Corsair’s current top of the line gaming headset, the Corsair VIRTUOSO RGB Wireless, was released around a couple of months ago. It’s said to “deliver incredible sound and impeccable clarity”, so this should deliver a much better gaming and music listening experience compared to the cheaper VOID RGB ELITE Wireless we reviewed before. Well we are about to find out if spending more for a gaming headset is worth it or not. By the way, there are two types of Virtuoso released in the market; the SE or Special Edition and the non-SE. What we have here is the Special Edition and we’ll talk about the difference in this review as well. If you are looking for a premium wireless gaming headset, stick around, continue reading our Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE review, and find out if it’s worth it.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE Review
Corsair’s latest flagship gaming headset is quite different from its predecessors. The company has definitely raised the bar not only in terms of aesthetics, but the build quality and material used as well. It features a pair of “precisely tuned” 50mm high-density neodymium drivers that covers frequency range from 20Hz to 40,000Hz. It also features an (artificial) 7.1 surround sound effect when connected to a PC.
The Virtuoso RGB Wireless offers multiple connectivity options; via Slipstream Wireless (USB) with up to 60 feet in range and this is achieved using Intelligent Frequency Shift to ensure the strongest signal according to Corsair. The second is via USB wired, where users can take advantage of hi-fi 24bit/96kHz audio connection and finally via the standard 3.5mm wired connection.
It also features a built-in / integrated battery that is rated to last up to 20 hours of wireless battery life. There is also a smart-wake function that is aided by an accelerometer that automatically turns off the headphone when put down; and powers up when you pick it up or movement is detected. That’s a really nice feature if you ask me!
Before we take a closer look at the Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE and discuss more of its features, here are the differences between the Virtuoso SE vs non-SE.
- The Special Edition features a machined aluminum construction. Its ear cup face plate, mic head, connectors and the accents uniformly feature aluminum construction. Meanwhile, with the non-SE you get a plastic faceplate.
- The Special Edition features a micro-perforation for the RGB lighting. Since the face plate is aluminum, the only way for the RGB lighting to shine through is to punch tiny holes on the surface. The non-SE features a brighter RGB lighting since it uses that traditional translucent plastic surface; where the light could easily pass through.
- The Special Edition features a larger 9.5mm “broadcast-grade” detachable microphone. While with the non-SE you get a smaller microphone instead. Though some say the smaller mic actually sounds better.
- Finally, with the SE, you get a cross-stitched padded pouch sealed with a magnetic clasp. No pouch for the non-SE.
- Price wise, the SE is more expensive at ~$210 USD, while the non-SE is retailed at ~$180 USD.
Prices do change, so for updated pricing and availability check out the links below:
- Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE available on Amazon.com here and Amazon UK here
- Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless available on Amazon.com here and Amazon UK here
The Virtuoso gaming headset is compatible with PC and PlayStation 4. But the 7.1 surround sound feature is only available on PC since you need to install the iCUE software to enable this feature.
Below are the rest of the specifications of the Virtuoso and after that let’s take a closer look at the headset itself.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless Headset Specifications
Headphone Frequency Response: 20Hz – 40,000Hz
Headphone Impedance: 32 Ohms @ 2.5kHz
Headphone Sensitivity: 109 dB (± 3 dB)
Headphone Drivers: Custom 50mm neodymium, matched pairs
Microphone Type: Omni-directional
Microphone Impedance: 2.0k Ohms
Microphone Frequency Response: 100Hz – 10,000Hz
Microphone Sensitivity: 42 dB (± 2 dB)
Wireless Connection: SLIPSTREAM Corsair Wireless Technology 2.4GHz
Wireless Adapter: USB Type A
Wireless Range: Up to 60 feet (12m)
Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
USB-C Charging Cable: 1.5m
3.5mm Stereo Cable: 1.5m
Dimensions: 70mm x 100mm x 195mm / 6.69” x 3.94” x 7.68”
Product Weight (w/o cable and accessories): 360 g / 0.79lb
Warranty: Two Years
Packaging and Closer Look (Comfort / Fit)
As expected from a product of Corsair, the packaging features the usual Black with Yellow highlights color scheme. The Virtuoso SE is well packaged with its sturdy box and matching accessories; it’s not out of this world unboxing experience but it is nicely packaged and presented.
Included in the package are reading materials; cross-stitched padded pouch sealed with a magnetic clasp; a USB wireless transmitter; USB data / charging cable that is 1.8m in length; a 1.5m-long 3.5mm stereo cable; and a larger 9.5mm omni-directional high-bandwidth microphone.
Also notice that the aesthetics on each part are simply matching; from the headphone itself down to the accessories. You’ll notice the matching aluminum accents with black color scheme. That’s a very nice touch and makes the Virtuoso SE a more premium-looking product compared to Corsair’s other gaming headsets.
The Corsair Virtuoso SE was built with comfort in mind. The entire portion of the headband is covered with a nice-looking leatherette material with foam padding underneath. I’m positive that it’s not real leather, I just hope it would last for a couple or more years before it starts to degrade.
