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Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset Review

AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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Late last year Corsair released their second-generation gaming headset and it was a hit. Aptly incorporated into the Vengeance line, the 1500 model fully cemented their reputation as a company dedicated to PC gaming enthusiasts. With the release of the new Corsair Vengeance 2000 7.1 Wireless Gaming Headset, Corsair has once again broadened the scope of their Vengeance series and have given gamers even more options to choose from.

While the Vengeance 2000 is based on the same 50mm closed-cup design as the original 1300 and 1500 models, this new iteration offers something no previous Corsair headset could: wire-free connectivity. This is made possible by the use of a wireless USB interface, which Corsair claims is capable of operating over long distances. In fact, you can—in theory—use the Vengeance 2000 upwards of 40 feet away from the included USB transceiver.

Compared against competing solutions, this markedly increased distance from the base station will certainly allow users more freedom of movement. However, freedom is rarely free. Our previous experience with wireless headsets suggests that the Vengeance 2000 will have to overcome some significant hurdles in order to deliver upon its promises. To be specific, the wireless interface raises concerns about decreased sound quality, increased latency, and diminished long-term comfort due to increased weight.

Another potential concern is the Vengeance 2000’s $149 MSRP—$50 more than the already expensive Vengeance 1500 and nearly twice the price of the Dam Good Value winner Vengeance 1300. This means that the new headset will not only be judged against our rigorous set of pass/fail requirements, but also against proven, budget-friendly models. Nevertheless, if Corsair is able to successfully sidestep the numerous pitfalls associated with wireless USB, the Vengeance 2000 has the potential to become the most desirable headset in an already sought-after line.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/audio/Vengeance_2000/mfg.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​
 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications


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AkG

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Closer look at the Vengeance 2000

A Closer Look at the Vengeance 2000



Corsair_Vengeance_2000_box_f_sm.jpg
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Its colors may have become more fanciful and aggressive, but the Vengeance 2000’s box is very similar in appearance, layout, and features to previous Vengeance headset packaging. As with the existing models, this box has a small plastic window on the front to allow a glimpse of the headset secured within.

The box’s rearmost sections are dedicated to informing potential buyers as to exactly what they'll be getting. Unlike the previous models, there is a secondary window that shows off the included USB 2.0 wireless transceiver. This too helps ensure that you know exactly what differentiates this headset from the less expensive Vengeance 1500 and 1300.

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The Vengeance 2000 headset is based on a proven design: an adjustable microphone and large 50mm stereo drivers in a comfortable closed-headset configuration. However, several features have been added to accommodate the device’s wireless functionality. The most notable of these is the difficult-to-replace integrated batteries.

Based on experience with other wireless headsets, it’s the batteries’ weight that causes a headset to become heavy and uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. But the moment we placed this headset on our head, one of our main concerns over its wireless design was alleviated: the difference in weight between the Vengeance 1500 and new 2000 is negligible so it should be no more fatiguing to wear for long periods than its sibling.

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This feat of lightweight engineering is made possible by the use of small, high-density batteries and a few minor tweaks to the materials used in constructing the headset—namely, the removal of metal cladding found in the Vengeance 1500’s adjustable arms. Those metal coverings have been replaced with shiny metallic plastic. We were never overly impressed by the 1500’s metal fascias and found them to be unnecessary additions to an otherwise very clean and practical design.

Corsair_Vengeance_2000_side_sm.jpg

The Vengeance 2000’s industrial design reminds us of both the 1500 and 1300. In fact, it takes the best of both styles to create a unique yet practical design that’s all its own. The overall form factor is identical across all three models, with a large padded adjustable headband attaching both ear cups, which are large enough for our ears to tuck—barely—inside.

Also carried over from the previous models is the adjustable, unidirectional, noise-cancelling-condenser boom mic. The Vengeance 2000’s hinge configuration has been widened and improved, with the ear-cup portion made from matte black plastic and the headband from silver plastic. This gives it an aesthetically pleasing two-tone appearance. Corsair deserves credit for making it both flexible and lightweight but not fragile.

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The ear cups themselves are large and nicely padded, and we were pleased to see that Corsair opted for the soft cloth covering found on the 1500 and not the fake leather of the 1300 model.

The top headband is wide, deep, and well padded. There’s a combination of soft, large ear cups and thickly padded headband, along with the negligible increase in overall weight, making this easily one of the most comfortable wireless headsets we have ever used.

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As with the Vengeance 1500, there is an integrated volume controller located on the left ear cup. Sadly, this function is still software- rather than hardware-based. On the positive side, it is integrated directly into the side of the left ear cup, and it’s both easy to access and unlikely to be bumped accidentally. The left ear also houses the on/off button as well as the necessary mini-USB charging port. While the integrated batteries are being charged, you can continue to use the Vengeance 2000 headset, but charging time will be increased.

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To allow for the best possible reception, Corsair not only includes a large, dual-internal-antenna-equipped USB transceiver but also a stand equipped with a long wire. By plugging this wired adapter into your computer and then the transceiver into it, you can fine-tune the reception of the wireless signal and increase the distance between the Vengeance 2000 and your computer by a about three feet.

