A Versatile Headset with USB, Bluetooth, and 3.5 mm Inputs
We reviewed the EPOS H3 closed acoustic headset back in April, and the company has recently launching the H3 Hybrid, which they sent over for this review. What makes it “hybrid”, exactly? EPOS states that it offers “multiple connectivity options, a removable boom arm, simultaneous Bluetooth for audio mixing, and a long-lasting battery for on-the-go Bluetooth audio”.
Further quoting EPOS here:
“The H3 Hybrid brings true to life gaming audio and user versatility together. The H3 Hybrid is crafted with renowned EPOS engineering and high-quality gaming audio, achieving acoustic clarity and deep bass with exchangeable USB and 3.5 mm console cables. The headset is available in Onyx Black and Ghost White colorways.”
The H3 Hybrid provides up to 37 hours of Bluetooth audio, offers multiplatform compatibility, and is equipped with simultaneous Bluetooth connection, dual microphones, EPOS Gaming Suite compatibility and a detachable boom arm for next-level gaming.”
The headset carries a list price of $179 USD, and is available now. This price is a substantial jump from the $119 USD of the original EPOS H3, but the additional connection options (the earlier model was 3.5 mm analog only) will naturally add to the headset’s versatility. In this review I’ll (subjectively) judge its performance and see if it offers value.
- Wearing Style: Headband
- Ear coupling: Around ear
- Transducer principle: Dynamic closed
- Total harmonic distortion: 0.5%
- PS4, Nintendo Switch, Tablet, Mobile phone, PC / Soft phone, Xbox One, Mac OSX, PS5, Xbox Series X
- Charge time: 1 hours 30 minutes
- Range: 49 ft. (line of sight) / 66 ft. (office use)
- Dimensions: 7.20 in. (L) x 3.54 in. (W) x 6.93 in. (H)
- Weight: 11 oz.
- Cable length: 78.74 in.
- Warranty: 2 years
“The EPOS H3 Hybrid gaming headset provides wired connectivity with USB/console cables and simultaneous Bluetooth connectivity. An adjustable headband and angled ear cups provide ergonomic fit and long-wearing comfort while a lift-to-mute, detachable boom arm microphone provides crisp intelligible game chat.”
The H3 Hybrid Gaming Headset
The features of the H3 Hybrid are as follows (via EPOS):
- Long Lasting Battery Life with Bluetooth – A single charge provides up to 37 hours of Bluetooth audio and up to 24 hours when playing on a 3.5 mm console cable connection. Dual connectivity (3.5 mm cable and Bluetooth) provides up to 19 hours of play.
- Simultaneous Bluetooth Connection for Audio Mixing – When paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth, simultaneous connectivity allows players to chat with friends using their favorite third-party app while gaming on their preferred platform via USB or 3.5 mm cable. Separate intuitive volume control enables players to balance each audio stream.
- Convenient Magnetic Detachable Boom Arm – Gamers can easily detach and reattach the microphone with a magnetic connection in the boom arm. When the boom arm is removed, a cover plate protects the connectors and keeps the H3 Hybrid’s sleek, seamless look.
- Dual Microphones – The H3 Hybrid includes a secondary microphone in the ear cup that allows gamers to pick up calls when wearing the headset on-the-go without the main boom arm microphone attached to the headset.
- Multiple Connection Options – The H3 Hybrid allows for multiple connection options with included USB cable for PC, 3.5 mm cables for consoles and Bluetooth for mobile devices
- EPOS Gaming Suite – When connected to a PC through USB, players can download the EPOS Gaming Suite to unlock 7.1 surround sound and tailor audio and microphone preferences
Our H3 Hybrid sample is all black, and a white/black model is also offered. It has a quality look and feel, and the padding level feels very good. It’s also a fairly lightweight design, weighing in at 302 g / 10.7 oz on my digital scale.
There is a smooth lining to the soft headband cushion, and conversely a soft lining to the otherwise smooth ear pads. I did like the feel of the ear pads, as this velvety surface mixed with the softness of the cushion beneath was quite comfortable. Clamping force is also right in the middle, just where I like it.
Volume is controlled via a wheel on the right ear cup that is flush to the surface, but offers ridges for gripping it with a finger to rotate up and down. This right cup also contains the Bluetooth pairing button. Over on the left cup we have the rest of the IO, with the USB-C and 3.5mm analog inputs. The power button is also located on the left cup.
A unique aspect of the H3 Hybrid’s design is a detachable boom mic, as this is not done in the conventional way:
The microphones on other the EPOS headsets I’ve reviewed have not been removable, though it is handy to be able to mute the mic by simply lifting the boom arm. With the H3 Hybrid the rotating mechanism is contained within the boom arm, which snaps in place with a magnetic click. Additionally, a cap is provided in the box contents for a clean appearance for this left cup if you choose to keep the mic off of the headset.
Subjective Listening Impressions
With a USB connection via the included USB-C to USB-A cable, the H3 Hybrid presents itself to the OS as a 16-bit, 48 kHz audio device. In USB mode I found the headset to offer powerful sound, with bass that goes deep and is very well controlled. This is the strong suit of the H3 Hybrid, in my opinion.
I felt that upper midrange and treble have a slight emphasis, and depending on the source audio there could be a harsh quality to the highest frequencies noticeable at higher listening levels. Using EQ I lowered high frequencies a bit and was happy with the warmer, less sibilant sound achieved. Unfortunately, at higher volume levels I did feel like I was experiencing audible distortion.
Via Bluetooth this headset sounds good to me at low to mid listening volumes, but once I moved towards the upper third of the available volume some audible distortion begins to creep in. And, while I feel like I am complaining more and more about this over time, amp power just isn’t there to me – the dynamic range sounds compressed as the amp is pushed to high listening levels.
Moving to the 3.5 mm analog input, I was disappointed in the audio quality. I could have been experiencing an impedance mismatch, and lowering the volume from the source did help. It sounded overdriven at 100% input volume, and I had to lower input and headset volume to produce a distortion-free sound to my ears.
In my subjective opionion the EPOS H3 Hybrid is a bit of a mixed bag, though it does have some strong points. It is quite comfortable, and is a headset with the potential for powerful, controlled bass that is at its best in USB wired mode, but is still a competent Bluetooth option at moderate listening levels. I would not use this model via 3.5 mm input myself.
At the full $179 list price I think there are other headsets – including models from EPOS – that offer better overall performance. However, the additional functionality of the H3 Hybrid, allowing Bluetooth connections as well as traditional USB/analog wired connectivity, does add value.
I would like to hear a second-gen version of this headset with cleaner, low-distortion sound at all listening levels. For now, I think you need to keep the volume down to experience the best the H3 Hybrid has to offer – but if you keep volume at 50% or below most of my complaints here are invalid anyway.
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How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from EPOS for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of EPOS but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
EPOS had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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