Corsair’s Vengeance 2000 Wireless Headset May Be 7.1, But It’s Not Surround
5/31/2012 by: Matt Brodnick
Following the success of their new line of gaming hardware, Corsair recently added the Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset to the family, with a bunch of new features packed in - so we put it to the test!
I already reviewed the Vengeance 1500 Dolby 7.1 Surround Headset earlier this year, and since then it has been quite the performer. Corsair took what they learned from the 1500, made some tweaks, cut the cord, and ended up with this new successor. Light, durable, and full of promise, will the Vengeance 2000 be the next best way to enjoy PC entertainment wirelessly?
The Vengeance 2000 picks up where the 1500 left off. It’s still classy, having a similar design and feel to what its brother offered. Anchored by a large padded headrest hangs two large, upgraded 50mm drivers that deliver a great soundscape. Its unidirectional, noise-cancelling mic is still on the left ear cup, next to a power button and volume knob. Sitting underneath is a micro-USB port for charging the battery rated for 10 hours of use.
Corsair’s packaging on all their Vengeance models gets straight to the point. Right out of the box, the headphones immediately pop out of its cradle alongside its USB RF wireless dongle, extension cables, and quick setup guides.
Connecting the Vengeance 2000 to the system is very simple. Plug in the dongle, and the drivers are instantly recognized by standard Windows audio settings. Corsair recommends to fully charge the headset first, which happens very quickly anyway. Then press the power button on the headset until the dongle LED shines solid blue, set the Vengeance 2000 as your default playback device, and you’re all set.
Vengeance is getting a tune up! Its large, 50mm drivers have been upgraded to deliver a broader spectrum of audio. The frequency response of the 2000’s drivers is more balanced when compared to the mids-favoring curve of the 1500 model. These cans not only have the same attentive mids and crisp highs as its predecessor, but also have improved low frequency handling in both music and gaming. Mids are important on gaming headsets, because that’s where most crucial positionality and sound effects lie, but Corsair is enhancing the low registers of the 2000 to minimize distortion.
Explosions in Battlefield 3, for example, won’t overshadow footsteps, or voice commands as much. They’re still rated to handle the standard 20 Hz~20 kHz frequency range, with an impedance of 32 Ohms @ 1 kHz. Not bad, now listeners can enjoy to both gunshots and tunes with clarity.
Included with the headset is the Vengeance 2000 Control Panel software, downloadable off the Corsair website. This suite offers basic volume and EQ controls that work alongside Windows’ audio management. The preset EQ selections, like in the Vengeance 1500 control panel, are a nice touch especially when adding some extra low end (30-120 Hz). But where is the option to select or enable the 7.1 surround mode? After double-checking the Windows’ sound properties, I arrived at a disheartening discovery...
To Surround, or Not to Surround?
The previous Vengeance 1500 7.1 Headset, using its Dolby Surround technology, is recognized by Windows as a 5.1 or 7.1-capable device. The Vengeance 2000, however, is only recognized by Windows as a two-channel stereo playback device. Instead of going with Dolby again, Corsair is using “Xear” sound drivers by C-Media.
Of course you need surround emulation when using two physical speakers, but at least Windows was able to recognize the 1500 as a surround-capable device, and so games and other media would follow as such. With the 2000, you hear a stereo signal that is blended across a virtual room, but games that can take advantage surround sound will recognize that only two actual channels are available.
When Xear is enabled, you have three room characteristic choices: Studio, Cinema, and Hall. All three types increase the amount of room reverb in the mix, but none of them help me pinpoint my directionality within the game. If anything this only muddies up the acoustics of both gameplay and music listening, by creating non-existent reverb in these different room choices. I couldn’t understand why listeners would want these settings if they were wearing headphones
Listening to the “Studio” setting while playing Battlefield 3 is jarring, with the sound mix being exaggerated and reverberated as if I was playing with a set of loudspeakers in a small room. This is very noticeable during gunshots, reloading, and footsteps, and it doesn’t make sense with the delivery being so close to my ears. With this effect enabled, the “speakers” are at virtual (HRTF) positions, as if your arms are stretched out forwards at a 45 degree angle. The “center” speaker is right at your nose, and is most prominent, as it should be.
However, when either in-game or playing a 5.1 Surround Test file (Link), there is very minimal - if any - difference between the Front L/R and Rear L/R positionality. Playing games that do not require as much first-person immersion, such as Diablo 3, fall under the same spell of these “Surround” presets. Upon clicking the Bypass button that sits at the top of the Control Panel, you now have a pair of stereo 2.1 wireless headphones.
So the Vengeance 2000 may not be true surround, but don’t let this discourage you... as a stereo wireless headset, they still sound great! The expanded deep end provides a richer soundscape to any PC title out today, and also allows for a much smoother music listening experience at lower volumes.
Corsair did a fine job at tuning this headset’s performance, with other upgraded features to match. It’s lighter than the 1500, and I found it fits much better to my head. The padded ear cups are still deep and roomy, but now they rotate inward toward your temples, allowing for a more comfortable fit and longer hours of wear. This was a problem with the 1500, which could only rotate outward, putting more pressure on the back of my ears, sitting up against the inner shield. The adjustable headband is comfy and flexible, and like the 1500, the 2000 is still eyewear friendly.
The trim is less chrome-like, and has more of a matte brushed look. Isolation from outside noise is minimal, but it could be helpful in a LAN environment, in case your buddy next to you needs to yell over. This headset can still be used while plugged in for charging, as long as the dongle is connected too. The microphone is high quality, and sounds great both in-game and over VOIP apps like Skype. The mic also now automatically mutes when flipped up to its resting position, which is something already seen on Logitech’s G35, but convenient nevertheless.
I enjoyed Corsair’s Vengeance 1500 headset so much that I was expecting more from the Vengeance 2000. With so many new features on the table, it’s difficult to understand why Corsair didn’t borrow what already worked well from previous models. On the other hand, Dolby Labs licensing can be a pretty penny when compared to cheaper media codecs, but labeling the product as “7.1” is misleading. It’s comfortable, it’s light, it's wireless, and it sounds great - but unfortunately it’s not surround.
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