SteelSeries H Wireless Headset Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound Headset Review

SteelSeries H Wireless Headset Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound Headset Review

Does the fully featured SteelSeries H Wireless Dolby 7.1 high end gaming headset justify its high price point?

What is the SteelSeries H Wireless Gaming Headset?

The SteelSeries H Headset is a premium high end wireless gaming headset that includes a whole host of features and will set you back roughly £200/$300.

SteelSeries H 2

We reviewed the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset together with the Astro A50 and the cheaper Corsair 2100 to give a apples and apples comparison of these popular fully wireless gaming headsets. You can check out the individual reviews here:

Astro A50 Gaming Wireless Headset Review

Corsair Vengeance 2100 Wireless Dolby 7.1 Gaming Headset Review

Unboxing / Contents

 The box comes beautifully packaged in a professional black and orange colour scheme akin to the headset itself. Inside, the headset is immediately accessible upon opening the lid and further in, you will find the the the wireless transmitter which is the brains behind the wireless functionality, documentation, 2 swappable Li-ion battery packs, cables (everything you can think off – optical cable, mini USB to USB, 3.5mm audio, XBox 360 chat and mobile phone) and power adapter.

SteelSeries H 10

Features

Its very easy to set up with no drivers needed – you just plug and play and we were up and running in about 3 minutes from opening to using it. You can plug just about any standard analogue or optical digital audio source into the USB controller which transmits to the headset so just about any console including your PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and any sort of phone, mp3 player, Hi-Fi and so on. Quite usefully, the headset contains at the base of the right ear cup, a share port which allows you to connect in to it a second set of headphones.

As with the Corsair 2100 and Astro A50, the SteelsSeries H does not use Bluetooth technology which is a bit of a shame as it cannot connect wirelessly to Smartphones and Tablets.

SteelSeries H Wireless is the first gaming headset with an OLED display used to visually monitor all audio, wireless, configuration, and system settings. The raft of features is all controlled by the superb USB Hub transmitter which has a really neat sleek and minimalist design and user interface OLED display with just one knob that controls volume/menus and a back button.

SteelSeries H 8

One of this headsets best features is the battery life and the extra battery you get with it which makes it so convenient and allows long uninterrupted play sessions. We said in our review of the Corsair Vengeance 2100 and Astro A50 that having to charge those two headsets using a cable or having it connected and charging whilst you play sucks the convenience out of owning a wireless headset. No such problem exist with the SteelSeries H and not only can you expect around 8-10 hours of playtime from each Lithium-Ion battery, they are fully charged in a couple of hours. 

SteelSeries H 6

Looks and Comfort

The SteelSeries H look absolutely superb and has the feel of a top grade high end headset. Whilst it is plastic, it is sturdy, and seems to be built to weather rough handling.

The colour scheme is for the main part matt black but the splashes of orange in the stitching and the glossy ear plates give it a subdued professional look. Contrast this to the loud flamboyant styles offered by the likes of Turtle Beach and you immediately feel that you are dealing with a different category of headset. You could say SteelSeries were targeting the more mature gamer with this kind of colour scheme and style. The Astro A50 is comparable in style and quality though we would suggest that the SteelSeries H looks that bit more for professional use and the Astro A50 for the more casual gamer.

There are some other nice touches too that make you warm to these immediately. The retractable microphone is subtle with a clever light around it at its tip which illuminates in different colours to save you from guesswork. Also, the ear plates (right) hides a miniUSB socket for use when making firmware upgrades and the battery compartment (left).

Whilst they are quite expensive coming in at around £200/$300 you feel immediately sold on the quality which in our view is commensurate with the price you pay.

SteelSeries H 1

In terms of comfort the SteelSeries H fits like a glove. They weigh in at around 325g which is around the same as the Corsair 2100 and slightly lighter than the Astro A50. They really are kind to the head and ears. Whilst they may feel slightly bulky when on your head, the clamp is fairly tight around the center of your head, so they never feel like they’re going to slip off. We would say that the clamp is firm enough to create a seal and no sound leakage, but not too tight so as to cause irritation over long periods of use.

There is a very soft foam on the inner headband and the ear cushions are also very soft which makes the compression against your head very easy to bear.