I personally don’t prefer this type of headband suspension, but it doesn’t put too much pressure on the top of my head. However, the fit and seal of the ear cups are definitely much better compared to Corsair’s own VOID wireless gaming headset. The pressure is evenly distributed and you get a nice seal from the top to bottom portion of the ear.
The clamping force is a bit strong, perhaps it needs a bit more stretching or breaking-in before it loosens a bit. But I find the clamping force to be generally acceptable.
The microphone is detachable and uses a mini-USB connection – something that I haven’t seen for a long time. The headband is also adjustable with a 10-step adjustment. It clicks in place as you slide it and there are inlays as well, helping users adjust the headband or ear cups evenly. You can also see a subtle Corsair logo on both sides.
Looking at the ear cups or the driver portion of the Virtuoso SE, it doesn’t look like a “gaming headset”. The aesthetics is actually far different from the other gaming headsets that Corsair has. For me, it looks more professional-looking or has an elegant feel to it.
The ear pads feature memory foam but I think the cover is leatherette as well. The pads are not too thick and not shallow as well; and the diameter of the ear cups are big enough to fit most of the ears. However, if you have a very large ear, you may feel the tip of your ear or your ear lobe pressing against the memory foam.
It also offers a good amount of seal, resulting in a decent (noise) isolation from your surroundings. Of course, this is a closed-back headphone, so once you start listening to music or playing some games, you may not hear anything from your surrounding anymore (depending on the volume you are at).
Also, the ear cups can be tilted by a few degrees and it can be swiveled 90° on both sides, as you can see from the photos above.
Looking at the bottom portion of the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE, we can see several connectors, a volume wheel and a switch. On the left ear cup, it has the mini-USB port for the microphone; a 3.5mm headphone port; and a USB Type-C port for charging and “high-fidelity” wired connection.
The mute button for the microphone is actually on the microphone itself. Once connected, the mute mic button is located on the underside of the headset, opposite side of the mini-USB plug. You’ll also hear a notification when you turn off or on the microphone. Finally, on the right ear cup, you can see the volume wheel and the USB / Wireless switch.
There is no physical on/off switch since the Virtuoso features a smart-wake function that automatically turns it off when put down. However, once it detects movement, the headset is activated. So, if you put it in a bag or you want to save battery life while in transit; you might want to switch it to USB mode. It “turns off” the wireless function thus basically powering down the headset.
Corsair iCUE Software for Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE
Another beauty of the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE is that it’s a completely plug and play device. Meaning, you don’t have to download or install any special driver to make it work. Simply plug the USB transmitter and switch to wireless mode, wait for the PC to finish setting up (by itself) and you are good to go.
You also don’t need any driver when connecting via USB mode, and definitely no driver or software is needed when connecting via the 3.5mm analog connection. But, if you want to customize the lighting effect, tweak or select an EQ preset, or enable 7.1 surround sound; you will need to download and install Corsair’s iCUE software.
If you already have a Corsair product in your system; like the Vengeance RGB or Dominator RGB Pro, or AIO CPU cooler, Corsair keyboard / mouse perhaps, then may have installed the iCUE software already. It’s an all-in-one central software that controls most of Corsair’s products.
As you can see from the screenshots above, with the iCUE you can change the color or lighting effects of the Corsair logo on the ear cups, including the mic. You can also select from the different EQ presets to adjust the sound signature depending on your preference or tweak its sound characteristics using the 10-band equalizer.
You can also enable the 7.1 surround sound effect, but only via the iCUE software. Perhaps this is one reason why the 7.1 surround sound feature isn’t available on PS4, since you can’t install the software on a PlayStation.
However, I think Corsair might have missed an opportunity here. I’m not sure why there is no button on the headset itself to enable the 7.1 feature. I’m guessing the audio processing is dependent on the iCUE software, just like the EQ presets. That’s why it can only be activated via the iCUE software. After all, it’s just an artificial surround sound.
Though, I don’t think it’s really a deal breaker anyway. Personally, I don’t find the 7.1 feature to be exceptional or a must have feature. I still prefer an open back headphone with a wider soundstage and better imaging to an artificial 7.1 sound.
Speaking of sound, time for me to discuss my subjective listening experience with Corsair’s Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE headset.
Testing and Subjective Listening Experience
Now for the most important part of this review, how does the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE gaming headset sounds like? Does it sound good? Is it worth it? Well, I was very excited to test the Virtuoso out, and I wanted to know how much of an improvement the Virtuoso offers after testing the Void RGB Elite wireless headset.
Holding the headphone on hand feels good and has that premium vibe to it. Corsair also claimed that the Virtuoso “delivers incredible sound and impeccable clarity” in their press release. So, may expectation was a bit higher, but after listening to the Virtuoso with the usual music tracks I listen to to test the headphones, my excitement faded away and got a bit disappointment.
The Virtuoso SE has this V-shape sound signature were the bass is emphasized and the mid-section is (slightly) laid back. The treble seems to be a bit rolled off as well, and to my ears it doesn’t have that level of clarity and detail that I was expecting.
