Corsair HS65 Surround Headset Review: Medium Price, High-Quality Sound

Corsair has a history of offering headsets with sound and build quality above what you’d expect for their price, and the new HS65 Surround ($80 MSRP at the time of this writing) continues this tradition. This new mid-range entry is a completely new design that answers some of the aesthetic and control complaints about its predecessor, the HS60 Pro Surround, while continuing to over deliver in build quality, comfort, and, most importantly, sound quality. And with both USB and 3.5mm connections, the HS60 works with your PC, as well as your PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.

Not everything about the new design is a clear win — the custom SoundID profile feature didn’t click for me — but this attractive, great-sounding headset is definitely worth close consideration for gamers looking for a solid surround-sound headset that won’t break the budget.

Corsair HS65 Surround Specifications

Driver Type  50mm Neodymium
Impedance 32 Ohms @ 1 kHz
Frequency Response 20Hz – 20 kHz
Design Style Closed-back
Microphone Type Omni-directional boom
Connectivity USB 2.0, 3.5mm
Weight 0.6 lbs
Cord Length 5.9 feet
Lighting Ex: 1 RGB zone
Software Corsair iCUE 4

Design and Comfort of Corsair HS65

The build quality of the HS65 Surround is top-notch. The headband and earcup mounts are solid aluminum, with tasteful matte black plastic earcups and an understated dark metal grille design and Corsair logo on each cup. (A white and gray model is also available.) 

There’s also subtle Corsair branding on top of the matte black headband. If you’re looking more for “tasteful” than “notice my awesome gaming headset,” this classy, understated design is definitely a step up from the faux camouflage of the earlier HS60 Haptic or the oversized mesh grilles and cross-stitched padding on the HS60 Pro Surround.

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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The extremely comfortable memory foam earcups have cloth on the surface that touches your head and protein leather on the edges. This helps keep them from feeling as hot as cans with leather all around can during long sessions, while still providing better sound isolation than completely cloth-covered designs. There’s also thick, comfortable memory foam on the bottom of the headband.

At 0.6 pounds (282 grams), these aren’t featherweights, but they are on the lighter side for cans with 50mm drivers. The aluminum-reinforced headband provides solid clamping force. On my largish head (I use the last two notches on a baseball cap), the HS65 Surround stayed firmly in place without feeling tight or constrictive. However, the headset was clearly at the limits of its flexibility when I wore it, so gamers with even bigger noggins might find it too tight.

Volume is managed with a simple scroll wheel on the left earcup; this is much easier and quicker to use than fancy touch controls or buttons hanging off the microphone cord. Corsair’s earlier designs had a microphone mute button that didn’t clearly indicate when it was pressed, but this new design has eliminated the button completely. 

To mute the HS65, just swing the non-removable boom mic up to its stored position and it will be disabled. This should help prevent accidental embarrassing or annoyed comments from leaking into game sessions — if you choose to insult your gaming partner’s abilities, you’ll know you’re doing it.

The USB-A dongle doesn’t have any controls. I don’t need duplicated volume controls, but a switch to toggle surround sound would be nice (instead, you’ll have to go into Corsair’s iCUE software).

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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Audio Performance of Corsair HS65

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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Corsair)
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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Corsair)

The HS65 supports both stereo audio and, using the included USB-A dongle, Dolby Surround sound. The large 50mm drivers do a solid job of reproducing the lows of bass and battle as well as higher-pitched environmental and musical cues.

I played Call of Duty:Warzone with 7.1-channel Dolby Surround enabled and the FPS Competition equalizer preset enabled, and I was able to get good positional audio cues without the bass of gunfire and explosions overwhelming the audio. I also chatted over Discord while playing, and swapping to the Clear Chat preset muffled the game audio a bit but brought out the voices of other players clearly. \

In the less action-packed Microsoft Flight Simulator, I dropped to the Pure Direct EQ preset, which clearly reproduced cockpit and environmental sounds. Panning around the exterior of a plane was great for showing off the effectiveness of the surround sound.

