Corsair's Virtuoso gaming headset delivers a luxury design with a geeky appeal, making it the sort of headphones you'd want to rock on the go. Comfort is another strong point, with foam pads that feel soft and plush. If the $210 price raises concerns as to whether this gaming headset is worth the investment, don't worry, it is.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB SE design
I love it when a company can walk the line between Sci-fi and luxury, and the Corsair Virtuoso achieved that mark.
The headset features a plush faux leather design with quality metal railings that adjust to your cranium size. The crown support is a soft leather-esque material with memory foam all around the head railing. We normally see headsets with this type of design priced between $300 and $600. However, Corsair didn't hold back at all, making sure luxury was felt throughout the design.
The Virtuoso features faux leather ear cups and more of that memory foam within gives them extra comfort. The earcups are circular, and I experienced no discomfort despite my miniature ears. That might not be the case for gamers with normal to larger ears. The cups also fold inwards to rest around your neck when they’re not in use.
You can find the volume control knob underneath on the right ear cup along with the switch to toggle between wired and wireless modes. On the left side, where the boom mic is located, is the 3.5mm port and the USB Type-C port.
I am a sucker for RGB light effects on anything as it screams "PC-gamer lifestyle." Even though the design of the Corsair Virtuoso is sleek, it adds fun in a not-so-obvious manner with the company’s RGB logo effect on a digital type screen along the sides of the cups. If you want to change the color and lighting effects, you can do so with Corsair's iCue software.
What’s in The Box?
In the box is a carrying bag, USB Type-C cable, 3.5mm analog cable, a USB dongle, and a detachable broadcast mic.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB SE comfort
Besides the audio performance of a headset, comfort is also a top priority. If you game for a long period like I do, or choose to use a headset for long work sessions, the Corsair Virtuoso will feel like it isn't there. The earcups didn't make it feel like my ears were being held hostage. The snug fit did not choke my cranium to the point of giving me a headache, and it is also glasses friendly. Depending on weather conditions outside and the temperature of your environment, warm situations can lead to sweating since the headphones use a man-made leather material.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB SE microphone
The detachable boom mic has a unique design and is connected via USB. The mic is very sturdy, which helps with overall audio fidelity compared with competing headsets on the market that use a standard auxiliary connection. The boom mic itself is cardioid, which brings a more direct crisp sound for your vocals, a key requirement for live streamers and podcasters.
When you press the mute button on the bottom of the mic, it turns red and announces, "mic off" as if you were in a sci-fi flick. A long press gives you options for a sidetone in order to hear voice feedback. The quality of this mic during my live streams was on point. Looking back at my live streams and live recordings, I didn’t hear interference as I have with various mics on other headsets. Instead, it was a very crisp studio sound.
There is, however, one design flaw: the mute button is right under the mic. The placement itself isn’t so bad most of the time, but since it protrudes outward, my shoulder has tapped it while I was reaching down for something. To alleviate this flaw, you do have the option to detach the mic while you play or stream and use an alternative option, like a third party mic.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB SE setup
Getting the Corsair Virtuoso SE up and running is a walk in the park on any platform. The Virtuoso features the company’s proprietary Slipstream technology, which deals with quick connectivity and, once connected, you get 2.4GHz transmission speeds, which should cut down on any chat lag. If you’re using the Corsair ecosystem, Slipstream lets you use one USB receiver dongle to connect up to two additional Corsair peripherals. Don’t want to go wireless? You can always use the 3.5mm bundled cord to use on your mobile devices.
For a wireless PC connection, plug the USB connector into your USB port and it will search for drivers. But to break into the true functionality of the Corsair Virtuoso, you must head to the company’s website and download the iCue software.
Corsair's iCue software has been around for quite some time as the primary software for previous Corsair peripherals. The user interface is very basic and not difficult at all to comprehend. You have options to save EQs, RGB light profiles for customizing, and you can change your listening experience from stereo to digital 7.1 surround sound. The iCue software also helps with updating the headset to the latest software. There is no EQ setting on the computer for wireless console use; This would improve functionality beyond the PC.
Corsair Virtuoso SE audio
Even though the Virtuoso can be used with PlayStation and Xbox, you can’t really tap into the headset’s true audio potential without Corsair’s iCue software. This is why it’s so puzzling that Corsair has yet to make a mobile app. Without iCue, the audio on the Virtuoso is rather flat.
For my non-iCue test, I played shooters, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, The Division 2, and Overwatch, on both my PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One. I tend to choose shooters because of the various sounds from the artillery, character banter and explosions. But no matter what I played, the sound coming from the 50mm drivers was consistently flat and was riddled with more treble than mids and bass.
The Virtuoso came to life when I connected them to my PC and started fiddling with the iCue software. Once I found my preferred EQ settings, I listened to “Names” by Skye's World, which offers various R&B tones with bass. Compared with Astro A50s, it did not hold a candle in the bass department. Astros perfected the fidelity of this track compared with the Virtuoso, which failed to incorporate mids. I switched to Asian Kung Fu Nation’s “Haruka Kanata,” one of my favorite Japanese rock songs, to check out the electric guitar riffs and bass solo. The bass on the Virtuoso was still a bit faint compared with the A50s. That's a shame because I expect energetic bass to give life to any genre of music or game I encounter.
Initially, the audio on the Virtuoso still sounded somewhat flat, even with iCue enabled. Then I noticed I was using the default stereo option. I toggled the settings to 7.1 surround sound and it unlocked so many different levels with each song. It was like being in my own private concert hall. I appreciate that, despite the larger drivers, the bass is subtle when it needs to be. The lows did not drown out crucial tones, and instead, added to a dramatic effect.
To test out how the surround sound fared when I was gaming, I raised some hell in space playing Borderlands 3. The surround sound feature amplified different environmental sounds and dialogue compared with just the stereo setting. Compared with the Astro A50, it does not come close at all. What keeps the A50s towering over the Virtuoso is that there are many layers to its sound, regardless of the platform. The bass is felt at a multitude of levels, which gives it a dynamic experience compared with the Virtuoso, which needs a lot of tweaking to come near that calibur.
Corsair Virtuoso SE battery life and Bluetooth
The battery life of the Virtuoso claims to last 20 hours, but I was able to squeeze roughly around 17 hours at a full charge. I'm sure why I couldn't reach the full 20 hours. At around 15 hours of use, it would alert me that the battery was low and blink red on the mic and battery light indicator.
Fortunately, since the Virtuoso is USB Type-C, it is quick to charge. It is difficult to know its charge percentage unless you have it plugged into your computer and open the iCue software. If you were to just charge with a phone charger, for example, there is only a small LED indicator on the left earcup that turns amber for charging, green for full, and red for low battery.
One thing’s for sure, the Corsair Virtuoso Special Edition is a good-looking gaming headset. It’s also lightweight and extremely comfortable, plus, who doesn’t love a little bit of customizable RGB lighting? But for $210, I expected a bit more when it came to sound. Now, don't get me wrong, the Virtuoso delivers a crisp sound and it’s definitely a top choice for streaming due to its mic, but the soundstage could have been fuller.
Also, I wish Corsair made its iCue software for mobile devices so you can get the full experience on other platforms besides the PC. For $300, you can get the Astro A50, which offers hardware functions to change EQ and can deliver the same audio experience across consoles and PC. Still, the Corsair Virtuoso Special Edition is a great choice for PC-centric content creators.