Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset Review For Xbox One

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - Featured

The right set of headphones for any console gaming experience are crucial, particularly for games where awareness of your surroundings are crucial like Call of Duty, and audio clues are given as to where your opponents might be – above or below you or round the next corner.

Steelseries are fast becoming a highly rated name in gaming accessories, they are focused on making high performance gaming gear with global offices and a great ethos of taking a substantial portion of their revenue and put it back into the gaming community to help spur industry growth.

I am testing the Steelseries H Wireless on an Xbox One with Call of Duty: Advanced WarfareCOD: Ghosts and Alien Isolation, but they will work on any platform such as PlayStation, PC, Mac, home entertainment systems and even as wired headsets with mobile phones.

In the Box

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - Box

In the box are:

  • The headphones – 297g (without battery)
  • Audio transmitter hub
  • Two headset batteries
  • Optical to optical cable
  • 3.5 to 2.5 mm cable (listed as an Xbox 360 chat cable)
  • 3.5 to mobile phone cable
  • 3.5 to 3.5 (aux) cable
  • USB to micro USB cable
  • Power cable and adapter
  • Manual

Everything you could need is provided here, and all the components are of good quality.

Design

The headset are isolating over-ear design and have a high quality feel to them. Leather clad memory foam padding on the head band and ear cups make for an extremely comfortable fit. Initially the headphones are quite tight when worn, but this loosened up after a few days and I’m sure will get better over a longer period of time.

The design is nice and understated with black leather and red stitching, and the ear-cups fold through greater than 90° making them comfortable on your head, but also much easier to transport around if required.

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - Earcups folded flat

The microphone is a unidirectional model, which fully retracts into the headphones when not in use, making the changing the use of the headphones for music a trivial job. Pressing the headphone action button mute’s the microphone, and confirmation is provided by a red glow around the tip of the mic.

The left side of the headphones contains the on/off button, activated with a long press, a single press of this smae button mute’s the microphone. There is also the audio connectors for the voice chat from the controller and Sound Share hidden under a rubberised cover.

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - power button and audio connectors on the right side

Sound Share is effectively an audio-out allowing a friend to hear exactly what you’re hearing through their own headphones – I didn’t test this but it seemed straight forward enough.

Battery

The battery is a Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 1000mAh rated one and goes behind the outer shell of the left side of the headphones. Battery life is rated at 20 hours per battery, and initial testing certainly doesn’t throw any doubt on this – the headset comfortably lasted for several sessions over multiple days before indicating the battery was running low.

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - Battery In Headset

Thanks to Steelseries including 2 batteries by default, there is no down time when it does run low – simply swap out the battery and put the low one back in the audio hub to begin charging.

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - Battery Charging in audio hub

Audio Hub

The Audio Hub is the central controller that manages the connection between the Xbox and headphones, in addition to charging the batteries. It connects to the console via the included optical cable and is pre-configured with profiles for the main consoles. Its important that you complete this step as complaints on the Steelseries forums about sound not working correctly are typically from the cables not being connected properly or the profile not being setup for the correct console.

On powering up the audio hub for the first time it asks you which profile you’d like to use with the obvious optios being Xbox One or PS4 – I chose Xbox One and that was it – everything was done.

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - Audio Hub

The front of the hub features an LED display showing the current profile, volume level, spare battery charge levels, headphones on/off status and Dolby audio input.

The large rotary dial adjusts the volume by default (mirroring the volume dial on the headphones themselves), or navigates the menu system, which is triggered by the smaller button next to it. Chatmix allows you to control the audio level balance between the action in your game and the communication from your friends on Xbox Live.

You can opt of the preset EQ from each profile or you can fine-tune H Wireless’s audio with its five-band equalizer. The ability to tailor the sound to your preferences or style of play is great for more advanced gamers and its great you can ‘take it or leave it’ depending on how deep you want to dive in!

Gaming Usage

While most headsets simply feature Dolby Headphone, the Wireless H feature three different Dolby technologies: Dolby Headphone, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Pro Logic IIx producing amazing sounding virtual 7.1 soundscape.

The overall audio quality is excellent, game audio and music in general is clear, with good production across a range of high and low notes. Volume is easily adjustable thanks to the controls on both the audio hub and the headphones themselves, and goes up as loud as would be required.

I’ve had no issue with interference, and indeed Steelseries have designed the headphones to actively protect against this with “continuously frequency hopping” which intelligently avoids this and I never experienced static or crackles across the whole time I’ve been using them.

The wireless range is very impressive, my Xbox is upstairs and I could happily make it all the way downstairs to the kitchen to get a drink for example with the headset on and the audio link maintained. The only negative is that for voice chat on the Xbox One (via Xbox Live) the headphones are not fully wireless, requiring a chat cable between the controller and the headset. I believe this is a current limitation of the Xbox though and might be fixed in a future software update.

Steelseries H Wireless Gaming Headset - Xbox Controller and Chat Cable

I’ve started using the headphones with COD: Ghosts and testing out the ability to pick up audio cues from the game as to the location of enemies when playing multi-player. The difference between these and the standard stereo headphones I was using before was night and day. Sounds were not only clearer, but were given definition and direction – you can literally hear when someone is above you, or walking through water outside the room you’re in.

In a game where concentration and skill need to be used in equal measure, these headphones give you a massive advantage over anyone without surround sound capability.

Update – 2 months usage

I’ve been using the headphones exclusively with Advanced Warfare for about 2 months now, so I thought I’d provide an update based on this usage.

The tight fit of the headphones I initially experienced has indeed improved and they now slip into position perfectly and no longer feel as they are ‘pressing in’ against my head.

The new version of Call of Duty (Advanced Warfare) is just as good if not better in terms of the audio experience within the game,and if you have played it you will know the addition of the Exo-suit provides greater verticality within the game, making audio cues as to whether someone is above or below you even more essential than in previous games.

I’ve also now had extended time with the batteries and can confirm they fully match the quoted 20 hours time – I’ve done long back to back sessions of that time, if not a shade longer, and had no problems at all. There has been no noticeable drop off either, although they might not quite be making the time a year from now – but that is the case for any battery, just any mobile phone owner.

Summary

The Steelseries H Wireless are fantastic quality headphones. They are not cheap, but are up there with the top tier headphones from Astro and Turtle Beach and so I feel entirely justify their price. The attention to detail like the supply of two batteries, high quality cables, and fast and straight forward setup make these strong contenders for gamers from enthusiast to pro.

>> Official Steelseries H Wireless product page.

>> Buy the Steelseries H Wireless Headset from Steelseries direct or Amazon from around £279.99

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon - about.me/robgordonuk