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The (original)v1500 disappoints


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First off, let me start by saying i love Corsair. I've been buying products from them for years have i believe they make great cases, SSD's, power supplies, memory, and closed loop CPU coolers. They are all competitively priced and perform competitively as well. I wasn't sure how well a hardware company could transition into the peripherals side of things... so i was curious when shopping for a new gaming headset. It speaks volumes for a company when customers firstly consider a brand over actual hardware or success of a product.


I purchased my headset on 16 May 2013 from newegg and received them a few days later. I have always been a hardware oriented person but i was relatively novice when it came to audio equipment -- so ill admit that my faith in Corsair weighed heavily in my decision to purchase the headset. Thats not to say that they had bad reviews. The reviews were mixed at best but they were generally positive. And it was in my price range so i went for it.


Before i get into the review ill mention that i was used to using an old Turtle Beach Ear Force X1 headset. This was the first Turtle Beach product that was brought to market and i picked them up for my xbox 360 at the time. I ended up burning through two of them. This is the baseline for my knowledge in audio quality. Needless to say the v1500 was a healthy upgrade.


My first impression of the v1500 when i put them on was one of clarity. I wasn't aware that there could be such a large gap between what is considered a bad audio experience and what i now know can be considered a mediocre experience. But once i got over that i was surprised by the lack of color in the sound. I had already installed the drivers (these were the 1.1 drivers) and could see that the equalizer was leveled but was still amazed by how flat the audio was. There was no bass, the mids were over powering and the highs were like knifing me in my ears. it was very crisp.. maybe too crisp. But as i mentioned before i prefer color. Im not talking about bass that thumps and drowns out the sound but im talking about warmth.. the depth of good even frequency response. If you look up "audio visual system test" on youtube (be sure to turn your volume down a bit) you'll get a great demonstration of basic frequency response and how that visually corresponds on a sine wave meter. And if you consult the specs sheet of the v1500 its advertised @ 40hz to 20khz (there are other sources that say 20hz-20khz but thats simply false). Thats pretty good considering the average human ear frequency response is 20hz to 20khz. while wearing my 1500 and closely listening to the test i get falloff at 50hz and it peaks at around 18khz. Thats not great but should be okay considering falloff for me was in sub bass frequencies, the rest of the bass range is technically still intact (bass range is 32-512hz) but then why is the audio so dull!? it drove me crazy. I made a thread here on the forums a while back, and even contacted support. It was generally believed to be a software issue and that it was being closely investigated by engineers at corsair. So all i had to do was wait.


Before i move on ill mention in passing that one of the largest selling points for the v1500 is the 7.1 surround sound - which i now know to just be a gimmic. the 5.1 has better sound but with either of them turned on in the software all it does is sponge out the audio. It completely desaturates the audio in the attempt of giving you slightly better sense of direction. But something some people should keep in mind is that 'stereo' audio when you're wearing a headset is directional audio.. and if a game development team wanted you to have full omni-directional sound in their game it would be natively programmed into their engine... not in your headset. True 7.1 can only be achieved with 7 different speakers and a sub.


Anyway, i only had to wait a couple months, if that, for a new set of drivers to release. And to my amazement instead of making progress, it was as if they intentionally released a set of drivers that made the frequency response worse when you had the software running. Not to mention, a buzz in the mic that was negligible before was now a villainous annoyance that made me want to put my headset through a heavy duty shredder. I rolled the driver back and set out to fix the problem myself.


I did some more digging around the forum and found a guide that had you configure the headset as speakers through windows. It's important that when you do this ensure to configure them as stereo speakers and at the end to keep the box for full range unticked. Doing this enables a few audio enhancements you can apply natively to your sound through windows and not the corsair software. The options it will give you if you've got the original drivers installed are Bass Boost, Virtual Surround, Room Correction, and Loudness Equalization. For the love of all things, don't ever check the loudness equalization box. It's the quickest way to make even the most expensive and luxurious headphones sound like utter ****. The one you should worry about is the Bass Boost. Again i remind you im not trying to get booming sound from my headset i just want some warmth. And all you have to do is enable this and select a target frequency to apply the amp and it will increase the decibel response to that section of the range. I've found that 125hz with about 9db increase fixes 75% of the v1500's problems. It sounds sooo much better its mind blowing. At this point i was very happy with the headset.. it only took me months to get it to sound the way i wanted it to. mind you this is with the software equalizer also tweaked to my personal preference.


