We've been loving hardware and peripheral manufacturer Corsair's products as of late. We've praised the K57 RGB Wireless, the IronClaw Wireless and the HS70SE (the latter not as much) in the past six months.
These products have all been designed with the same mission in mind - to provide a solid user experience for less money than the competitors Razer and Steelseries can manage and they've largely succeeded.
This is why we were so excited when Corsair sent over a product that honestly can't be placed in the same box as its competition. The Virtuoso RGB Wireless is the new headset from Corsair and it's meant to be a technological flagship for the company, rather than a product relying solely on the price tag being lower than the competition's counterpart.
The Virtuoso is sold as a luxury product and you notice this the second you unpack the headset. The new Slipstream dongle is of higher quality than what you'd typically see, the gorgeous and glossy exterior of the cups light up with the Corsair logo and the buttons on the sides feel tactile and responsive. The bracket itself, as well as the cups, are well covered with memory foam, ensuring high-level comfort and the metal hinges on the side are easy to adjust and are of solid quality. In other words, the white version that we tested is one of the nicest gaming headsets we've had sent to the Gamereactor office in at least a couple of years. It's charged through USB-C and a simple switch on the side switches between wired and wireless mode.
However, there are of course issues, as with essentially any other product, and for the Virtuoso, it's the fact that the headset doesn't really have a snug fit. Although the amount of memory foam should allow for a comfortable but tight fit, one half of the cups strays from your head easily, preventing a complete enclosure around the ear. It's frankly a pity and not an issue you'd expect when buying a flagship model product.
However, the headset is, as a whole, both simple and elegant and the removable microphone is an impressive one. We still prefer a microphone that slides in and out of the cup itself, but a removable version is at least better than one that has to be knocked down. The microphone is 9.5mm and omnidirectional, delivering crystal clear speech, even when you're far away from the dongle. This is thanks to the new Slipstream technology. Furthermore, it has a nice little LED ring in the tip which indicates whether you have the mic muted or not - smart.
When you look at the Virtuoso, it's hard to miss that Corsair has changed its approach, upping the price but also the production budget, delivering a truly premium product that's out of the ordinary for the manufacturer. The 50-millimetre neodymium drivers deliver solid soundscapes that can blow your eardrums out if you want it to. This is mostly due to the fact that Corsair has taken an audiophile approach with the development of the Virtuoso, rather than something gaming-specific. This has resulted in the addition of a frequency spectrum of 20Hz-40,000Hz, twice the range of other typical models. In addition, the headset sports 7.1 surround when connected via USB and the possibility of playing 24 BIT / 96Hz audio.
If you prefer to use its wireless connection, there's good news regarding it. The dongle works equally good regardless of where it's plugged in and can be used on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and even Switch (using a little technical fix). It's also of the Slipstream label, which means longer reach and clearer sound going both in and out from the transmitter. We tested it out here in the office and found that the connection flickered at about eight feet, whereas a Razer Thresher could only handle half of that distance.
We managed to squeeze about 16 hours of use out of one Virtuoso charge, which is relatively limited, we have to admit, but not just that, Corsair still requires you to leave it to charge it or cable it with the included USB-C cable. This is okay, but if you're a console player, for example, it would have been preferable to have a smarter way of charging the headset, for example via a stand or with a replaceable battery, which Steelseries continues to use.
The headset will set you back around $179, which is a lot cheaper than a Razer Nari Ultimate headset and much cheaper than the Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless. In fact, despite the opening of this text, Corsair is still below its competitor's similar products in price without making too many compromises.
However, we would have wanted to see a smarter charging solution, better battery life and a more enclosed fit, but considering you'll save some money when buying this headset rather than splurging on its competitor's counterparts, Corsair has read the market correctly and continues to release products that kick the competition to the curb.