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The headset also comes equipped with dual integrated antennas, ensuring you can use the microphone and speakers at the same time, as one can send while the other receives. In testing, we found the 40-foot reception claim to be a tad optimistic for most real-world scenarios. A more realistic distance is 30 feet. However, it is not distance per se that will be the limiting factor; rather it’s the number of walls and interfering devices between the headset and its receiver. In open areas you can indeed get 30+ feet without a noticeable impact on audio quality, but more than three walls between the headset and computer will result in signal loss.


The Vengeance 2000's Software


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One of the largest weaknesses of the Vengeance 1500 was the included software and its lackluster capabilities. Unfortunately, the Vengeance 2000’s software package has been even further streamlined and had things removed from its already scant feature set.

As with the 1500, there’s a choice between either stereo (or “bypass”) mode or virtual surround sound mode. You can also tweak the sound profile via the included ten-band equalizer and choose from many pre-configured options. Unlike with the 1500, you can’t tweak the placement of any of the virtual “speakers.” In practical terms, this means it’s impossible to create a custom soundstage to help overcome any of the surround sound mixing issues that sometimes occur in poorly crafted games. For instance, if the rearmost speaker output is too low for your needs, you will be unable to compensate for it in this rather basic software package.

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AkG

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Sound and Tonal Properties

Sound and Tonal Properties


For this round of testing, we used a combination of lossless FLAC, 320kb/s mp3, and even some lower quality recordings, for a total of over 24 hours of audio tracks. A wide variety of genres was used in order to ensure that we encompassed most people’s listening choices.

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Let us preface this by saying that subjectively speaking, the Vengeance 2000 sounds very similar to the 1500. This means it is a fairly neutral-sounding headset that puts only a mild emphasis on mid tones. If you are so inclined, the music’s slight coloration is easily removed via the software equalizer.

To be perfectly candid, however, this headset is not designed with the audiophile community in mind. It is first and foremost a gaming headset, and gaming headsets almost invariably place more emphasis on virtual surround sound abilities rather than on sound fidelity. The Vengeance 2000 is no exception this rule.

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As with the Vengeance 1500 before it, we found the 2000 to have somewhat veiled tonal properties, and its soundstage tends to be much smaller than that of many analog headsets. Unfortunately, the 2000 is slightly worse than the 1500 in this regard. To make an analogy, the Vengeance 1500 sounds a lot like the Vengeance 1300 connected to good onboard audio, whereas the Vengeance 2000 sounds a lot like the Vengeance 1300 connected to bad onboard audio. The highs are even less precise than the 1500’s, the lows are downright “muddy and thuddy,” and even the mids are not all that crisp. The one saving grace is that the mid tones are slightly more forward, and while not exactly crisp they are more noticeable, especially when listening to spoken word and jazz.

This difference is not the fault of the headset itself, or even the second-rate USB DAC Corsair has once again opted for. This reduction in quality is actually a result of the headset’s wireless nature. As with every other wireless USB unit we have used, in order to beam the signal to the headset, a certain amount of additional compression is required. Although this compression is all but unnoticeable on lower quality 128kb/s mp3 recordings, it does become apparent on lossless FLAC material.

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On the positive side, the audio performance is still more than adequate for most consumers, and unless you are an audiophile you may never notice the reduction in quality. In our opinion, the moderate additional loss in sound fidelity is more than made up for in the freedom of movement Corsair’s Vengeance 2000 affords the end user.

When compared against the 1500, the Vengeance 2000 really is the better overall option between two somewhat deficient devices. Many will take offence at Corsair’s temerity in labeling four of the pre-configured equalizer options as “audiophile,” but the enhanced pre-configured equalizer options mask most of the issues with sound quality fairly well. If you prefer a bass-heavy sound, the “Audiophile +1” will be perfect as it cranks the bass to 11 and brings it to the forefront. It is unfortunate that doing so creates a fatiguing sound profile, but you will no longer notice the overly compressed nature of the sound emanating from the speakers.
 
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AkG

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Gaming Results

Gaming Results


For these games we used the Sennheiser 595 and Cooler Master Storm Sirus headsets for comparison purposes along with the Corsair Vengeance 2000.

Games Used:
Left 4 Dead 1 & 2
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Battlefield 3
BioShock 1 & 2
Borderlands
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1, 2, & 3
Diablo 3
Just Cause 2



A Quick Note about Comfort
For marathon gaming sessions, wireless headsets usually fall into one of two categories: mildly uncomfortable or very uncomfortable. However, the Vengeance 2000, which is just as wearable for long periods of time as the corded Vengeance 1500, falls into neither. The large, thickly padded headband coupled with the surprisingly lightweight construction means that buyers have little to worry about with regard to long-term comfort. In fact, this gaming headset is just as comfortable to wear as many audiophile-grade competitors.

