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Steelseries 9H Review: Can you hear me now?

Megarom Games of South Africa was kind enough to loan me a Steelseries 9H headset for a few weeks. The 9H is currently the top of the range of Steelseries audio lineup including the Siberia V2, 7H and Siberia Elite headsets. How does sound and feel? Let's see.

headset.jpg

What's in the box?

USB Sound card
3.5mm microphone and headphone connector
Extension cable for headset to sound card connector
Steelseries 9H Headset

Volume control unit with microphone toggle switch

steelseries-9h-4.jpg

What does it sound like?

The 9H has a pretty flat sound to it. This is a good thing. Where the Razer Kraken Forged Edition turned up bass to excess, Steelseries has created balance. This is closer to a sound you'd expect from an entry level Sennheiser headphone. For a 'gaming' headsets go, it's a good sign. Bass is a little low but it allows for more gentle representation of mid-range and high-frequency sound. If I had to nitpick I'd ask for deeper, more varied bass without the need for equalisation. So, if you're a fan of hiphop or house, consider getting a headset suited more toward that type of sound. External noise is not entirely blanked out. For those who prefer a little environmental awareness with their headphones, that'll good news.

The built-in boom microphone captures voice effectively. I didn't need to speak too loud and found that even whispers got picked up.

The USB sound card that the headset came lacked a little in volume compared to the 3.5mm audio socket in my laptop and HDMI audio outputs. I am unsure if this is because of the amount of power the USB power could provide, or whether this was deliberately implemented.

SteelSeries-9H-Soundcard.jpg

How do they fit?

A large part of wearing headphones is how well they fit your head. I found the 9H to be comfortable with the foam pads on the top of the headset a subtle comfort. The cups covered both my ears entirely. Build quality was also pretty good. Having used the headset two to three times in a week I am happy to report that they're good for six to seven hours of use before discomfort.

The test unit Megarom gave me also never showed any signs of creaking or bad construction, which is a great sign. Also, very little sound from the plastic construction could be head through use. Those are always good signs.

Concerns

There were some minor concerns. First - the headset I got given came with cloth-wrapped cable. While the cabling added to the two-tone orange and black of the headphone they were thin. Despite being detacheable, thin wiring and cabling wears out quicker than insulated, thicker types. Secondly, the USB sound card produced some static on volume change. This happened after a firmware update, and whether it was due to the update or the unit itself I was unable to identify.

Steelseries provides downloadable software for the 9H, and it's about as spartan as you're going to get. You'll get an equaliser, Dolby Headphone toggle and frequency equaliser with some game profiles to set. Just be warned that the bass boost from Dolby Headphone can muddy up other frequencies as well.

You can get it here.

Conclusion

This is a solid headset and Steelseries has done a good job of building a strong headset that sounds good too. You'll be able to pick one up over at Kalahari.net for R1965. Steelseries just need to start packing thicker cables, and boosting that bass response a little, then they've got the best built-for-gaming headset at that price point.

Related Articles:

Review: Logitech G430 Gaming Headphones

Review: Razer Kraken Forged Edition - Bring on the Bass

Razer Kraken E-Panda Hooligan Edition review

Zubayr's Facebook Twitter / MWEB GameZone Twitter Facebook

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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