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Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

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Fair warning, there will be many implied “at this price” statements in this review. With an RRP of just $ 39.99, the Corsair HS35 stands out in almost every category.

A wired gaming headset with absolutely no frills, the Corsair HS35 sets itself apart by being pretty good at everything you need it to do. The mic is adjustable (so you don’t overload it during those screaming multiplayer moments), while the drivers have good, clean dynamic range and reproduce the band of frequencies you need to play with little effort.

What it doesn’t do is power up or connect via USB. It also doesn’t have gold-plated plugs or active noise cancellation. It is also sticky and a bit light. But, for $ 40 or more, you will get a pair of headphones that you can take into battle and that will be of great use to you. It’s certainly good enough to qualify for our list of the best cheap gaming headsets.

Find out what we like and what we don’t like about it in our full review of the Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review: design

The Corsair HS35 is the gaming headset equivalent of a little black TJ Maxx dress; good looking and classic style, but on a budget. In an era where manufacturers express special features with glowing LEDs and rings, this minimalism is welcome. Although wired and cheap, the headphone cable is long and reassuringly strong.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

(Image credit: Ruth Ellen Brow)

Most of the HS35 is made of matte black plastic; the cups, the hinges and the outer headband. There is an inserted ring that is shiny black on each cup. The only deviation from the scheme is a stylish inset chrome logo. It is worth noting that the set is also available with padding and red, green or blue wiring. The color I tried is called “carbon” which made me wonder why the other options are not called “blood”, “weed” and “antifreeze”.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

(Image credit: Ruth Ellen Brow)

The hinged cups are classic ovals although, at first glance, a little shallow for closed phones. The left cup is where you will find a discreet volume control wheel, and below it a mute button. It is also where the microphone lever is attached and locked. If you don’t need the microphone, the socket can be covered with a black rubber grommet.

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Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

(Image credit: Ruth Ellen Brow)

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Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

(Image credit: Ruth Ellen Brow)

One of my favorite design elements was the use of a soft mesh fabric over the cup padding. It may be personal, but leather or plastic is less comfortable for me.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review: comfort

Confession time: my ears are sticking out. They look like teacups stuck to the sides of my head. Those shallow cups on the HS35 worried me, but there was plenty of room. As it turned out, the soft fabric and soft padding made a good seal without being too tight.

Although the outer headband is black plastic, the inner one is an aluminum strip with a dimmed plastic trim. It fits very easily on the head. Lightweight headphones aren’t necessarily comfortable headphones, but the HS35 benefits from being solid rather than heavy.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

(Image credit: Ruth Ellen Brow)

There is enough flex in the hinges and the padding gives way that I forgot I had it on after switching from game to admin. With the mic tucked away, you might even be tempted to take it on your daily commute (although I’d mark the line when jogging).

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review: gaming performance

With just a direct 3.5mm TRRS connection, there is no need to install any software with the HS35 (on any platform), so you can connect directly and start playing. So that’s what I did.

With a headset in this class, you don’t expect much. You want the audio to be crack-free and for drivers to handle the loud booms and crashes of Doom: Eternal without sounding like a pub band covering Metallica in the middle of a bar fight. You need clear enough stereo separation so you can hear enemy fire in Superhot and know where it’s coming from.

The HS35 does this with poise, but it also offers more. Bass and midrange response was clear when competing with an upgraded Mini hatchback in Dirt Rally 2.0. There is no active noise cancellation, but the closed cups do the work for you. In fact, they performed well enough to miss an Amazon delivery. This is life.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

(Image credit: Ruth Ellen Brow)

Mics can be a weak point on cheaper game cans and the bad news is that he won’t be recording his next album with the Corsair HS35. It works, but is much better at picking up mids and highs than lows, the opposite of drivers. It also lacks an out-of-the-box pop guard, which you’ll need to reduce plosives and wheezing. Fortunately, moving the microphone away from your face also improves playback.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review: musical performance

Here’s that phrase again: the HS35 performed well in our music test at this price. There was an audible 20Hz bass response upwards in our frequency test, but more importantly, it handled our classical, metal, folk, and electronic music playlist consistently and well.

The HS35 favors the low end of the spectrum; Common enough in cheaper closed-cup headphones, but the mid-range was refreshingly wide, too. There was little of the artificial compression towards the center that can be heard in less solidly built headphones.

How do you translate that into English? It works well with traditional instrumentation and electronics, bringing warmth and air to both. The only thing missing was some glitter at the top end; all those lows and mids masked some of the highs. That’s not a big deal in gaming, but if you’re using the HS35 to listen to music, you might want to trade off a bit on the device side.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review: features

The Corsair HS35 doesn’t really have “features.” It’s a wired gaming headset with a detachable mic and that’s pretty much all he wrote. The cable ends in a solid 3.5mm jack that connects to consoles or laptops and a headphone / microphone splitter is included in the box, for PC gamers, with separate connectors. The connectors fit snugly, without clicking, creaking, or any other rice-based cereal noises.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review

(Image credit: Ruth Ellen Brown)

I’m a fan of the detachable mic and its flexible gooseneck design, common in Corsair headphones. It’s very easy to put the mic anywhere you need it, but not so easy to flip it over when you don’t need it. Then again, that’s what the mute button is for, so for full disclosure I’m only pointing it out because I’m reviewing the headphones. I had a complaint, and it was a small one. Why make the microphone detachable? The cable is connected with flexible moldings and that is a point of failure. Equally, however, some people prefer not to have to rummage through their desk for a headphone cable when they need one.

Corsair HS35 stereo gaming headset review: verdict

Some simple gaming headsets that hold at the bottom of the budget ladder seem cheap out of the box. I remember the old saying of my grandmother “buy cheap, pay twice”. Well, my grandmother never played Sniper Elite 4 with the Corsair HS35.

It’s not fantastic, but at this price (that phrase again) it does exactly what a functional and competent gaming headset should do. Inexpensive products should never be a difficult task to use; an obstacle to overcome or a bottleneck in your system. They shouldn’t be so ugly that you hate having them on your desk or built so badly that they break in a couple of months.

So the fact that the HS35 does everything it’s supposed to do and does it pretty well overall is welcome. There’s no point being snobbish about it.

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