13th May2014

‘SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset’ Review

by Phil Wheat


Product: SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset
Manufacturer: SteelSeries
Input: 3.5mm jack(s)
RRP: £135

I’ve reviewed and tested plenty of different makes and models of headphones/earphones over the years and for many years my go-to’s were the iLuv earphones that I’ve had almost five years. That was until I tried out the Sol Republic headphones back in March of last year. Since then I have been a total convert to over-the-ear headphones rather than the in-ear style headphones that I have been using since I was in high school. But hey, as a gadget fan I’m constantly on the lookout for the next good pair of earphones and/or headphones – be it for music, gaming or watching movies on the go.

As I state in EVERY headphone/earphone review I do, I always have the same two main criteria:

  1. How comfortable are they to wear for a long period of time.
  2. How good the bass sounds.

And on those two criteria, the SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset passes with flying colours – which, if I’m honest is to be expected given SteelSeries long history of making quality gaming gadgets (we’ve reviewed a few of their mice and keyboards over the years too). But with the video game market flooded with 5.1/7.1 virtual surround headsets, what does this SteelSeries headset have to give it the edge above others of its ilk? Especially considering it’s more “grown-up” brethren, the H Series Wireless headset and the Siberia Elite are already offering plenty to hardcore gamers…

Well for one, the SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset works with Mac, PC, iOS and Android straight out of the box, without the need to install any drivers for use on PC or Mac. What also gives this headset the edge is the price – especially when you consider the build quality and the overall styling.

The first thing that strikes you about this particular headset is the look and feel of the packaging. A striking combination of orange and black, the 9H Headset packaging screams quality and that feel continues when you open the box. The headset itself sits inside a black vac form which also houses a sleek looking package containing the manual and a SteelSeries sticker and hidden under those is the headset cable – which is not your typical cable. The cable includes your usual inline controller with mic and volume controls and included in the pack are a micro-USB extension cable and two adapters: 1 standard 3.5mm jack for use with portable devices (iPhones, mp3 players etc) and 1 Y-connector (mic/audio), which connects to the large, square USB “soundcard” that connects to your PC and/or Mac.

Opening the vac form you come to the headset itself (and the soundcard). Take the SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset out of the box and straight away it feels pretty rugged and substantial in your hand. The headband is metal, sheathed in plastic which is emblazoned with the SteelSeries logo. The inside of the headband is covered with four segments of foam padding, which given their small size, actually feel comfortable on the head – even after long periods of use. But the best thing out this particular headset? That would be the ear cups…

Lined with an inch of thick foam the ear cups are huge – even big enough to cover my massive lobes – which means they’re perfect for cutting down on external noise(s) and the output has a more rounded feel compared to other gaming headsets thanks to the extra space within the cups, allowing the sound to flow around the wearers ears. Like many other headsets in the SteelSeries range, the 9H Gaming Headset features the same retractable, flexible, microphone which retracts into the left ear cup when not in use and can be accessed with a quick inward push on the end of the mic to release it. Personally I found the mic a little short for my face as it tended to sit on my cheek rather than in front of my mouth – and for those that like to play games at volume while using the mic, because of the short distance between headphone and mic, turn the volume up too loud and everyone listening will be able to hear your headphones too! My only other gripe with the headset is when placed around the back of my neck (i.e. when not in use) the ear cups sit way too close to the underside of my chin – and there’s not enough rotation available above the earcups to have them any other way.

Downloading the SteelSeries Engine 3 software to use the 9H Gaming Headset with PCs, unlocks additional features, such as audio profiles, mic compression and noise cancellation and a 10 band equalizer. Although there headset sounds, at least in terms of music and (casual) gaming, perfectly fine at the default settings on all devices thanks to the Dolby Pro Logic IIx technology and next-generation SteelSeries audio drivers.

The SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset ticks all the boxes when it comes to what anyone would need from a decent, competitively-priced headset: the sound quality is good, the headphones are comfortable to wear and it works well straight out of the box with little tweaking required. Even if this isn’t the most portable of headsets.

The SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset is available now on the SteelSeries web shop; and for more information visit http://steelseries.com

If this headset isn’t what you’re looking for why not check out Gear Hungry today and browse a massive selection of gadgets and other cool stuff!


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