With the fancy new headsets of the Virtuoso line, Corsair brought some new and impressive hardware to market. Now that those models have been out for a bit, it’s about time some premium features trickled down to Corsair’s more affordable headsets. The Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless brings the Virtuoso line’s best-in-class microphone and 50mm audio drivers to a considerably lower price.
Is that enough to make this headset a worthy buy?
Who is the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless for?
- PC Gamers looking for something comfortable to wear all day.
- At-home workers who need a reasonably priced, great sounding headphone and mic combo.
What is the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless like?
The Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless represents something of an aesthetic departure from other headsets in the HS line. Gone are the ovalesque ear pads, regular headband, and decorative metal grates. Most of the leatherette cushioning is gone too. What replaces all that may be a little more conspicuously gamer in its aesthetic, but it’s really comfortable.
The HS80 features an elastic suspension band, with pull tabs hidden in the frame to adjust tension (the green spot in the photo above). The thick ear pads are now a little more ear shaped and covered in velour, which is great for gamers with glasses. There’s less metal in the frame than most HS gaming headsets, but the new rotating hinges are still metal and feel very sturdy—they offer a lot more articulation too, letting the headset lay flat.
Actually using the headset is very straightforward. This is a wireless gaming headset that connects your PC and PlayStation 4 and 5 using a 2.4GHz USB dongle. It also supports wired connections using the included USB charging cable, and in both cases, the headset is pretty much a plug-and-play affair (though getting the wired connection to work is a little inconsistent before you install iCue on PC, for some reason). The headset has on-ear options for basic controls, with a power button and volume dial on the back of the left headphone, and a mic that flips up to mute. However, Corsair’s iCue app is necessary for access to some important features.
What can Corsair iCue do?
The Corsair iCue companion app recently got an update to version 4, which cleaned up the interface quite and bit. The Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless offers pretty much all the same features through iCue as a headset like the Virtuoso Wireless XT. You can adjust the EQ with the 10-band equalizer module, turn mic monitoring on and off, and adjust the color and brightness of the RGB LED logo light on each headphone. The app is also necessary for getting firmware updates for both the headset and the dongle.
The iCue app adds a lot of value to the HS80 and can extend the life of the headset.
Speaking of the dongle, this gaming headset supports the same Slipstream Wireless feature as the Virtuoso headsets. With Slipstream, you can pair multiple wireless Corsair devices to the same dongle, as long as they use the Slipstream Wireless standard. You can also pair the dongle with specific individual headsets, if need be.
How is the battery life of the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless?
According to Corsair, the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless can last up to 20 hours on a single charge, but in our battery test, we found it fell well short. At a consistent output of 75dB, the HS80 lasted 12 hours, 23 minutes. Not only is this battery life considerably shorter than advertised, but it’s also shorter than most other wireless gaming headsets. You might find the headset lasts a little longer at lower volumes, but 75dB isn’t exactly pushing it. The headset is also rather slow to charge, though you can use it while charging over a wired USB connection, at least.
How is gaming with the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless?
If you’re a PC gamer, the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless is a great gaming option. This is a super comfortable headset, and while its battery life isn’t enough for more than two or three longer gaming sessions, the included cord is a good length to continue to play while charging. On console, that equation shifts depending on how far away you sit—a wired USB connection isn’t going to feel all that convenient stretched across a living room.
Like most new gaming headsets released since the beginning of the new console generation, the HS80 offloads its virtual surround sound feature to the platforms you use, rather than including it with iCue. This headset works well with the PlayStation 5’s 3D audio solution, handling the sounds of swinging through traffic in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales without any issues.
On PC, the HS80 supports both Windows Sonic spatial audio and Dolby Atmos for headphones, which are both integrated with Windows’ audio settings (provided you download Atmos from the Microsoft store—it’s free). Either of these will work for just about anything you’d want virtual surround sound for, whether that’s angling for a Victory Royale in Fortnite or trying to figure out where enemy footsteps are coming from in Valorant.
How does the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless sound?
If you ignore the attenuated bass output, the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless has a neutral leaning frequency response, with no substantially added or decreased emphasis in the mid and high range. However, we’re not in the business of ignoring glaring issues when we see them, and bass output here is pretty glaring, with substantially under-emphasized sound below 100Hz.