Now the bass is definitely an improvement compared to the VOID Elite. Actually, the overall sound is better than the VOID Elite. The Virtuoso sounds more full-bodied, warm and the bass goes deep and has a better slam compared to the VOID Elite. The mid-section is just fine, it’s a bit laid back and it has this wide presentation. The mids also sound a bit warm to my ears. As for the treble region, it’s not sibilant, it’s a bit rolled off and lacks a bit of clarity and details.
The Virtuoso sounds great when I used it for playing games, especially with first person shooter games like Battlefield V. The sound of the gun fire and explosions are spot on and you get this deep rumbling sound as well. However, when it comes to music listening, I’m quite disappointed with the sound quality and performance of the Virtuoso. I don’t think that it’s well-tuned for listening to music.
As for the microphone, it actually sounds great. It’s a bit on the warm side though and it’s sensitive enough to pick up some background noise. It’s not very good at (background) noise-cancelling, but voice definitely sounds clear and audible. Other gaming headsets I encountered had horrendous mic quality, or flat-sounding, crackling, or the person’s voice sounded like his nose is clipped. But not with the Virtuoso’s mic!
Pricing and Availability
The Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE gaming headset is now available. It comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $209.99 USD. The Virtuoso lineup is also backed by a two-year warranty and the Corsair worldwide customer service and technical support network. Prices do change, so for updated pricing and availability check out the links below.
Corsair Virtuoso Gaming Headset latest pricing and availability:
- Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE available on Amazon.com here and Amazon UK here
- Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless available on Amazon.com here and Amazon UK here
Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE Review Conclusion
Okay, time to wrap up this review. The Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE gaming headset is a nice addition to company’s current line of wireless gaming headsets. It’s definitely an improvement from the VOID Elite wireless overall, but it’s quite pricey as well.
Design-wise, I think the Virtuoso is built like a tank. The construction and materials used makes the Virtuoso feels solid and premium. It is comfortable, though that’s a little bit subjective depending on the size and shape of your head and ear. For me, it is comfortable, but not the most comfortable I have tried. I prefer a headphone with a wider headband or suspension that would support and distribute the weight evenly; just like on the LCD-GX or Ether Flow.
There are not a lot of controls on the headset itself. There’s only a wired to wireless switch, also serves as an on/off switch, and the volume rocker. It’s nice that they keep the controls to a minimum, but I wish Corsair also added a button for cycling through the different EQ presets and/or enable surround sound. It is a bit inconvenient that you need to open the iCUE software just to switch to a different preset.
The microphone on this is also really good; good enough for streaming and even voiceover with the right environment or setup. It is a bit sensitive and does pick up some background noise. You might want to put a windscreen or filter on it, which unfortunately is not included in the package. But I noticed some feedback from the users and other reviewers claiming that the smaller mic on the non-SE version is actually better and sounds more natural compared to the SE’s.
Interestingly, if you have a long USB-C to USB-C cable, you can connect the Virtuoso to a smartphone. It’s something that is not mentioned on Corsair’s site, but it works. I tried to connect it with my LG V40, but I need to crank up the volume on the phone and also increase the volume on the headset to get a better listening volume. You can also connect to a PC via a USB-C to USB-C.
However, I am having mixed feelings when it comes to its sound quality. Corsair boasts that the Virtuoso “delivers incredible sound, impeccable clarity”. I think the Virtuoso (SE) falls short a bit on this promise. To my ears it just doesn’t have that clarity or a sound quality that I am expecting on a $200+ headset / headphone. For example, the Philips Fidelio X2HR has a better audio quality and sound signature overall and it’s great for gaming as well. Although, it’s not wireless and it doesn’t have a mic. And I’m sure there are other headphones out there that would offer a much better music listening experience than the Virtuoso on a similar price range.
But the Virtuoso is a gaming headset! – Yes, I am aware of that, but most people would not buy a headset or headphone just to play games exclusively. Many are looking for a headset / headphone that they can use as an all-around daily driver. And I think Corsair needs to fine tune their flagship headsets further improve the audio quality or sound signature, not just for gaming but for multimedia and music listening as well.
Virtuoso SE or non-SE, which one to get?
I don’t have the non-SE with me, but they are basically just the same headset and the only main difference is the mic and the aesthetics, specifically the face plate on the ear cups. The Virtuoso SE has this metal face plate giving it a more “premium” look to it. While the non-SE has a glossy plastic surface but the RGB lighting is definitely brighter on the non-SE. I think the non-SE is the better deal between the two if you don’t prioritize aesthetics or you prefer the look on the non-SE. The non-SE is cheaper as well at $180 (MSRP) vs $210 (MSRP).
Overall, Corsair’s latest flagship Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE gaming headset definitely raised the bar in terms of built quality, aesthetics and comfort (depending on the size of your head / ear). And I think it’s a good solid gaming headset and would recommend it for your gaming needs. But in terms of audio quality, I think it needs to be re-tuned or improved. Not that it doesn’t sound good. The audio quality is good for gaming, but not so much when listening to music.