ALTHOUGH it is marketed as a gaming device, the performance and aesthetics of the wireless H model make it a compelling option for an all-in-one living room headset.
Gadget Review: Steelseries H Wireless headset
Steelseries have combined excellent acoustics with a handful of innovative features to make a convincing argument in favour of the H Wireless as one of the best set of cans on the market.
In keeping with the tenets of Scandinavian style, the Danish company have eschewed the burly and rugged aesthetics which characterise the gaming headset sector in favour of a minimalist aesthetic that fits well with the average home set up.
The exterior of the main body consists of durable matte and gloss black plastic, framing orange fabric inside generously padded memory foam cushioned cups. Cumulatively, the components make for a headset that feels decidedly premium.
Weighing 297 grams without a battery, the set is also light and comfortable, ably suited to gaming sessions several hours long.
With a main power button, a clever retractable microphone, and a volume click wheel, the set is not encumbered by a confusing array of buttons. Importantly, the pared-back layout allows the wearer to fine tune a range of options remotely.
Programmable settings, pleasing interface
With a few presses and rotations of the click wheel on the right-hand side, it is possible to switch between a host of sources and profiles, with the compact transmitter’s OLED providing a series of visual cues every step of the way.
The programmable unit - comparable in size and design elegance with the Apple TV - allows for up to five audio profiles to be created, each with their own customised equaliser settings.
The interface is intuitive and visually pleasing, and although there is an option for a direct DC input, USB connectivity means the unit can turn on and off in tandem with your chosen device. Along with indicators for the volume, source and various Dolby options, the transmitter also has a handy battery meter letting you know how much juice is left in the headset.
Indeed, the battery provision is a masterstroke on the part of Steelseries. The H Wireless package comes with two rechargeable cells, meaning that while one is installed in the right cup of the headset, the other can be slotted into the side of the transmitter. With one fully charged pack lasting for up to 18 hours, the overall power specifications of the set are truly excellent.
Sonically, the H Wireless provides sterling 7.1 Dolby Digital virtual surround sound, a boon for multiplayer FPS games where spatial awareness is paramount. The output is crisp and free from interference and performs best with mid-range and high-end frequencies.
The bass, too, comes through well, even if it lacks the thunderous low-end punch and blistering volume you might expect from a gaming headset.
This understated audio profile - which can be mixed with in-game chat audio - can be tinkered with easily enough, and we found that some EQ settings worked better with games, whereas others better complemented movies. Whatever your preference, the H Wireless will have an option that fits.
Extra investment shows
Steelseries deserve credit for producing a device of such elegant and thoughtful design and although it costs considerable more than the majority of gaming headsets on the market, the extra investment is always evident. For seasoned gamers who reckon Astro to be the high watermark of gaming audio, the H Wireless might well just change their opinion.