Lows, mids, and highs
Instrumental music should sound pretty nice coming out of the HS80, though low droning and sub-bass sounds, like you find with EDM, could be pretty hard to hear. In Knives n Cherries by Minthaze, the melodic flute and piano parts come through loud and clear, but the bass drum lacks most of the oomph you’d expect to feel—pretty much just the immediate sound of hitting the drumhead comes through, and sometimes barely that.
Now, you’re not stuck with the default sound profile if you want to change it. Corsair iCue includes EQ presets with options like Clear Chat, Bass Boost, FPS, and more. Most of those options don’t necessarily improve things—Bass Boost is the only one that actually increases bass response meaningfully, but it does it so much that it’s not exactly desirable. Bass notes are nearly three times louder than middle-C, and this response heavily masks vocals and string instruments.
How should you EQ the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless?
Luckily, iCue also includes a 10-band equalizer, and you can use it to come with a more palatable sound profile if you do some tweaking. Use this equalizer suggestion chart and try to match the different areas on the EQ module, and you’ll get pretty close to our target.
Does the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless block out background noise?
Unfortunately, there’s no software feature for improving the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless’ isolation performance. There are no two ways about it: this just isn’t very good. However, given that this isn’t a gaming headset you could reasonably take outside, poor attenuation isn’t the end of the world. Low-level distractions like cars driving by out a window, the whirr of a fridge, or television blaring in another room should be a little less intrusive—just don’t expect to miss any doorbells.
How is the microphone?
Unlike the audio quality and isolation sections, it’s safe to say without caveats that the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless has a great microphone. This headset features a broadcast-grade omnidirectional microphone just like the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE and XT. Whether it’s up to snuff for professional recording remains up for debate, but this mic is capable of outputting 24-bit/96kHz audio and it sounds great.
Should you buy the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless?
There’s a lot to like about the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless. It’s reasonably priced and very comfortable. While the audio output definitely isn’t anyone’s idea of accurate, you can use iCue to adjust it on PC. Similarly, the poor battery life is also mitigated on PC by being able to play while you charge.
If you’re gaming on console, the situation is a little grimmer. All those qualifying factors go out the window, and you’re left with a gaming headset with a great microphone, not-so-great battery life, and very little bass response.
People who were interested in the microphone of Corsair Virtuoso line, but turned off by the high prices may still find a lot to like in the HS80. However, for as good as the microphone is, the other shortcomings really hold the headset back. Ultimately, there are cheaper headsets with more well-rounded execution for most platforms. You just don’t need to make this many trade-offs at this price point.
What are alternatives to the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless?
If you’re a console gamer looking for a great wireless option, something like the Razer Barracuda X is worth considering. It doesn’t have a microphone on par with the HS80, but it gets pretty close, its audio is considerably more accurate, and it offers more than double the battery life. The headset sports a USB-C dongle, so it’s compatible with the PC, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch (docked or undocked), and it’s $50 USD cheaper than the HS80.
Maybe you want a headset with a suspension band; in that case, grab the SteelSeries Arctis 7P. SteelSeries’ popular headset retains nearly all the same pluses as the Razer Barracuda X, along with a premium metal frame and ski-goggle style suspension band. The headset is super comfortable, and its 27 hours of battery life will get through a lot of gaming before you need to charge—all for the same price as the HS80.
What about wired alternatives?
Anyone in the market for something with lots of features, and who doesn’t mind a wired gaming headset, should read up on the Logitech G Pro X and Razer BlackShark V2 both offer fantastic value. These gaming headsets bring tons of features using Logitech G Hub and Razer Synapse, respectively, and some pretty solid hardware. The G Pro X offers perks like swappable ear pads and replaceable connection cords for each use case (plus tons of mic software goodies). The BlackShark V2 has fantastic sound, excellent passive isolation, and a comfortable lightweight build. Both of them are also cheaper than the Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless.
Frequently Asked Questions
We conducted our battery test on the Corsair HS80 at default settings, with the LEDs on. Your performance will likely improve with them off, though it’s unlikely to reach the advertised 20 hours.