The best all-round headset I’ve ever come across

A Review On: SteelSeries H Wireless Gaming Headset with Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound for PC/Mac PS3/4 Xbox 360 and Apple TV

SteelSeries H Wireless Gaming Headset with Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound for PC/Mac PS3/4 Xbox 360 and Apple TV

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Price paid: $400.00
Totally Dubbed
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Pros: Build quality, wireless integration, cross-platform integration, sound quality, microphone clarity, retractable microphone, accessories, different typ

Cons: Maximum sound volume

SteelSeries H Wireless Gaming Headset Review – The best all-round headset I’ve ever come across
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Pros: Build quality, wireless integration, cross-platform integration, sound quality, microphone clarity, retractable microphone, accessories, different types of connections
Cons: Maximum sound volume

Build quality: 10/10
Comfort: 9/10
Overall sound quality for a headset: 10/10
Isolation: 8/10
Microphone quality: 9/10
Review price: £235
Value: 8/10 (at £235 price tag)
Overall rating: 9/10




First of all I would like to thank SteelSeries for sending me their headset for review. After having reviewed the Siberia V2 Heat Orange Gaming Headset and the 9H Gaming Headset I was very much curious to see how the wireless offering by SteelSeries would compare, both sonically and in terms of its overall performance as a headset. The H Wireless can be found on AmazonUK for around £235. Thus this is an expensive headset, it competes with a lot of audiophile headphones in its category, let alone headsets. I put it up against the Denon AH-D2000 which has been modded and will thus be the equivalent to a D5000. I spent £270 for the headphones, incl my mods – thus my Denon’s and a ModMic 4.0 offer an audiophile headset equivalent. So the H Wireless has a lot to play for.

For more information about the headset and its specifications can be found on SteelSeries’ website.





Now let’s get into the written review:


Packaging and contents

Starting off with the packaging, it gives off an extremely good impression of what will lie inside. A big, solid box that has a nice texture to it.





Moving unto the package contents of the H Wireless – you get a nice plethora of accessories to use with your headset:
H Wireless headset
Aux cable
Mobile cable
Console cable
Optical cable
Power cable
USB cable
2x lithium 1000mHa batteries
USB wall charger
4x inter-changeable worldwide plugs (UK, EU, US & Asia)
Wireless transmitter




As you can see SteelSeries have really thought it through and included everything needed to use your headset with a various array of inputs (more on that in a bit).
It is nice to see that SteelSeries also thought about the worldwide availability of the headset and thus the worldwide use of the headset. What I mean is that you aren’t limited to a headset that can only be charged in the UK or the EU. It is one that can be also changed on the fly and changed for the region that you’re going to be in.
The only thing missing from the package, is a small carrying pouch, which can be used to store the headphones and be used to take them on the go. This comes down to the headphones have a pivot driver design, which allows you to store the headset more conveniently in a rucksack.

Overall the included accessories are excellent and the thought process to include all the things is top-notch from SteelSeries.



Build quality

The build quality from the other SteelSeries headsets I can reviews was near excellent, but this H Wireless is truly excellent and perfect in all aspects. From the removable cable to the ability to change your batteries on the go.




Starting from the bottom, we have several cables that are all gold plated jacks. The aux and mobile cable are slightly different in their termination. The mobile cable has 4 conductors (in order to enable mic controls) and is terminated on one end by a right angle jack, whilst the other end (which plugs into the headphone) is a straight 3.5mm jack. The aux cable has a 3 conductor design and is terminated on both end by straight gold plated 3.5mm jacks.
The console cable has a slightly smaller 2.5mm jack on both ends allowing you to connect it to your console controllers – such as the one found on the Xbox 360.
The optical cable included is rather thin (possibly the thinnest optical cable I’ve ever seen), but does the job as intended.

Moving unto the headset itself, which is a masterpiece in its own right. Starting from the left side:
The microphone is retractable and has a small ring around the end of the microphone, where if the headset is muted there is an illuminated red colour to signify the headset is indeed muted.





The driver has a plastic cup that goes on it with the SteelSeries logo on it. This cup can be removed, to expose the lithium battery that is found within it. The lithium battery is inter-changeable with the spare battery SteelSeries provide you with.




Moving unto the right side:
The headset has a button that is used to mute the headset and turn it on/off (it should be off when used with an aux cable).




There is also a little compartment which has the input for the 2.5mm and 3.5mm connections. Used for the console and mobile/aux connections respectively.




Just like on the left side, the right cup opens up to reveal a micro USB connection, which is used to charge your and use headset, if you have forgotten to charge your batteries.




