Like a house party you’re surprised you were cool enough to get let inside, the budget gaming headset market is absolutely crammed at the moment. Also like that aforementioned soiree of social superiors, it’s quite hard to navigate too because manufacturers are basically spamming the market. The Corsair HS60 PRO already has a relatively tough job ahead, it seems - so can it be one of the best PC headsets for gaming or is it another filler model?
Corsair itself has so many different models at the sub-$100 price point that you start to wonder whether two models priced $10 apart can really be all that different. The HS35, HS50, HS60, HS70 and Void Pro Surround are all vying for your cash, separated by miniscule differences which, when you factor in all the other budget picks from manufacturers elsewhere, feels a bit like market oversaturation.
Which is a shame, because this refreshed version of the existing HS60, now going by the HS60 Pro Surround name, deserves to stand out from the crowd. It’s well-built, comfortable, and once you turn the surround sound off, it’ll do your ears proud in games, too.
Despite those grilles on each earcup, these are very much closed-backed cans. That means minimal noise bleed in and out of the HS60 Pro Surround, and a tighter, less airy overall sound than open-backed models produce. The model in my hands comes with yellow accenting which pops nicely against a mixture of matte and gloss black materials and the stitching on the inner headband is finished very neatly. Not a thread out of place.
Protein leather covers the cushioned contact pads, which are made of an especially soft and squishy memory foam, and crucially these are thick enough to keep your ears away from the definitely-not-soft-and-squishy drivers. There'd been some noticeable discomfort with this from earlier budget Corsair HS models so it’s great to see this addressed.
At the rear of the left-hand earcup you’ll find a very simple interface which includes a volume scroller and a mic mute toggle switch, followed by the braided cable input and then the mic input at the front. I’m always on-board with detachable mics, but this particular model is probably a bit too brash to use with other devices. I do take issue with the mic mute toggle though, which doesn’t illuminate or give a clear audio signal when it’s muted and un-muted, so you have to go on how far the switch is depressed. A variance of, and I’m not joking, only 2-3mm. It would definitely benefit from having a clearer method of telling you, instantly, whether your voice is going out or not.
That one issue aside, it’s an exceptionally well-built headset for the money, and that thin band of high gloss black plastic between the cushioning and the outer earcup is a neat little touch that demonstrates how much Corsair’s design team has sweated over the details.
It’s comfortable too, thanks to a decent clamping force from the earcups, and despite a relatively modest amount of padding under the headband it doesn’t dig in over time. My head’s on the smaller side though, so larger-headed users might find the amount of clamping force uncomfortable.
This being a budget pick, it’s not replete with features like a $200 flagship model so say goodbye to voice-altering gimmicks, calfskin carry-cases or whatever else manufacturers can think to chuck in their top-of-the-line offerings.
No, here your features list comprises of the choice of stereo or virtual surround sound - more on that below - a choice of USB 2.0 or 3.5mm inputs, the former of which is required if you want to use surround, and… well, that’s it. You can use Corsair’s iCUE software to cycle between five presets, including a handy FPS competition mode which boosts low mids from 125Hz up to 2K and a clear chat preset which boosts 1K to 4K - generally the space in the EQ spectrum we occupy when we speak.
But beyond that, there's not much else. Though there's nothing really wrong with that, of course. It does what a headset should do and not much more, but it does it all well. I do miss features like a chat mix control as found on Steelseries’ Arctis line, but they’re much more expensive cans and so that would be a bit of a stretch.
A pair of 50mm drivers power the HS60 Pro Surround’s sound articulation, and they’re certainly powerful. In stereo mode they provide a low-end punch that really brings out the more bombastic elements of shooters and destruction-heavy action titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 (falling off a horse is an experience with these on). In the revamped Halo Reach from the Master Chief Collection the HUD indicators like that iconic shield recharge noise sing above the near-constant drone of auto weapons fire. Apex Legends, PUBG and CSGO all benefit from the FPS Competition preset in iCUE by having the important sound cues such as footsteps, door opening sounds and reloading sit more prominently in the mix.
Unfortunately that powerful sound in games is created by a v-shaped EQ which makes films and music sound a bit ‘scooped’. This is common across many, many gaming headsets, and the comparatively flat EQ response from the Steelseries Arctis series is one of the reasons it’s been so successful in recent years.
As for the virtual surround sound, to my ears it’s just not usable. Not here, and not in any other 50mm driver headset on the market - far from widening the sound space and letting cues whoosh past your ears, it makes the bass response too reverberant and adds a ring of digitised artifice to everything you hear. Leave it well alone.
Overall - should you buy it?
This revamped HS60 Pro Surround is now the first and foremost model to check out from Corsair’s line under the $100 / £100 mark, and certainly one of the better picks market-wide too. If you can live with the slightly mid-scooped EQ, and it might not be one of the absolute best gaming headsets, the build quality and comfort can’t be beaten.