After the de-merging of Sennheiser Communications and Demant Group last year, EPOS was created. Now wholly owned by Demant Group and using the same experienced team and facilities as before. Can EPOS carry on delivering outstanding gaming headsets? Read on to find out as we take a look at the EPOS H3 Hybrid Closed Acoustic Gaming Headset
Hybrid audio in a hybrid era
Design and Control
When first opening the packaging and holding the headset, its clear to see visually the H3 Hybrid is very similar to past EPOS | Sennheiser ventures. I personally own 3 sets of Sennheisers across different price brackets so I was very intrigued to see how the EPOS H3 Hybrid compares.
The build quality really is excellent. They feel lightweight at only 298g with the microphone attached and 278g without, yet still extremely flexible and sturdy in the hand. Once on your head, they’re one of the most comfortable closed-back headsets I’ve ever worn. The headband in particular is really well cushioned when compared to other brands. The adjustable headband also has numbered measurements which makes it super easy to set the headset back into the right position for you. This is a nice touch.
The clamping force is just enough so they don’t move around or fall off when in use. They can be easily worn for hours on end without excessive heat build up or discomfort. This is something so many other closed-back headsets struggle with and is one of the reasons my daily go-to gaming headset is open back. So it’s impressive to have this much comfort on a closed back design headset.
One minor negative I would pick out is the earcups are on the smaller side and although they do just fit me with no issues, some people may struggle with this. The earcups are removable and replaceable though which is a plus.
Previous EPOS | Sennheiser headsets nearly all use an excellent chunky boom mic and the EPOS H3 Hybrid is no different. One of the best features of the H3 Hybrid is the fact that this chunky microphone is completely detachable. Something Sennheiser has failed to do over the years.
EPOS has used a brand new magnetic system to keep the microphone in place. This is hands down the best detachable / retractable system I’ve ever come across in any headset. Even when lifting the boom mic to mute, another feature I’ve always loved, it’s always really secure. Hopefully, this is featured as standard on all future EPOS products.
Another lovely feature is when the microphone is detached, EPOS has included a little plastic cover to go over the exposed connector matching the volume wheel on the opposite side. Making them look just like a sleek set of wireless headphones.
What’s more, whilst out and about without the boom mic attached, there is another internal mic. Yes, another mic built into the headset for use in phone calls which makes these truly versatile.
Onto the aforementioned volume wheel, this is the biggest gripe for me and definitely a downgrade from their time with Sennheiser headsets. Finding the wheel is really awkward as there isn’t an indentation for your finger like Sennheiser had in theirs. The wheel is really not sensitive enough either. It was even updated at the time of writing so the increments are much better. However, there were countless times I had to scroll a lot to even notice an increase or decrease in volume and it was glitchy a lot of the time.
There also isn’t a maximum or minimum stopper on the scroll wheel like they also used to have on Sennheisers, meaning you can infinitely scroll. I know this is done intentionally to help with volumes across multiple devices. But its just a bit awkward. The only time you know you’re at the maximum setting is a quiet audible beep.
I’d definitely like to see the volume wheel addressed in future products.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid is available in 2 colours. Onyx Black and Ghost White. I was sent the Ghost White and it really does look awesome. With the detachable mic off and little plastic cover on I’d happily use these out and about as normal Bluetooth headphones, something that cannot be said of so many “gamer” headsets.
There are only 2 physical buttons on the H3 Hybrid. On one side there’s a button for powering on or off. On the other side there’s the smart button, which when held down puts the headset into Bluetooth pairing mode. This was instantaneous and seamless on multiple devices. When connected to a phone via Bluetooth this smart button answers and ends calls. Then when connected to PC via USB the same button can be customised using the EPOS Gaming Suite. I changed it so a single press would activate 7.1 surround sound which was a nice touch.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid features Bluetooth 5.2. This means it is compatible with any Bluetooth enabled device. Although it unfortunately only supports the standard SBC codec and no high-quality options. However, because it has Bluetooth 5.2 it could in the future potentially support the new LC3 codec and Bluetooth LE options. Other connectivity options come from a USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable and the 3.5mm jack cable.
It is a bit of a shame there isn’t a 2.4ghz WIFI option which other competitors do have, as solely using Bluetooth can cause a few sync issues on really fast paced games. So, you really do have to have it plugged in whilst gaming.
