SteelSound 3H Gamers Folding Headset

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Product: SteelSound 3H Headset
Provided By: SteelSeries
Price: $49.95USD MSRP

Introduction:

SteelSeries is well known for their line of SteelPad mousepads but are also making a name for themselves in computer headsets.  They have several headsets available, and today we are starting with their entry-level 3H headset.  Although I say this headset is entry-level, it still comes with a $50 price tag and some features that you'd expect from a mid-range headset.  This is the lowest priced model from SteelSeries and we'll take a look at it today and find out if it's worth the price tag, or if you're better off spending more money on a different headset.

 3H Headset

About SteelSeries:

SteelSeries is all about gaming. Our mission is to create performance enhancing gaming gear, created for and by leading professional gamers. We continuously strive to better ourselves, and work with leading professional gamers from 3 different continents to create our products.

Our staff is distributed throughout the world, working from offices in Europe, North America and Asia.

The SteelSeries headquarters are located in Europe (Copenhagen, Denmark), and host the primary office facilities for the company. The headquarters handle all planning, production and partner coordination.

For logistical reasons we also have sales offices in Asia (Taipei, Taiwan) and USA (Los Angeles, California). From Taipei we can reach the entire Asian market, as well as New Zealand and Australia. From Los Angeles we can reach North America, Canada and South America. All manufacturing is done by sub-suppliers from Europe and Asia, and then delivered to one of our warehouses for final processing.

 

SteelSound 3H Specs & Features:

Headphones:

  • Frequency Response: 10-27,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 50 Ohm
  • SPL@1kHz, 1Vrms: 102dB
  • Cable: 2 meters

Microphone:

  • Frequency Response: 50 - 18,000 Hz
  • Pick Up Pattern: Non-Directional
  • Sensitivity: -40dB
  • Impedance: 2.2K Ohm

 

SteelSeries touts the 3H Headset as one for gamers who frequently attend LAN events due to it's smaller size and folding design.  Below is more info from SteelSeries regarding the 3H.

SteelSound 3H is a compact and lightweight headset for gamers who frequently attend LAN events, and expect high quality sound. With it's foldable design the size of the SteelSound 3H makes for easy transportation, even in the most crammed situations. The small size also means that the headset is very light weight, which makes all the difference when it comes to wearing this comfortable headset. With pads that lightly press on top of the ears and a light headpiece that keeps the headset in place at all times, SteelSound 3H is hardly noticeable when the sound start playing.

A strong bass and crystal clear sound will help you determine where you can expect the next encounter with your enemy. At a very affordable price, everyone will now be able to buy a high quality gaming headset build for and by professional gamers.

The SteelSound 3H comes equipped with a retractable, uni-directional microphone that can be completely retracted into the headset, meaning the microphone will only have to be visible when in use. Featuring a 50 - 18.000 Hz pickup pattern your voice will be communicated to the recipients with perfect clarity, making it a excellent choice for both games and IP-telephony programs like Skype.

 We will be testing these claims on the following pages for sure.


First Look:

The SteelSound 3H comes in a clear clamshell package that can be opened without endangering the life of your family.  The package opens easily and can be resealed if you want to package it back up and give to your sister for her birthday.  The headset ships all folded up and looks very tiny at first glance.  When I first opened the package I was surprised that I didn't see the microphone anywhere.

 SteelSound 3H Front & Back
SteelSound 3H Front & Back
 SteelSound 3H Closed
SteelSound 3H Closed

 

After pulling them out of the package and looking at them more closely, I did notice the microphone on the left side.  It is retractable and has very smooth action when pulling it out and pushing it in.  The microphone "boom" is has a thick plastic sleeve that provides durability and smooth retracting action.  When the headset is unfolded you can see the top band that in fact is very comfortable.  It is made from a flexible vinyl, but with proper adjustment fits comfortably on top of your head.  You can also see that SteelSeries has branded this headset with their logos on both sides.

 SteelSound 3H Mic Stored
SteelSound 3H Mic Stored
 SteelSound 3H Mic Extended
SteelSound 3H Mic Extended

 

Closer Look:

The ear cups are quite small on this headset, and that is the biggest drawback for me.  They are large enough that you assume that they will cover your ears, but they don't.  Part of your ear is inside the can and the other is squished under the edge of the soft padded cup.  This is comfortable for a while, but really wears on your ear after half an hour or so.  I don't have large ears, and I imagine that this would be more uncomfortable for people with larger ears.  The size of the ear cups leads me to recommend this headset to smaller people with smaller ears.

SteelSound 3H - Inside Can
SteelSound 3H - Inside Can
 Mic and Headphone Cable
Mic and Headphone Cable

 

The connectors are gold plated and this should provide a better signal transfer from your soundcard to the headphones.  I'm not sure if this headset requires gold-plated connectors, but every little bit helps.

 

Test Setup:

  • MSI 975X Platinum PowerUp! Ed Motherboard
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU
  • Zalman CNPS9700 LED HSF
  • Crucial 10th Anniversary PC2-5300
  • XFX 8800GTX Graphics Card
  • Seagate 7200.10 250GB HDD
  • Creative X-Fi Platinum Soundcard
  • Windows XP SP2

On the next page we'll get into testing this headset and see if it's everything we've been waiting for.


