom formed insert that separates the speakers from the cable, and allows the unit to be easily packaged in a compact box. The headset does come with some documentation, but it mainly concerns the warranty of the unit.
The Vengeance 1300 headset utilizes the same design as the Vengeance 1500, but unlike the more expensive model it doesn't include a brushed metal-like finish. It does include a 3.5mm analog connection that is compatible with high-quality sound cards. Other than the connection type, the Vengeance 1300's features are largely similar to the 1500 including a circumanural closed back design, replaceable memory-foam ear pads, a high-performance 50mm driver and optimized baffle geometry. So, even while this kit is considered the little brother of the Vengeance 1500, it still packs more than enough features for high-end gamers and audiophiles.
The sides of the Vengeance 1300 can be adjusted in half-inch increments, and in total the size of the headset can be increased by up to three inches on each side. This ensures the headset wil fit many users simply through increasing or decreasing the size of the brackets.
The unidirectional, noise-cancelling microphone is designed to accurately capture your voice, while screening out distracting background noises. Its rotational design allows it to be stored along the side of the brackets when not being used. The circumaural closed-back design also contributes to the noise cancellation, and the extra-large inline volume and microphone control is easy to grab and use when the action during gaming heats up — you don't need to take your eyes off the screen.
The Vengeance 1300 uses standard 1.8" (3.5mm) analog connectors that allow it to be used with a wide array of devices, including smartphones, PCs, laptops, media players and so on. The Vengeance 1300 is a very versatile headset, but in order for the unit to reproduce the highest-quality audio it is essential it be used in conjunction with high-quality audio devices. A quality add-in card for example will help provide greater dynamic range, a higher signal-to-noise ratio, and provide lower distortion than the audio circuitry built into motherboards nowadays.
The volume control unit is similar to the one seen on the Vengeance 1500, but it doesn't include buttons, or LEDs. Instead it uses a scrollable volume wheel to adjust the audio level, and an adjustable mute/unmute tab. The control unit is designed to be large and easily held thanks to the textured surface, and since it is close to the top of the cable it is easy to reach and find even while gaming.
Attached to the Vengeance 1300 are two memory-foam ear pads. The memory foam ensure the headset is comfortable enough for long gaming sessions, and allows it to conform to the users' head shapes. Unlike the Vengeance 1500, the ear pads on this model use a soft plastic exterior design that prevents the pads from sticking to skin.
The Vengeance 1300’s baffle design maximizes the performance of the 50mm drivers. The recessed and tuned baffle alignment aligns audio with the ear canal to minimize azimuth errors and provide an optimum surround sound effect when used with a suitable sound-card.
While the Vengeance 1300 headset doesn't need any audio drivers, the Vengeance 1500 does requires Corsair's USB headset control panel be installed first in order for the user to utilize the 5.1 and 7.1 capabilities. The driver itself isn't included with the headset itself, and must be downloaded from Corsair's website.
The control panel is divided up three sections: "Main", "Equalizer", and a third which deals with the audio compression method.
Starting at the right side of the control panel there are three options that set the audio mode for the speakers. Corsair has included a "Bypass" option that applies a filtering algorithm that processes the audio signal to analog, a "Dolby Digital Pro Logic IIx" 5.1 option and a "Virtual 7.1 speaker Shifter". The Dolby Pro Logic IIx technology expands the average two-channel stereo playback into 5.1 channel playback for a more immersive experience.
The Virtual 7.1 Speaker shifter sets up a virtual 7.1 sound-stage and gives the user control over these virtual speakers. This allows each speaker to be adjusted anywhere you want to optimize the sound field when you are running various audio sources. In addition to being able to move individual virtual speakers to different locations, the user can also adjust the listening position, so this setting is much more configurable than the Dolby Digital option which only includes three settings to adjust the sound-stage.
