Do you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket? Are you looking to buy a piece of overpriced tech that solves a problem that isn’t really a problem? Great! Because today I’m reviewing the Corsair ST100, a stand where you can hang your headphones for the ultra-low price of just £70. Did I mention it’s also a USB hub, a 7.1 DAC for your 3.5mm audio connection and that it has customizable RGB lighting? So let’s review the most frivolous piece of tech I think I’ve ever covered.
First, the obvious: can the ST100 hold your headphones in an adequate manner? Yep. I..I dunno what you expected really. Okay, so I do actually have some criticisms here, starting with the lack of padding on the hangar. Surely at £70 my headphones can expect a luxurious experience? And second, the height between the hanger and the base of the ST100 is about 23cm so you might want to think about that if you have chunky headphones or if they have inflexible cable. As an example, my Sennheiser GSP 600 barely fit thanks to their chunky design and the equally chunky the cable that comes with them. And finally, some cable hooks on the rear is a feature other, cheaper holders have and would have been great for tidying up lengthy cables.
The build quality is faultless thanks to its sturdy aluminium design. The base measures and is well weighted and has rubber grips, so unless you forcibly drag the whole thing it shouldn’t budge on your desk. Given its shape and weight, the ST100 could probably also serve a a handy device for clubbing someone over the head. Not that I’m suggesting that you use it to mug someone in order to fund the purchase of a next-gen console. Certainly not.
Let’ get back to talking about some of the practical features. On the right-hand side of the base there’s a USB 3.1 connection so that you can plug in a thumb-drive and so on. Keep in mind, the ST100 does not have any form of mains power, so it doesn’t serve as a good charging point. That feels like a missed opportunity. And if you’re posh and have that fancy-pants QI charging then there are a couple of other headset stands on the market for you..
You do get a second USB 3,1 port, which would be great if it wasn’t located on the top of the base, directly under your headphones. Looking at Corsair’s official product photos the idea is to use this port to plug in the wireless dongle for Corsair’s wireless Void headsets. That’s a lovely idea and all, but it essentially limits the actual usefulness of half the USB ports on the ST100. The HyperX Alphas (review coming soon) that you see in the pictures naturally clamps its earpieces together when hanging, further limiting the usefulness of the USB port. In the end, I wound up plugging a wireless Xbox controller dongle into the port which helped tidy up my wiring a bit. But there’s not a lot of space between the dongle and the headset. I’d much rather either have the second port on the side, or even add a third port on the side if Corsair really wanted to stick with the one on the top of the base.
Easily the coolest feature of the ST100 is that is has a DAC system built into it that offers stereo and 7.1 audio through its 3.5mm port. Obviously £70 for a DAC that isn’t even a truly dedicated DAC isn’t a lot so greatness cannot be expected, but the ST100 is actually quite decent. The stereo sound is reasonably detailed and crisp, albeit heavy on the bass by default. The 7.1 audio mode attempts to create the feeling of having surround sound being pumped directly into your ear-holes. The best virtual 7.1 systems still suffer from some loss of detail in exchange for the sense of scale that you get, so it’s not surprising that the ST100 does lose quite a bit of clarity in 7.1. It’s not bad, though. Overall, if you have a solid motherboard then the onboard audio should be a match for the ST100 and you there’s some good software out there that emulates surround sound. If you’ve got a more basic motherboard then the ST100 should be an improvement, although not a drastic one.
The problem the ST100 faces is that for the same £70 you can pick up something like the Fiio E10K with (£10 to spare for a basic headphone stand) that will do a much better job of delivering all those glorious gunshots, explosions and tire squeals to your ears.
Let’s wrap all this up by talking about the completely useless but nonetheless awesome feature: the RGB lighting, baby! It’s not secret that I’m a sucker for multi-coloured allure of RGB lighting. My giant mouse pad has lighting around the edges, my speakers have it, my monitor has it. I love being bathed in colours like a unicorn prancing through a rainbow. On the Corsair ST100 you get lighting around the base, and a Corsair logo on the headphone hook itself. It’s actually surprisingly subtle – the lighting around the base doesn’t bleed outwards, for example.
To fiddle around with the lighting and you’ll need the Corsair iCue software which is…okay. It’s not the most intuitive piece of software to use, but if you’re only using it for the St100 then you probably aren’t going to be jumping in and out of it too often. There’s a decent selection of preset lighting effects and you get a total of 5 EQ settings out of the box, but you can play around with everything yourself if you want. The base of the ST100 is rocking eight different lighting zones to tinker with, plus the Corsair logo itself.
If you’re wondering if you can use this with a console, then the answer is…kind of. Plugging it into a PS4 or Xbox One does trigger the lighting, but since there’s no inbuilt memory the Corsair ST100 defaults to a rainbow pattern rather than the custom colours you set. You won’t get any audio from the 3.5mm jack, either, since the ST100 needs its drivers to operate. It would have been great if Corsair had let the ST100 act as a simple audio passthrough for use with consoles. It will, however, act as a USB hub.
The Corsair ST100 is not the kind of product I could ever recommend, as such. It’s kind of pointless, really, falling into the same category as RGB mouse mats. Yet there’s an obvious market for this kind of stuff, and I fall firmly into it. I don’t know why, but I’m drawn to RGB and I like products that combine multiple things. The Corsair ST100 is a perfectly fine headset stand, an okay USB hub and an okay 7.1 DAC. It doesn’t excel in any one area, but it has also been useful. I don’t need heaps of extra USB slots, just a few, and I wanted somewhere to hang my headphones. So no, I can’t recommend everyone. It would be silly to. But if you’re attracted to stuff like this like I am, I think you’ll be happy enough with it.