The wireless gaming headset suffers tremendously from inherently flawed drivers that mangle surround sound. The hardware and stereo quality are at least commendable, but these can’t really justify the $150 asking price.

16 July 2012, Comments: 22

 July 2012         R. Scott Clark

Headset Design


Before I dive straight into the negative aspects of this headset and why it fails to live up to my expectations, it’s important to point out where the Corsair Vengeance 2000 actually succeeds since it’s in many ways still a good headset for stereo. Let’s start by going over the physical design, since Corsair has made numerous improvements here that deserve recognition.

Right off the bat I can tell you that the Vengeance 2000 is much more comfortable to wear for extended gaming sessions than the corded Vengeance 1500. Though the 1500 was until recently the second most comfortable headset I’d ever worn, it tends to clamp down where my jaw meets my ears unless I position the headband just right. This headset eliminates this clamping entirely, but does so without feeling loose either.

The Vengeance 2000’s weight is another non-issue, weighing about the same as the 1500 despite the extra payload of a new battery and charging circuit. This might be attributable to the material changes that were made to the headband, giving the trim a rougher plastic feel. The new headband still seems to be fairly durable, doing well to resist caving in under pressure. The pivot joints also seem to to be well-built and oiled, freely moving without squeaking in either direction.

Next up on the list of improvements is the fantastic volume roller on the left earcup, drawing obvious mental ties to Logitech’s G-series headsets. The wheel is made of textured metal and has a light ratcheting effect to it for precision stepping, featuring a perfect amount of resistance that allows for swift volume adjustments. The control here is so good that I’ll often find myself using the headset’s volume roller over the controls on my keyboard, and will even try and fail to reach for it when using the older Vengeance 1500 headset that lacks it.

The left earcup also serves as home to a solitary button for controlling power, made complete by a flashing blue light which cannot be disabled. A microphone mute button is unnecessary here, replaced by a semi-flexible microphone stalk that self-mutes when swiveled upright.

The earcups have also changed ever so slightly from past models, their swivel movement now reversed so that when you twist them flat, the headset will lay flat instead of rocking back and forth on the outer edges. Better still, the earcups are now attached to the headband with a dual hinge design that allows for more freedom when tilting up and down. The earpads are made of the same breathable memory foam as before, but have been trimmed down a few millimeters in their depth. Though the shallower earcups still excel at creating an immersive sound stage, I no longer consider the headset to be as isolating. If anything, it’s a healthy cross between the Vengeance 1500 and the Razer Megalodon that allows for more interaction with your LAN buddies at lower volumes without getting too open-ear.

Wireless Hardware


The wireless aspects of the Vengeance 2000 are fairly vanilla, doing little to set the headset apart from its competitors. Corsair’s wireless kit includes an integrated lithium-ion rechargeable battery rated for 10 hours, a 2.4GHz RF transceiver, a transceiver dock with an integrated 5-foot USB cable, and a 5-foot USB A to micro-B charging cable. These implements do well enough to cover the basics of wireless just dandy, but for a street price of $150 I guess I was expecting a little more in the way of premium features.

What I would have preferred to see here is a charging solution built into the transmitter dock such that I only need to have one cable plugged into my computer for the headset at any given time. Likewise, a 5GHz frequency option would have been nice for gamers living in apartment complexes with overcrowded 2.4GHz spectrum, and configurable buttons for skipping tracks in iTunes or answering Skype calls would’ve been an absolute treat.

Even without these added niceties, the headset’s wireless performance still lives up to my expectations for performance. My own testing shows that the battery can last a solid 10 hours and 26 minutes at a comfortably loud 33% volume. This should be plenty of time for most gaming sessions, but don’t expect to watch the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy on a single charge, let alone a Farscape marathon. Also, be forewarned that the headset will emit a warning beep once every minute once a low battery threshold has been hit that might prove irritating to some. Of course, you can always plug in a charging cable and continue playing games uninterrupted.

In my modestly-sized townhome with four serviceable 2.4Ghz wireless networks in range, I found wireless interference to be a non-issue which has yet to interrupt my VoIP calls or gaming. In fact the only times I ever encountered wireless interference was when I walked behind a wall, stood next to the microwave, or went down into the basement. As much as I lament the ability to nuke a Hot Pocket and listen to music at the same time, my newly-found wireless freedom in the living room and bedroom is a significant improvement over the short leash of my corded headsets, especially since I like to pace around during Skype calls.

