In April 2021, EPOS Audio will introduce its first in-house development, the Gaming Headset H3, after previous products were released under the co-branding EPOS | Sennheiser. The H3 already presented itself as a true all-rounder that coped equally well with PC, Mac, current consoles and mobile devices. With the EPOS H3 Hybrid, the almost identical quasi-successor is now waiting in the wings, which consistently eliminates the few criticisms of the gaming headset. Our test reveals what the headset has to offer.
|Frequency range (headphones)||20 – 20,000 Hz|
|Sensitivity (headphones)||116 dBSPL / 1 Vrms @1 kHz|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, USB-C to USB-A, 3.5mm jack|
|Microphone type||bi-directional, with noise reduction|
|range (wireless)||Circa 15 meters|
|Battery life||Up to 37 hours|
|Charge time||1.5 hours|
|Compatibility||PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, smartphone, tablet|
Scope of delivery
The all-in-one EPOS H3 Hybrid, like the original model, comes in a fairly nondescript black cardboard box, set off by white and petrol-green lettering. Inside, the gaming headset is embedded in foam. Underneath is a small cardboard box that houses the rest of the scope of delivery.
This already reveals the first difference to the quasi-predecessor H3, which the manufacturer only included a 3.5 mm jack cable (including the obligatory instructions and safety notes). This is also found in the packaging of the EPOS H3 Hybrid, but is supplemented by a USB-A to USB-C cable.
In addition, there is a round plastic cap, the purpose of which is not obvious at first glance. In fact, it serves to cover the magnetic connection for the microphone if you want to use the gaming headset as pure headphones. This brings us to the next innovation, because the microphone boom was still firmly connected in the H3. Now it can be quickly and easily removed to use the H3 Hybrid as a classic headset on the go.
Design and finish
In terms of design, little has changed compared to the H3. The new EPOS gaming headset also relies on a design that we already know from the now five-year-old EPOS | SENNHEISER GSP 300. The only difference is that the large, oval ear cups are much more refined and have a higher-quality finish. This applies not only to the new H3 Hybrid, but also to the original H3.
The headband was still made of soft leather in the H3, but this time EPOS relies on fabric padding, which is noticeably softer and more comfortable in a direct comparison. However, the brackets that lead from the ear cups to the headband seem a bit rickety – we cannot yet say whether this will have an impact on the headset’s longevity in the long run after our test.
Otherwise, the build quality of the EPOS H3 Hybrid ranks at a very high level throughout. The oval ear cushions are said to be modeled after the anatomy of the human ear and are made with very soft, comfortable mesh fabric encased in a ring of suede. This allows them to achieve a superior seal while remaining very comfortable to wear. At least for users with medium to small ears.
The ear pads are also easily removable and can thus be replaced. They are then securely reconnected to the headset with the help of the practical click mechanism. A metal bracket with a perceptible 10-step grid, which feels high-quality and stable, is used for fine adjustment.
All cables are detachable – just like on the E3. The difference with the EPOS H3 Hybrid, however, is that the gaming headset can now be used completely wirelessly, whereas the predecessor’s detachment was only for easier transport.
The ports for the 3.5 mm jack cable for controlling external audio sources as well as the USB Type-C port for the wired connection to the PC or for charging the battery are found on the bottom of the left ear cup. Above that, EPOS positions an LED indicator that informs about the battery status in three colors, as well as the button that turns the gaming headset off or on in the first place.
In contrast, there is a single button on the right side, whose labeling with the Bluetooth logo already suggests the function. In fact, it is used to trigger the pairing of the EPOS H3 Hybrid. However, this “Smart Button” has another function. In combination with the EPOS Gaming Suite software, it is possible to switch between stereo and 7.1 surround sound at the touch of a button.
Rounding out the overall external appearance is a volume wheel on the outside of the right ear cup. It has small teeth that provide a better grip. However, the plastic wheel doesn’t really feel high quality and is difficult to feel during intensive gaming.
Comfort and practicality
The combination of soft materials and relatively low weight of around 285 grams makes the EPOS H3 Hybrid very comfortable to wear in practice. Even in continuous mobile use, the headset rests comfortably on the head – provided, however, that you have small or medium-sized ears. With an inner diameter of the ear cups of 7.2 cm x 4.2 cm, the H3 Hybrid is only suitable for large ears to a limited extent. Nevertheless, the wearing comfort is perfectly fine, even for those who wear glasses, due to the construction and the thick, soft pads. The seal against external noise is also convincing.
The flip-up mute function of the microphone also proves to be practical in the practical test. When it is flipped up, it is automatically muted and is activated when you flip the microphone down in front of your mouth. The headset signals that your voice is being transmitted with a pleasant clicking sound.
We particularly like the fact that the EPOS H3 Hybrid has improved a lot in terms of connectivity compared to the original. While the quasi-predecessor could be connected to smartphones, tablets, PlayStation and Xbox consoles, as well as Nintendo Switch and laptops via a 3.5 mm jack, the new Bluetooth connection allows for many more uses.
If you hold down the Bluetooth button for about three seconds, the headset switches to pairing mode and is immediately recognized by our consoles, smartphones and laptop. Pairing then takes place within a few seconds. However, the gaming headset only unfolds its full potential in combination with a connection via USB cable, because only then are the extensive settings options of the EPOS Gaming Suite companion software available. However, this hardly affects the mobile listening pleasure, but more about that later.
