Apparently when you stare into the VOID, it stares back, changing you in the process. Instead of that cosmic interaction ending there, what if the VOID itself also changes? What if the VOID takes feedback from our stares and begins to create a better version of itself to stare back at you? Perhaps a bit too philosophical for a headset review, but Corsair has “stared back” and given us the Corsair VOID Surround Sound.
Let’s see if this little lovechild between the VOID Stereo and VOID USB has what it takes to deliver the best of both at a modest ~R1400 at the time of writing.
Avoiding The Obvious
First off the bat you’ll notice a distinct lack of anything “RGB” anywhere near this headset, which is quite a weird omission considering it’s the only version in the entire line-up that does not contain it. Another cost saving measure perhaps? Or maybe the Corsair consensus is nobody actually cares about having any RGB lighting on their heads. The VOID Surround Sound also dispenses with any InfoMic features, which although they were somewhat useful, they will not be terribly missed. Other than that, all the technical specs are pretty much carbon copy of the VOID USB, Wireless and Stereo: 20Hz-20Khz frequency response, 50mms drivers and similar microphone sensitivity at 37dB
Having reviewed the near identical Corsair VOID Wireless 7.1 headset, we’ve got the same level of appreciation for the design—that sleek almost Spartan-like look is enhanced by the red paint and angular design. Sporting the same lightweight base frame of hardened plastic cups and aluminium supported headband attached to an aluminium swivel mechanism means the VOID Surround Sound (VOID SS from now on) gets our nod of confidence in the longevity department. I do still wish they would remove the gloss finish on the ear cups as there is no LED lighting to make use of the glossy surface, and is simply a fingerprint magnet. The ear cups and headband use the same microfiber foam padded cloth, and are quite gentle on the ears like the previous VOID Wireless we tested.
As much as the VOID SS appears to be the same as all the VOIDs out there, there are key differences worth mentioning. The “awkward” comfort factor that we noticed in our VOID RGB Wireless review has all but dissipated in the VOID Surround Sound. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the VOID Surround Sound headset just sits so much more comfortably on my head.
Like the VOID design in general, Corsair put some control buttons on the headset in the form of a volume dial on the left underside cup and an extra large microphone mute button on the same cup, similar to the layout of the VOID Stereo. Corsair have gone with a standard volume dial instead of the volume dial/profile/dolby shift button on the wireless and USB version. We would have preferred the volume dial to be the same as the one on the VOID RGB Wireless and USB since this wheel dial produced quite an audible grind, and being so close to the ear, you can imagine how irritable it can get.
The VOID also makes use of the same boom-based uni-directional microphone, which means like all the other VOID headsets it’s tossed out fine-grained repositioning in favour of a notch-based movement. I’m a fan of permanently attached microphones, but some may have issues with its positioning problems, something I’ll get into in the performance section of the review.
The middle ground Corsair is providing is between offering the virtual Dolby 7.1 surround sound of the USB version, with the wide platform compatibility the Stereo version provides. The 7.1 virtual surround sound is provided by an included Dolby branded USB adapter. Unlike the USB only VOID headset, the inclusion of a USB adapter means that any 3.5mm jack of the 4-pole range can make use of the Dobly 7.1 adapter and features, which meant I could use my Kingston Hyper X Cloud II’s in there as well. Conversely, the VOID Surround Sound is a standard 3.5mm 4-pole jack, which means it’s compatible with your phone, PS4 or Xbox One (with the newer non adapter controller). Sadly Corsair omitted a Y-adapter, meaning that you need the USB adapter for the microphone to work, or you need a compatible 4-pole 3.5mm on your PC to make use of the microphone without the USB adapter.
Audio Performance: Return of the Warehouse, Part 2
Sadly, this headset’s USB adapter uses the same Dolby 7.1 software found in the Corsair VOID RGB Wireless, so it’s no secret that we found that the 7.1 audio quality was pretty damn awful. It produces a horrible echo effect to most sounds which made everything sound as if you where in an empty warehouse. The only benefit the 7.1 audio provided was some directionality in games that take advantage of it, such as FPS, but even here you’ll find that the overwhelming muddiness of the sound just brings down the entire experience and immersion. Thankfully, unlike the Corsair RGB VOID wireless 7.1, the analogue connection in this headset means you can make use of other USB sound cards. In my case I tried the headset out with my Kingston Hyper X II USB sound card, and got to experience the headset in a new 7.1 environment, which was devoid of that dreaded warehouse effect and actually made the ‘new’ 7.1 sound pretty spectacular in comparison.
So, as with the Corsair VOID RGB Wireless, ignore the 7.1 audio setting and just make use of its superb stereo audio. The software is pretty barebones compared with the VOID Wireless, but you still get some microphone level adjustments, sidetone adjustment, 5 default audio profiles and an EQ suite to create your own sound profiles, of which you can assign them to activate when specific applications start.
Audio performance was pretty much a copy and paste of the VOID Wireless headset we reviewed, although this headset is much cheaper, so there is some value proposition in getting the same audio performance for less cash. We primarily stuck with Pure Direct and Bass Boost for gaming, movies and music, because like the VOID RGB Wireless, this gaming headset is slanted towards being bass neutral by default. This means using Bass Boost delivered lows that were detailed and not overpowering of the mids and highs. The mids and highs are not the most clear we’ve heard in a headset, but they do the job just fine and when using the Clear Chat pre-set, it made listening to vocals and podcasting pretty great. Overall the headset delivered heart warming and punchy audio in games in movies. Although there was no default music profile, playing with the EQ meant we could get pretty decent sounding music. Like the VOID RGB Wireless, these headsets are properly loud with hardly an iota of distortion at 100% volume.
Moving to the microphone, like the VOID Wireless it suffers from being slightly tinny and does have a slight amount of interference based on where it’s placed. In retrospect to my review of the VOID RGD Wireless, I feel this where Corsair’s implementation of a notched boom microphone needs some reworking. The notches–although great for keeping the microphone stable–mean there are only 11 pre-set places for it. In my earlier review of the Wireless VOID this was not a problem as I found a placement that suited me and nullified any interference problems, but for others with different head sizes (like my girlfriend) it meant placing the microphone in a compromised position. If placed too far from the mouth it gets in your peripheral vision, and if placed too close it picks up your breathing and distorts the “P’s”, “Cha’s” or “T” sounding words. Other than that problem, I did find that the microphone performed adequately, but only if you’re lucky enough have it able to be placed a certain distance from your mouth. I’ve included an Audio example showing the difference that positioning has on this microphone
Final thoughts On Value
Overall our impression of these headsets is a tad stronger than the wireless version released last year. As much as they’ve given a “new” headset with wider platform compatibility, they’ve also take away some features and niceties(Superior Volume dial and RGB lighting) which have not really filtered down into a significantly cheaper pricing over the VOID RGB version. Overseas Newegg has both the VOID RGB USB and VOID Surround Sound for $79.99, while locally there is a R70 difference on Rebeltech and Wootware; not much of a value proposition for the Surround Sound then. Regardless of this value conundrum, it offers all the audio goodness of the VOID at slightly cheaper local prices and the option to use it across multiple platforms. If that sounds like something you’d like, then I can’t fault you for considering this headset.
Corsair have delivered a good sounding headset that ticks many of the right boxes for a gaming headset, even if some of them are best avoided ~Cough, Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound…Cough~. Although its value proposition is dampened based on its close proximity in price to the VOID RGB USB version, it does have that multi-device compatibility card up its sleeve, which may be the trump card for many gamers who use more than one gaming or entertainment platform (I.e, most of us).
Last Updated: May 9, 2016