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Corsair HS65 Surround review: A lightweight, dependable gaming headset

This stripped-back headset for all platforms supports Dolby surround sound only on computers, but what it lacks in extra features it makes up for in comfort and quality.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer
corsair-hs65-surround-unbox.jpg

Corsair HS65 Surround

4 / 5
Very good

pros and cons

Pros
  • Great sound quality
  • Dolby 7.1CH virtual surround sound
  • Good microphone
  • Comfortable
  • PC and console compatibility
Cons
  • Can't enable surround sound with consoles
  • No windscreen for microphone is included
  • SoundID test is confusing

Intro 

The Corsair HS65 Surround is a simplified, midrange gaming headset that offers a quality build, excellent audio, and no-nonsense connectivity. 

It's compatible with Windows and MacOS computers, mobile devices, and most game consoles so you can connect it to whatever you use to play games. 

And while it may not provide as much control over your audio input and output as other headsets on the market, what it lacks in special features, it makes up for by providing a quality, comfortable gaming experience.

Specifications

Audio Dolby 7.1CH surround
Connectivity USB module, 3.5mm AUX
Color Black, white
Material Plastic, faux leather
Weight 4.5 ounces (127.5 grams)
Dimensions 6 x 8 x 3 inches (50 x 200 x 75 mm)
Compatibility Windows, MacOS, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/ Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Cable length 6 feet (1.8 meters)
Driver size 50mm
The left side of the Corsair HS65 Surround headset worn by Taylor Clemons playing a game on their PS5
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

Pricing

The HS65 Surround retails for $79.99 (£79.99, AU$119, CA$99), which is a bit on the high side for a wired headset, but still fairly affordable for most gamers. With this price tag, it's on the same level as models like the Razer Kraken V3 X ($69.99) and the HyperX Cloud Alpha ($99.99); both of which are designed for long-lasting quality, comfort, and immersive audio. 

The HS65 Surround's price also seems on the high side since it doesn't have many of the bells and whistles that other, similarly priced models include, like RGB lighting and audio equalizer settings. But I certainly feel that the level of comfort the headset provides and the quality of its build more than make up for the no-nonsense design.

Comfort and quality

A back view of Taylor Clemons wearing the Corsair HS65 Surround headset and playing Shredder's Revenge on the PS5
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The HS65 Surround is incredibly lightweight, coming in at just 4.5 ounces. It also doesn't have a lot of clamping pressure around the ear cups, so if you wear glasses (either prescription or blue light filtering) or have a larger head, you'll stay fairly comfortable. The ear cups and headband both have plenty of foam padding and a faux leather shell that together make the entire unit feel more premium -- and the faux leather makes it super easy to keep the headset clean. The ear cups also rotate outward, allowing the headset to lie flat, which is great for when you need to wear it around your neck and for storage.

Taylor Clemons wearing a multicolored striped shirt and the Corsair HS65 Surround headset while they play a game on the Nintendo Switch
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The attached microphone flips up and out of the way when you don't need it, though I do wish it were removable since I use a separate microphone for game chat and work calls. The microphone doesn't come with any sort of windscreen to prevent audio clipping, but this is a minor complaint; you can get a 10-pack of generic windscreens on Amazon for about $20 if you really need to filter out unnecessary sound.

The entire headset is made of plastic, which contributes to its lightweight feel, but it still feels like a solid and dependable headset compared with, for example, the Turtle Beach Recon 500, which has a similar, all-plastic build and feels very cheap and flimsy. I wore the HS65 Surround for around 10 hours every day between work and quick gaming sessions on both my PC and two consoles (PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch). And the headset always felt like a secure fit and very comfortable, even while I was wearing my blue light filtering glasses.

Audio and connectivity

Taylor Clemons wearing the Corsair HS65 Surround headset and playing Bayonetta on the Nintendo Switch
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The HS65 Surround connects to your computer or console via a 3.5mm audio jack or USB adapter. The 3.5 mm audio jack is great for plugging into controllers for more freedom of movement or more simplified connectivity for PC gamers who may not have enough USB ports to plug in a headset. The USB adapter is what enables Dolby 7.1CH surround sound for the headset, which is great for when you need more accurate, somewhat spatial audio for games like Apex Legends where pinpointing audio cues can mean the difference between victory and defeat. 

