When the original Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE released back in 2019, it took the reins as the company’s new flagship. As our own review demonstrated, it was an impressive gaming headset that put sound quality first yet still had issues with long-term comfort. Corsair has taken that feedback in stride and returned with a brand new revised version of its premier headset, the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT. It claims better padding, reduced clamp force, and high-resolution aptX HD Bluetooth for listening on the go, as well as an increased price of $269.99.
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Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT – Design and Features
As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that seems to be the maxim Corsair applied with the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT (which I’ll just refer to as the Virtuoso XT from here on out). The last model, Virtuoso SE, was a striking headset in its simplicity: sculpted aluminum ear cups, gleamingly polished edges, leatherette cushions, backlit logos on each ear cup that would disappear when turned off – the combination of features lent the original a look that flew in the face of the aggressive design of typical gaming headsets to deliver something altogether more grown up.
All of that remains the same with the Virtuoso XT and allows the headset to go where other gaming headsets cannot. Like the original, it can easily pass as a normal pair of headphones just by removing the mic and turning off the RGB. The XT one-ups that design by cutting the cord and adding Bluetooth connectivity to become all-around more versatile. If you’d rather connect with a wire, that’s still an option too via USB or the 3.5mm cable. For gaming on PC, PS4, or PS5, you can take advantage of Corsair’s high-speed 2.4GHz Slipstream wireless with the included dongle. It’s an adaptable package, which is great for gamers looking for an “all-in-one” headset that breaks the bonds of just gaming at home.
And you just might want to do that with the Virtuoso XT. Unlike most gaming headsets, it’s meant to compete with high-end headphones designed to put sound quality first. Corsair claims that its 50mm neodymium drivers are custom designed, hand-selected, and matched for every headset to deliver the best listening experience possible. They also feature an expansive frequency response range of 20Hz – 40,000Hz – a full 20kHz beyond the range of human hearing and most other gaming headsets on the market. It seems strange at first – why design a headset that goes beyond what the user can actually hear? – but it’s a common trait among premium audiophile headphones to ensure that every audible frequency comes through clear and free of any distortion. In my experience, that was definitely the case.
There’s more to a good pair of headphones than pure frequency response, however, and thankfully, Corsair demonstrates that with a tuning that excels beyond just gaming. Gaming headsets get a bad rap among audio enthusiasts for their bloated bass and muddy details, but that’s just not the case here. Like a good pair of music headphones, the Virtuosos are much more balanced to enjoy all kinds of listening. The bass is present but pulled far back compared to traditional gaming headphones. It doesn’t overwhelm the mids or high notes but instead provides a steady backbone to music, movies, and games. In fact, the headset skews the other way, drawing out those middle and high-frequency details, eliminating the muddy, boomy sound most gaming headsets exhibit. That isn’t to say they don’t have punch and slam for those explosion-laden shootouts in Battlefield and Call of Duty, but expect to hear sounds like bullet casings and breaking glass come through more clearly than ever before.
This kind of tuning makes it an even more appealing option for music lovers and gamers who want to enjoy every tiny detail in their games. The level of detail the XTs can provide is easily one of the best I’ve heard, trumping even the Sennheiser GSP-600s (reviewed here), and easily competes with dedicated music headsets. When plugged in over USB, the built-in DAC can produce sound up to 24-bit/96kHz to support lossless audio. To make the most of mobile listening, Corsair has equipped the Virtuoso XT with high-resolution aptX HD playback, which is altogether rare in the world of gaming headsets.
The addition of Bluetooth is a massive upgrade in usability away from the PC or console. Being free of cables is always better when you’re on the go, and thanks to aptX HD, you’ll still be able to enjoy the same high quality audio as if you were plugged in. Corsair has built the headset to allow simultaneous connections, so you never have to worry about missing a call or update because you were playing a game. All of the volumes can be controlled separately through the volume roller, Bluetooth control buttons, or the in-line remote on the AUX cable, but I found myself wishing for a solution to balance out my sources. Dual connectivity is an excellent upgrade but does cut battery life a full 25% from the original, coming in at 15 hours instead of 20.
The name of the game for the XT is HiFi audio, but we all have different tastes and the default tuning won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s where Corsair’s iCUE software comes in with customizable EQ presets. There are several available for Bass Boost, first-person shooters, and movies but you’ll want to make your own to really dial in your sound. Unfortunately, there’s no way to save or select these presets on the headset itself, so you’re stuck using the software.