Unfortunately the fun did not last. soon after discovering this fix i started getting a clicking sound in the left driver. It would occur most consistently when there was an impact in the audio or there was a consistent bass rhythm.. like a tanks engine humming or an explosion. Sounds like this are common in any game you play so it was something that quickly drove me insane. My first thought was to revert the enhancement i made in windows to see if that would correct it. Nope, it was still there. I searched the internet for hours day after day. The most common problem people were having was with screws coming loose in the cans and knocking around.. this wasn't a mechanical sound i was having it sounded like an anomaly in the audio itself. Not to mention there were no reliable guides for breaking down the headset without voiding the warranty so i didn't have the guts to try that. So i settled. New drivers have come out twice since then and they always introduce new problems and never fixed the clicking. Im still running the original 1.1 drivers.


The other day i got so fed up with the defect that i resolved to breaking into the headset. I couldn't find any helpful pictures or videos so i just decided to do it myself. I'll try to break this down for anybody who is interested in looking inside. i can promise that if you follow these steps no harm will come to your headset, you'll just void your warranty.





Sorry in advance for not having pictures. Just follow closely.

-Step 1. Tug at the padding around the can, it will easily be freed from the headset.

-Step 2. Underneath the padding you'll be able to see an outer textile layer on top of a layer of plastic. This plastic is glued to the headset, once removed you'll have to reglue it if you want to seal it properly. Take a small common screwdriver (flat head) and find an edge to the plastic seal that you can slip the tip underneath. Gently insert the screwdriver and peel back the plastic, working your way all around the can. Once removed the driver and 4 screws are revealed. The seal and textile layer should be intact, its very fragile and can crack easily, be careful.

-Step 3. Take a small Phillips head screw driver and remove the screws. Be mindful of the driver once the screws are removed because it will hang from its wiring and can be damaged easily.


At this point you're done. I don't have any experience in any further dis-assembly so continue at your own risk. To put it back together just follow the steps in reverse.


My idea was to get in there and see if there was any exposed wiring that might be able to cause the anomaly in the audio.. perhaps one of the leads was hanging by a thread. I wasn't sure what i was going to find but wire maintenance isn't new to me so I was sure if there was something wrong i was going to be able to fix it. I did in fact find some exposed wiring. Sadly it was a lead for the mic. The wire was tangled, frayed and very exposed. This could have contributed to excessive mic noise i was having.. and even though i wasn't in there for the mic, i untangled it and patched up the exposed portion with some electrical tape. To my surprise the leads going to the driver seemed fine. The job was messy.. i was heartbroken to see that Corsair was cutting corners and building a product with what seemed like little to no effort compared to some of their higher priced enthusiast products I've purchased from them before. The wires were only partially exposed where they were soldered to the driver, which is normal. But there was nothing physically wrong with it, despite looking like a blind man constructed it, no offense to the blind.


Bottom line is that the driver in the left can is faulty. It clicks. It's sad. And moreover, just to round out the experience, not only is the headset faulty, but time and time again Corsair continues to release drivers that just make the product worse. What the heck are you guys doing? Seriously how can i recommend products from a company that pulls a stunt like this? This isn't a budget headset. its a lower end one when you look at the spectrum, yes, but at the time of purchase it was $99.99. That's not a cheap product by any means. At the very least i should get software that works and supports the product. I shouldn't have to finagle with windows settings to get the intended experience from a product that comes with its own software.


I know some of you are thinking i should have just RMA'd the headset but i recently RMA'd my motherboard (msi z77 mpower) and it was a nightmare. Took 3 months to get it back (they didn't even attempt repair\diagnostics - waited two and a half months and just shipped a replacement). Needless to say i want to avoid RMA'ing anything at all costs now.. save a few exceptions and this headset wasn't one of them. I wish i could get a new one haha, i feel like i deserve one. But i wont be purchasing anything from corsair audio related again.. i don't really want another one so i suppose its okay that i voided my warranty.


I'm sorry to say Corsair, i feel like you've really let me down. This will keep me from purchasing any more of your peripherals. Including mice and keyboards as well.


Sorry for the wall of text and who knows how many countless errors. But thanks for reading. Good luck to any Corsair Audio users still out there.

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