Corsair's Void Surround is a solid headset, but a couple of issues keep it from being great.
Prior to last month, Corsair had three primary levels in the premium gaming headset market: the low-end Void Stereo, the higher-end Void RGB USB, and the top-range Void RGB Wireless. The price tag on these three headsets was $69.99, $99.99, or $129.99 respectively, which put Corsair well under headsets from competing companies like Logitech or Astro.
Into this established mix, Corsair has introduced a new headset: the Corsair Void Surround. The idea here is that players might want access to Surround sound, but might not be in the market for a headset with LED lighting. The logic is sound; Surround sound is a desirable feature and I've never quite understood why my headset needs to glow in 16.8 million colors that I can't see. In addition, the Void Surround is the only Corsair headset compatible with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or mobile devices. It comes in at $79.99; enough to make you think about the purchase, but not enough to scare the average PC enthusiast.
Let's check the details of the Void surround:
The question is: how does the Corsair Void Surround actually fit into your day-to-day game playing? I've been rocking the headset for a solid month now and what I've found is a good headset with equally smart and poor design decisions.
Getting the Void Surround up-and-running is easy. All that comes in the package is the headset, with 2 meter long rubber 3.5mm cable, and the USB Dolby Surround dongle. If you're using the headset on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or a mobile device, you leave the dongle off and plug it straight in. If you're using it on PC, you plug the 3.5mm cable into the USB Dolby Surround dongle, plug it into a USB port, install the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE), and you're off to the races. I already had Corsair's software installed for separate product - my Corsair K70 keyboard - so all I needed was an update. The CUE software handles the virtual Dolby Surround sound functionality; without it, you just have a Stereo headset.
I like the dongle, because it fixes one issue I had with the previous headset I reviewed, the Logitech G633 Artemis Spectrum RGB. Like the Void Surround, the G633 allows for 3.5mm and USB modes of operation. Unlike the Void Surround, the G633 has completely separate cables for each mode. The dongle fits more into my lifestyle. I'd use teh headset on PC, but when I needed to switch to consoles, I'd just put the dongle in my pocket.
One issue I have with the Corsair Void Surround is the fit. I have a big head and big ears. The headset has little flex to it, so it always felt a little too snug around my head. In addition, the earcups are meant to fit perfectly over your ears, which feels a little tight when they're over my huge ears. All the additional controls are on the left ear cup. There's a large mute button, a volume wheel, and the integrated microphone.
Without messing with the equalizer or Surround options in CUE, the sound of the Void Surround is good. The high and lows come through well, vocals are clear, and the bass has a nice, deep growl right out of the box. (I kicked it up a notch though.) As a general-use gaming headset, the Void Surround does the job well.
Turning on the virtualized Dolby 7.1 surround isn't as impressive. The dongle and software do the best they can, but the CUE lacks options for changing things like the position and distance of the virtual speakers. You get five equalizer presets and the option to make some further changes in the CUE software, but there should be more choices available.
The virtual Dolby surround takes some of the sharpness and edge off the sound. With environmental audio it's great, but you lose a bit of audio clarity to make that happen. The larger point is here is you're looking at surround sound for around $80; Corsair does what it can the materials available. It's good enough if you're not looking for Astro-quality sound, because you're not paying Astro-quality prices. (The dongle can be used with any analog headphones, by the way.)
The microphone is a letdown though, for a few reasons. There's no way to adjust the distance it sits from your face, since it's not flexible at all. The sound is tinny and even with the gain down, you'll get a good deal of breathing noise and hard P/T sound from basic speech. It's good enough for dungeon runs with friends, but it's not streaming quality if you're aimed in that direction. There's also no light on the mic to let you know if you're muted. It's a small inclusion, but a necessary one.
For the price, the Void Surround is a pretty good headset, with some caveats. To get the full use of the headset, you'll need to get in there and mess with the equalizer. You also need to realize that the virtual Dolby surround only works with the dongle and software, so if you're trying to get surround sound on console, look elsewhere. Finally, the microphone could be much better, both in overall sound and flexibility; those looking to great microphone quality won't be satisfied by this headset.
In the end, I want to like the Void Surround more than I do. It feels like it's one generation away from being a stand out; just a few small tweaks here and there would make it legitimately great. As it stands, it's just good for the price.
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