Moving up the headset, there is a small left and right indicator within the inside of the headset – I would have liked to see this on the outside, to clearly indicate which side is which, but that said, it should be pretty obvious with the retractable mic being on the left side of the headset. The headset is also adjustable, where it has a nice clicking sound when adjusted.





I should also point out that there’s a nice little scroll wheel on the right cup that allows you to communicate wirelessly with the transmitted – this is great for adjusting volume or even changing the source via the headphone. It’s a great design by SteelSeries as it essentially doubles up as a remote.




The headband design is quite well thought out, with the pads being spaced out, in order to give the top of your head some breathing room.
Speaking of the headband, it isn’t very flexible – unlike other SteelSeries headsets I reviewed, which felt more flexible. The H Wireless thus has a reasonably strong clamp – not so much that it would hurt your head over time, but enough to feel a little tight for people with bigger sized heads.




The pads and the design/looks of the headset is really well thought out too, with the orange stitching on the ear pads.
Furthermore, the drivers pivot in order to easily store your headset in your bag. This is a great addition to the headset’s design and overall build quality.

Overall the build quality is absolutely excellent. From top to bottom the headset is extremely well made and designed.



Connectivity, Battery Life and Software

Expanding on the build quality, I should also mention connectivity and the battery life of the headset.
The range as to which the headset connects is extremely impressive. I was completely chocked when I had no problems 10-15m away with several walls between the headphones and the receiver. The quality of the transmission is also very good and I didn’t notice any lack of quality with sound via wireless, in comparison to when it was connected with a wire.
Connecting the device to the transmitter was extremely easy. SteelSeries have also included an option in the transmitter to connect and pair the headphones, just in case it isn’t automatically found.




Speaking about connectivity, the battery life of these small 1,000mHa batteries, used for the H Wireless are excellent. They lasted me over 15hrs each. Thus meaning you can be using your headset wirelessly for over 30-40hrs, without the need of a single charge. That said, SteelSeries did think about the down time and have honestly done a superb job in integrating a battery compartment on the right hand side of the transmitter, in order to charge your second not-in-use battery. This is really useful as you won’t ever have any downtime, using the headset wirelessly. It’s a simple thought and design, but the fact that SteelSeries included it, where most manufacturers would probably forget this very important factor, is extremely well received by me.




Speaking about the connectivity, the transmitter didn’t have to installed or used with any software, which is brilliant for most that don’t want to deal with extra bundled software – however it should be noted that the transmitter only has two buttons and thus because of this, you’re limited in the operations you can perform. If I want to put the H Wireless on standby, I’m able to do so after going through the transmitter settings and spending 10 seconds each time getting to those settings. It might not seem like a lot, but doing it each day will and has become tedious. I would have liked some sort of software option, so that I can control some aspects with greater ease and speed.




Finally, I should note that the connection via optical, for the TV and Xbox360 worked flawlessly. The connection between the headset and my Samsung Galaxy S3 for microphone compatibility also worked as intended.




Overall, the connectivity and battery life are both excellent. The lack of inclusion of a need of a software to run the device is a good thing, but can also be seen as a bad thing too.



Comfort

The comfort of the headset is quite good, although I feel that it is a little let down by the circular shape of the pads and not ther slightly oval shape ear pads, which for me with big ears, really improves the general feel and comfort levels of any headphone or headset.
The pads are reasonably well cushioned, but I would have liked to see it with slightly thicker pads. I feel that it would have helped with the overall comfort of the headset. I should mention, when I was using these in the gym and thus sweating, the headphones really heated up and the pads didn’t really absorb the heat very well, meaning my ears got sweaty pretty quickly. I know this isn’t an environment for the headset to be in, however I should mention this happening, as people who game for a long period of time could experience it.




The one thing that bothered me a little bit with the headset was the overall clamp of the headset – it isn’t super strong, nor very weak, but it is a little above average, and that comes from the headband being a solid, inflexible plastic. It’s not much of a problem, but with the pads it has and glasses on, you might find discomfort over a long period of time.




Overall the comfort is good, but would have been better if the headset had a less rigid headband assembly. That said, it can be quite subjective, thus I can’t really mark it down that much, as it is something that comes with preference. If it was overly tight and annoying to wear with glasses for short-period I would have marked it down, but at this rate, it is just a matter of preference.






Sound quality & Isolation

The sound quality is something I was really looking out for in the headset. I had the 9H and Siberia V2 to benchmark it against, but at this very high price tag for a headset, it had a lot to do.




