Corsair Vengeance 1500 (V2) Gaming Headset

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We’re back with another 2013 Corsair headset and this time, Legit Reviews gives its attention to the Vengeance 1500 (V2). This is a USB headset aimed at gamers who are unwilling or unable to upgrade to a dedicated sound card, but are interesting in advanced hardware codec features such as Dolby Headphone. This is the only new Vengeance headset that shares the same name as its predecessor. Thus to avoid confusion throughout this review, the 2013 headset will be referred to as the Vengeance 1500 (V2) and the older 2012 headset will be referred to as the Vengeance 1500 (V1.)

The Vengeance 1500 (V2) shares many similarities with the Vengeance 1400 we already reviewed. In-fact, the headsets look identical when placed side by side. Only upon thorough inspection is it apparent that the headband lengths are different. Even the official specifications are nearly identical and the. The Vengeance 1500 (V2)’s few differences from the Vengeance 1400 center around the USB interface and built-in sound card. These enable inclusion of advanced hardware codec features such as Dolby Headphone surround sound, but make no mistake because the Vengeance 1500 (V2) is technically a stereo headset. Currently, the Vengeance 1500 (V2) is $97.53 shipped on Amazon

Looking at the base MSRP prices, we see that the Vengeance 1400 and Vengeance 1500 (V2) are meant to be more similar than their predecessors. The Vengeance 1500 (V2) has a base price of $99, which is the same as the 2012 Vengeance 1500 (V1) and a mere $10 more than the Vengeance 1400 (although you can pick those up on Amazon for $79.99 shipped). The price difference of the 2012 Vengeance headsets by contrast, the Vengeance 1500 (V1) and the Vengeance 1300, had a larger base price difference of $20. It will be interesting to see if the new 2013 wired Vengeance headsets perform any differently.

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Corsair Vengeance 1500 (V2) Gaming Headset Features:

Corsair Vengeance 1500 (V2) Gaming Headset Specifications:

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The retail box has a large clear plastic window which prominently shows half of the Vengeance 1500 (V2) headset. The only other things packaged are the 2-year warranty information papers.

Looking around the Vengeance 1500 (V2) Headset

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The Vengeance 1500 (V2) is large and heavy for a full-sized headphone. Most people shouldn’t have too many problems fitting their ears in the 4.5 inch wide earcups. Out of the box, the Vengeance 1500 (V2)’s headband clamping force was ridiculous. The headset would squeeze so tight on the head that it wasn’t comfortable to wear for very long. Stretching the Vengeance 1500 V2 headband (and Vengeance 1400 too) for weeks eventually made the pressure relent. In-fact, these headsets have become fairly comfortable to wear despite their weight and size.vengeance1500v2_06_cups

Like the rest of the 2013 Vengeance headsets, the earcups are generously padded and wrapped in fuzzy fabric. In contrast, the earcups on the 2012 Vengeance headsets were wrapped in black plastic leather.vengeance1500v2_07_twist

We move on to the unpadded potion of the headband. The length is adjustable above both earcups and the headset can fit heads of all sizes. The Vengeance 1500 (V2) has a different headband color from the Vengeance 1500 (V1) – the old silver color has been replaced by a gunmetal gray. The axle joints have also been improved as a result of complaints of Vengeance 1500 (V1) headsets falling apart at the joints.vengeance1500v2_08_axis

The microphone is mounted on a swiveling boom with a length of roughly 5.75 inches. The boom is bendable in only one direction towards the user.vengeance1500v2_09_headset vengeance1500v2_10_headset vengeance1500v2_11_headset

The Vengeance 1500 (V2)’s braided USB cable has a total length of 9.8 ft (3 m.) The inline controller is located 19.5 inches from the headset on the cable.vengeance1500v2_12_inline

The inline controller has buttons for volume up/down and microphone mute. When plugged in and powered on, the inline controller lights up two bars in-between the three buttons. When the microphone is not muted by the controller, the lights will glow a steady bright blue. When the microphone is muted, the lights will flash between red and blue. I would much prefer the mute setting to remain a steady red instead of alternating between the two colors.

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The change in the color scheme of the 2013 Vengeance headset has left the Vengeance 1400 and the Vengeance 1500 (V2) looking seemingly identical. The only visible difference when placed side-by-side is that the headbands are different lengths.vengeance1500v2_15_compare

Left: Vengeance 1400   Right: Vengeance 1500 V2

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Corsair Headset Control Panel

The Vengeance 1500 (V2) does not come a driver CD and thus the headset software must be downloaded from Corsair’s website at the headset product page. The driver software does three things: headphone and microphone volume control, graphic equalizer, and virtual surround sound settings. This software is also used for the Vengeance 2100.

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The graphic equalizer follows a logarithmic scale and includes several preset equalizer settings.

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Pressing the blue power symbol at the top left of the software interface will toggle Dolby Headphone 7.1 virtual surround sound. To the right of that is Source Type which has a drop down where the user can define the number of channels to emulate. Now Playing will always display “7.1 Surround.” If selecting the Source Type as 7.1, Dolby Pro Logic IIx will not be available. Dolby Pro Logic IIx is enabled alongside Dolby Headphone for 2.0 and 5.1 sources.

