With the HS80 RGB Wireless, Corsair has thoroughly revised the recipe for its mid-range wireless headphones. Its new look and redesigned acoustics are no guarantee of success.
The successor to the HS70 Wireless, the HS80 RGB Wireless from Corsair brings a lot of new features to seduce gamers looking for a good wireless gaming headset for PC and Playstation consoles. For its new mid-range model, the manufacturer has focused primarily on improving comfort, thanks to a new double-arm design, and the sound experience, which includes new speakers and the integration of a Dolby Atmos for Headphones license.
The HS80 RGB Wireless was released in August 2021 for $149.99.
The HS80 RGB Wireless ushers in a new design direction for Corsair, which tries out a double-arm system consisting of an adjustable elastic strap, while opting for cleaner, more modern lines. Despite this desire for change, the manufacturer still took the opportunity to make a small nod to its former series of Void headphones by placing a pair of trapezoidal earpieces, equipped with RGB lighting (customizable and deactivatable).
In addition to these aesthetic considerations, the HS80 RGB Wireless is composed mainly of plastic elements of excellent workmanship, complemented by aluminum hinges that reinforce the robust appearance of the whole. The ear pads, covered with a fluffy fabric, and the strap that makes up part of the headband can be easily removed from the headset for maintenance or replacement. The quality of the assembly is thus with the appointment and no structural weakness is to be deplored... or almost. Indeed, the two small connecting cables passing between the headband and the earpieces can constitute a point of fragility, especially during the transport of the headset - and no protective cover is provided besides. In addition, the gooseneck microphone is not detachable.
Thanks to the double headband and the design of the earpieces, the HS80 RGB Wireless has a good overall feeling of comfort. The strap contributes to the good distribution of the contact points and the weight of the headset, while the earpads offer a particularly soft contact, while offering a good sound insulation/ventilation ratio. In contrast to the trapezoidal earpieces of the Void headphones, the HS80 RGB Wireless earpieces provide enough space to accommodate the ears, whether in width, height or depth, and we are pleased with this.
Some points could have been improved. First of all, the weight of the helmet remains quite high (367 g) and can be felt during long sessions of use; especially at the level of the neck. In addition, the helmet is not very well suited to larger heads, since the lack of adjustment of the main headband and a small space between the two headbands, the top of the head is very quickly pressed against the main headband, thus negating the interest of the strap. Finally, to a lesser extent, we would have appreciated it if the earpieces had pivoted a little more generously on the vertical axis to rest perfectly uniformly around the ear; they rest a little more firmly at the temple.
As its name indicates, the HS80 RGB Wireless is intended to be used mainly in wireless. It comes with a USB-A dongle (to be connected to a PC or PS4/PS5) with which it communicates via Corsair's proprietary protocol (Slipstream Wireless). The connection proved to be perfectly stable near the dongle, that said, it can quickly be damaged by various obstacles (walls, doors...). In this respect, the HS80 RGB Wireless does not do as well as competitors such as the G733 or Cloud Flight.
While the HS80 RGB Wireless does not offer a wired analog solution (no mini-jack input), it can be used wired via USB, and can operate at 96 kHz/24-bit in this case.
Controls & application
The HS80 RGB Wireless is content with the bare minimum in terms of controls: a power button and a notched wheel to manage the volume and switch between different equalization profiles are placed on the headphones. A control to manage the game/chat balance or the sound feedback from the microphone would have been welcome; it would have saved us from leaving the companion application permanently open to manage these actions on the fly on the PC. The microphone can be muted directly by folding down the gooseneck, and an indicator light at the end of the boom as well as voice announcements in English make it easy to be aware of the status of the microphone.
All other control and customization options are found in Corsair iCUE, an easy-to-learn software package that could use a little more work. You can manage RGB lighting, mic gain and monitor level, apply listening presets or create your own with a 10-band graphic equalizer. However, there is no way to modify the microphone rendering or to know more precisely the remaining battery level, for example.
During our tests, we measured an autonomy of about 18 h 30 min (without RGB); a result certainly weaker than the 20 h promised by the manufacturer, but nevertheless very correct, well enough not to have to recharge the headset after each game session. As is often the case, activating the backlight drastically reduces the autonomy, which here falls to about 11 hours. Fortunately, the HS80 RGB Wireless is perfectly usable when recharged. Count between 2 and 3 hours for a complete recharge.
As a logical consequence of the change in acoustic design, the HS80 RGB Wireless has very little of the sound characteristics of its predecessor, the HS70 Wireless. However, its performance is not much more impressive: the rendering certainly gains a little in precision, but unfortunately loses in balance.
The biggest flaw of the HS80 RGB Wireless concerns the treatment of the upper midrange: the very wide and frank withdrawal in the presence zone (between 2 and 5 kHz) - and to a lesser extent the shyness of the highs - gives the overall rendering a sound that is certainly extremely soft, but also very muffled and dull. This behavior also has a consequence on the perception of sources in the foreground, which always seem a little too far away: it is difficult to instinctively evaluate the distance and path of a source that is approaching us in play, for example. Some may also criticize the headphones for a slight lack of depth and impact in the bass range. As is often the case, the equalizer in the companion application comes to the rescue and allows the user to compensate for some of these various weaknesses to obtain a more acceptable result, but still far from providing true satisfaction.
Although the overall accuracy is a little bit better than the previous model, it is still not exemplary. The reproduction of the midrange is cleaner and chiselled, nevertheless, the low frequencies are still rather blurred and the phenomena of sibilance can sometimes be heard on the voices.
As for surround virtualization, the HS80 RGB Wireless fortunately spares us the unconvincing solutions chosen on previous Corsair models by being delivered with a Dolby Atmos for Headphones license, one of the most convincing virtualization algorithms currently available. The intrinsic performance of the headphones does not really honor the rendering of the sound scene, but at least this virtualization has the merit of remaining natural, unlike others.
The pickup quality offered by the HS80 RGB Wireless is simply excellent. The signal is both powerful and of very good quality, and particularly respectful of the tone of the voice. The restitution of the latter is done in a slightly warm and "soft" way, while remaining perfectly clear.
Thanks to its strong directionality, the microphone also manages to isolate the voice from surrounding noises (keyboard clicks, the TV on or the open window that you sometimes hear with other microphones). All in all, an excellent surprise.
With the HS80 RGB Wireless, Corsair has created a decent gaming headset that only stands out for its excellent voice pickup. If you're looking for better sound performance and more universal comfort, we suggest you look at the competition, which offers headsets that are much more capable on these two essential criteria.