I should point out that the wireless hardware in the Vengeance 2000 brings about a soft hissing noise whenever an audio source is active in Windows. You can hear the hiss in XBMC’s menu screens or during periods of dead silence in games and movies, but just about any level of music or ambient effects will quickly drown it out. To be fair, Logitech’s wireless G930 suffers from the same issue, but to a lesser extent.

A safety booklet included with the headset makes reference to the lithium ion battery being removable, though it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to remove the battery until the headset’s ready to be retired and recycled. Corsair has explained over a series of emails that they’re committed to servicing headsets with worn-down batteries through their RMA warranty process rather than asking users to install the batteries themselves. For users outside of warranty, Corsair plans to sell replacement batteries for a nominal fee, though the fine details here still need to be ironed out.

Software Drivers – Simple to a Fault


It’s been a strange and mildly-frustrating ride to see where Corsair has taken their drivers throughout the Vengeance lineup. With the mice and keyboards, the main points of criticism were various bugs and poor documentation, though that’s slowly being addressed. With the Vengeance 1500 headset, stability was never an issue, though the reskin of C-Media’s drivers caused its own set of minor problems.

Now with the release of the Vengeance 2000, we have a whole new driver that’s been stripped down to a skeleton feature set. Once downloaded and installed from Corsair’s website, users will have access to a new headset control panel featuring a giant “Bypass” button to toggle on/off C-Media’s Xear 3D surround effect. There’s also a 10-band equalizer, volume and mic sliders, and a room size selector for the surround effect.

Word from Corsair is that the new design is the result of marketing giving direction to simplify the interface to only provide essential controls. Though improving user accessibility is always a noble goal, I feel as if Corsair has taken the ethos of simplicity to a worrisome extreme here that ultimately hampers customization and compatibility.

So what’s been taken out from the Vengeance 1500’s driver, you ask? Well, the Dolby Headphone surround virtualization and Pro Logic IIx upmixing have both been stripped out completely, and there’s nary a peep as to why. Left/right balance and the microphone loopback controls have also been cut – the loopback now permanently enabled at a soft volume. C-Media’s Virtual Speaker Shifter is also missing, not that it ever worked properly with the Vengeance 1500, so don’t count on being able to adjust the channel positions and volume manually.

Perhaps most worrisome is that outside of Corsair’s software, the speaker count in the Windows Audio control panel is made inaccessible. Contrast this to past Corsair headsets where the speaker count could be manually configured from Stereo to 5.1 and 7.1 surround, which played a vital role for those headsets’ outstanding game compatibility ratings. Though it’s common practice for headset manufacturers such as Logitech and Razer to disable manual speaker configurations, they will at least set the output channels to 7.1 surround to help preserve compatibility with games. With the Vengeance 2000, Corsair saw fit to leave the speaker count as plain old stereo, thereby preventing numerous games including Grand Theft Auto IV from even enabling surround sound. I’ll be covering this massive oversight in greater detail later on in the review.

So with the new drivers being as crippled as they are, is it possible to revert back to the v1.1 drivers that are used by the HS1 and Vengeance 1500 headsets? Unfortunately, no. It’s not even clear yet if the Vengeance 2000 uses the same C-Media CM6302 chip as the older headsets, since Corsair went out of their way to intentionally obscure the audio controller string in the Information dialog box. Rather than showcasing the actual codec used as is commonplace with other C-Media hardware, the drivers now report a mysterious “Vengeance 2000” audio controller that leaves us all guessing.

Stereo Sound Quality


To its credit, the Vengeance 2000 does a bang-up job in Bypass mode, doing well to follow on in the Vengeance 1500’s footprints for stereo quality. The sound isn’t exactly the same between the two – the Vengeance 2000 has a deeper bass response – but the overall sound quality is still quite phenomenal. The 50mm physical drivers allow for clearly-defined highs, mids and lows that blend well without overpowering one another, and manage to retain a clean sound even at high volumes. Better yet, there’s now plenty of kick for those who like to feel their music.

Corsair offers a total of eight presets for their Equalizer that have again been tuned to match the physical drivers as explained on their blog. Included in these are four EQ presets specifically geared for audiophiles, said to make music sound more open or mellow. I personally dislike these audiophile settings for their overbearing low ends and can’t help but chuckle as my comical perceptions of the audiophile label are reinforced, but ultimately this doesn’t matter since you can always tweak your own variations of the most excellent Reference EQ setting and save them for later use.

