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Vengeance Headset Refresh
Published on 10/20/2013
By James Cao
Corsair Gaming Headset
Dolby Headphone and Dolby ProLogic IIx: what's the difference?
The Vengeance 1500 and Corsair HS1 gaming headsets feature two sets of technology provided by Dolby: Dolby Headphone, and Dolby ProLogic IIx.
Dolby Headphone is responsible for accurately reproducing positional audio. If you're playing a multi-channel game or watching a movie with surround sound, Dolby Headphone takes the multi-channel signal delivered to the headset and applies advanced HRTF and other algorithms to deliver it the way the audio designer intended. There's no up mixing or adding of additional channels: if your enemy is behind you and to the left, that's where you'll hear him.
Dolby Headphone also applies audio processing to give you the feeling of listening to audio from speakers in a room, reducing the "in your head" effect that can lead to ear fatigue. It's a key part of the comfort equation that helps you play for hours and think about the game, and not the headset.
Dolby ProLogic IIx is an optional feature that allows for up mixing of stereo and 5.1 sources into simulated 7.1 surround sound. It's a technology that originated with home theater systems, and many people like to enable it on their home theater systems when listening to stereo music, so that the music is delivered to all the speakers. On a headset, it's not necessary when you're playing a game or watching a video with multi-channel audio. You may enjoy it with stereo sources as well, but if not, you can simply leave it turned off.
How should I clean my Corsair Gaming headset?
The foam pads are made with open cell foam, so they should not be immersed in water. You can use the sticky side of tape or a lint removal tool to clean the ear pads, or a gentle wipe with a damp cloth on the fabric would also be fine
Why didn?t you include a certain feature found in more expensive headsets?
Our goal is to create a great product in the $99 price range. We?ve done this by talking to customers about what they want and how they use their headsets, and creating a simple, durable product that focuses on what?s important: audio quality, comfort, and reliability.
In our evaluation of the gaming headset market, we?ve found several products which emphasize features at the expense of material quality, so the end result is a plasticky-feeling product that may not be as comfortable as it could be, or which is liable to wear out sooner than it should. We?ve designed the HS1 to last the active enthusiast through years of use and abuse.
Will a more expensive gaming headset sound better?
Our goal was not to create the best-sounding $99 gaming headset on the market, or even to create a gaming headset that?s as good as $150 models. Our goal is to create the best-sounding gaming headset on the market. This is an endeavor which has influenced everything from the choice to use 50mm drivers, to our obsessive focus on baffle orientation and geometry, and even our selection of padding and fabric materials.
But, hearing is believing. We invite you to compare the HS1 to the finest gaming headset you can find, and tell us what you think.
What is the exact benefit of 50mm drivers, vs. the 40mm drivers found in most other gaming headsets?
Big drivers sound better than small drivers. This is immediately understood who?s listened to the same music on large home audio speakers and a portable iPod dock. But explaining why and how they sound better requires a little more detail.
A 50mm driver has 56% more surface area than a 40mm driver (thanks to the ?A = ?r2? formula we learned in elementary school). It also has a proportional increase in what audio scientists call ?volume velocity,? or ?acoustic impedance.? This translates into a measurement that the same scientists refer to as ?acoustic power? or ?sound power.? A 50mm driver has an increased sound power of 143%. You can look up these terms on Wikipedia for more details on how they?re calculated.
The additional sound power allows the driver to reproduce audio that?s much more detailed. If your audio source has a lot of things going on at once ? a 24-track musical ?wall of sound,? for instance, or a boss level in a game where you have way too many enemies firing way too many types of weapons your way ? a driver with more sound power can recreate each of these more accurately, while a smaller driver is more liable to lose details in the noise.
This means that listening is more enjoyable, with less distortion ? whether it?s distortion that you can immediately notice, or if it?s the continuous, low-grade distortion that irritates you on a subconscious level, contributes to ear fatigue and makes you want to stop listening.
Beyond enjoyment, there?s a practical advantage when playing games ? you need to hear the voices of your teammates during the massively insane firefights. While this won?t be an issue 90% of the time (a good game audio designer will test on various types of speakers and headphones), it?s that 10% that counts.
How does Dolby Headphone provide surround sound using just two drivers?
The first question to answer is ?how do humans detect sounds all around them, when we have just two ears??
