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SteelSeries 7H USB Pro Gaming Headset Review

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Brian Clancy, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. For this 'Xmas review special' I am going to be looking at the SteelSeries 7H USB Pro Gaming headset. This USB edition comes complete with a virtual 7.1 surround sound usb sound card! Alot of sim racers use headsets for many reasions, keeping the Mrs calm (she may not want to listen to a V8 growling of F1 car screaming all evening!), comms (Teamspeak/skype etc) and the fact that a headset hides all the background distractions that most households have (Screaming kids / Mrs / phone / doorbell lol!), but most of us use pretty cheap, basic headsets.

    Well today I am going to be putting a top of the line bit of kit through its paces and see if it is really worth the 'extra money!'

    ss1.jpg 7H1.jpg

    First Impressions :
    First off, the 7H oozes quality, even the display packaging looks impressive! Once out of the box, the headset feels light, but sturdy and well made. The finish is excellent and right away your eyes are drawn to little details such as the braided cables, gold plated connectors and dark chrome finishes. The next thing is just how small the USB sound card is (8x3x2 cm approx), again, nicley made and finished with a high quality cable. Overall, it bought a smile to my face as I unpacked it and started to examine it!


    Specs / Techie Bits :
    Here's the techie blurb

    Frequency response: 18 – 28.000 Hz
    Impedance: 32 Ohm
    SPL@ 1kHz, 1 Vrms: 112 dB
    Cable length: 1 + 2 = 3 m (9,8 ft.)
    Jacks: 3,5 mm
    Frequency response: 50 – 16.000 Hz
    Pick up pattern: Uni-directional
    Sensitivity: -38 dB
    USB: 2.0
    Surround sound: Virtual 7.1
    Equalizer: 12 channels
    Jacks: 2 x 3,5 mm (USB cable included)
    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 :
    This litle rig is PACKED with features! I'm going to cover the headset first, then the sound card.

    Headset :

    The first thing to mention is the 50mm drivers, thats pretty big for a headset and assures great bass and solid acoustics. The next thing is the fact that this headset can be flat packed!! (see the pics above) this is quite a handy feature, making the set very easy to pack for trips etc! The rig also comes with a second pair of inter-changable ear cushions offering either a closed cup (Making outside sounds almost completely inaudable) or a pair of open cups alowing for easier 'outside' listening. On the headset lead is a little control box that allows you to adjust the volume and/or turn on/off the mic. Now the mic is excellent, instead of the usual, cumbersome 'boom' the 7H uses a cleverly designed 'flexable' pull out mic. When its not in use, simply push it back into the ear cup and its right out of the way! A really nice touch that shows just how much thought has gone into the ergernomics of the design.

    7h4.jpg SteelSeries-7H-USB-9.jpg
    USB Sound Card :
    Physicaly, the sound card is small as I said earlier, its a pretty simple thing, plug n play USB with two 3.5mm jack sockets to connect the headset to. But its what goes on inside this little gem that makes it magic! Boasting a 'virtual' 7.1 surround sound proccessor, the sound card promises much. The first hint of the power of this little unit becomes more obvious once you have installed the drivers. This software suite is really quite powerful, 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!

    7h5.jpg ss1.jpg

    Comfort :

    This is one area the 7H really proves its worth. If I'm honest, I usually find wearing headsets tiring and they can become uncomfortable after a while, but the 7H is suprisingly comfortable. With a good range of adjustment, very soft leather ear and headband cushions and swiveling ear cups this set fits really well and its light wieght makes it easy to wear for long periods.

    7h6.jpg 7h7.jpg

    Sound Quality :
    Okay, this is were it all counts, you can have every fancy feature imaginable, but if the sound quality isnt there its all for nothing!

    Well, before I even started to get to grips with the multitude of adjustments that the software allows I just had to play some bassy 'tunes' to test the rig out. Oh boy, frankly, I was stunned! My Itunes collection NEVER sounded this good before on ANY setup, yet alone a pair headphones! The bass is deep, clear and PUNCHES, midrange is upfront and crystal clear offering superb vocals and the high end does not dissapoint either, offering up crisp and suprisingly well deffined trebble high's.

    Now I started to play with the softs, Dizzee Rascal's bonkers seriously LEAPED out of soundstage when I was emulating 7.1 surround! Again the clarity and punch of the bass along with the surround effect made old tunes sound, well, new! So much so infact, I failed to recognise the intro's to some of the songs on my favorite play list!!!!!!!

    Right, I think I have covered the fact that the 7H's are rather good for music! So it was time to fire up rFactor and get in the 'simpit' and see what its like in game. As far as I'm aware, rF and most current sims only support 2 channel sound, but once again the soundcard worked its magic delivering superlative sound quality and giving that 'surround effect' flawlessly. Its worth using the powerful features of the drivers, with a little bit of time you can create the ideal sound setup to suit your prefference. Its very intutative and easy to use. The mic delivers real solid, clear and definable vocals. Mr Vickers and I tested it out on Skype and the verdict was an impressive thumbs up (Although Mr V was still his usual garbled, uninteligable self with his £3.99 Tesco headset loool)

    Its been proven many times over that in simracing one of the most important, if not THE most important thing for 'immersion' is sound! The 7H's have made my cockpit feel a bit more real and deliver astounding accustics

    Nuff Said...................

    You can find the SteelSeries website HERE its well worth a look


    Value : 91/100 At 129.99 Euro's, cheap they are not! But my god you get some serious sounds in a very high quality rig! and remember there not just for sim racing, you will love them for all multimedia options, film, music etc!

    Functionality : 99/100 Outstanding audio and surround effects

    Quality : 97/100 Top of the line stuff, wonderful design, superbly executed

    RD Rating: 287/300 Top end price, but top end performance, stunning sound!