And my, how the Vengeance 2000 brings out the nuances in music when the Reference EQ is applied. Every subtlety and peculiar twang in Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV is well represented by the 50mm drivers, and the masterful tones of the album’s piano solos are made truly haunting and emotional to listen to. Genres of music with an emphasis on high frequencies such as my beloved chiptunes do just as well to feel truly energetic. I’m still trying to decide which Vengeance headset I prefer overall for general music listening, but one thing is resoundingly clear to me: in a contest of stereo quality alone against its closest competitor, the Vengeance 2000 blows Logitech’s G930 completely out of the water.

Surround Sound Quality


Like most surround headsets these days, the Vengeance 2000 takes the path of virtual surround sound over true surround sound. That is, the multi-channel audio is reproduced from only two physical drivers instead of six or eight, in much the same way that you listen to your surrounding environment with only two ears unless you’re a mutant. The pitch and latency cues that your brain picks up on for surround are simply preprocessed for a generic ear and delivered over two channels is all.

Personally, I view virtual surround when done right as superior to true surround technology, in that it allows for a lighter headset with fewer components that have the potential to fail. Virtual surround also holds the benefit that all sounds are produced from the same large drivers, as opposed to true surround headsets that often deliver the rear channels over smaller 20 or 30mm drivers. This prevents characters and effects from sounding tinny behind your person.

Of course, what truly makes or breaks virtual surround sound is its implementation by firmware or drivers, and in the case of the Vengeance 2000 the drivers have failed us all miserably. Though enabling the Xear 3D surround engine does indeed create a virtual room that spaces out your movies, games and music in a small reverb chamber, I’ve found it impossible to tell the front, side and rear channels apart in a number of applications.

Three of the applications that surprisingly failed testing are VLC, Windows Media Player and XBMC Media Center, sampled using a couple of multichannel test files from Microsoft. For VLC, the program does recognize that the USB headset supports 7.1 surround since that option is made available within the Audio Device menu. We can also tell that the program is indeed delivering a surround mix to the drivers, since the since we we can hear the low frequency bass effect if the 5.1 or 7.1 settings are chosen. The issue at stake here is the playback and differentiation of the front/side/rear channels. These are only able to be discerned by gradual softening of the volume – something that can also be heard just as clearly on a plain stereo headset, but without Xear 3D’s funky echoes.

XBMC Media Center also allows for configuring up to 7.1 surround within the program’s settings, and we can again tell that the program is processing surround audio since the LFE test can be heard. But just like with VLC, the front/side/rear channels are indistinguishable from one another. With Windows Media Player the LFE effect is audible once again, but here too I find practical distinction between front and rear channels.

I’ve sampled a number of other test files and movies with these applications and even dragged my roommate into the testing process just in case my own ears were defective, but ultimately neither of us could find a single song or movie with working surround. This is quite unfortunate, as it means I won’t be using this headset with my home theater PC for late-night movie watching.

Ignoring the front/rear issue for a moment, what about Xear’s spatialization? Much like Dolby’s offerings, the reverberations produced by the virtual room help to reduce ear fatigue during extended listening sessions, and to some extent give you the impression that you’re listening to a live performance of your favorite band. Using the Studio room size seems to work best and does wonders to brighten the image of electric guitars, the melody in Iron Maiden’s Hallowed Be Thy Name brought vividly to life.

The surround effect doesn’t work well with all music, however, with Machinae Supremacy’s Winterstorm feeling excessively hollow just as it has with every other surround headset I’ve reviewed. Xear 3D also seems to have an issue with heavy influences in a track such as the crashes in Perfect Dark’s Credits Theme or the plucking segment in Machinae Supremacy’s Return to Snake Mountain (3m05s-3m45s). These forceful moments are noticeably compressed, the overall feel of the music losing out on much of its dynamic punch. Thankfully this side-effect doesn’t sound anywhere half as bad as the extent to which Creative’s CMSS-3D destroys music, but the overall feel is similar. If you do end up purchasing this headset, I recommend that you try listening to music both with and without Xear to find out which works best for you.

Surround Sound Gaming


Over my last few years of reviewing USB headsets I’ve noticed that game compatibility can be quite fickle and tends to vary wildly between models. Usually this is as simple as a game having working surround or plain old stereo, but other times you get weird quirks such as a rotated surround field in Valve’s Portal or muted rear channels in OpenAL games only. What’s troubling about all of this is that the headset manufacturers never seem to be aware of these issues until after the product is already on store shelves.

To make matters worse, consumers will often buy these headsets and later become frustrated or angry once they find out their favorite game doesn’t have working surround. A part of this problem obviously lies with the manufacturer for not thoroughly testing enough games, but I also fault the reviewing press for paying little (any?) attention to the issue. Or perhaps they too are falling for the placebo effect and think that noisy reverberations must mean that positional surround is working. Sigh.