Before we get into testing, I have to say that listening to audio is very subjective.  What one person believes is "good quality" audio can be very different from what another person hears.  I am no audiophile, but I do like to hear the full spectrum of sound without the bass being over-powering or the midrange and treble being too sharp and harsh.  Please bear in mind that all of our observations are subjective. 

Game Testing:

Most people who will purchase a headset from SteelSeries do so because they want it for gaming.  SteelSeries claims they "are all about gaming."  The best part about testing a headset is the excuse to sit for hours and play a bunch of games, so here we go.  We will test out several different types of games to see how well it works and which type of game we believe this headset is best suited for.

Battlefield 2142:

I was able to spend a couple of hours playing Battlefield 2142 while using the new SteelSound 3H Headset.  Overall sound quality was pretty good although the bass from explosions and tank shells sounded a bit weaker than with the AudioFX headset.  The treble and midrange chatter of gunfire sounded very well done though.  As this is a stereo headset it was difficult at times to tell if an enemy was directly in front of you or slightly off to one side.  The biggest complaint in BF2142 comes from other gamers who say that they can hear "everything" in the background when I use the VOIP feature of BF2142.  They can hear my mouse clicking and other noise than apparently is fan noise.  The mic is very sensitive.  My voice was not too loud, but they could still hear a lot of background noise.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a game that I picked up recently and have enjoyed playing.  This is an action/adventure game that combines some FPS action with more "adventurish" features like talking to people, picking up items and so on.  The sound scape is very broad and the game has an eerie feel to it.  Overall, I was quite impressed with the quality of the headset in this game.  When you step into a room and someone fires a shotgun close to your head, you can really feel the loud, deep blast.

SteelSound 3H - Xena Testing

Oblivion:

My wife plays much more Oblivion that I do and she tested these headphones out to see how they stacked up to the Plantronics  Audio .90 headset she had been using.  Her thoughts were that the 3H Headset was a little clearer when it came to ambient sounds, but lacked some deepness that the .90 has.  I listed to a few levels and have to agree.  Voices were easier to hear and were crisper, but some sound from casting spells was a bit weak.

 

Movie Testing:

I have been fairly busy with work and haven't had a lot of time to sit down and watch movies, but I managed to watch Casino Royale and parts of Eragon and Pirates of the Caribbean 2 with this headset.  Overall sound quality was pretty good, but nothing really floored me and made me think "Wow".  The bass has some punch but the overall lower sound spectrum is just a bit weak.  Stereo separation in the movies I watched was very good however.

 

Skype / Mic Testing:

One of the listed benefits of this headset was its usefulness for Skype.  I use Skype on a daily basis and have it running on my PDA, on my main computer and even have a set of GE Dect 6.0 Skype Phones.  This headset has a couple of things worth mentioning in regards to Skype.  First of all, I believe that a Skype headset, or really any headset for that matter needs a Microphone "Mute" feature.  This headset has none.  When you're at your computer using Skype, at times it's nice to quickly go grab a coffee or take a bathroom break.  With no "Mute" feature on the mic, combined with an extremely sensitive mic, the person on the other end can hear everything.  From the clank of the coffee pot to the flush of the toilet in the other room - they hear everything!

Second, this headset comes with a very high-quality 6' (2M) cord and while that is great if you're sitting stationary with your computer directly beside you, some situations may require your computer to be a bit farther away.  With this cord plugged in the back of your computer that is on the floor, 6' is barely long enough.

 

Conclusion:

This headset is a decent choice, but I do believe that it could be better.  The mic is way too sensitive and picks up a lot of background noise.  If you are trying to use it for gaming or VOIP in a somewhat noisy environment (you have kids or are at a large LAN), people will become irritated with all the background noise they hear when you are trying to talk.  Overall sound quality is pretty good though and for $50, is about what you'd expect from a computer headset.  It won't blow you away, but won't leave you feeling really disappointed either.  The biggest negative factor for me has to be the comfort - or lack of it.  The ear pieces are just downright too small.  They squish your ears and make prolonged use very uncomfortable.   If you have small ears, you will find these much more comfortable than I did, and will probably love this headset.

Pros:

  • Lightweight folding design.
  • Retractable mic.
  • Gold-plated connectors.

Cons:

  • Small "cans" are uncomfortable.
  • Mic picks up background noise.
  • No Mic "Mute" feature. 

 

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
8/10
Performance:
7/10
Comfort:
6/10
Stability:
n/a
Features:
7/10
Value:
7/10
Total Score 7.0

 

I'd like to thank SteelSeries for sending over this headset for us to review.  This is the first headset of theirs that we have used, and it's been interesting.  We hope to test more of their products in the future and see what their more expensive headsets have to offer in terms of sound quality and comfort.

If you have any questions regarding the 3H or this review, please head on over and post them in our forum at the "Comments" link below.