If everyone could afford to pick up high-end headphones everyone would have them but for people getting their first gaming setup (PC, Console, or Mobile) or someone who wants to save money for the “go fast” parts it is important to have a lineup that fits that budget. I’ve had a few headsets come in that fit that range but up until now, Corsair has stayed a little higher with mid-range offerings like their HS50 and HS60. Well, today they are introducing a new more budget-friendly option in the HS35. It is still a full size over the hear headset but at a $39.99 price point. Not only that but Corsair is offering four different color options which is a little unusual for them but it fits perfectly in this price range. I can imagine brothers getting different color HS35’s to prevent fighting or LAN centers using them to prevent confusion. Either way, I have been testing them out for a few days now and with them launching today I thought I would give everyone the rundown on their features and performance. So let’s check them out.
Product Name: Corsair HS35
Review Sample Provided by: Corsair
Written By: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
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The HS35 comes in a bright yellow box with a picture of the headset on the front which is number one on the Corsair packaging handbook. So this will go perfectly with the rest of the yellow Corsair product boxes in a retail display. Beyond that, the front of the box has the model name down in the bottom left corner along with a Discord certification showing in the bottom right. The only real information is the list of devices this works on in the top right corner which covers PC, Mobile, and all three gaming consoles. Around on the back of the box, Corsair does give a little more information though. They have a short 4 feature list repeated a few times in multiple languages as well as a specification listing again repeated in multiple languages. They basically point out the memory foam earcups, tuned 50mm audio drivers, detachable microphone, and the volume and mute controls on the headset. Speaking of those the picture on the back of the box is zoomed in on that portion of the headset.
Inside the box, the HS35 comes packed away in a formed plastic tray with a plastic strap across the top. I like this better than using twist ties to keep the headset in place as most do. You get a warranty guide as the only documentation. Then there is a small plastic bag which has the detachable microphone and a single mobile style plug to dual microphone/headphone plug adapter for PC use.
Photos and Features
At first glance, the HS35 looks a lot like the HS60 that I took a look at last year. It is a full sized over the ear headset and it's clear it shares a little with its older brother. Now the HS35 doesn’t have the mesh on the outside like the HS60, Corsair went with a closed air design this time. There is a little styling touch with the black ring around the earcup which is a gloss black compared to the flat finish that the read of the headset has. The Corsair Sail logo is in the middle and Corsair skipped adding any unneeded LED lighting or overdone styling. This is a simple oval headset design. The earcups have a C shaped mount that only offers vertical adjustment, you can’t twist these side to side at all.
The left earcup is basically where everything is going on. This is where the cord plugs in, where the microphone plugs in, and where you will find the volume and mute controls as well. The volume and mute controls are on the back of the earcup so to use them when you are wearing them you will use your left hand’s thumb. It is a simple scroll wheel for the volume and under it, the microphone mute button sticks out. This is nice because when you are wearing the HS35 you obviously can’t see if the button is pressed but you can feel the status of the button.
So the HS35 is running 50mm drivers for a simple but proven setup. The earcups like I mentioned before are a full sized oval over the ear design. The most important part of that is the memory foam padding they used. The padding is extra thick and has a micro fiber weave on them. If you were to just go by the look of the weave you might think the fabric has that same rough texture that Logitech likes to use on their headsets but the HS35 actually has a really soft fabric on the earcups that should be comfortable. If nothing else I know for sure (before testing) that it isn’t going to be scratchy and uncomfortable like the Logitech weave. The HS35 is also available in a few color options and one of the two things they recolor is the earcup pads so while ours is black there are also Green, Blue, and Red options as well for a brighter look.
So the HS35 has a traditional headband design meaning there isn’t a fancy suspension design. The headband is plastic with a metal strap in the expansion areas. You can expand the headband out 1 ¼ inch on each side helping cover big and small head sizes. The plastic headband has the Corsair branding debossed into the top. Up under the headband, the HS35 has surprisingly thick padding at just under an inch thick. This is the same memory foam padding that was used on the earcups as well as the soft fabric used on them as well. If you get one of the Green, Blue, or Red color variants of the HS35 this part is also colored. Our black model has the padding blending into the all-black headset but those three bright colors would really stand out.
So the HS35 doesn’t ship with its microphone attached. In fact, the plug on the headset comes with a rubber plug filling the hole. The microphone uses a 3.5mm jack as well but if you look closely you can see at the connection base the microphone has a keyed base so don’t expect to be able to plug and play a different design which is a shame. The microphone boom uses a bendable metal with a thin plastic coating over it. This combined with the length of the boom gives it just enough flexibility to wrap the microphone boom into a circle so there is enough flexibility to be able to move the microphone wherever you need it.
The microphone is running a 2.2k Ohm impedance and a -40 dB sensitivity with a 100Hz – 10kHz range. This seems to be the same microphone used on the HS60 at least as far as specs are concerned. Once plugged in the microphone locks into place, there isn’t a concern of it coming unplugged like on some detachable microphone designs.