On a single charge, the EPOS H3 Hybrid can deliver over 37 hours of audio via Bluetooth which is super impressive. 24 hours when playing on a 3.5 mm console cable connection or 19 hours with dual connectivity (3.5 mm cable and Bluetooth at the same time which we’ll delve into a bit more below).
Charging time is pretty swift at 1.5 hours from empty and when on PC through the USB connection it also charges whilst in use.
You might think it a bit unusual that the battery is required when using with the 3.5mm audio jack. But this is so the EPOS H3 Hybrid can receive and mix two audio signals at the same time using the in-built DAC.
All this means you can be connected to your PS5, Xbox Series X or Switch, using the 3.5mm jack. Or the PC via USB, receiving in game sound. Whilst also being connected to your mobile, tablet or laptop via Bluetooth, using Discord chat or even playing music simultaneously.
Volume levels can also be controlled independently too. So you can raise or lower your game audio as well as raise or lower your music / chat audio on Bluetooth. All this coming through a single headset. Now the hybrid name makes sense!
I feel this headset is an absolute no brainer for Nintendo Switch owners as the Nintendo chat system is almost non-existent. The EPOS H3 Hybrid solves all those issues.
Sound and Performance
The EPOS H3 Hybrid have 40mm dynamic drivers producing a frequency response of 20-20,000Hz. They seem to have a V shaped sound profile, which is pretty common for a gaming headset. But what isn’t common is the really wide soundstage for a closed back headset. Which is definitely to my taste. As I’ve said before I use an open back headset as my daily driver so it’s nice to see something that is at least close to that.
The only slight downside to the brilliant soundstage is what seems at times to be a slightly under-emphasized bass response. Normally closed back headsets allow much more depth than open back. This is not quite the case here. Bass is clear and precise and in certain games it is there in abundance, particularly over USB on PC which seems to be the slightly better sounding option. But at times over 3.5mm or Bluetooth it might sometimes feel a little bit underwhelming for lovers of thumping bass. Personally, I am not a big fan of overbearing bass. I value clarity and soundstage much more when searching for a headset, which the H3 Hybrid delivers.
The midrange and highs on the H3 Hybrid are so incredibly crisp and detailed and the sound is kept all in all really well balanced. Games like Back 4 Blood and Aliens: Fireteam Elite really show off the H3 Hybrids wide soundstage. Hearing Ridden or Xenomorphs screaming at you from all angles was as immersive as any headset I’ve ever listened to.
Engine noises on F1 2021 were perfectly represented, as they were on Wreckfest and Forza. The EPOS H3 Hybrid picked up every last bit of gravel kicked up and leaf whistling past. Whilst playing games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, bullets had an incredible pop to them and I was able to clearly distinguish between single or multiple opponents footsteps.
I do feel for music the EPOS H3 Hybrid might be a little too crisp for some users as they do lack that depth. Although, this soundstage is more to my liking and I found it a pleasure to listen to these for many hours. It might not be the case for other users who really like that oomph. That being said, they are so incredibly detailed. No matter what genre of music you throw at them. Having something labelled a gaming headset being this capable as a standalone set of Bluetooth headphones is nothing short of impressive. Especially when you consider the battery life.
The microphone on the EPOS H3 Hybrid is excellent. Speech has a good depth, whilst being incredibly clear and concise. There is in built sidetone which works perfectly. When connected to PC this can be even adjusted, along with things like voice enhancement, gain and noisegate, all using the EPOS Gaming Suite. The one big negative here is the lack of noise cancellation. Something I think should be standard at this price point. This means the mic picks up every little keyboard and mouse click, which might be something to let your friends on the other end aware of.
The second in built microphone is obviously nowhere near as good as the boom mic. It’s much quieter and feels like it’s trying to process so much background noise. It is more than adequate for phone calls though and the fact it’s included at all is only a positive.
In summary, the EPOS H3 Hybrid is one of the most detailed, spacious closed back gaming headsets I’ve ever heard. The beautifully wide soundstage is something you don’t come across enough in gaming headsets. They are off the scale comfy and for console users in particular there aren’t many more accomplished performers at this price point. Especially when battery life is also class leading. The fact this is EPOS first foray into a wireless headset can only be a sign of great things to come.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid Closed Acoustic Gaming Headset get the Thumb Culture Gold Award!
Available to purchase at https://www.argos.co.uk/list/shop-for-epos-gaming-headsets/
Disclaimer: A sample was received in order to write this review.