With all the money you’ve saved during the Steam Summer Sale, wouldn’t it be worth your while to spend some cash on a high-quality, wireless headset to make your gaming experience the best it can possibly be? Whether you’re a PC or console gamer, you’ll want a solid gaming headset, which is why Full Cleared has decided to put the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset to the test.
The SteelSeries H Wireless Headset is one of the most versatile offerings in today’s marketplace and can be used with multiple platforms including Xbox consoles, PlayStation consoles, PC, Mac, home entertainment systems, phones and tablets, allowing you to spend your money on one headset to fit all your gaming needs. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Wii U lacks an optical connection so you can’t take full advantage of the unit on that system.
But is the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset worth the $299.99 retail price tag? Read on to find out.
The SteelSeries H Wireless Headset uses a unique transmitter that doubles as your base of operations to configure, setup and control the unit. It measures in at about the same size as an Apple TV unit, and while it’s much larger than your typical USB dongle, it contains a lot more features as well. On the transmitter itself, you’ll find a clickable knob and a button, a slot to recharge one of your batteries and a plethora of connection ports in the rear: analog in, chat out, power, optical in, optical out and USB. For the sake of our review, we’ll be focusing on the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset being used on the PC and the setup that’s involved, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s similar for the consoles. In addition, the transmitter allows you to setup multiple profiles so that you can configure the listening experience for each platform separately.
Setting up the headset is a breeze on a PC. Simply plug in the USB and power and you’re ready to go. If your PC is equipped with an optical out, it’s highly recommended to take advantage of it in order to get Dolby 7.1 surround sound as opposed to stereo over USB. The headset comes complete with every cable that you’ll need to get it up and running on either your consoles or your PC, along with a variety of power plugs in case you’ll need to use it internationally. Once you’re hooked up and ready to go, there’s no software to be installed, which to us is a huge plus. In our experience with other headsets, software can be a pesky issue for some PC setups and sometimes they have strange side effects, such as adjusting your max volume to be too low. It was a relief to learn that the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset doesn’t require any software to function and everything can be controlled from the transmitter itself.
To put the headset to the test, we started by playing some music to see how they performed compared to previous headsets we’ve used. Now as a gaming headset, we didn’t expect the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset to immediately blow us away in sound quality while playing standard media. Without configuring the built-in equalizer on the transmitter, our initial impression was that the headset had an overemphasis on bass, while the mids and highs weren’t as clear as we’d like. But after spending just 30 seconds to create a new equalizer profile, we were able to configure the sound quality exactly how we liked it. At that point, we were impressed by the audio that the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset had to offer and we hadn’t even jumped into a game yet. Switching between the standard stereo via USB and the Dolby 7.1 surround through optical, you’ll be quick to realize the difference – and for those that have been using a standard wireless headset through USB, you’ll be surprised by what you’ve been missing out on. In fact, we can’t help but wonder why more wireless headsets don’t offer optical connections. It’s also worth noting that if you’re stuck using USB only and aren’t a fan of simulated surround sound, you can easily toggle it on and off through the transmitter.
The versatility of the equalizer settings also allows you to setup and easily switch between profiles for listening to music, watching movies or playing games. Let’s be clear though, the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset won’t be the best headset you’ve used when it comes to other forms of media. It does however, perform well above average for a gaming headset and quite frankly, unless you’re an audiophile, you’d be hard pressed to find fault with the sound quality so long as you take the time to configure the equalizer.
Now, the big question is, how does the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset perform in the environment that it’s built for? With a whole new collection of games at our disposal thanks to the Steam Summer Sale, we launched Borderlands 2 and felt like we were playing an entirely different game compared to our previous headset. Gunfire felt and sounded impactful and we were able to easily differentiate between the directions that enemies were coming from, thanks to the accurate imaging from the Dolby 7.1 surround. Firing up Civilization V, the gorgeous soundtrack really shone through the headset while fighting games such as Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition and Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition were better than we’ve ever heard them. Every bone-crunching punch emanated through each earcup giving a fulfilling experience. Our favorite journey was playing through the Burial at Sea DLCs on BioShock Infinite, a game that really proved how much of a difference a quality headset makes when it comes to gaming.
