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SteelSeries 3H Headset Review

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Kris Vickers, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. Kris Vickers

    Kris Vickers
    Hardware Staff

    pic01.jpg The SteelSeries 3H comes complete with a virtual 7.1 surround sound USB sound card, much the same as the 7H version.
    Whether you use a headset for gaming, TeamSpeak or Skype, the SteelSeries 3H seems to be a good comparison between low cost and the more expensive, feature packed, 7H headset.

    The design behind the 3H is that it is aimed at gamers who travel (ie. LAN events) and being USB, it “allows gamers to always play with the exact same sound and settings, no matter where in the world or at what computer they are playing”.

    This review is going to put the 3H to the test and see if it holds up against its more expensive bigger brother.

    pic02.jpg pic04.jpg pic06.jpg
    pic03.jpg pic05.jpg

    First Impressions:
    As with the 7H, the 3H has a great quality feel to it. The ear pieces feel soft and comfortable and the whole unit is quite light, which comes in handy on those long computer sessions.
    The fact that the 3H also folds up to quite a small size is impressive too. You’d think that something so compact would not be able to perform, but this headset certainly does.

    Headphones:
    Frequency response: 10 – 27.000 Hz
    Impedance: 50 Ohm
    SPL@ 1 kHz, 1 Vrms: 102 dB
    Cable length: 2 m (6,5 ft.)
    Jacks: 3.5 mm

    Microphone:
    Frequency response: 50 – 18.000 Hz
    Pick-up pattern: Uni-directional
    Sensitivity: -40 dB
    Impedance: 2.2 KOhm

    Soundcard:

    USB: 2.0
    Surround sound: Virtual 7.1
    Equalizer: 10 channels
    Operating systems: Win XP/Vista/Win 2000/Win 98/Win ME
    (I should add that the headsets work fine on Win 7 32/64 bit also)

    Features:
    The 3H has enough features to keep anyone happy! We’ll cover the headset first and then move onto the built-in sound card.

    Headset:
    The first thing to mention is the headset can be folded so that it is quite compact (See the pic above). The headset was purposely designed for travelling gamers in mind.
    There is an in-line controller with four buttons for volume up and down, mute sound and muting the microphone.
    The mic is a brilliant little thing, and for such a small mic, voice chat comes over pretty smooth and clear.
    As with all SteelSeries headsets, the 3H uses a cleverly designed 'flexible' pull out mic. When it’s not in use, simply push it back into the ear cup and its right out of the way!
    It’s a really nice touch that makes this, and other, SteelSeries headsets that little bit different from others.

    USB Sound Card:
    Physically, the sound card is tiny and SteelSeries even say it is not meant to compete with the larger, more expensive sound cards. But the sounds this little thing produces are surprising.
    As with most (if not all) SteelSeries headsets, the 3H boasts a 'virtual' 7.1 surround sound processor, the sound card also offers true PnP options. Settings are saved within the soundcard, so no matter what PC you plug them into, it retains the settings. This is just one of many features purposely designed for gamers on the move. The driver software suite is really quite powerful too, there are numerous input options, you can move individual 'virtual' speakers about to enhance the surround effect, a ten channel equaliser, a mass of 'special effects' and even a Karaoke option!

    Comfort:
    The 3H is not as comfy as its more expensive ‘bigger brothers’, but I still found them to be a lot more comfortable than the headset I was used to. With soft leather ear and a softer inner band that stops the harder ‘headband’ from digging in. This headset fits really well and its light weight makes it easy to wear for long periods.

    Sound Quality:

    The first thing I tried when I plugged these in (after playing with the settings of course!) was my MP3 collection. I noticed the difference straight away. The trebles were crisp and the bass was fantastic for such a small pair of headphones.
    The vocals were very crisp and the software did a good job of picking out certain pitches and ‘thrusting’ them into the virtual surround.
    I found this to be a good start, seeing as they were designed specifically for gaming, so to be this good for music I was looking forward to some gaming!

    I tried a medley of FPS games and I noticed varying results. Understandably, the headset can only output the sounds as good as the game sends the information. Even still, the surround sounds were pretty well emulated and I still got that feeling of being immersed.

    Next on the list was IL-2 Sturmovic. I know it’s not quite a recent game (infact it’s a decade old!!), but that was the point. Again, while it wasn’t true surround sound, when looking to the right, the engine sound would play more in the left ear. The best bit of course was having a plane or two flying past you at close range. And you really can hear where they are based on where the sound is coming from.

    Of course, i had to try this headset in at least one racing sim!
    Even with most racing games not boasting true surround sound, the magic little sound card inside the 3H managed to portray some sort of surround effect. In netKar Pro, I could just about hear which of my tyres were actually skidding.
    I think given more time and plenty of tweaking, you could setup the software for this headset to absolutely blow your mind when it comes to in-game sounds.

    Value: 96/100 At €54.99, they are much cheaper than some of the higher models, but in my opinion, pack as much of a punch.

    Functionality: 98/100 Outstanding audio and surround effects and a very portable unit too.

    Quality: 95/100 For the price, they are very well made and have a few nice touches.

    RD Rating: 289/300 Great price, great headset, great quality!

    One to buy: If you want top end quality at a reasonable price, then choose this headset over SteelSeries’ more expensive products.

    I would like to thank Casper Mejlholm from SteelSeries for his kind assistance in making this review.
     
  2. I use steelseries 4H and im realy satisfied with them
     
  3. Good Job Kris!

    Nice review, the 3H's are serious value for money offering great 'bang for buck' sound quality in a very competitive price range....

    Great review mate, cheers :)
     
  4. I had a 3H, 4H and currently a 5H. However, the 3H i had was not usb and did not come with a soundcard. It was also much cheaper (20euro). As i remember it had good low-tones(bass), but lacked abit on mid and high tones. The wire was abit short but thick.

    The 4H was slightly better in the mid and high tones but lacked a deep bass. The cable was very thin and again too short. It didnt take long before one ear broke due to the thin cable.

    Now i have a 5H and so far so good. low, mid and high tones are of good quality. The wire is made of much higher quality and is almost twice as long as the 3H and 4H.