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Unfortunately the gaming abilities of Corsair’s wireless headset are not as cut and dried. On the one hand you have headphones which provide a reasonably good virtual soundstage with gaming-centric capabilities. On the other hand, these abilities are usually no better than what the Vengeance 1500 is offering and can in fact be worse in some scenarios.

Losing the capability to tweak the soundstage to a personalized configuration can be very frustrating. No two people are alike in how they hear virtual surround from stereo speakers, and in the 2000’s case, a strict reliance is placed upon the default configuration. The 1500 incorporates the additional adjustments necessary for soundstage fine-tuning. Thankfully, the default configuration is usually very good and the loss of tweaking options will be rarely noticed.

Helping to make up for its deficiencies is the amazing freedom of movement the Vengeance 2000 headset allows, and its battery life is also respectable. A run time of 8.5 to 9 hours may not seem like all that much but these results are quite respectable. Although it’s lower than the rated 10 hours, this is much like the “maximum range” issue in that it will vary depending on your use and environment. If the Vengeance 2000 has to boost the signal power to cut through interference, it will not last as long as it would with a clear line of sight.

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There are two major issues with the wireless aspect of this headset. First, it lacks any real indication of how much battery life is left before you have to recharge. An estimated run time in the included software would have been useful, yet the Vengeance 2000 is missing this basic feature. The other issue is that the charging cable is a touch too short for comfort. Although the cable length is not extremely restrictive, you give up the freedom that constitutes the Vengeance 2000’s primary selling feature whenever the tether is attached for charging. And since there’s no clear indication when the battery is running low, this scenario is more likely to occur.

Overall, while the gaming experience is not perfect, it is improved over that of the 1300 and 1500 headsets. The long-distance and lightweight design of the Vengeance 2000 won us over and made it easy to overlook its few handicaps. For those times when we just wanted to have fun with friends and game on a large-screen TV, was the headset we reached for. For serious PC gaming enthusiasts, analog options such as the Vengeance 1300, various audiophile headphones, and even the Cooler Master Storm Sirus would be slightly better choices. Luckily, the number of consumers who take their gaming audio and/or music that seriously is rather small.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


With the previous Vengeance headset models, a consumer’s choice ultimately came down to virtual surround sound (the USB-based Vengeance 1500) or premium stereo sound (the Vengeance 1300). Indeed, both options offered reasonable comfort and sensible style at prices that were in line with the competition. Instead of variations on this theme, the new Vengeance 2000 offers something the previous models could not: outstanding freedom of movement. In this area, the Vengeance 2000 headset is a smashing success. Thanks to its long-range wireless abilities one can wander—to a limited extent—from room to room while still enjoying their favorite music.

Unfortunately, going hand-in-hand with this increased freedom of movement is the problem of decreased sound clarity. Although the difference in latency between the Vengeance 2000 and 1500 is minor enough to not be all but indistinguishable, the decrease in sound quality is apparent when listening to high quality music and even when playing some games. Despite the fact that the sound quality discrepancy between these three Corsair products is not all that drastic, the Vengeance 2000 simply could not afford to lose any sound quality if it wanted to persuade buyers away from the lower priced but highly capable Vengeance 1500.

The Vengeance 2000 is by no means a poor choice for music enthusiasts since it actually outputs reasonable sound quality. Rather, its performance simply doesn’t correspond to its price point. If this were a $75 headset, the sound quality would be perfectly acceptable, but at $150, there are simply better solutions for music fans to choose from.

This is first and foremost a product that targets gamers, and in gaming environments any minimal sound quality reduction will go largely unnoticed. The lack of advanced tweaking to the virtual soundstage will leave listeners wanting more in some rare instances but for the most part, this is a plug and play audio solution. Overall, the Vengeance 2000 does provide gaming performance that approaches its 1500-series indirect competitor while still affording freedom of movement that is simply unheard of.

Further helping to mitigate the loss of sound fidelity is how comfortable this headset is to wear. Most wireless USB gaming headsets—such as the Logitech G930 for instance—are downright heavy and cumbersome affairs. After a few hours of use, most people really start to notice their added weight. This is not the case with the Vengeance 2000 as it is still a lightweight headset, just one that does not need wires to work. In this regard, Corsair has achieved a balance of battery time versus weight that is better than most.

While we do not consider the Vengeance 2000 an optimal choice for music enthusiasts or analog purists, it is still a good headset for most of the PC gaming public. Its lightweight yet comfortable design coupled with excellent wireless performance will appeal to many, as it does offer compelling compensation for the reduced audio fidelity.

For anyone in the market for a wireless gaming headset that doesn’t need an audiophile-grade solution or advanced software options, the Vengeance 2000 headset will be a great choice. However, there are better options out there should you be willing to use a more limiting corded solution.


Pros:

- Stylish yet durable design
- Comfortable even after hours of use
- Simple rotation to mute microphone
- Excellent freedom of movement


Cons:

- Overly simplistic software package
- Less than optimal music abilities
- Only basic sound-stage customization abilities
- Price
- No easy way to tell how much battery life is left while wearing the headset besides the 10% low battery beep
 
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