E3 2013: SteelSeries (Impressions)

by: John -
SteelSeries was showing off three headphones they announced recently. Tucked away at a quiet restaurant near the convention center, Travis and I sat down to go over the entry, midrange and enthusiast headsets they had to show.

Coming in at $40, the 3HV2 is a foldable is a very affordable headset that can take a beating. It features a retractable mic, extra padding, and a long line. The line has an inline remote to control muting of your mic as well as sound volume. The audio drivers have been updated to deliver better highs and mids as well as solid lows. As a gamer, you want clear sound on a wide range of frequencies and SteelSeries has gone and done some work on improving the drivers in the 3HV2 as well as the others I'll be talking about. If you want it to attach it to your phone or tablet, an adapter is included to do so. This looks to be a nice secondary headset to carry in your bag when you are on the go. 

The 5HV3 can also take a beating as was shown to me by one of the SteelSeries folks twisting the headband to extreme lengths. It also features a retractable mic and a swappable cable system. It's got a little micro-USB like connector that serves two functions. There are other connects that you can interchange the 5HV3 with so you can connect to a phone or a computer. It also serves as a breakaway point so if you stand up quick or someone gets caught on it and pulls, it will just break away at that connection to minimize damage on any of your connected components. The cable's double braided so it's strong as well. I listened to some music with the 5HV3 and was pretty happy with the audio coming from the new drivers in the highs and mids. For portability, the 5HV3 can come apart into three pieces and be put back together very easily. Travis will be looking at the 5HV3 for Gaming Nexus in the near future and he seemed pretty excited about the product.

Now the 9H is for those that want everything. It's got metal hinges, a very robust noise cancelling retractable mic, and a generous amount of soft padding. It's an incredibly light headset although it doesn't seem like it from the looks of it. The mic is one of their largest and hides really well. The ear cups has a double enclosure design. It's a DJ type design that will greatly block sound out and keep sound it. The double enclosure should help keep all the sound you want to hear in and keep any sound you don't want to hear out. It also features a double braided cable and that interchangeable connector system for connections to PC, mobile, and Mac. The 9H will also come with a USB sound card that has a mic, headphone, and the micro-USB like connector. When connecting the 9H to the sound card using the special connector, you'll get Dolby benefits such as simulated surround sound using two Dolby technologies. It can take "upscale" 5.1 to 7.1 sound, but again this can only be done when you use the included sound card. There's no plans to sell the USB sound card separately yet, so it seems that if you want this as well, you'll have to buy the 9H. The 9H will be $160 and be out the third quarter.

The three headsets from SteelSeries seem pretty solid and I like how they address a wide range of features and price points. They all felt really well done and I'm excited to hear how these perform with games and music. ?

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