Unfortunately, the virtual surround sound is only compatible with Windows and Mac computers, which means that gamers who mainly play on consoles will miss out on one of the HS65 Surround's biggest draws. 

A screenshot of the audio settings for the Corsair HS65 Surround headset within the iCUE desktop app
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

However, even without Dolby enabled, the audio quality you get from the headset is excellent. Low bass tones, midrange sounds, and even high-pitched notes all sound crystal-clear even at higher volumes. Even with the volume cranked up as high as it can go, the audio drivers never sound blown out, crunchy, or garbled; so if you need to have your game audio set to a high volume, you'll never miss a line of dialogue or audio cue due to distortion. 

In fact, I actually prefer to keep the surround sound feature turned off while I watch videos, make video calls, and play games. While the 7.1CH virtual surround sound does make it easier to pinpoint cues like gunfire and footsteps, it also adds a bit of an echo effect to most audio that can be grating after a while, especially with dialogue. 

I found that enabling the Dolby surround sound worked best when listening to music, since the echo effect gave songs and albums a similar sound to high-end studio recordings; it was easier to hear layered harmonies and backing vocals, which let me appreciate everything from new songs that popped up on my Spotify playlists as well as discovering how intricate old favorites actually are. 

Also: The best cheap gaming headsets for immersive audio on a budget

Normally, I would have a separate section to talk about how the headset works with Corsair's iCUE desktop app, but the app is really only needed to turn the Dolby surround sound on and off. So you don't necessarily have to download the iCUE app in order to use the headset. I do wish that Corsair had taken a page from the HyperX Cloud Alpha S, which has in-line controls for its own virtual surround-sound module, allowing you to skip downloading the Ngenuity app altogether. Since the HS65 Surround only uses the iCUE app for toggling the 7.1CH surround sound on and off, it would have made more sense to have onboard or in-line controls rather than making users download an app they aren't going to use very often.

A screenshot showing individual results for the Corsair iCUE SoundID test
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

It's worth noting the iCUE app is also the only way to set up personalized audio profiles with SoundID. The app lets you choose a music loop, and then presents you with a series of filters and settings to choose your preference for. The results are a bit confusing: A few of the settings don't really sound like they've made a difference, and instead of explaining how your choices affected the final profile, it just shows a series of shapes with one highlighted to indicate your personalized profile. I would have much preferred a short text description.

Bottom line 

Taylor Clemons wearing the Corsair HS65 Surround headset with the microphone flipped down while they play
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The Corsair HS65 Surround is a dependable, solid midrange gaming headset that's great for both PC and consoles. The simple plug-and-play connectivity makes it easy to set up the headset with whatever you use to play games, while the 3.5mm audio jack allows you to use the headset with mobile devices as well. With the included USB adapter you can enable Dolby 7.1CH virtual surround sound for more immersive audio, though it only works with PC and Mac computers, not consoles. And while you don't necessarily need to download the iCUE app to use the HS65 Surround, audiophiles might want to consider doing so since it allows you to create a personalized sound profile.

Alternatives to consider 

The HyperX Cloud Alpha is an excellent, midrange gaming headset. The aluminum frame gives it strength and durability without adding a ton of weight, making it comfortable enough to use even during marathon gaming sessions. The included microphone is detachable so you can use something like the Quadcast S or other, separate mic for streaming, in-game chat, and Discord. It's also compatible with most consoles, mobile devices, PCs, and even Macs.

This headset from Logitech is very similar to the HS65 Surround. With 50mm audio drivers, DTS Headphone:X audio, and a flip-to-mute microphone, the G432 can provide clear voice chat with friends as well as rich, clean in-game sound. The ear cups and headband are made with a soft, faux leather for a premium look as well as long-term comfort during weekend gaming sessions.

This updated version of the original Kraken headset is designed to provide a quality gaming experience without breaking the bank. It also features 7.1CH virtual surround sound for more immersive audio as well as a lightweight design for lasting comfort. The built-in microphone features a cardioid pickup for crystal-clear chat and can easily be positioned to stay out of the way or right where you need it.

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