The "Main" menu is extremely basic and mainly serves to adjust the volume of the speakers and mic. At the bottom of the menu there is a option to balance the audio, which will adjust the sound level between the speakers. Below the "Main" menu is the "Equalizer". This portion of the control center allows the user to manually adjust the balance between the different frequency components by moving a linear slider. In addition to the manual controls, Corsair has also added preset configurations that automatically adjust the levels depending on the type of media being used.
With memory foam ear pads, a large cushion up at the top and a sturdy structure, the Vengeance 1500 is actually quite comfortable and fits firmly. This prevents the headset from feeling uncomfortable, even during long gaming sessions. The headset fits securely enough to damper most exterior noise and not shift while in use. However, the headset does start to feel heavy after extended use.
As a digital headset, the Vengeance 1500 is designed mainly for gamers and videophiles. The native support for Dolby Digital 5.1 and 7.1 audio signals really enhance the headset's ability to create an immersive surround-sound environment. This brings games and movies to life, as characters voices and their movements seamlessly surround the listening position, thus creating the illusion that what is taking place is happening around you. Compared to other headsets reviewed here at Neoseeker, the Vengeance 1500 really shines when watching movies, especially when using the Dolby Digital 5.1 option.
For music the Vengeance 1500 was tested using a variety of genres including rap, rock, pop and reggae. For the most part the headset did an outstanding job processing the music, and when Dolby Digital was enabled the audio seems to project outside the speakers, much in the same way it did with video games and movies. However, the headset was best at producing mids and lows, while the highs didn't quite match the quality of larger desktop speakers connected to high-quality sound card. Still, we were impressed with the sound quality overall, especially considering the Vengeance 1500 uses a digital source, which is essentially a copy of an analog signal that has been converted into a digital copy and then reproduced through the speaker.
The Vengeance 1500 was not too shabby when it came to gaming. Neoseeker couldn't resist using Battlefield 3 and during testing the in-game sounds were spot on with the location of the events. If a jet plane was flying overhead, the too was the audio. When it came to gaming, it was extremely easy to differentiate the separate channels, which could well prove to your advantage on the virtual battlefield.
While in Dolby Digital mode the quality of the on and off screen explosions was also quite intense. When using a traditional speaker, explosions can get loud and really immerse a player in the game. The Vengeance 1500 took these explosions to the next level, as there were times while gaming that I would catch not just the initial blast of tank shell or missile, but I could also hear the lingering sound that came from the explosion. This was a new experience for me, as I traditionally game with desktop speakers that do not support Dolby Digital. The Vengeance 1500 definitely played its part in making the game more immervise compared to all of the desktop speakers I have used thus far.
Microphone recording was actually surprisingly good. We were still impressed by just how much sound was eliminated from outside sources. Without background noise getting in the way, the Vengeance 1500 Mic was able to clearly record our voice and relay it. Additionally, since the microphone is positioned a good two inches from the face, breathing will not be picked up by the mic. Anyone who has heard mouth breathing over a network knows just how annoying it sounds during conversation, so the fact that this is not an issue with the Vengeance 1500 is a nice bonus to the already excellent noise cancelling abilities of the Mic.
The Corsair Vengeance 1300 has memory foam ear pads and a cushioned top like the Vengeance 1500, but the difference is that the 1300 utilizes a soft plastic. As far as comfort is concerned, both the Vengeance 1500 and 1300 do a good job. Unfortunately like the Vengeance 1500, the 1300 can start to feel heavy after long durations of use, but this is an issue that will most likely go away as you get used to wearing the headset.
The overall sound quality of the Vengeance 1300 is extremely good, but in order to really enjoy the sound quality an add-on sound card is required. For testing we used the Vengeance 1300 with both on-board motherboard audio and an add-on sound card; just after a few seconds of listening, the difference was striking. The headset did a good job with audio location and quality when gaming and watching movies with on-board audio, but when we added a sound card to the mix the results were just so much better. The bass was deeper, the sound effects projected further and the sound-stage was increased enough for us to feel as if the audio was happening outside of listening zone. In our opinion, the Vengeance 1300 is best used with a sound card, and if one is not available, it would be wiser to go the digital route (e.g. the Vengeance 1500) instead.