The answer is that we?ve learned to determine the position of a sound based on the subtle changes to the sound depending on how it reaches our ears. For instance, a sound wave that travels over the back of your ear before reaching your ear canal will be slightly modified in a way that?s different than the modification that takes place with sounds that come at you from the front. We figure this out subconsciously, and it?s not a skill we?re born with ? we learn how to do this as infants.
Audio scientists have been studying these effects for decades, and they have a name for these position-based changes: head-related transfer functions or HRTFs. Scientists have learned how to apply these functions to sounds to make them appear to come from any direction. In other words, the functions simulate the effect of the sounds coming from front or behind you. The HS1 provides surround sound using HRTF technology developed by the experts at Dolby. A key to the effectiveness of this technology is the design of the headset itself, and we have found competitive products that have licensed the same Dolby technology, but lack the proper response curve for effective HRTF. So, if you?ve tried other surround sound headsets which use HRTFs and have not been impressed, please give the HS1 a serious evaluation.
That being said, there is a certain percentage of the population for which HRTFs aren?t effective. A lot of acoustic science has gone into developing this technology, but it can?t accommodate for everybody?s unique head and ear shape. If you fall into this category, you can be assured that you?ll still enjoy great-sounding stereo audio with the HS1.
What does Dolby Headphone do besides provide surround sound?
Dolby Headphone also incorporates Dolby ProLogic IIx technology, which up-mixes stereo and 5.1 audio sources into 7.1 audio. It can create a feeling of spaciousness and depth that you don?t hear in the original source. It?s the same technology that?s ubiquitous in home audio. However, if it?s not to your liking for whatever reason, you?ll be happy to know that it?s optional.
Dolby Headphone also applies processing to simulate the effect of listening to speakers in a room. It doesn?t attempt to make the instruments and musicians appear to be placed far away; rather, it makes the audio source sound much as it would if you were in your living room listening to music on your audio system, rather than wearing headphones. This reduces the effect of audio appearing to come from ?in your head? and can greatly reduce what is known as ?headphone fatigue,? the syndrome where you get tired of music that appears to emanate from your skull.
In our testing, we?ve noted that Dolby Headphone works great for most audio sources, but there are some types of recordings where the effect adds a little too much processing. That?s why Dolby Headphone, like Dolby ProLogic IIx, is an optional setting. We recommend that you try it with a variety of audio sources, and play with the configuration options that allow you to choose the simulated room size. We think that you?ll find that for many types of audio, it adds a sense of realism that you can?t get with ordinary stereo headsets.
What has Corsair done to make the audio sound so great, besides using 50mm drivers?
The choice to use 50mm drivers, rather than the industry-standard 40mm drivers, was just the first step of the journey. There?s much more to creating a great headset beyond investing in the right high-quality components. Our audio engineering team looked at every parameter that affects accurate audio reproduction, including driver design and alignment, baffle geometry and angle, and the acoustic tuning of the materials chosen for the ear-pads and liner material.
Does my content need to be specially encoded to take advantage of Dolby Headphone? Do I need to look for PC games with the Dolby logo?
No. Dolby Headphone works with any stereo, 5.1, or 7.1 audio streams.
What is the benefit of a circumaural, closed-back design? What do those terms mean?
?Circumaural? means ?around the ear.? The other type of commonly used earcup design is ?supra-aural,? resting on the ears.
Circumaural ear cups provide superior noise isolation. Noise isolation is important for LAN parties and other noisy, high-distraction environments ? you want to get your head into your game (or your movie, or your music) without noise filtering in, and others around you may not want to hear what you?re listening to.
When designing a Circumaural headset, the key to comfort is relatively light weight, without creating pinch points or touching the ears. We?ve accomplished this by using extra-large ear cups that we tested on people who sport some of the largest ears we could find. Our use of memory foam allows a firm, uniform seal, without exerting too much pressure on the head. The fabric covering allows for less slip than imitation leather, and reduces the excess moisture that leather-like materials can cause.
Closed-back ear cups are sealed against sound leaving or entering the ear cup. Compare this to open-back ear cups, which have perforations, slots or another type of opening in the ear cups that allow some environmental sound in, and allow some of the audio from the ear cups to escape. Open-back designs do not allow for adequate noise isolation.