The microphone quality was excellent through Ventrilo and Mumble, as our fellow gamers had no problems hearing us loud and clear. It did however, pick up certain background noises rather easily – such as a fan – but adjusting the microphone’s position helped in eliminating that issue. The microphone itself can be slid in and out of the headset easily, which is nice when it’s not being used. Muting involves simply pushing the power button once and while muted, the microphone will light up red. To maximize your gaming experience, the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset features ChatMix and LiveMix, both of which are important to playing online with friends. ChatMix balances between the game audio and chat audio, allowing you to give priority to one or the other. LiveMix on the other hand, is used to dynamically set how much the game’s audio volume drops when someone talks. If you’ve ever wanted to completely mute the game audio while someone is speaking, now you can!
In terms of comfort, the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset is great, but not excellent. Admittedly its not the most comfortable headset we’ve ever used, but even after an eight-hour gaming session we had nothing to really complain about. This comes down to personal preference, but we like the more rectangular earcup design found on the Logitech G930 over the more traditional, circular style on the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset. Regardless, the headset itself is beautifully constructed with a sleek black design contrasted by subtle orange accents. Initially the headset may feel a bit tight around your head, but adjusting the headband for a comfortable fit isn’t too difficult. In addition, the headset is one of the lightest we’ve used, with memory foam padding on the band and earcups for extra comfort – and those that wear glasses won’t find it uncomfortable to wear. Most importantly, the headset’s quality reflects its price tag, with a solid design that feels like it’ll last for many years.
Arguably the best feature of the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset is the fact that you’ll never have to worry about battery life. The headset comes with a pair of batteries (rated at 20 hours each), which means you can always have one charging in the transmitter while the other is being used to power the headset. Swapping the battery takes a few seconds by turning the left cap off, popping the battery out and putting the fully charged battery in. Naturally, the headset does disconnect and power down while the battery is being swapped, but that’s a minor inconvenience compared to having a cable plugged into your headset during marathon gaming sessions. The transmitter’s OLED display has an indicator to show the current battery life of the headset in addition to the charge status of the battery in the transmitter.
As for the unit’s wireless range, that’s another huge plus for the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset. We were able to travel further than other wireless headsets we’ve used in the past with no interference or issues. And unlike other headsets we’ve used, the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset never dropped its connection while near the transmitter. The SteelSeries H Wireless Headset range is rated at 40 feet.
Another nice feature from the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset is its Sound Share port, which allows a friend to plug in their headphones to hear all the audio being transmitted through the headset – a huge benefit when you’re on the go, say on a plane ride and watching a movie from your laptop. Unfortunately, the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset doesn’t fold up, so its not the most portable headset on the market.
So is the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset worth its asking price? When you’re comparing it to other high-end wireless gaming headsets on the market, the SteelSeries offering is actually comparably priced, which means if you’re shopping on this end of the spectrum, you’re hoping to get your money’s worth. With the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset, you’re paying extra for an easy setup process, the versatility for multi-platform use and our favorite, the convenience of being able to easily swap batteries rather than having to plug in a USB cable to charge the unit. Sound quality is excellent for a wireless unit and its range excels compared to its competitors. If we had to nitpick, we’d have to reiterate that the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset isn’t the most comfortable unit we’ve ever used, but by no means are they uncomfortable. And while we mentioned that it’s a huge plus that the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset doesn’t use any software to get it up and running, we do wish the unit had configurable buttons in order to communicate through push-to-talk while away from the computer. It would have been nice if SteelSeries was able to implement such a feature through the transmitter.
There’s very little that SteelSeries left on the table when developing its H Wireless Headset and it’s simply the best wireless gaming headset we’ve ever used. Truth be told, we can’t even complain about the price considering what you’re getting for your money. For now, we’ll be content with waiting for another company to come along and dethrone the SteelSeries H Wireless Headset as king.
SteelSeries H Wireless Headset: What We Liked
- Comes complete with all cables necessary for Xbox, PlayStation and PC/Mac connection imaginable
- Easy setup process
- Excellent audio quality for gaming
- Optical connection for Dolby 7.1 Surround
- Swappable batteries
- Love the all-in-one transmitter design
- Excellent wireless range
SteelSeries H Wireless Headset: What We Would’ve Liked to See
- Comfort – slightly larger earcups or a more rectangular design
- Additional hardware buttons on the headset for those that prefer push-to-talk over voice activation