In any case, now you know why I put such a strong emphasis on surround testing. My tests include standing next to a static noise source like an open flame or talking NPC and then quickly rotating my in-game character to hear the HRTF. Tossing grenades works just as well, and I’ll do repeated blind tests just to be certain of my findings. When I put the Vengeance 1500 headset through a gruelling 36 game and application tests, I was floored to see a whopping 89% compatibility – the best of any USB headset I’ve reviewed to date! Let’s see how its wireless cousin fares in comparison.

Vengeance 2000 Compatibility (Windows 7 x64)

All these tests done on the Vengeance 2000 were carried out on a Windows 7 x64 PC.

GameResultRemark
GameResultRemark
Battlefield 2FailAll combinations of settings result in stereo sound.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2PassSurround works okay.
Battlefield 3PassSurround works great! Ensure that Enhanced Stereo is disabled.
Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfarePass5.1 works great with surround coming out of rear channels!
Call of Duty 5: World at WarFailUnable to initialize 5.1 surround sound due to Windows speaker count.
Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfail 2Pass5.1 works great with surround coming out of rear channels.
Call of Duty 8: Modern Warfare 3Pass5.1 works okay with surround coming out of rear channels.
Counter-Strike: SourcePass7.1 works great!
Crysis WarheadFailUnable to differentiate front and back, even with s_SpeakerConfig=7 in gamedir\system.cfg file.
DarksidersPassSurround works okay.
Dead SpacePass5.1 works great with surround coming out of rear channels!
Dead Space 2Pass5.1 works great with surround coming out of rear channels!
Deus Ex: Human RevolutionFailStereo only.
Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimFailStereo only.
Enemy Territory: Quake WarsFailUnable to initialize 7.1 surround sound due to Windows speaker count.
Fallout 3FailStereo only.
Fallout: New VegasFailStereo only.
Grand Theft Auto IVFailUnable to initialize 5.1 surround sound due to Windows speaker count.
Half-Life 2 (no episodes)Pass7.1 works great!
Killing FloorFailAll combinations of settings result in stereo sound, even after redirecting OpenAL by removing DefOpenAL32.dll and disabling "System Driver".
Left 4 Dead 2Pass7.1 works great!
Mirror's EdgePassSurround works great!
PortalPass7.1 works great!
Portal 2Pass5.1 works okay.
PreyFailUnable to initialize 5.1 surround sound due to Windows speaker count.
Quake 4FailUnable to initialize 5.1 surround sound due to Windows speaker count.
RageFailStereo only.
Red Orchestra 2FailHard to tell, but the surround seems eerily similar to the game's built-in HRTF for stereo speakers. Not enough spacing between channels for intuitive sound placement if it is working.
Serious Sam HD: The First EncounterPassSurround works okay. While the V2000's HRTF is clearly more pronounced than the basic pitch-shifting that the game employs with a traditional stereo headset, the V2000's relatively smaller sound stage makes it less intuitive than the V1500. (Both headsets set to Cinema room size)
Team Fortress 2Pass7.1 works great!
Unreal Tournament 2004FailAll combinations of settings result in stereo sound, even after redirecting OpenAL by removing DefOpenAL32.dll and disabling "System Driver".
Unreal Tournament 3FailStereo only regardless of OpenAL configuration setting.
The WitcherPassSurround works okay.

Ouch! The Vengeance 2000 only passed in 17 of the 38 tests, scoring a meager 45% compatibility rating. The few games that did work seemed to largely be either Valve titles or modern AAA shooters with large followings such as Battlefield and Call of Duty. Though the mainstream at the very least is covered, there’s a still ton of other great titles that were tragically left behind in Stereoville, many of which aren’t even that old yet.

I think a large portion of the compatibility issues can be attributed to way this headset presents itself to Windows in the name of simplicity. As you’ll recall, the Vengeance 2000 is left permanently configured in the Sound control panel as a stereo device. This means Grand Theft Auto IV, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Quake IV and Prey will not allow you to select multi-channel surround through the in-game audio settings. Moreover, these four failed titles are only the games that actually present surround as a menu option; it’s possible that numerous other games without menu options including Fallout 3 and Skryim fail to deliver surround sound for the exact same reason. There’s also the possibility that whatever’s causing VLC and Windows Media player to playback 2.1 audio is in-effect here as well.

