I find myself gaming more and more lately, mainly because its too hot outside to really do anything else. Usually this heat also makes said gaming quite unbearable due to my headsets making my ears all kind of sweaty. Fortunately for me, I was recently sent a Corsair HS80 Max to review, and I'll be honest this headset is not only one of the best sounding, most comfortable I've used, but the perfectly shaped memory foam fabric ear cups are amazing at keeping my ears both breathable but uninhibited and thus extending my gaming sessions.
Out of the box the HS80 Max has an incredible build quality. The sturdy build quality not only looks really premium but feels extremely high quality. Its clear to me that Corsair has paid real close attention to detail, making the HS80 Max built to last and durability to match its impressive comfort. Speaking of comfort, as I mentioned, the HS80 Max is one of the most comfortable headsets I've used. The ski band design helps take the weight of the headset off your head making it feel almost non existent even during the most intense gaming sessions. The memory foam cotton ear cups are super breathable and as mentioned keep your ears super cool and not sweaty. Comfort holds significant importance to me and the HS80 Max definitely excels in this area. While the design itself remains largely the same ad the HS80, Corsair have taken the time to improve on this slightly too, making the on ear controls a little less hidden. There's nothing worse than trying to adjust a setting mid fight to give you an edge or to just turn up the volume at when listening closely for footsteps only to fumble for almost impossible to find buttons. Well they have now made them a little easier to find and a more tactile press lets you know you've done what you were looking to do.
One very impressive feature of the HS80 Max is its extensive wireless range. I can walk anywhere in my house with my headset on without losing any quality or performance. This allows me to stay connected to the action while going to get a drink or doing something else in between games. The HS80 Max also now boasts a Bluetooth connection, its true that while gaming on either a console or PC, you're almost always going to use 2.4GHz wireless due to the low latency, some laptop gamers and anyone doing things such as streaming your PC or console to a phone or tablet etc. will greatly benefit from the addition of a Bluetooth option. Having said that, one thing Corsair could have added in this department is simultaneous connection, for example my JBL Quantum 910 headset allows me to connect simultaneously to my PC/Console and my mobile phone at the same time. This gives me the ability to game whilst chatting cross platform via apps such as discord or take phone calls mid game without taking my headset off and stepping away from what I'm doing. This is a feature that's becoming more and more popular with gaming headsets and one I feel the HS80 Max should probably have.
Another area in which this headset stands out is the mic quality, its broadcast quality, flip to mute mic ensures quality communication with teammates. Whether it be a high-stakes competitive game or casual banter with mates, the mic on this thing is deep, rich and crystal clear. I haven't been lucky enough to try the Virtuoso headset yet, which is widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best headset mic on the market. Well if this is anything to go by I don't doubt it for a moment. Id say this one is up there with it. This is only further improved by Nvidia's performance boosting software option available to anyone using an Nvidia setup on their PC. This software really works wonders in terms of blocking out background noise allowing for clear, noise free communication even in some of the noisiest environments. Speaking of noisy environments, Id love to see the next iteration of the HS80 feature ANC. As I mentioned, gaming in QLD in summer is hot, so I do it with a ceiling fan or AC on at all times, so the ability to block that out from my gaming really separates you from reality and is quite important to me these days.
On initial use, I was kind of unimpressed by the sound quality of the HS80 Max on my PS5. Having been n avid JBL Quantum fan for a long time, the sound quality of the HS80 Max paled in comparison, It sounded quite rich, however the precision and sound stage were very flat. This made playing competitive FPS games such as Call Of Duty very difficult to pinpoint opponents locations and directions. That was until I plugged it into my PC! Once I did this and paired the headset to the iCue app I was able to adjust a whole bunch of settings. I changed the EQ to the FPS setting and the kind of average sound transformed to something much better. This is the case for a lot of headsets unfortunately, they usually don't come optimised for console and need a little PC or phone app input to improve your sound quality. Further to this, the HS80 Max has a thing that Corsair call SoundID sound personalisation, what this does is it allows you to truly tailor your sound signature to you. It took a few minutes to complete the process but once you do, the software creates a personalised EQ thats purpose built for your ears. No more one size fits all EQ. Once I did this, I was able to hear every footstep, and every movement in any direction. I was not only able to detect if an enemy was coming from the left or the right, I was able to tell if they were a floor up or down from me when inside buildings which really improved my ability to ambush people in the middle of even the most high stress environments. I still think there are other headsets on the market that either sound slightly better but have a less precise sound positioning, or they have absolute pin point positioning but sound very flat. The HS80 Max finds a way of doing both very well.
Setting up the HS80 Max with iCue was not only super straightforward, but as previously mentioned it allows for a bunch of performance and customisation options. I was able to change my RGB to my preference, adjust my microphone settings such as side tone and adjust my sound profile with the press of a button.
The battery life is also rather impressive. I manage to get a few weeks out of it before even thinking about recharging, and if I should accidentally let it run too flat, a quick 15 minute charge gives me an additional 6hrs of gameplay time meaning I'm never out of the fight. This adds to the convenience of a wireless headset. One of the biggest benefits of using a wired headset is the fact that its never without power, often I pick up a wireless headset to start a session with friends only to find the battery is low and I need to find an alternative option or wait for a rather sizeable amount of time to charge it enough for just a few hours of gameplay. This is almost completely mitigated by the HS80 Max. I either have a really long battery life, or I have to charge for just 10-15 mins for enough power to last me the night.
Lets specifically talk about the ways in which the HS80 Max differs from the already impressive HS80.
Improved Battery Life:
As mentioned extensively above, the battery life on the HS80 Max has tripled from the previous model to an impressive 65 hours of continuous play before going dead, this means you're much less likely to lose audio at a critical moment. This in addition to the new quick charge feature means only a 15 minute pitstop and you're back on the air for another 6 hours.
The addition of Bluetooth is a welcomed addition, and one I think should be just about standard with all headsets these days and is a marked improvement on the HS80 missing it altogether, however I still think there's room to grow here.
SoundID Sound Personalisation:
This is a literal game changer over the HS80, the ability to easily create your own custom EQ based on what your ears are hearing is incredible and makes the sound perfect for you. We all hear sound very differently, so the ability to tailor make the EQ to you is brilliant.
All in all, the HS80 Max is an excellent gaming headset, it looks good sounds good and feels even better. Its up there with one of the most comfortable headsets on the market and for its price point, it does everything really, really well. It just missed a few features that I think are becoming more and more important.