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Corsair's Void Surround gaming headset reviewed

Surrounded by a Void

Corsair recently announced a new addition to its gaming headset lineup: the Void Surround. This $80 headset slots in between the $70 Void Stereo and $100 Void USB. The Corsair Void lineup is a relatively new branch of Corsair's arsenal of gaming gear, so I was pleased at the opportunity to get my hands on one of these headsets.

Let's begin by taking a look at the chassis. The Surround is mostly finished in black, along with some red accents on the earcups and mic. The headset sports a sturdy plastic-and-aluminum frame, along with a couple strips of artificial leather around the ear cups for cosmetic purposes. Overall, the Surround feels robust yet flexible. The earcups swivel ninety degrees for comfort when resting on the wearer's neck and to save on space when the headset isn't in use. Each side of the headband has nine notches to accommodate various head sizes.

The headset is fitted with a four-pole 3.5-mm jack, which allows it to be used with mobile devices and consoles along with a PC. Compared to the Void Stereo and Void USB, that makes the Surround more versatile. It also comes with a Dolby Headphone USB adapter for Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound, which we'll dive into later. The six-foot-long cable is just lengthy enough to provide ample maneuverability at the desk without hanging way down when using the headset with a mobile device.

A mute button and a volume wheel are located on the left earcup. Both the location and nature of the controls are fantastic design decisions. Quickly reaching up and adjusting the volume or muting the mic is so much easier than fumbling with the cord to find the tiny in-line controllers that most headsets come with. Oftentimes, a lot of headset controls also have up or down volume buttons that need to be repeatedly pressed to adjust the volume. The Surround's volume wheel is a much better alternative, as it provides a wide range of adjustment with minimal effort.

The final nail in the coffin for standard headset controls is how difficult it is to tell whether the mic is muted or not. The Surround's mute button, however, has a nice click to it and slightly depresses into the headset when on, providing for a quick and easy mute check. As simple as these features may sound, they are major strengths of the headset.

The Surround sports a pair of uniquely-shaped earcups that house 50-mm neodymium drivers. Those cups are supported by a forward-slanting headband. For those of you worrying about the the cups fitting around your ears, the inside of the earcups is a little over one inch deep, two inches tall at their farthest points, and slightly over one inch wide. Corsair calls their earcup shape a "true form" design, as they are supposed to fit perfectly around the human ear. However, other than the unique aesthetic, I don't think the cup shape provides any practical advantage. The design actually seems to limit ear space compared to more traditional oval earphones. The cups fit my relatively small ears just fine, but others might have trouble.

The cups are padded with a combination of microfiber and memory foam that I find fairly comfortable. After an hour or so of use, however, a bit of annoying pressure sets in. The problem here is that the Surround is heavy for a headset, especially considering that it's meant to be used on the go with mobile devices. Even so, I highly doubt that most people will be lugging around a gaming headset with a non-detachable mic.

Even at my desk, the bulk of the Surround is still an issue for comfort. I found that if I loosened up the headset's grip a bit in order to alleviate the pressure, the forward-slanting headband would let the headset slide forward if I looked down at all. Something as simple as checking my phone became a frustrating experience, as I would have to reposition the headset every time I looked back up again. Even if the weight stayed the same, I think this issue could be fixed by sticking to the conventional headband design of most other headsets.