On the bright side of things, the Vengeance 2000 never exhibited any weird bugs like a rotated surround field or game crashes. Surround either worked or I had functional stereo, so I can’t say that the Vengeance 2000 negatively impacted my gaming any more than a traditional headset would. For the games that did work, surround ranged anywhere from fair to rather good, seemingly working best when the room size was set to Cinema. But even with these working titles, I must say that I still preferred the Vengeance 1500 overall. The Dolby directional sound in that headset just feels much more precise than what Xear 3D could ever muster with the Vengeance 2000. If you have a pressing need for wireless but value surround gaming over stereo music quality, you’ll be much better served by Logitech’s G930.

Microphone Quality


The microphone quality of the Vengeance 2000 is significantly improved over the Vengeance 1500, in that “s” sounds are no longer as sharp, and the noise floor during periods of silence is also reduced. Speech is perfectly clear for games and Skype calls, but there’s still just enough of a noise floor to be unsuitable for professional Youtube commentaries unless you clean up the audio in Audacity first before uploading.

The microphone’s sensitivity appears to have been dropped, presumably to minimize the pickup of mouse clicks and nasal breathing. You can still hear these sounds, but they’re much less noticeable than before. The tweaked sensitivity comes alongside the fact that recordings in general are now softer as you can see in the below waveforms. Unfortunately this side-effect can’t be overcome since there’s no mic boost option in the drivers, but I don’t think you’ll need it so long as you set the recording volume to 100% and speak in a normal tone of voice. Players in Team Fortress 2 pub servers had no problems understanding me using the built-in voice system.

Waveform: I like to eat cold pizza in the morning with peperoni, mushrooms and pineapples.

Waveform: I like to eat cold pizza in the morning with peperoni, mushrooms and pineapples.

As I noted earlier in the review, Corsair took out the option to disable the microphone’s loopback and left it permanently enabled at a soft volume. Some may cry foul at this, but I personally think the loopback effect has a low enough latency and is set at the perfect volume to compensate for the earcup padding. I’m able to hear my own voice as I would talking normally, but no louder as to be distracting. Finally, you’ll be delighted to know that the soft yet high-pitched earcup whine which was an issue with the Vengeance 1500’s active mic has been completely eliminated from the Vengeance 2000, even when the mic is muted. Good riddance.

Recap


The Corsair Vengeance 2000 isn’t all bad. Corsair obviously spent a bunch of time making small refinements to their headset design, and hopefully we’ll see these changes preserved in future products. I’m especially fond of the new volume roller, lighter weight materials and improved microphone. The extra bass and kick is also nice since it still seems to blend well with the highs and lows the 50mm drivers have to offer, but I’d be careful about upping the bass any further than Reference. Perhaps most the most impressive tweak is that the clamping feel has been completely eliminated, placing the headset on par with Razer’s Megalodon for extreme comfort.

What bothers me is that despite all of these positive changes, the Vengeance 2000 ultimately fails to deliver on its promise of surround sound gaming. A compatibility profile of < 45% is simply inexcusable, especially in light of the fact that only six months ago it was a Corsair that bested all other headsets I’ve reviewed to date. Throw in the fact that you can’t watch movies in surround sound, and you’ve lost most of the reason to pick up a wireless headset in the first place. HTPC lovers and couch gamers should definitely be looking elsewhere for their wireless surround fix.

In the meantime, Corsair seriously needs to rethink their strategy when it comes to selling this headset. Either drop the surround label and lower the price accordingly, or roll out a new driver that restores surround compatibility and lost functionality. A $150 street price would have been fine if the Vengeance 2000 actually worked as advertised since the stereo quality and comfort help justify the premium cost, but right now you can find other gaming-oriented wireless headsets for $50 less with good enough stereo, decent comfort and vastly superior surround.

Corsair Gaming Headsets on Amazon


  • erenaybirdi

    Which one would you prefer;

    Corsair Vengeance 1500 or Razer Carcharias(or any other stereo headset)+a decent sound card?

    Ps. If I go with analog headset+soundcard combo, I probably will not buy something like Xonar Essence STX. Something around 30-40 dollars would be great. Any suggestions?

    • R. Scott Clark

      You’ll get the best surround compatibility and the best microphone recordings for games with a discrete sound.  You’ll also get some level of EAX support for older games like Alice and BF2 if you use an Asus or Creative card.  And then there’s the option to use actual speakers, and virtual surround through the speakers, and also hook everything up through a receiver for home theater (Dolby Digital Live, dts neo PC).  That said, I’m wary of both Creative and Asus at this point.  Neither seem to stand behind their products post-launch.