I am pleased to say the sound was absolutely spectacular. I mean, I was directly comparing it to my Denon’s, and for a headset, that’s not something I’ve ever done. By that I mean, in the past, for example with the 9H I would compare it and then straight away hear the differences between the two, but with the H Wireless, it was something else. It did so well that it left me a little shocked and very much surprised.
There were differences in the sound quality of the H wireless and my Denon’s but they weren’t something I would immediately point out. That said, the biggest difference for me was the soundstage between the D2000 and the H Wireless.




I felt that the soundstage was very much closed, in other words you really could tell the soundstage was “compressed” into a headphone. I do realise the D2000′s are close-back headphones, but their soundstage to me is extremly good for a close-back headphone. The H wireless on the other hand really do sound like a closed back headphone. This for me differentiated the headphones more than any other sound characteristic. I can see where the soundstage is “lost”, by looking at the headphone design. As if we take away the battery and/or the charging capabilities of the headphone you’ll be able to quickly assume that there’s not much room for the driver under that cup. In some respects, I would have liked the headphones to be a chunkier headset all together; despite this not playing as nicely anaesthetically, I think sonically it would have allowed the drivers within the H wireless to breathe a little and thus deliver a wider and deeper soundstage. As far as a headset goes however, they’re a above-average soundstage headset, however when I take it against audiophile headphones, there’s a a lack of soundstage depth and width.
Moving unto the sound characteristic themselves, I found that they were very good.
In comparison to the modded Denon D2000′s, I felt the lows weren’t as well extended in the sub-bass region. The mid-bass on the other hand was more prominent in the H wireless than it was on the Denon’s.
The mids of the headset was incredibly well balanced, but due to that slightly higher bump in the mid-bass, there was a little less emphasis in the mids, meaning, it made the headset a slightly V shaped sounding headset.
The highs on the other hand were almost perfect. I did hear them roll off ever so slightly, in comparison to the Denon’s but it did take a while to identify that.




Overall, the sound quality was absolutely staggering. I wasn’t expecting the sound quality to be that good, but I was pleased to find that the H wireless really did boast a good sound.
I should mention, in terms of sound volume, I felt that the headset was limited – this was later justified when I saw that the H Wireless were indeed limited by EU regulations. This is what really bothered me for the sound of the headset – it simply wasn’t loud enough for my liking, especially when hooked up to the TV, where adjusting the volume of the source is impossible (due to the audio decoding being passed down to the transmitter, thus it determining the overall volume). This has nothing to do with SteelSeries in all honesty, but I dislike the fact that it was imposed on this headset. I would have liked an option or warning if I were to go louder than the EU limit. I should state that it is plenty loud for normal use in front of a PC in a silent environment, but take it out of its bubble and put it in a gym, in a living room or in a noisy environment, you’ll want more volume from it.



Conclusions

In all honesty, this is the best all-round headset I’ve ever come across. It might have a few things that I would to see changed, but those small things aside, it really does deliver. Not only in terms of a headset, but as a wireless headset, one that is sonically extremely well equipped to be enjoyed by music lovers that game.




Its high price tag was thus very much justified to me. If it was £150 I would think it would be a very popular purchase for more people. With that said, at its price tag, with its functionalities, sound quality, build quality, truly cross-platform integration and furthermore design and looks – I can truly recommend this headset.
The headset of all headsets – at least for the time being. I don’t see many headset manufacturers coming close to this in all honesty, but we’ll see what the future holds.

If you’re looking for a quality headset from top to bottom and have enough money lying around, then this headset really does tick all my boxes and thus I truly do suggest going out and purchasing a pair for yourself!

Hope you enjoyed my review!
-TotallydubbedHD

7 Comments:

Thanks for a great review !
My pleasure! Hope you liked it
Nice review! I bought this headset this past week myself and it's pretty amazing. Soundstage was lacking somewhat, with the kinda closed in feel.. but overall, I feel that the H Wireless sound quality is VERY good, and better than many, and most other gaming headsets. I was using Logitech G930's before the H Wireless. And while the G930's do have a somewhat pretty decent sound compared to the H Wireless, the Steelseries just blows it away in terms of build quality, and sound.. tbh.

Also, that USB port under the earcup is a mini-USB port, and I do not think it allows for charging the headset. It's intended for firmware updating, if I am not mistaken. I'll have to check into this more..

Thanks for the great review!
I stand corrected.. the mini-USB port on the earcup does infact charge the battery as well. Nice to know this now.
Thanks for your input! Glad you liked the review
Say you don't put it into the official standby mode every time you take it off. How often are you swapping the battery? In general I game a few hours every night, am I going to have to swap the battery every day before I use it?
And if I already has a Logitech G930, is this a worthy upgrade? One of my beefs with that headset is that it is USB only, so it completely bypasses any sound card, or higher quality onboard sound delivery on some higher end motherboards.