They also don’t take any time to break in and you may notice that the foam ear cushions have a very slow rebound time so that when you depress the foam, it will slowly restore to its original position. This means that they will mold round your ears rather than repel against them which would otherwise cause greater irritation particularly over long periods.

The pleather used for the ear cups is good quality and whilst it may cause some sweat over long periods of play, its not noticeable and did not cause us any discomfort.

Whilst these do come out in front as against the Astro A50 and the Corsair Vengeance 2100, we would suggest that if comfort is a huge deal for you, there are still some other headsets out there that are miles in front such as the Sennheiser G4ME ONE PC Gaming Over-Ear Headset.

Range

The SteelSeries H performed much better than the Astro A50’s and Corsair 2100 in our range test.

We are able to go into the furthest room on the same landing (roughly 60ft) as well as one floor above and below and the connectivity remained solid. Your results will obviously depend on the thickness of walls and interference in a house but the range is one of the best we have tested so far for wireless headsets.

Unless you are the the kind of person who likes to wander around the house listening to music, there isn’t too much to be said about the better range the SteelSeries H offers compared to the Astro A50 and Corsair 2100. All three are acceptable for most gamers needs but the SteelSeries H offers that bit more range.

SteelSeries H 7

Sound

SteelSeries H Wireless delivers professional audio without compromise. The headset is lag free, has low latency, and features Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound technology.

 We did notice that the bass is overpowered  though unusually still results in a lack of depth at times which means that in some spots, the real low bass is not delivered when you would expect it to be. If you like bass and rumble, you may find this headset is slightly lacking here – we did play about with the EQ settings that made some improvement but not significantly. But we place emphasis on the word “slight”. This is otherwise a headset with excellent sound fidelity that most may not even notice.

When using it for music and movies, the treble felt forced at times too and there is a slight vagueness to mid range tones. For gaming however, once you set it to Dolby Virtual Surround Sound mode, the sound positioning and accuracy in game is superb giving you real situational awareness  and a heightened level of immersion. Far Cry 4 with these was an absolute blast offering crisp clear sound in all tone ranges.

SteelSeries H 3

The sound amplification is not uncomfortably loud and the volume wheel on the headset can be used to adjust volume (and commonly used settings) from the USB transmitter. Within the USB transmitter, you have a raft of EQ settings you can play about with and you can adjust mix levels of game and chat sound. You can also change from surround sound to stereo easily within a few button clicks which is convenient.

Microphone Test

The microphone sound is nothing special in terms of quality but it is nonetheless perfectly adequate for voice chat. It is not as good as the Corsair Vengeance 2100’s mic but we would say slightly better than the Astro A50 on our test.

You can easily adjust the mic to the optimum corner of your mouth position with relative ease thanks to its retractable design. The light at the tip of the microphone is an excellent design choice and a blue light will indicate whether the microphone is transmitting.

You can check out a mic test uploaded by YouTube user DAProductions:

Should I Buy The SteelSeries H Wireless Gaming Headset?

Overall, our view is that the SteelsSeries H is very close to being the ultimate wireless gaming headset, if not the best on the market to date.

We would put the SteelSeries H marginally ahead of the Astro A50 and much further ahead of the Corsair Vengeance 2100 owing to its raft of features, easy of use and excellent audio fidelity in games. Unquestionably, there are better headphones for those that are heavy music/movie users but as an all round package, this represents excellent value for money. We would also summarise that Astro A50 has comparable sound and would also make an excellent choice too, but the charging solution on it sucks.

The interesting consideration here is whether the Corsair Vengeance 2100, at half the price of the Astro A50 and SteelSeries H, delivers good enough sound to be a viable alternative? In our view, if sound alone is your only priority then yes, the Corsair 2100 makes an excellent buy. However the lack of features on it makes it less attractive an option and if you have the money, the Astro A50 and SteelSeries H offer a far more feature rich experience.

If you are in the market, you can shop for best prices by clicking on the following links: SteelSeries H, Corsair Vengeance 2100, and Astro A50.

SteelSeries H 5

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The Verdict

9.5Amazing

The Good: 10 hour Battery Life (2 of them) | Look Gorgeous and Serious | Retractable Mic | Comfortable | Game Sound

The Bad: Not Bluetooth | Could Do With More Connections On USB Hub | Music/Movie Sound


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