      My Xonar DX has had a problem with the front right channel dying at random and staying dead until the card is reset in the Device Manager or the computer rebooted.  This problem has been around for several years as seen on their forum.  I’ve even spoken to one of their team members about it at Quakecon (2010?) and gave Asus a full dxdiag report, but still nothing.
      https://vip.asus.com/forum/view.aspx?board_id=21&model=Xonar+DX&id=20091218090600906&page=1&SLanguage=en-us

      Creative’s drivers have historically been a common target for criticism either due to instability, bloat, or general UI problems.  I still find myself in disbelief at their handling of the Daniel K saga during the early days of Vista, and their current lack of phone support information on their website.  I have not used the newer Recon3D range though, so I can’t comment on the quality there.

      For headphones, I’m preferable to USB since I can easily move headphones between my many systems and not need to worry about the aforementioned driver issues.  Not to say that USB headsets don’t have their own driver issues, because they do, but I’ve never found them to be as irritating.  For speakers, I just grumble on and deal with the issues as they crop up.

      TL;DR, if you have any inkling of playing old EAX games or using speakers with virtual / real surround or a home theater, or care about the noise floor for microphone recordings, get a sound card.  If you’re adverse to troubleshooting and only care about listening through a headphones, get a USB headset.

      • erenaybirdi

        I see.

        I’ll be mostly using headphones for games and listening to music, and I don’t have a surround speaker system either. I’m going to get a headphone then. I wouldn’t want to deal with constant driver problems.

        One thing on my mind was stereo quality of gaming headsets but apparently, Corsair’s pair are quite good when it comes to music listening (it was a great review by the way).

        Thanks for enlightening me Scott =)

      • erenaybirdi

        Hey Scott,

        One last question,

        Syberia V2(with usb soundcard) or Vengeance 1500? I’ve been seeing some mixed comments about Corsair’s pair that drivers and earcups tend to break apart and the usb pod tends to get hot. I’m pretty confident about the sound quality but since i’ll order them from outside of USA, it will be hard for me to return them if i have any kind of problems. Would you suggest that to wait until Vengeance 2000 hits the market, or advice a seemingly less problematic pair? I don’t think mic. whining will be a serious problem for me, but I don’t like what i’m seeing on Corsair’s tech. help forums.

        • R. Scott Clark

          Sorry for the delay in response; I don’t get auto-notified of these.

          I can’t comment on the Siberia since I’ve yet to test it, though I know a lot of LAN gamers swear by them.  Both look to be pretty evenly matched on paper though the Syberia can go slightly lower in frequency, and the microphone’s freq range is also a lot better on the Siberia as well.  From what I can see from other reviews, both use a C-Media based chip so surround compatibility in games should theoretically be close to the same, though the Siberia lacks the Dolby technologies and only has the 7.1 virtual speaker shifter, aka “Xear3D”.

          I have no idea when it comes to the Vengeance 2000.  I’m personally curious how wireless interference and compression come into play if at all.  Doubly so because my neighbors have a terrible tendency to bang on the wall at night when I’m watching a movie :

          Honestly my advice is to try and find a local retailer with a decent open-box return policy.  I’m not sure if there’s any good equivalent to Micro Center or Fry’s in your country, but it’d be worth a look.

          • erenaybirdi

            No problem. I reckon you must be busy.

            After reading all the reviews I could find and user comments on various sites, I went with Plantronics Gamecom 780. I’m hearing they sound much better then their predecessor 777. I’ll be trying them in a few hours. I’d like to see a review from you. It would be great to see more headset reviews on everything usb. Honestly, it is hard to find good reviews like yours, and there are plenty of popular headsets that need to be reviewed =).

            Thanks for the answer.

  • R. Scott Clark

    Please note that all comments below this one are from back when this page was still covering the V2000’s announcement, not the full-fledged review.

  • Have you tried using the V2000 without the drivers installed? Looking through Corsair’s forum some of the users have found the headset is read as ‘Speakers’ without the drivers and were able to get a “huge difference” (I don’t know how thorough or discerning they were) in the surround sound when using basic Microsoft drivers.
    The link I’m looking through is:
    https://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=107730&page=2

    I was really hoping this headset would be something special, and am rather at a loss after reading this. I’d really love to know how the headset compares when its left to run on its own rather than hampered by Xear.

    If it doesn’t seem to make the desired difference, is there another headset I should be looking at? I listen to music almost as much as I game, so sound quality is important to me, and I use a laptop, so USB is what I’m looking at.

    Thanks!

