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Like the H1500, I’m going to gloss right over the controversy regarding Corsair’s new logo. As far as I can tell everyone is either ambivalent to the new logo or absolutely loathes it, but either way it’s not going to factor into the rating here.
The H2100 is very similar to its cheaper sibling, the H1500, with one key difference: It’s wireless.
A wireless gaming headset for only $100? Impossible. Other companies sell their wireless headsets for literally hundreds of dollars more, with the SteelSeries H Wireless and the Astro A50 both coming in at $300. And yet Corsair has done it, keeping the key features of the H1500 while freeing you from the confines of your desk, and it’s only $20 more than the H1500. That’s pretty amazing, and it’s easily the best selling point for this headset.
Outside of the wireless aspect though, the H2100 takes both the sins and strengths of the H1500. Mostly the sins.
As with the H1500, it’s refreshing to see a company use a yellow-and-black color scheme. It’s unique and I find it less obnoxious than the standard red/neon green and black used by most companies. The H2100 is also very durable, with thick plastic tracks and hefty earcups, while staying lightweight enough that it’s not cumbersome to wear.
You also get controls built into the headset, thanks to the fact it’s wireless. These are so nice I’m almost annoyed they weren’t in the H1500—the volume roller is the same used on Corsair’s K70 and K90 keyboard models, and the microphone flips up to mute. There’s also a massive power button built into the left earcup, along with a similarly massive LED to indicate whether the device is on.
The weirdest part about wearing the H2100 is the lack of padding in the earcups. I imagine it was a cost-saving maneuver, but I was surprised when I first put them on—the ears are hard. I got used to it, and the H2100 still sealed against my head, but this is the polar opposite of the standard “We padded this headset with clouds made of marshmallows” direction that most companies are headed.
The sound of the H2100 is comparable to the H1500. In other words, it’s not great. The H2100 has the same bright sound profile, which after an hour or two is extremely ear fatiguing. It’s telling that nearly all of the EQ presets in Corsair’s software have the low end pumped as far as it will go (+12db). The headset also gets really loud, but with the side effect that certain frequencies will make the sound distort or rattle at moderately high volumes.
The 7.1 Surround Sound isn’t a huge selling point, even though Corsair is leaning on it heavily. Sometimes the added directionality is noticeable, but most of the time it sounds like a hollowed out stereo headset. In other words, it’s headset surround sound—nothing more, nothing less, and definitely nothing revolutionary.
The microphone has a weird tape hiss sound in the background, but is otherwise pretty good at voice reproduction. The fact that you can flip up the boom mic to mute is ultra-convenient, and I don’t know why Corsair didn’t just include it on the H1500.
Wireless fidelity holds up to around 30 feet, though I started to notice some crackle around 20 feet. Walls obviously cut that range down considerably, with a single wall of my San Francisco apartment slicing the range down to 10-15 feet. Corsair also includes a 4-5 foot antenna you can plug into a USB slot and stretch away from your computer for a bit of extra range.
The battery lasts about ten hours, after which you’re stuck wired into a USB port until the headset charges. Since the wireless dongle also takes up a USB slot, that’s a total of two slots needed to use the H2100.
The H2100 isn’t a fantastic wireless headset, but it is a cheap wireless headset. With other companies charging an exorbitant amount to go wire-free, I expect all my talk of sound quality and design and the like won’t matter a bit if you’re set on cutting the cord for a reasonable price. Corsair’s one of the few offering a wireless option at this price, and you can see why—corners were obviously cut, especially in regards to the design.
But again, it’s only $100. For a wireless headset. It’s doubtful you’ll find a better deal elsewhere.
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Hayden writes about games for PCWorld and doubles as the resident Zork enthusiast.
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