    Buy One?? : Its a big investment, but if you have the spare cash its worth every penny

    I would like to thank Casper Mejlholm from SteelSeries for his kind assistance in making this review. More items from SteelSeries to be reviewed very soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

  2. How do you feel these rate against the Astro A40's .
  3. I havent tried or reviewed the astro's. But as you can read, these rather blew me away! I must confess I only choose what I think are going to be exceptional products to review in the first place (I just dont see the point in reviewing mediocre kit). On this occasion its a top of the line unit with a top of the line price tag, but I hope to review other 'budget' headsets that stand out from the crowd also :)

    When you think that the 7H USB's come with an excellent sound card and astounding audio performace/build quality, they are good value, but not cheap!

    I will be reviewing SteelSeries 5XB Xbox 360 headset in Jan and also the 'Shift' gaming keyboard in a few days time, so keep your eyes on the front page :)
  4. I used to have a Koss SB 40 headset that was really great both in sound,comfort and quality but 1 day they got tired and the soft parts of the earcups was just dry and started to fall apart.
    Bought the steelseries 5 H V2 to replace them and the sound is just as good if not better,they also have the folding for less space as the 7H has...the microphone also can be moved into the earcup (same as 7H) and quality is very good as i dont know the number of times they hit the floor and there is not even a scratch on them. Seems like the difference between 7H and 5H is the software/soundcard and surround sound.
    If you think the price of 7H is just a little bit over the top i can recommend you to take a look at the 5H.
  5. I never like to race with headset's, but this part "Screaming kids/Mrs" :mad:, grab my attention to it!

    As always, nice review, Brian.Thanks!
  6. Dariusz Swiderski

    Dariusz Swiderski
    Premium Member

    I never race race without my headset and go through 4-5 pairs a year ( the cheap & nasty ones :) ), have been looking at the steel series for some time now and this review only confirms my suspicions how good they are. Christmas coming......:D

    Good review Brian:thumb:
  7. Currently have some Creative Arenas and for their price (£50-60) they are totally unmatched. These look tempting though if I ever get the money spare to upgrade :)
  8. Kris Vickers

    Kris Vickers
    Hardware Staff

    For the record.... there's nothing wrong with my £3.99 Tesco headset!

    Sure it may have been slightly broken by the kids, the mic may cut out here and there and changes its mind constantly about what volume to record things in, but overall, it was £3.99 well spent :)

    I'll have to see if the missus fancies spedning £100 (ish) on a new headset (that she or the kids sure as hell wont be touching).

    Top review again Bri ;)
  9. Dariusz. I always use a head set, but the creative fatality Hs1000. You can get them at the moment in Pcworl for £33 ish down from 50, on my second set afte my kids stood on the last ones.
  10. Thanks for the excellent review Brian and it couldn't have been better timing for me. I just cancelled an order for a pair of Logitech G35's because, although they are supposed to be superb, I couldn't justify the price for a headset that I could only use on a Windows PC (they are USB only and have a built in soundcard - and apparently can't be used in surround sound mode on MAC OSX)
    I now have these 7H USB's sitting in my "basket" ready to press the "buy now" button. I only hesitate because it is such an indulgent purchase and I really need someone to confirm that they can be used as a regular pair of headphones (via the 3.5mm jack) on any audio source - my iPod touch in particular.
    Some may shout "of course they can, you fool !!" but please humour me, it is a lot of money after all....
    Also, and maybe more importantly, I am a bit concerned about the PC system resources that the USB soundcard may use. I am sure it is marginal, but running some of the Mods, Tracks and Skins online can really hit my PC performance (frame rates :inlove:0 sometimes). So any extra demand on the system may be a problem for me. Did you notice any such issues.
  11. Hi Eric :)

    Just plugged them into my HTC Desire (phone) and ooooh yes! They sound GREAT and work a treat! Go get em mate, press the button lol! :)
  12. Thanks Brian - I really appreciate you testing that for me mate :thanks:- I can now buy with confidence.
    Only trouble is, now I want a HTC Desire phone too! :eek:
  13. Oh Eric

    The usb card makes no impact at all on the PCU usage from my PC, it is a quad core job, but i run 40+ USB items (errr, dont ask, lmao) so I think if it was resourse hungry I would have noticed :) Hope that helps
  14. Excellent news - again, many thanks Brian. All I need now is final approval from "She who must be obeyed" :redface:
  15. Oops

    Premium Member

    Thats an excellent review Brian, I really need a good headset because the wifes all ways giving me grief :tongue: and the cheap ones I use atm annoy me after a short while but that a lot of money for a headset.
  16. Danny, check this out : http://shop.steelseries.com/index.ph...es-3h-usb.html less than half the price but still with a 7.1 sound card! I will ask Casper if I can review them soon! :D
  17. Another great review, thanks Brian ;) and i'm also lookin for 3H-USB.
  18. Quick update Brian - approval granted and order placed :D - can't wait. But I'm not allowed to open them till Christmas Day........ nooooooo! :frown:. But surely they will need to be tested the minute they arrive :tongue:
    I checked out the others - the 3H, 5Hv2 and the Siberias, but the 7H appears to be the best of the bunch for both music and gaming. I went for the USB options (as reviewed here) in case my PC sound card ever fails. Also, the Virtual Surround Sound may be good for movies, and who knows, maybe someone someday might develop a race sim with 5.1 (maybe rFactor 2).
    I'm so grateful for your reviews Brian, it's so good to get an unbiased opinion from a fellow race sim enthusiast. Thanks again

  19. Hi Eric :D

    Thanks for that, makes all the effort worth while! Glad you got permissions and you can tell the the Boss I STRONGLY recommend at least an hour of in depth testing upon delivery just to make sure all is good n well!

    Glad the review helped you pick the right item:D