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Corsair HS65 Surround review: "A great value proposition"

(Image: © Future/Phil Iwaniuk)

Our Verdict

Subtle but strong budget sound with a personal touch, the Corsair HS65 Surround is a simple but strong headset that offers great value for money.

For

  • Great value
  • Rich, easily customised sound
  • Grown-up looks

Against

  • 7.1 doesn’t add much

The designers at Corsair themselves would probably be the first to admit it hasn’t been easy to translate that beautiful, sophisticated visual language of the company’s cases and peripherals over to headsets. Over the years we’ve had a rapid evolution of design, from circular earcups to the Void’s almost triangular proportions and, right at the top of the hierarchy, the Virtuoso’s audiophile-friendly look. Corsair sets have never had a unifying look to them, and that’s probably because they’re still so busy iterating, and aiming for the top of the internet's best gaming headset guides along the way.

Design & features

All of which is important context for this HS65 model’s visual design, which once again takes a sideways step away from the wireless Void Elite and cheaper HS35 designs. And in the process, it does carry some of that same sophistication you get from the company’s mice and keyboards. 

There’s no RGB on this wired, virtual 7.1 surround model. The branding’s limited to a couple of polished metallic logos on the earcups, placed in the centre of a faux grille, and they’re the only exception to its otherwise all-black appointments including the matte black plastic hinges, headband, and earcup exteriors. It’s all very grown up. 

There’s just one physical control on the headset itself, and that’s a scrolling volume wheel exactly where years of Steelseries Arctis indoctrination has told us we want it - on the lower rear of the left earcup. The only other element breaking the otherwise clean lines is the mic, which swings up and down with a satisfying click in the upper position. It’s just flexible enough to adjust into place. 

None of the HS65’s parts are detachable, and that likely has more to do with the price point (£80/$80) than anything else. It would be nice to have a detachable mic and cable just to future-proof the unit and make wear and tear a bit easier to repair, but we understand why they don’t feature on this model.

(Image credit: Future/Phil Iwaniuk)

The cable itself is probably the most obvious tell that this is a budget to midrange headset rather than a pricier model. It’s a simple black rubberised cord with a slightly ungainly 3.5mm to USB adapter which is required for the 7.1 surround that aims to get the absolute most out of it as a PC headset for gaming

At the opposite end of that design spectrum, the pleather earcup cushions are stuffed with enough good quality memory foam, they could easily trick you into thinking you were holding a pricier headset. These offer a pretty snug fit on my head with lots of horizontal clamping force from the headband. That works great for my personal cranial dimensions, but there doesn’t seem to be as much adjustable range in the headband as most headsets, so if you’re larger above the eyebrows it might be worth trying before you buy. 

There’s an ace up the HS65’s sleeve though. Rather than the usual CUE software, all your tweaking is handled via SoundID this time. And it doesn’t require any manual EQ curve-shaping. Instead, it just asks you a few questions and plays you a few demo sounds, asks which you prefer, and builds a profile for you based on those preferences. There are still users out there who do want to tweak every setting, GamesRadar+ reviewers for one, but Corsair rightly assesses that most people don’t want to spend a whole lot of time manually fine-tuning their sound. SoundID streamlines the process in a friendlier way.

(Image credit: Future/Phil Iwaniuk)

Performance

It’s odd that customising your sound is one of the highlights of this model, because the out-of-the-box sound is actually… well, pretty great. Audio is a matter of taste of course, and some people might like a different (and inferior) eq profile to this reviewer’s ear, but generally: flatter is better. Exaggerated bass response not only sounds a bit silly as soon as you quit out of CoD, but it can bleed into the low mids and obscure the overall character. Too little low end, of course, and the sound lacks impact and weight. 

The HS65 finds that Goldilocks point in the middle. It’s not unlike the Arctis’ distinctive flat EQ response, full of detail and shimmer higher up the frequency response curve but not without that thump when it’s called for. And that’s just using the 3.5mm connector. 

As for the virtual surround - you probably already know whether you like it or not. It can be implemented with varying degrees of success, but the same pros and cons prevail - spacious positional audio, but noticeable artifice, and a digital ring to everything. The stereo spread’s nice and wide in this model so it’s able to handle 7.1 nicely, but the strongest and most versatile sound is via 3.5mm - perfect news for those eyeing this up as a potential PS5 headset, or Xbox Series X headset too.

(Image credit: Future/Phil Iwaniuk)

Should you buy the Corsair HS65 Surround headset?

Corsair’s arrived at a great value proposition here with the HS65 Surround. We could take or leave the addition of the surround sound, as in our experience it doesn’t offer much advantage in games or heightened experience in other media. But the fundamental EQ response is flat, detailed, and SoundID makes it easy to dial in a profile to taste. 

How we tested the Corsair HS65 Surround

The HS65 works with PC, Mac, PlayStation consoles, Switch, and mobile devices, so we covered several bases during our testing - directly into our Macbook via the 3.5mm connection, likewise our trusty PS4 Pro, and into our PC using both connection types. In addition to a range of games - in this case, MotoGP 22, Kentucky Route Zero, and Overwatch - we always put a headset to work with streaming music services and uncompressed WAV files. This one handled Kind of Blue like a champ.

You can read more about how we test gaming headsets as well as how we make all our recommendations in the full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy.

If you fancy cutting the cords, however, then check out the best wireless gaming headsets, and to refine that choice by console platform, browse our guides on the best PS5 wireless headsets, and the best Xbox Series X wireless headsets.

The Verdict
4

4 out of 5

Corsair HS65 Surround

Subtle but strong budget sound with a personal touch, the Corsair HS65 Surround is a simple but strong headset that offers great value for money.

More info

Available platformsPC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
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Phil Iwaniuk is a multi-faceted journalist, video producer, presenter, and reviewer. Specialising in PC hardware and gaming, he's written for publications including PCGamesN, PC Gamer, GamesRadar, The Guardian, Tom's Hardware, TechRadar, Eurogamer, Trusted Reviews, VG247, Yallo, IGN, and Rolling Stone, among others.