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The $99 Corsair HS80 RGB USB makes expensive podcast mics obsolete
The HS80 RGB USB from Corsair is a premium-grade gaming headset with Dolby 7.1CH virtual surround sound, five equalizer presets, and a broadcast-grade microphone that everyone from eSports pros and streamers to casual weekend players will love.
The HS80 RGB USB from Corsair is a premium-grade, wired headset for PC gamers. Like its little sibling, the HS65 Surround, it features Dolby Audio 7.1CH virtual surround sound, but sets itself apart with EQ presets, better sound quality, and RGB lighting.
Corsair's HS80 RGB USB headset is one of the brand's premium gaming headsets and is the next step up from the HS65 Surround. The headsets offer similar surround sound, but the HS80 RGB USB goes a step further: With the iCUE desktop app, you can choose between five equalizer presets (Pure Direct, Movie Theater, FPS Competition, Clear Chat, and Bass Boost) or create your own for a more personalized sound profile. Each preset is optimized for different media, letting you use the headset for everything from CoD competitions and Discord chat with friends to streaming movies and music. The iCUE app also gives you a simple way to toggle the Dolby Audio drivers on and off.
And unlike the HS65 Surround, the HS80 RGB USB doesn't have that slightly tinny, very echoey quality to the audio output once Dolby Audio is enabled. Rather, it provides a "fuller" listening experience with virtual spatial audio for pinpointing sound cues in online matches or a more immersive experience while streaming movies and music.
The attached microphone is one of the best I've encountered while reviewing gaming headsets. It provides consistent, clear voice chat across Discord calls, in-game chat, Zoom, and Audacity. Corsair claims that the mic is broadcast-grade, and I'm inclined to agree. There is very little white noise or hiss in the background while talking or recording, so you hear every word clearly.
The boom arm of the mic bends to allow minor position adjustment, but it does take a bit of force, so don't worry about needing to be gentle. The mic also needs to be quite close to your mouth in order to get the best input volume and quality, since the default, out-of-the-box mic position ends up giving very faint chat input. But with the flexibility of the boom arm, it's a quick adjustment to make.
The build quality is excellent with the HS80 RGB USB as well. The all-plastic body is lightweight without feeling flimsy or cheap, which makes the entire unit very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. I wore the headset for at least 8 hours every day between work and evening gaming sessions, sometimes with prescription or blue-light filtering glasses, and it never became a bother or painful.
The RGB elements are also somewhat understated, showing up in the small Corsair logo on either ear cup, which is great for anyone who shares a gaming space or whose gaming space doubles as a home office where bright, flashing visuals could be a distraction.
The headset weighs about 4 ounces and doesn't have a lot of clamping pressure, which is good news for anyone who wears glasses or has a larger head. The ear cups are made of memory foam with a woven cloth cover for breathability to help keep your ears from getting clammy. The headband uses an adjustable elastic strap to cushion the top of your head and provide a secure fit and quick adjustments with Velcro.
My biggest complaint with the HS80 RGB USB is that the headset is only compatible with Windows PCs. It connects to your computer via a USB, which in theory should also work with at least Xbox Series S and Series X and Xbox One or PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 consoles. However, Corsair opted to have the headset only work with gaming PCs. This may be due to the fact that the Dolby Audio 7.1CH surround sound and equalizer presets won't work with consoles, and that's the headset's biggest draw.
So if you're looking for a headset that can switch between PC and console gaming, you may want to check out the HS65 Surround; it also doesn't support Dolby Audio on consoles, but at least you'll be able to hear your game.
If you want to pick up the HS80 RGB USB, it'll set you back a cool $99.99 (£109.99, AU$159), which puts it on the higher end of wired gaming headsets. It's similar in price to the Razer Kraken V3 and SteelSeries Arctis Prime, neither of which offers Dolby Audio drivers, though the Kraken V3 uses THX spatial audio while the Arctis Prime works with SteelSeries' proprietary audio drivers for virtual surround sound.
In all, the Corsair HS80 RGB USB is a great choice as a wired headset for serious gamers or anyone looking for an audio option that works across multiple types of media like movies and music. Its incompatibility with gaming consoles like the Xbox Series S and Series X or PlayStation 5 is a big strike against the headset; however, the level of control over equalizer settings and the studio-quality microphone somewhat make up for it.