Corsair and Raptor Gaming Drop the Corsair Raptor Headsets

It was late-summer in 2012 when Corsair announced it had acquired Raptor Gaming, a German based maker of gaming peripherals. Corsair gained both a European based headquarter to distribute its wide range of computer hardware and Raptor Gaming’s entire portfolio of keyboards, mice, headsets, and accessories, which formed a new series of gaming products alongside Corsair’s Vengeance gaming products. Corsair has respected the Raptor name and not only continues to maintain many of the acquired products, but has integrated the name into new products. New Corsair Raptor products represent gaming products aimed at a more mainstream audience alongside the premium Corsair Vengeance peripherals.

Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

We look at the first ever Corsair Raptor headsets to be released, a pair called the HS30 and HS40 which join the rest of the 2013 Vengeance headsets for a refreshed lineup of Corsair gaming headsets. The HS30 and HS40 enter the market priced as mainstream offerings and can be found respectively for $49.99 and $59.99 with free shipping on Amazon. In a way not unlike the relationship between the Vengeance 1400 and Vengeance 1500, the Raptor HS30 and Raptor HS40 are virtually identical headsets differing by the interface they use to connect to computers. The HS30 uses dual 3.5 mm analog plugs whereas the HS40 connects using USB. These headsets both come with 2-year warranties like other Corsair audio products. The rest of the product specifications for the new Corsair Raptor headsets are the same. Despite the HS40 being labeled as a surround sound headset, the headphone component is stereo.

Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Corsair Raptor HS30 Gaming Headset Features:

Corsair Raptor HS30 Gaming Headset Specifications:

Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Corsair Raptor HS40 Gaming Headset Features:

Corsair Raptor HS40 Gaming Headset Specifications:

Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Barring the differences from the 3.5mm analog vs. USB interfaces and the inline controllers, the Raptor HS30 and Raptor HS40 headsets look and feel the same.

Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

The only other thing packaged with each headset is warranty information. Corsair audio products come with a 2-year warranty.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

The Raptor HS30 and HS40 are full-sized headsets. Along the earcups’ longest elliptical axis, the outer diameter measures 4 inches, but the inner diameter measures 2 inches. Some peoples’ ears may have a tight fit or not fit comfortably at all. Rotating the cups on their ball and socket joints may be required to align the elliptical space along the ear.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Unlike the Vengeance headsets, the Raptor headsets do not have any hinge joints. Instead, each earcup on the HS30 and HS40 fits to the contour of the head by means of a ball-and-socket joint.

In contrast to the Corsair Vengeance headsets’ exposed metal, the Raptor headsets are constructed out of plastic and are thus quite lightweight though they don’t feel like hollow plastic. The outer surface of the earcups and the top piece of the headband has a shiny piano black finish.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

The headband length is fully adjustable. Also visible in the below image is the padding on the headband. The headband along with the earcups is wrapped in leather.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

The microphone is mounted on a swiveling 5.75 inch bendable boom.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

The HS30 and HS40 have different inline controller designs. The HS30 has a sliding switch to mute the microphone and a headphone volume control wheel. The HS40 has three buttons: two on each end for headphone volume control and microphone mute in the center.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

The HS40 inline controller will change color when the microphone is muted. Instead of the steady blue light when plugged in, the lights will change to red.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40 Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Corsair Raptor HS40 Exclusive Features and Software

Unlike the analog HS30, the Raptor HS40 requires an internet connection to download its driver software as the package does not include a driver CD. The HS40 Headset Control can be downloaded from the Raptor HS40 product page on Corsair's website. The USB interface powers and directs data to an audio processor built into the headset inline controller. This potentially grants access to advanced audio codecs normally not found in integrated audio. Emulated 7.1 surround sound in particular is one of the HS40’s signature features, though unlike the USB connected Vengeance headsets, the HS40 is not serviced by Dolby Headphone, but instead by C-Media Xear.

The HS40 Headset Control Panel has the same three functions as the Vengeance headset driver software: volume control for system volume and microphone, graphic equalizer, and virtual surround sound settings. The HS40 preset equalizer settings are tuned specifically for the HS40 and are not the same as the preset settings in the Vengeance software.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Clicking the blue Bypass button on the top left triggers virtual 7.1 surround sound. Additionally, the Xear Surround Headphone logo on the bottom right lights up.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

The surround setting changes the emulated distance of the point sources with Studio being the closest and Hall being the farthest.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40 Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

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.