The USB dongle does an admirable job with both stereo and surround audio, but it also bypasses your PC’s built-in sound card. If your rig is equipped with high-end audio, you can put the dongle aside and plug directly into the 3.5mm jack to take full advantage of your motherboard’s native sound capabilities.

Thanks to its 3.5mm plug, the HS65 Surround is also compatible with consoles and older smartphones. I played Halo: Infinite with the headset connected to a controller, and the Xbox’s Series X’s Dolby Atmos for Headphones surround quality was nearly identical to what I heard using the USB dongle with the Windows version of the game on my PC.

The Dolby Surround audio also sounded great when I watched movies and TV shows. The battles in the Halo TV series sounded as immersive as they do in the game, thanks to the headphones’ strong-but-not-overbearing bass and excellent surround-sound simulation. Dialogue was clear even during action sequences.

Musically, I wouldn’t trade the clarity of my audiophile-focused (and admittedly more expensive) Sennheiser HD3s for the HS65, but the HS65s sound pretty good for gaming-first headphones. I got plenty of bass in Daft Punk’s “Technologic.” But highs and mids in songs with acoustic instruments, such as Bowie’s “Starman,” were crisp and distinct as well. Music is faithfully reproduced across the volume spectrum, with no distortion except at the very top of the volume dial. Maximum volume is plenty loud; I was at the top of my comfort level with both the Windows and headset volume dials maxxed out.

The non-removable mic, which swivels out of the way for storage, does a great job with a frequency response of 100-10,000Hz. Clarity is excellent, and its directional pickup did a good job of isolating outside noise. The swiveling design means there’s no pop filter, but neither I nor my teammates noticed any popping or clipping in recordings or during game testing.

Features and Software of Corsair HS65

The H65 Surround can be used out of the box without any additional software, but you’ll need Corsair’s iCUE software to enable surround sound, custom SoundID profiles, and to adjust equalizer settings. (It’s the same software package used by other Corsair devices, so you can also use it to adjust the RGB settings on Corsair keyboard and Asus Aura-enable devices.)

The equalizer module lets you toggle Dolby 7.1 Surround support and adjust the microphone volume. There are five EQ presets, and you can create custom presets as well. In addition to the Clear Chat, Pure Direct, and FPS Competition presets mentioned in the Audio Performance section, there’s also a Movie Theater setting and a Bass Boost preset. The Bass Boost preset felt a bit overblown, but the others were well-tuned for the HS65 Surround’s audio signature. 

New to the HS65 is support for Sonarworks’ SoundID technology, which according to Corsair is designed to let you tweak audio to your personal preferences. You select an audio track from a choice of seven different musical styles ranging from distorted guitars to screaming metal to mellow vocals. SoundID plays the track with various filters applied and you choose between A and B samples for each. Once you’ve done a series of these, the iCUE creates a custom SoundID profile based on your preferences. 

Sound profiles are, of course, subjective, but the results just didn’t work for me. I picked the filters that seemed to bring instruments and vocals to the forefront. But when I tried the SoundID profile with a variety of songs — ranging from Pink Floyd to Kendrick Lamar — the soundstage seemed wider but the vocals sounded muddied and the instruments less differentiated. Game audio suffered a similar perceived loss of clarity. I admire the intent, but I had much better results creating a manual profile with iCUE’s equalizer.

Bottom Line

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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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Corsair HS65

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The Corsair HS65 Surround delivers solid audio performance in a well-built, attractive package. It’s comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and both 7.1 surround and stereo audio are clear and accurate. There’s a good amount of bass, but it’s not over-accentuated to the point that it negatively affects music accuracy — unlike some gaming headphones which overemphasize low frequencies. Corsair has a clear contender here for top choice in its price range.

Other headphones to consider in a similar price range include the HyperX Cloud Alpha, which provides stiff competition for the HS65 Surround in both sound quality and comfort areas but lacks a USB surround adapter, and the Fnatic React+, which has a similar feature set but a stronger emphasis on bass that negatively affects music clarity.