SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets

SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H HeadsetsOut of all the hardware companies that have expanded their product range in the past couple of years, SteelSteries has made one of the smoother transitions. They first started off selling mouse pads and then went on to all sorts of gaming accessories and equipment such as headsets. Other companies such as Razer have done similar moves to this and it just shows the increased interest and growth in gaming hardware.

About SteelSeries:

“SteelSeries is all about gaming. Our mission is to create performance enhancing gaming gear, created for and by leading professional gamers. We continuously strive to better ourselves, and work with leading professional gamers from 3 different continents to create our products.”

Today, we will be looking at 3 headsets from SteelSeries – the 3H, 4H and 5H. The newer 3H and 4H models are less expensive, less robust headsets that each take a page from the 5H’s book. The 5H has main objectives: portability and top sound quality. Portability is clearly represented in the 3H which is small and foldable, while the 4H has some, but not all, of the 5H’s sound capabilities. The 5H also comes in a USB version which is completely apart from the rest due to its digital connectivity.

Specifications:
SteelSound 3H Specs

Headphones

  • Frequency response: 10 – 27000 Hz
  • Impedance: 50 Ohm
  • SPL@1kHz, 1Vrms: 102dB
  • Cable: 2 meters (6.5 feet)

Microphone

  • Frequency response: 50 – 18000 Hz
  • Pick up pattern: Non-directional
  • Sensitivity: -40 dB Impedance: 2.2K Ohm

SteelSound 4H Specs

Headphones

  • Frequency response: 16 – 28000 Hz
  • Impedance: 40 Ohm
  • SPL@ 1kHz, 1 Vrms: 110 dB
  • Cable length: 1.8 meters (6 feet)

Microphone

  • Frequency response: 75 – 16000 Hz
  • Pick up pattern: Uni-directional
  • Sensitivity: -38dB
  • Impedance: 2k Ohm

SteelSound 5H Specs

Headphones

  • Frequency response: 16 – 28000 Hz
  • Impedance: 40 Ohm
  • SPL@ 1kHz, 1 Vrms: 110 dB
  • Cable length: 1 + 2 = 3m
  • Connectors: 3.5mm

Microphone

  • Frequency response: 75 – 16000 Hz
  • Pick up pattern: Uni-directional
  • Sensitivity: -38dB
  • Impedance: 2k Ohm
SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets

All 3 products are packaged in similar style packages, especially the 3H and 4H which are virtually identical. The 5H has the biggest box due to its larger size. Each package contains the headset (with attached audio cables) and some documents.

3H
The 3H is the portable headset SteelSeries. The immediate difference is that these can fold up instead of having to be taken apart (5H). The build quality of the 3H compared to the bigger units is slightly less in some areas, but the difference is not noticeable unless you got looking for them. The part where the headphone rests on your ears is made of leather instead of cloth. This device is shaped to fit around the ear, but to just to cup the outsides of it. If you have ears that are slightly bigger than normal, it might be uncomfortable as they will no cup around properly.

SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets

Like the rest of other headsets, the 3H also contains a retractable microphone. The microphones are well placed and flexible and it is great how they can be hidden away when not needed. Even though these headphones are made out of leather for padding, they do not get your ears hot like leather would normally. They do allow more background noise in however. This headset does not contain volume control and unlike the 4H, the speaker wire comes out of one side instead of both.

4H
The 4H contains a set of headphones that are ‘cups’. They wrap over each ear to give the user a snug feel and to block out background noise. Because there is padding between your ear and the outside, the sounds that the unit produce should not lose their accuracy as opposed to open air listening which can create different acoustics in different parts of the room. There are a few extra features on this device to provide specifically for the gaming community.

SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets

There is, of course, the included retractable microphone which is a great addition to this headset as with all of the others. The microphone is actually of a good quality which means you are able to actually have a good pair of headphones as well as a good microphone with it. If you do not want to use the microphone, it slides right back into the unit and is basically hidden from view. The microphone itself bends in any direction and can be placed at the perfect spot from your mouth.