There are slight differences between how the HS30 and the HS40 sound, but they both have a large peak in the low-medium frequencies from 300 to 1000 Hz and another peak in the treble from 7000 to 12000 Hz. The result is poor sound quality. The bloated low-medium frequencies not only muddy the overall sound, but also make it incredibly bland. A sine sweep program such as SineGen will aid in locating the peaks and correcting them as much as is possible within a graphic equalizer.Sinegen

Music

Uncorrected, the Raptor HS30 and HS40 are bad sounding headphones. The low-midrange peak is disproportionate to all the other frequencies and gives a tinny characteristic to music. Both the bass and upper midtones will sound weak. Spending the time to correct the peaks with sine sweeps and equalizers is needed for a much more realistic sound character and to make any adjustments for personal taste. Not every attempt will be fruitful as our own efforts took hours across several days to tune our Raptor HS30 sample with a fully amped dedicated sound card. Your mileage will vary.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

A Raptor HS30 EQ Profile for the ASUS DGX Sound Card in Foobar2000 Audio Player

The bigger surprise is how much better these headsets sound after equalization to preference. The 2013 Raptor headsets have an unusual compatibility many custom tuned equalizer settings. After some work, just about any song or movie could be adapted and as a result sound quite good. Midtones are quite detailed, but the bass and treble have surprising clarity and energy for a mainstream-priced headset.

Movies

Without equalization, movie vocals and spoken dialogue have reduced detail caused by crossover from the overemphasized low-medium frequencies. As was observed with music, the Raptor HS30 and HS40 were improved by equalization.

Games

The distracting nature of video games renders audio irregularities far less noticeable, but can still be heard with deliberate careful listening with the Raptor HS30 and HS40. The aforementioned bloated low-medium frequencies give an unnatural hollow quality to game audio. Low frequencies can be strongly heard, but with weak bass to complement. Vocals sound tinny and trebles sound muddied with the low-medium frequencies taking up so much of the soundspace.

Regardless of equalization, the stereo soundstage is poor. Positional audio for both stereo and virtual surround lack a wide range of direction and distance. The HS40’s C-media Xear Surround feature is an admirable move to bring virtual surround sound to a mainstream gaming headset, but it’s not the killer feature it’s made to look. Like Dolby Headphone, which is featured with the USB Corsair Vengeance headsets, C-media Xear is ineffective and downmixes the audio channels to what sounds like mono channel.

Microphone

While the Raptor headset microphones are not nearly as good as the Corsair Vengeance headset microphones, the HS30 and HS40 have respectable recording quality. Voice playback to other players was recreated quite accurately with a hint of robot-like qualities.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40 headsets are virtually identically with few differences. As such, the experience with both these headsets was the same. We’ll first examine what we liked and didn’t like about the design and the impact that had on comfort. Like most other mainstream-priced gaming headsets, the Raptor HS30 and HS40 are constructed almost entirely out of plastic. The Raptor headsets don’t feel hollow, which while at the expense of being heavier, does make them feel more durable. The earcups can use an improvement because the inner diameter leaves little space for the ear. People with large ears may not be able to comfortably wear the HS30 and HS40 and those with more normal sized ears may have to carefully to align the elliptical earcups on their heads. A properly fitted Raptor HS30 or HS40 is very comfortable to use even for long sessions, but the work needed to adjust the headsets can be an annoyance for those especially accustomed to more forgiving headphones.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

Sound quality needs improvement as the Raptor HS30 and HS40 recreate music very poorly. Deficiencies were less noticeable with movies and games due to their audio being less busy than music. A very large frequency peak from 300 to 1000 Hz gives music a very empty sound, like speakers placed at the end of a long hallway. Bass, upper-mids, and treble frequencies suffer from the overemphasized peak. Those particularly bothered by the way how the Raptor headsets play music may want to use a graphic equalizer. Our own results were mostly successful and it reveals surprising clarity for a mainstream headset. The microphone is something we aren’t complaining much about. Despite the microphone’s flimsy feel, a very good pickup range means bending the microphone boom is not entirely necessary in a home environment. Recording quality is also very good. Transmitted voice was audible and clear with minor fault to accuracy.Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40

It’s unfortunate there are so many shortcomings with both the Raptor HS30 and HS40. Both of our headset review samples were much more likable after figuring out some workarounds, but the mainstream market is an unforgiving crowded space. Corsair will have to improve upon the Raptor headsets’ current design if they want to lure buyers away from the competition, such as the popular Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 that just just $44.99 shipped

$49.99 for the HS30 and $59.99 for the HS40 are very reasonable prices as far as gaming headsets are concerned, though gamers with a love for music should consider other products including Corsair’s higher end Vengeance headset lineup.

Legit Bottom Line: The Corsair Raptor HS30 and HS40 are flawed mainstream-priced gaming headsets with a questionable ergonomic design and poor music playback performance that required aggressive equalization to correct.