The cord a thick rubber and being a budget model Corsair skipped out on any sleeving that you might find on some other models. I’m happy there isn’t sleeving though and the rubber cord is thick and feels durable. It is around 2 meters long which should reach most PCs on or around your desk. The HS35 uses a 3.5mm phone connector which used to be standard on phones and is used on all three of the big game consoles without any adapter needed. Corsair also included an adapter to switch this single plug into a dual 3.5mm which is what is used on PC. The adapter also has about 6 inches of reach on the off chance your microphone and headphone plugs aren’t directly next to each other like on the Creative Labs X7 that I test with.
Audio Quality and Performance
For testing, I normally like to spend a week or two with a headset but our HS35 came in a little to close to the launch for that so I have only been using it for two days. But I have been doing my normal everyday use which includes listening to music, TV shows, and Movies while working and a few games late at night. That is exactly what most people will be using the HS35 for though and the extended use while working still gave me a look at long term comfort as well. So let's start with comfort, if a headset isn’t comfortable it won’t matter at all how good or bad it sounds. The full sized oval earcup design is my preferred size/style. Getting the earcup to go completely around my ear on other shapes can be an issue but the HS35 fit perfectly in that aspect. The thick memory foam padding on the earcups was also a big surprise, the HS35 has more padding then a lot of headsets and this helped keep pressure off of my ears, in fact, they didn’t touch the inside at all other than a little contact around the outer edge. This basically eliminated the issue of pressure causing ear pain.
The soft fabric didn’t cause any issues during extended testing. In fact, while I wouldn’t put the HS35 on my list of most comfortable headsets it managed to also not give me any issues, even after wearing them for a long time. I know that sounds a little conflicted but basically there isn’t anything about the HS35 comfort wise that feels plush or extra comfortable, but unlike other budget headsets, it still manages to be comfortable. That is a big accomplishment with a traditional headband, normally those will start to press on my head a little too much but that didn’t happen. That inch thick memory foam really helped. Adjustability as far as overall size was solid, the HS35’s fit my big head with room to spare and my wife's smaller sized head as well. I would still prefer to have a side to side pivot to get a little adjustability there though. Especially when you have glasses on, that adjustability would help the comfort a little.
As far as audio performance goes the HS35 at half to ¾ volume seems to have a rock or rap tune that favors a little extra bass and highs. Turning all the way up with this gets a little muddy but doesn’t have full on distortion. In other words, to most people, the HS35’s are going to sound good. I personally prefer a more natural tune but if you like a little bass they are going to sound good, just don’t turn them up all the way or that extra bass will start to sound bad. This really favored movies, rock, and rap but gaming sounded good as well in shooters especially.
The detachable microphone performed about how you would expect, it isn’t in or near the performance of some of the high-end microphones I’ve tested in the past but solid performance for what the HS35 is. What does that mean? Well, I wouldn’t record audio with it or use it for streaming or making YouTube videos but it is more than enough for team communications, skype or hangout calls, and yelling at your PC when your raid wipes at 3 am. The microphone mute button on the back ended up being easy to reach though you might bump your volume up or down when you reach for it.
Overall and Final Verdict
I’ll be the first one to admit that when putting together a new setup I will sacrifice on a lot of areas to get the best possible GPU. One of those areas that I’ve cut back has been with peripherals and headsets. It’s a little ironic because I also know that the only three things that you actually touch on your system is your mouse, keyboard, and headset and cutting back in those areas can mean less comfort and poor performance. Lucky for me companies like Corsair have been working on keeping the budget a little more friendly with things like the HS35. Now I would never say that the HS35 is competing with high-end headsets, in a lot of ways you do still get what you pay for. But what I found in my testing was the HS35 manages to maintain long term comfort even without using more expensive leathers or velour on the headband and earcups or a suspension headband. The HS35 is as simple as they come, an old school full-sized headset with oval earcups that fit completely over your ears combined with extra thick memory foam for comfort. Audio performance was great for this price range though there are limitations, I wouldn’t blast them at full volume. Lots of bass and highs should make most people happy though I would have preferred a more flat EQ.
The four color options give a few options without having to pack in RGB lighting that not everyone would like not to mention the cost that adds. Beyond that, I would have liked the HS35’s to have a side to side pivot on the earcups to help form to different head shapes. But overall I think the HS35’s are simpler, more comfortable, and better performing than headsets like the Viper 361’s that I took a look at a few years ago. Not forcing people to use a built-in USB sound card also helps keep the price down and opens up the option to use the HS35’s on game consoles as well.
Obviously, as I’ve hinted at a lot, the price for this headset is what makes or breaks it. Corsair isn’t trying to make the worlds best headset here, just a good performing option that is affordable. The MSRP of the HS35 is $39.99 and at that price, I think they did a good job. If you are looking to spend more I think there are a few options like the Arctis 3’s that could be a better option. But Corsair has found a nice sweet spot here for comfort, price, and performance.
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