The headset cups are made of cloth which is probably more suitable than leather as it allows your skin to breathe more and your ear is less likely to get hot. The 4H contains an inline volume and microphone control. This is handy to have especially when the ear-shatteringly loud bangs or explosions from games are pumped out of the headphones during a gaming session.

5H
The SteelSeries SteelSound 5H headset is very comfortable. The swivel ear cups are nicely cushioned and the adjustable headband is padded. The ear cups are very well sized and keep up a comfortable position for extended periods of time making it suitable for long term use. Again, this headset sports a microphone in the left ear cup. The microphone is easily extracted by pulling it out to the required length.

SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets

Another helpful feature that offers a larger area to use the headset in is the headset cable. The normal cable connecting the headset to the PC is three feet long and contains the volume controls. SteelSeries have also included a six foot adapter for long distance listening. The headset was tested with and without the extension and we found that it made no difference to the sound quality.

SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets SteelSeries SteelSound 3H, 4H, 5H Headsets

For ‘on-the-go’ people a.k.a. the LAN party goers, SteelSeries has built-in a detachable headband making the 5H headsets portable. When separated, the 5H is easily stored in your LAN Party bag. It is very easy to take apart and the unique design hides the fact that the headband is detachable.

Testing & Performance
Testing sound products is usually a very individual thing. Some people may have completely different opinions to others so it is important to read other peoples’ opinions or best of all experience the sound for yourself!

3H
The 3H was an enjoyable experience since it is nice and portable. With the 3H, you can have high quality sound from your audio devices wherever you go. They provide nice deep bass and sound clarity when listening to music. Gaming is also great especially in first person shooters as it gives a good sense of where enemies are around you. The microphone sounds fine when talking into it at the proper position i.e. not in your mouth or within 2cm of your lips. The 3H really impressed us with the amount of bass it has even compared to the 4H. The 3H is easily the best set of portable headphones we have ever seen – well, heard. It’s also nicer having just the one wire coming from one side.

4H
The 4H was very similar to the 5H. Sounds were fantastic and super crisp and as was the range they produced. Music playback was amazing with an awesome mix of bass and treble that was nicely balanced. One thing that I noticed is that the 4H cuts down the volume compared to the 3H headset on the same source. This makes the 3H sometimes sound better on the same source signal. Gaming, again, was excellent with the 4H as long as you have a good game with directional sound.

5H
The sound provided by the 5H in game is exceptionally clear. Of course, this is highly dependent on the soundcard you have. In our testing, we used an Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 soundcard in one of our gaming machines. We played Quake 4, F.E.A.R, Half Life 2, U2004, Halo CE; during all testing we felt completely immersed in game play.

Using the same test system, we tested the headset with some music. The sound was always crisp and clear, bass reproduction is clear. These are gaming headsets, but will easily satisfy music needs any time when required.

Conclusion
All of the products were amazing. The 3H is an excellent product; very portable, amazing sound and a good microphone. It is reasonably priced at $49.95 direct from Steel, but the price is acceptable due to the fact that these aren’t just good headphones but also a good microphone. For gamers, the 3H is pretty much a must have thanks to the great performance packed into this set. The 4H is the ‘in-between’ model and a step down from the 5H but it is cheaper. In our opinion, you are better going for either the 3H or 5H (value or hardcore). The 4H headset is good, but you might as well pay less for the 3H which almost performs just as good albeit with a few less features. Then there’s the 5H which has it all. Incredible sound, the inline volume control, the microphone, great comfort and fitting and the solid build. Not to put the 4H down, we would say it is the compromise of the 3H and 5H but slightly skewed towards the 3H. The 5H at $99.95 may be too much for some, but this product won’t let you down and will continue to pump out clear and crisp sound for a very long time.

3H 4H 5H
Pros:

  • Not that comfortable
  • Excellent microphone
  • High quality sounds
  • Readily transportable

Cons:

  • Cheap feel compared to 5H & 4H
Pros:

  • Very comfortable
  • Excellent microphone
  • High quality sounds
  • In-line volume and microphone controls

Cons:

  • None
Pros:

  • Very comfortable
  • Excellent microphone
  • High quality sounds
  • 10 foot cord
  • In-line volume and microphone controls

Cons:

  • None



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