    • R. Scott Clark

       Xear isn’t the problem; Corsair’s implementation of it is.  If you choose not to install the Corsair drivers with the Vengeance 2000, you’ll still have a plain old stereo headset, but now you won’t have access to the graphic equalizer.

      Jinx on that thread you linked to is either falling for a placebo effect, or playing games with “enhanced stereo” where you can hear a difference between front and back even with a traditional headset.  Battlefield 3 for example has cooked-in Dolby headphone as an option.

      Until Corsair releases a new driver that changes the headset to show up in Windows as a 5.1 or 7.1 device instead of plain old stereo, a number of games will simply not have working surround.  Games like GTA IV depend on this value to provide accurate information, lest the game engine only support stereo.  With Xear enabled, any game you play will still have the reverberations of a virtual room, but directional surround is hardly guaranteed.  Let’s just hope Corsair not only addresses this oversight, but also fixes surround such that I’m able to hear it in VLC/WMP I’m only hearing stereo despite the 7.1 selection.

      • That’s a great shame – especially the fact that a/v applications cant work through it as well.
        Thanks for the reply, though. Fingers crossed Corsair will address this in the near future. In the mean time, wireless isn’t pressing, so I’ll have a closer look at the 1500s.Thanks again!

  • Wish I had seen this review before I purchased. Highly disappointed in the “surround” on these. Going to return and perhaps settle with the 1500s or maybe just get the G930s. Thanks for the great work on the testing, wish I had seen it sooner!

  • I’m actually very disappointed. Pissed off would be the correct word. I just bought the Vengeance 2000 7.1 wireless headset and, like an idiot, i read a review only after buying the product. From the review i can confirm that Corsair’s Vengeance 2000 Wireless Headset May Be 7.1, But It’s Not Surround !!! You went from awesome True 7.1 Dolby, to C-Media Fake Virtual Audio crap. Because you are cheap skates. Thus sacrificing on quality and true 7.1 Audio just to make a buck.Windows does not pick up the Vengeance 2000 as 5.1 or 7.1 like they did with the Vengeance 1500. But instead 2.1 stereo. Thus i just paid $150 for Enhanced 2.1 and not the 7.1 you are falsely advertising on your product. It shames me to have Corsair branding on my headphones now as you are liars and are falsely selling 7.1 headsets that do not deliver. I wish i could give them back and have my money returned as id rather buy the Logitech G35’s who do not lie about supporting 7.1 at the end of the day such as yourselves. I hope you are ashamed for lying to us gamers and stealing our money that we work hard for and would love to spend on high quality gaming gear. Sincerely, a very disappointed consumer.

  • Алексей Зиньковский

    Will you review them again after the mentioned software driver fix (https://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=114052) will be released? I can’t decide between 1500 and 2000. For me wireless option doesn’t overweight the music and game quality, but now I’m not sure what to do. If 7.1 in 2000 gets at the level of 7.1 in 1500, I might buy them.

    Can you tell me how significant is the difference in sound (bypass mode) and microphone between them? Have you encountered any connection drops, wireless hisses or background noises? Also is there a chance that later versions of 1500 got a improved microphone?

    And lastly, what would you recomend? (I also consider buying G930)

    The answers from other members are also welcomed!

    • R. Scott Clark

      Hi, unfortunately I can’t help you make a decision between the two since I don’t yet know how the V2000 will perform in X days/weeks/months whenever the new drivers are released. As it stands today, I prefer the V1500’s for the more neutral sound and working 7.1, but if the driver update fixes those for the V2000, then the long term comfort and wireless freedom might have me thinking otherwise. Doubly so since my HTPC could use a good surround headset, and one of my neighbors bangs on the wall when I watch movies at night.

      I’d hold off on making any purchases to be honest until more details are known.

      Bypass differences:
      V1500 = Neutral, flat sound with excellent response all around but not as much bass kick without EQ tweaking.
      V2000 = Notably more bass than the V1500 that comes of slightly too “deep” for my tastes, but overall great sound in bypass mode with excellent response to still pick out the nuances in complex albums. Very subtle background hiss from the amplifier.

      Microphone differences:
      V1500 = Earcup whine when mic is active, slightly more hisses on the “s” sounds, overly sensitive. Any improvements over time? You’d have to ask Corsair if they made any silent revisions similar to how Logitech did with the G35. I’ve not been told of any.
      V2000 = No earcup whine, microphone loopback is always on but quiet enough that I don’t notice or care, still sensitive mic but about 50% less pickup volume at 100% recording level as you can see on page 2.