Another exciting feature is the dual audio mixing function of the H3 Hybrid. This allows the headset to be connected via USB or jack cable and to a Bluetooth audio source at the same time. With separate control over the volume of each stream, you can make a call or chat with friends simultaneously via a third-party app on your smartphone. This feature works very well in practice and is a real added value.
Fortunately, the battery life in wireless mode is also more than respectable. The headset lasts up to 37 hours (Bluetooth) or 24 hours (3.5 mm jack). It can be fully recharged in about one and a half hours via USB-C.
Sound and playback quality
The H3 Hybrid from EPOS comes up with the frequency response of 20-20,000 Hz, which is quite typical for gaming headsets. Already during the first sound check it becomes clear that the sound is rather focused the mids and highs. This is, of course, useful in gaming and esports use, since, for example, the opponents’ footsteps can be heard better here. The basses step pleasantly into the background without losing precision.
In music use, the sound convinces with a lot of presence in the midrange, which ensures a clear reproduction of voices, where even the finest nuances are represented. However, high voices, such as Billy Idol’s in “Rebel Yell”, come out a bit exaggerated at high volumes, which becomes unpleasant in the long run. The problem can be eliminated by lowering the volume, though.
The highs also present themselves clearly and structured, resulting in an all-around coherent, warm and at the same time detailed graded sound image in Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. However, bass fans will not get their money’s worth with the H3 Hybrid, because the gaming headset quickly reaches its limits, especially in the low bass range of electro music. However, this can be counteracted somewhat with the help of the equalizer. And yet: For a gaming headset, the EPOS H3 Hybrid also convinces with a strong and honest sound in music mode.
However, we were really pleasantly surprised by the performance on a PC/laptop in combination with a connected USB cable. Because only then is it possible to make settings on the software side and switch between 2.0 stereo and 7.1 surround sound. In addition to four equalizer presets, you can individually adjust the sound to a total of nine frequencies and thus find the sound that suits you best.
But even with a flat sound curve, the H3 Hybrid knows how to please. The headset scores with a clear sound including excellent spatial perception – even in stereo mode. If you switch to surround sound, you can locate opponents and footsteps very well. This works even better in the “Esports” preset with a focus on the trebles, although the high tones are once again unpleasantly loud. But you can also counteract this very well via the equalizer.
In conclusion, we can say that the EPOS H3 Hybrid does a really good job in terms of sound quality. Personally, we like the slightly warmer, rounder sound of the comparably priced Corsair HS80 RGB Wireless (our review) a bit better in a direct comparison, though.
Where the EPOS headset comes out ahead of its Corsair counterpart, however (and by a significant margin), is in the quality of the microphone. The first positive thing that stands out is that the microphone arm is relatively stiff – which ensures a secure grip. Even during fast movements, the arm always stays in position.
In fact, the microphone of the H3 Hybrid, after initial difficulties, could completely convince us in the test. The own voice is reproduced relatively warm and very detailed. Even sharp S sounds are reproduced convincingly, with a minimal tendency to hiss. At the same time, background noise is effectively suppressed.
It is also possible to make extensive settings in USB mode with the help of the software. In addition to a voice amplifier, you can set Side Tone and Noise Gate here to further optimize the sound quality. We’ll show you how the headset’s microphone sounds without additional settings in the following video.
Unlike the H3, the H3 Hybrid is easily recognized in the in-house companion software EPOS Gaming Suite. However, only if you connect the headset using the included USB cable.
Here you have the option to keep the device up-to-date with firmware updates or to get additional information and digital manuals. You can also use the software to convert the Smart button: The Bluetooth button is assigned various functions in active mode. You can use it to accept or end calls in wireless use. Wired users can also quickly switch between stereo and surround sound or comfortably switch between different equalizer presets.
The software also provides you with extensive options for customizing the sound of the headphones and microphone. As already mentioned, you can change the equalizer individually in nine frequencies and, in 7.1 surround mode, add a reverb. EPOS Gaming Suite comes across much more compact and tidy than some other headset companion software, focusing on the essentials.
With the H3 Hybrid gaming headset, EPOS Audio consistently mends the few criticisms of the H3. The microphone is detachable and thanks to a clever magnetic connection, it can be attached to the arm without fumbling. Finally, there is also wireless connectivity thanks to Bluetooth, and that without the user having to accept particularly large losses in terms of sound quality. The battery performance is even convincing; about one and a half days of continuous use are possible with Bluetooth. The build quality and sound have been improved once again compared to the H3, which makes the hybrid headset one of the best representatives in its price range.
The good sound is also pleasing, although the bass might be a bit too much in the background for some users – on the other hand, this results in a successful sound for gaming use. The H3 Hybrid copes equally well with games, movies and music, but tends to exaggerate voices and trebles at high volumes, which is why we see a similarly priced Corsair HS80 slightly ahead here. There is nothing to complain about in terms of recording quality: The microphone reproduces the user’s voice clearly and in detail.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid is an all-around coherent gaming headset that offers a convincing overall package at a fair price. Almost everything that could be criticized about the previous H3 (lack of software support, only cable connection, fixed microphone, few functions) is included in the H3 Hybrid and has also been expanded with useful features such as multipoint connectivity and a detachable microphone, which more than justifies the recommended retail price, which has increased by around 50 Euros. If you are looking for a really good all-round headset, you will get your money’s worth with the EPOS H3 Hybrid.