Music was the highlight of the Vengeance 1300, but again only when using a high-quality sound card. The sound quality isn't terrible without one, but the audio really came to life once this headset was used with something like the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 soundcard. During my listening session I ended up playing songs from bands such as Pink Floyd and The Shins over and over again due to the fact that I have not heard the same level of clarity through my PC before. As an audiophile I have a solid set of loud speakers that I use as my main source to listen to music, but since I received the Vengeance series headsets I have been listening to more and more music on my computer.
Between the Vengeance 1500 and 1300, we would recommend the 1500 due to the Dolby Digital support, but even without native support for 5.1/7.1 surround sound the 1300 did an above average job while gaming. The Vengeance 1300 has extremely clear audio quality, so even while we were not able to hear explosions or bullets to the same extent as the Vengeance 1500, the 1300 still offered solid audio quality that matched our desktop speakers.
For the game testing we used the speakers with the built-in audio of our motherboard. We did this because our M-Audio sound card is not really designed for gaming and doesn't support technologies such as Dolby Digital or surround sound. If you do have a gaming-friendly sound card, the overall quality should be even better that what we experienced during out testing. Still, even while the Vengeance 1300 was not at the same level as the 1500, they still sounded quite good and most users will be more than pleased with the product even without the use of an add-on sound card.
The microphone integrated into the Vegeance 1300 is the same as the one built into the 1300, so our impressions transfer over nicely.
After spending a solid week with both the Vengeance 1300 and 1500 headsets, it is easy to recommend both as solid replacements to traditional desktop speakers, or lesser quality headsets. However, the design of the Vengeance gaming headsets is vastly different so both the 1300 and 1500 are suited for different segments of the market. The Vengeance 1500 is the higher-end model, and as such support audio formats such as Dolby Digital and Virtual 7.1 Surround. This makes it an ideal choice for gamers and movie buffs that are looking for solid audio to match the content. The Vengeance 1300 on the other hand is an analog headset that performs best when paired with a high-end audio card that can push the unit to its threshold.
Starting with gaming, we found the Corsair Vengeance 1500 to have a strong advantage. The main reason is that the digital interface allows it to support both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Virtual 7.1 audio formats, allowing the audio to project "outside" of the speakers and create an environment where explosions could be heard surrounding the listening position. Even the more discrete noises such as soldiers' footsteps could be heard in the distance. With such accurate sound quality, the Vengeance series of headsets is going to give any player the leg up.
When testing movies and music, we had a harder time choosing which model we preferred. However, and this is a big however, the difference was only hard to distinguish when we were using the Vengeance series headsets in conjunction with the on-board audio of our motherboard. Analog audio is affected by the output source much more than digital audio, so if you are using integrated audio circuitry and expect the Vengeance 1300 to sound phenomenal, that is just not going to happen. For this unit to really shine, a high-end audio card is required. Otherwise you will have to deal with the limitations of the on-board audio controller.
If you do have a high-end sound card, the Vengeance 1300 still has excellent sound quality, but we did find that even with a sound card, the Vengeance 1500 sounded better while gaming due to the native Dolby Digital support. In movies and music, both of the headsets sounded excellent. The Vengeance 1300 required an add-on sound card to sound best, while the Vengeance 1500 sounded good regardless of the device it was connected to.
The only issue we had with both the Vengeance series headsets was how they can start to feel heavy during long gaming sessions. Admittedly, it took nearly three two hours of solid game-play before I started to feel that the headsets were getting heavy, and since I traditionally use desktop speakers this could have been an issue of getting used to wearing headsets for long periods of time. Still, after a few hours it was clear that I was using a headset and had to take a break.
All in all, both the Vengeance series headsets are an excellent options for anyone looking to take their audio experience to the next level. Just remember that the Vengeance 1300 really requires a high-end audio to card to perform best, while the Vengeance 1500 works well with any device out of the box.
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