The software also provides some other features important to the headset, like lighting control. With only two lighting zones, the options are limited and not very exciting. The software also allows you to adjust your microphone level and how much sidetone you hear in your ear. The software also allows you to control how long the device remains active before going to sleep to preserve battery.
Returning back to the physical build of the headset, Corsair has really done an excellent job of making the Virtuoso XT feel like a premium headset. It’s robust and the heavy use of metal in the earcups, yokes, and band make it feel made to last. There is an excellent attention to detail, from the matching aluminum trim on the microphone, to the etched measurements on the headband, to the triangle pattern emblazoned on the inner ear cup, the entire headphones feel exceptionally well-considered.
The original Virtuoso was often critiqued for having too much clamp force and too little padding, and the XT addresses both of those issues. The amount of padding has been increased, effectively preventing hotspots from forming on the top of my head even when I wore the headset for a full workday. The memory foam cushions, trimmed in leatherette, felt good against my skin and did a good job of blocking out external noise while only becoming moderately warm. During summertime, I could see them causing my ears to sweat, however, so I would have liked to have seen an alternate set of pads included in the box at this price. Clamp force is also a complete non-issue on this headset, though Corsair may have gone too far the other direction as they had a tendency to slide around when I would move around too much.
The final key feature of the Virtuoso XT is the omnidirectional microphone. Corsair calls the microphone “broadcast quality,” which is a stretch, but it’s unmistakably good. Using Slipstream wireless, it produces a full-bodied sound with only moderate compression. It doesn’t compete with a dedicated desktop mic like the Elgato Wave 3 (reviewed here) but is perfectly fine for chatting with friends or hopping on a conference call over Google Meet. There’s an LED ring around the end to let you know when you’re muted and the gooseneck feels durable and well-made, though it has a tendency to lose its position over time.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT – Performance
Since the Virtuoso XT is such a multi-purpose device, I tested it with a mix of PC and console games, music, and for watching shows on Netflix and Hulu. On PC, I played multiple rounds of Battlefield V and Call of Duty: Cold War and worked my way through several campaign levels in Doom Eternal. On PlayStation 5, I spent some time with Astro’s Playroom, Hitman 3, and Red Dead Redemption 2. For music listening, I listened to Spotify across every connection type and with aptX HD enabled over Bluetooth.
The gaming experience delivered by these headphones was fantastic. At first, I felt the lack of bass pretty substantially but that’s only because I was used to my last gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud Alpha. After getting used to the new sound, I really began to enjoy how much more I could hear throughout the frequency spectrum. Footsteps in particular came forward but I was also able to hear the automated callouts of my teammates better.
Unlike the Virtuoso SE, the XTs use Dolby Atmos instead of Corsair’s own 7.1 surround sound solution. Simply connecting the headphones with Atmos installed will activate the license so there’s nothing separate to buy. Compared to their stock sound, Atmos adds depth and space to what you’re listening to, including music and movies. The headphones sound great on their own and I didn’t struggle to pick out the direction of footsteps or gunfire, but Atmos provides such an improvement to soundstage, there’s no reason not to use it.
For music, the Virtuosos are one of the best gaming headsets I’ve heard yet, right up there with the Audeze Penrose. Even though the sheer quantity of bass is less, the quality of what you can hear is improved. Bass notes have more texture and ring out tighter making them feel more defined. The mids are clear and since the bass isn’t stepping on them, it’s easier to pick apart every instrument and audio cue. The highs are soft and never sibilant. Even wearing the headphones for long, multi-hour stretches, I never found them fatiguing.
The microphone also did its job well. My teammates had no trouble hearing me over Discord and when I used it for calls, the person on the other end reported that I sounded clear – more so than on my usual Galaxy Buds Pro. I also used the headset for several online meetings. There, my colleagues noticed that I sounded more compressed than my usual desktop mic but were still able to hear me fine throughout my presentations.
Taken as a whole, the package is surprisingly solid. Even with the reduced battery life, I was still able to get a full day of listening with juice to spare. It was freeing being able to get up from my desk without needing to take them off, even if I needed to step outside for fresh air. The constant Bluetooth connection is a major upgrade and the improvements to comfort make them a very reasonable all-day wear.
Source: IGN Games Reviews