      Wireless performance:
      Can go upstairs but not downstairs in my townhome apartment; my computer’s on the 1st floor. Connection seems solid at ground level even though there’s lots of 2.4GHz networks nearby, though it crackles if I’m standing next to the microwave while it’s cooking dinner. I haven’t used the set much outside of the review period though, which was about a month or two long IIRC.

      Other thoughts:
      There’s some user reports on the Corsair forums for cracked headsets and difficulties charging the V2000. I’m not sure how widespread or isolated these cases are, but haven’t had any issues with these myself. I get some occasional ESD hiccups in the wintertime on the V1500, but I live in cold Ohio and my apartment doesn’t have a humidistat.

      Review plans:
      I plan on authoring a blurb and revisiting the compatibility matrix once an update is made available to me, beta or otherwise. It should get prominently linked a few times throughout this article rather than having to re-write the whole thing.

      That said, I’m no longer actively writing reviews due to time and life constraints. I can only hope that future authors here and at other long-form review sites (Anandtech, HardOCP, I’m looking at you <3) can step up to better address compatibility in future headset reviews, because I'll be depending on them myself!! Cheers to Hilbert Hagedoorn at Guru3D for recognizing and bluntly calling this issue as he saw it.

      • Алексей Зиньковский

        So the sound quality in bypass is pretty much the same except the bass differences (some think that bass on 2000 is still better than on 1500)? No loss due to wireless? That’s what I’m trying to find out (I haven’t tried any wireless headsets before) and I want first of all good sound quality in bypass. Was going to buy 1500 actually, but then heard about better mic and (probably?) better sound quality of 2000. Is 2000 better than 1500 in bypass, or worse due to wireless?

        Got quite dissapointed about the hiss… is it really subtle or quite noticable, will it affect overal perfomance? And by connection drops I meant the ones in close range (like some of wireless headsets reconnect constantly leaving you without audio for several seconds as I heard).

        Basically all I want to ask is whether performance of the wireless version is worse than the performance of the wired one or not, because lots of people say that “wireless headsets are always worse than the wired once in terms of sound quality” and everything like that =)

        Thank you for your answer!

        • R. Scott Clark

          The hiss is only really perceptible whenever there’s an open audio application that’s not actively playing any sound or music, such as iTunes without a track playing, or the loading screens in Skyrim. You can also hear it during moments of silence in Skype calls, but we should all be used to that anyway from cell phone conversations.

          Is bypass on the 2000 better than the V1500? Again, they both sound fantastic save for the extra bass. If there is any compression for the wireless, I’m not able to pick it out like I can with Bluetooth A2DP. So, near equals then?

          Connection drops at close range are certainly possible depending on how crowded your 2.4GHz spectrum is where you live, and the properties of your computer case if the receiver’s plugged in directly. (Use the supplied USB extension cord for the receiver.) If there’s an old 2.4GHz cordless phone around, I suppose that too could kill the connection as it can with WiFi. But no, I’ve personally not had any problems at close range. The headset has auto frequency hopping so the problems should be minimal if they exist at all.

          • Алексей Зиньковский

            Thanks for the answer =)

            I’ll wait and check what happens once software is being released… Maybe it will somehow fix the hiss (if it is even possible = )… =)

          • Алексей Зиньковский

            By the way, is there any significant difference between Corsair 15002000 and Logitech G930? Like sound qualitymicbuild qualitycomfortconnection stability etc?

            Because it is really hard to get 2000 where I live, and I pretty easy to get G930(from official store) or 1500(might not be with full waranty), don’t know if I should go with 2000 from amazon or G930 from official store, or maybe even 1500 but I’m really worried about mic (like overall quality of mic and these muting problems etc).

            I’ll wait and see what happens once software is released, but while I’m waiting I should consider other variants (logitech seems quite good). Do you have any idea as a person with lots of expirience on topic?
            Sorry I bother you so much =P

  • Ace

    I just thought I’d add my two cents. I’ve had a Corsair Vengeance for about 3 months now and it has given my computer the blue screen of death around 10 times. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I’m not sure what causes the blue screen, but I do notice that it tends to happen when I am playing a computer game or am simply looking at a youtube video. For $120, you’d think that one of the minimum requirements of a headset is to not give you the blue screen of death. What a waste.

  • Victor Komparak

    Hey, nice review. Would you test the Vengeance 2100? I think it has some improvements (Windows speaker count allows to choose 5.1 or 7.1 channels). As far as i tested mine it worked great with surround, games and videos. Victor.

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