EPOS updates one of their most popular gaming headsets for the digital age, coming up with one of the most versatile headsets that’s around right now.
Since their split from Sennheiser, audio communications specialist EPOS have been going through something of a design renaissance. The bright clashing colours and chunky look of their headsets from the Sennheiser era are now gone, replaced with a modern, minimalist look that’s refreshingly subtle in the world of big, bold, RGB-infested gaming products.
Their first go at a streaming microphone, the B20, was one of the most striking-looking mics in its class when it arrived in a crowded market, and now EPOS has applied the sleek Euro look and feel to their headset range, with brilliant results. The wired-only H3 (itself an upgrade to the Sennheiser-era GSP 300) was one of the first to score the new low-key bling, and now that very well-received model has scored a major upgrade. The new H3 Hybrid may look almost identical to its lower-cost sibling, but there’s a lot more going on under the hood.
The first big upgrade is a complete overhaul of connection options for the headset. While the H3 was limited to analogue cables for PC and consoles, the Hybrid ditches analogue for the PC and Playstation, replacing it with USB. Not only does that make setting up the headset a breeze – just plug it into a spare USB port and you’re good to go, with no drivers required – it also improves sound quality and eliminates the need to search around the back of the PC for the tiny headphone and mic sockets.
“The new H3 Hybrid may look almost identical to its lower-cost sibling, but there’s a lot more going on under the hood.”
But that’s not the only trick the H3 Hybrid has in store; with full Bluetooth support, it can be used as a fully wireless headset, or even just as a pair of headphones for music listening. The Hybrid’s big party trick, though, is the ability to use it both wired and wireless at the same time, a feature that opens up plenty of possibilities. For example, if you’re playing a game on PS4 but want to chat to your gaming mates on Discord, you can simply load up the Discord app on your phone and have that audio mixed in with the in-game audio. Or you can be playing a game on PC and answer phone calls hands-free without interrupting the sound from the game. Want to listen to some music or a podcast while playing? Just fire it up on your phone and it’ll be seamlessly mixed in.
Because the “wired” connection to PC or PS4/5 is actually USB, the headset automatically turns on and starts charging while you play, making sure the battery is always topped up for when you want to use it wirelessly or with an analogue cable connection to Xbox or Switch. The consoles have their limitations about how you can connect audio devices; Xbox doesn’t allow USB headsets at all, while Playstation supports the Hybrid seamlessly via USB, but if you try to connect via Bluetooth, you’ll get the warning that “Bluetooth audio devices are not supported.”
With all this in mind, the Hybrid ships with two cables. The USB-C to USB-A cable provided is, unfortunately, a bit too short at only 2 metres, and somewhat flimsy. We’d like to have seen them include a longer and more durable cable, to make couch gaming while plugged into the Playstation much comfier. Third-party cables aren’t too expensive, though, and we’d recommend picking one up if you’re after a bit more freedom to move while wearing the Hybrid when plugged in. The second supplied cable is an analogue connector that’s designed to plug into the headset sockets on Xbox and Playstation controllers, or directly into the Nintendo Switch. Length isn’t an issue for this one – which is just as well, since it uses a proprietary connector on the headphone end.
So, how does the H3 Hybrid perform? Superbly. The 40mm drivers combined with the completely closed-back over-ear design mean that there’s plenty of tight, clean bass to give games the grunt they need, with a very prominent midrange that emphasises critical game audio as well as voice chat. There’s plenty of volume to spare, and the luxuriously padded earcups (leather on the outside, soft cloth-covered memory foam on the inside) keep outside noise at bay. For music listening, the Hybrid delivers excellent audio that’s only lacking in the high-frequency “sizzle” that conventional headphones do so well.
The attached boom mic is absolutely superb. While it’s not about to rival a desktop mic for sound quality, it sounds fantastic – crystal-clear and rich in tone, unlike so many other headset mics we’ve heard. Muting the mic is as simple as flipping it up away from your mouth. A neat bonus is that this boom mic is also removable, attached by strong magnets, so you can take the Hybrid out on the road for Bluetooth music listening without looking like you’ve escaped from NASA. When the boom mic is off, a tiny mic in the left earcup provides talkability for calls if needed.
The EPOS Gaming Suite software for Windows lets you tweak the sound of both headphones and mic, including adjusting the amount of sidetone (your own voice fed back to you) from the mic, and enabling virtual 7.1 audio on the headphones. Firmware updates for the Hybrid are also delivered through the software – ours had an update that took a few minutes but worked seamlessly. Even if you only plan to use the headset with a console, you should grab the software so you can make sure your headset is completely up to date.
As for battery life, it’s far beyond what most of the competition offers. EPOS quotes a remarkable 37 hours of Bluetooth-only use, 24 hours via the analogue output and 19 hours with a combo of analogue and Bluetooth. The headset needs to be charged to use as an analogue device, which may seem unusual – but there’s a lot of digital hardware under the hood that needs power regardless. If you connect via USB, the headset is always charging so you won’t have to worry.
Ultimately, if you’re after a gaming headset that’s versatile, extremely well-designed, built to last and with high-quality audio, the H3 Hybrid is easy to recommend. Just being able to pick it up, plug it into a USB port and be good to go with immersive audio and a quality mic makes it a brilliant thing to have on hand for gaming sessions, and with Bluetooth support letting it do double duty as on-the-go headphones with hefty battery life, it’s great value.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid Gaming Headset is available now, in ‘onyx black’ and ‘ghost white’.