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Subjective Listening: Music, Movies, and Games

Not everyone hears the same as each other. People’s ears are different and preferences dictate our style. The subjective listening tests in our reviews not only compare the product with other gaming headsets, but also audiophile-grade headphones. Those who don’t regularly listen with higher-end equipment may not notice the sound quality deficiencies we are able to notice.

Music

A considerable portion of what was written in the Vengeance 1400 review is applicable to the Vengeance 1500 (V2.) That was obvious when the headsets are compared visually, but now we turn our attention to how they sound.foobar_01_musicdemo

Some facets of the sound characteristic are the same, such as a boomy, but not too punchy bass, and warm trebles, though the Vengeance 1500 (V2)’s trebles are noticeably brighter. The Vengeance 1500 (V2) is decently well-defined at the midtones and with most treble frequencies, but has a murky bass. Heavy metal sounded the best while orchestra soundtracks and classical music sounded the worst when listening with the Vengeance 1500 (V2.) The Corsair audio engineers might have been listening to too much dubstep, but as headphones, the Vengeance 1500 (V2) is well-rounded.

Our Vengeance 1400 review noted that the headphones were very compatible with integrated audio. Unfortunately for the Vengeance 1500 (V2), it doesn’t sound noticeably different from the Vengeance 1400 paired with integrated audio. Should the Vengeance 1500 (V2) be costing more or the same as the 1400 and you’re having a hard time deciding, the included software features may sway your interest…

Dolby Headphone

This deserves its own special place because Dolby Headphone isn’t the killer feature it’s made out to be. Corsair goes so far to call the Vengeance 1500 (V2) a 7.1 surround sound headset, but it’s really a stereo headset. Dissapointingly, the audio sounds like it was downmixed into a single channel when Dolby Headphone was turned on. Audio positional distance could still be somewhat determined, but direction could not. Therefore, we recommend listening to music, movies, and games with Dolby Headphone turned off in the driver software and letting the game engine handle the audio positioning. This isn’t unique to the Vengeance 1500 (V2) as we had this same criticism for Dolby Headphone on the ASUS Xonar DGX sound card in our Vengeance 1400 review and we’ll raise this issue again in the Vengeance 2100 review.

Movies

The Vengeance 1500 (V2)’s strong bass and energetic trebles give action and sound effects a great deal of impact. The tradeoff is that vocals and dialogue sound slightly less loud than other sounds. It’s not a problem of the headset, but its characteristic. Additionally, the headset has a wide stereo soundstage and effects that move from one ear to the other were noticeable.

Games

Likewise with movies, the greater emphasis on bass and treble is more favorable to action effects in video games. While it added a likable cinematic feel to movies, video game audio sounded unrealistic. Fantasy and preWorld War historical games in particular sounded the least natural because combat in those games are not typically explosive. Unsurprisingly, such a sound characteristic was much more forgiving for militaristic themed games.

VOIP and player voice chat sounded fine because speech transmitted on a narrow band in the mid frequencies.

Microphone

We’re really impressed by the recording quality of all of Corsair’s headsets and the Vengeance 1500 (V2) is no exception. Self-listening tests were amongst the most realistic amongst all the headsets we have tested and fellow gamers had no problem hearing and understanding even a whisper.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

My impression of the Vengeance 1500 (V2) has changed considerably over the many weeks I’ve been wearing and listening with it. Had I wrote this review much sooner, I would have hammered on about how uncomfortable this headset was to wear. That was previously my biggest criticism of the Vengeance 1400, but even that headset has now loosened and the clamping force is now very acceptable. The only comfort concern that remains is the bulky weight of both these sister headsets.

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Sound quality is good and it’s sure to satisfy a wide variety of listeners. Audio detail is nowhere as good as most competing dedicated music headphones, but the Vengeance 1500 (V2) is more than competent and it packs a rotating microphone that has some of the best recording quality we’ve heard from a gaming headset. Music and movie listeners should have few complaints with most songs. Strong bass and treble give energy to songs and film. However, genres that rely on a more natural sound signature such as orchestra tracks were spoiled by the large bass presence. Most video games sounded fine, but gamers who take the pickiest interest in realistic combat sounds, particularly in the fantasy or historical setting, may want to look for another headset or headphone.vengeance1500v2_01_boxfront

The Corsair Vengeance 1500 (V2) is by and far not our favorite $99 headset, but it’s a very capable headset that passes in every regard. We can’t evaluate the long-term reliability of the Vengeance 1500 (V2) which was a complaint from dissatisfied Vengeance 1500 (V1) owners with broken headsets, but improvements to the mechanical durability are apparent in the new design. Right now the Corsair Vengeance 1500 (V2) is $97.53 shipped, but did see this model selling for $69.99 during holiday sales. If you can grab this headset in the $70 or under price range, it is certainly worth its cost. After a very aggressive break in to loosen the headband clamping force and long burn ins, the Corsair Vengeance 1500 (V2) earns a recommendation for its comfort and good sound.

 

LR Recommended Award

Legit Bottom Line: The Vengeance 1500 (V2) took a long time to get used to, but the comfort and characteristic sound make this a solid gaming headset.