It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of SteelSeries. My Diablo 3 mouse has registered two-million left clicks and I’m not sure if that includes data from before formatting my machine. Nevertheless, it’s still going strong, which is great because I can be hard on my peripherals. They should be able to take a few hard hits; that’s what I’m paying for, isn’t it? If I wanted something fragile that breaks when you so much as look at it wrong, I would spawn children. I kid, of course, my spawn would be mewling beasts covered in glorious fur.
Meet the SteelSeries H Wireless headphones. Wireless technology is all the rage currently, because apparently wires are far too old school and might possibly kill you. Or something. I must admit though, once you have a wireless solution that your dog can’t chew on/trip over/take the wires and bury them in the garden, you will start to really appreciate going wireless. The only exception to that being the loss of the device because it can leave its normal area of operations, but that is your fault for wearing your headset when you go to the bathroom mid-game. I have no idea why you would still want to talk to or listen to your friends while in the bog, but the wireless will work from quite a reasonable distance, so you can do so if you want to with the H Wireless. How might I have tested that, you ask? Well it’s classified. Speaking of the wireless tech, the transmitter box is programmed to switch frequencies intermittently to avoid any interference from other devices. It also communicates at a fixed rate to avoid variable latency in what you hear. This is pretty important if you already have a bad connection and you don’t want to exacerbate the issue. Obviously, this is not the easiest thing to test, but I never experienced any signal lag or interference noise during my gaming, so I am taking their word on this one for now.
They have me (virtually) surrounded
The headset uses virtual Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic IIx support, which helps, to a degree, with finding where your enemies are based solely on sound. Virtual surround sound is still lacking, if you are used to the real deal, so keep that in mind. I found the way that the headset transmits chat over game noise from a different ‘direction’ was rather pleasant, if slightly perturbing at first because it feels like they are just behind your shoulder. While the sound quality is in no way something to be sniffed at, I expected more from something that costs R4,000. Furthemore, the boom of the microphone never seemed to sit where I wanted it to either, often being either so far away I had to increase the volume I speak at, or super close, which results in that creepy stalker breathing that seems to chase everyone out of the TeamSpeak channel. Guys?
I have mentioned before that I am quite demanding of devices with battery life. My 3DS and I have a tenuous relationship thanks to it always going flat just when I’m about to get into a game. The same happens with my tablet and phone, which seem to be permanently attached to a wall socket. Having a headset, or controller, that is reduced from being wireless to wired due to how often I need to recharge it is a definite issue. The H Wireless avoids that by including two batteries. That is, while the headset uses one Lithium-Ion battery to power the headset, the other slots into the transmitter box, where it happily recharges while being stowed away safely. This means flat batteries are only an issue for as long as it takes to pop the left-ear’s cup panel open and swap batteries. The OLED panel on the transmitter also shows the charge of both batteries so that you can replace them before that all important raid or game of Dota 2. It only has to happen once and your friends will never, ever let you forget about that game that they lost because of your silly wireless devices. Not that you will need to do that often because the batteries last for close to 20 hours, which is just enough to get me through about one sitting of Diablo 3.
This is the best thing about the headset: it sports complete cross-platform capability. My house pretty much has a headset for each device, solely because I hate plugging and unplugging all of the cables. As a result, you can no longer see the coffee table in the lounge thanks to the various headsets and their accoutrements, the cables looking like a mass of rubberised tentacles. The H Wireless allows you to connect everything to one transmitter, then choose the source that you want to have sound pumped into your head from. There is also a built-in five band equaliser and you can set the volumes of chat and game noises independently, as long as they are not being sent to the transmitter via the same cable. This means you can turn down the game for a more serious chat with your friends, or turn down that drunk guy who is always way too loud. LiveMix can do this for you automatically, but beware those noisy people that join the channel, as the initial rush of sound will still be rather jarring. Luckily, you have a volume dial near behind the right earcup and the power button mutes the mic with a short press, which is great for in case you need to sneeze or your missus walks in and starts to ask questions about whether the dog is pooping right or not. In general, you won’t have to leave your couch for any reason, unless you forgot your chips and cool drink.
Does the H Wireless belong in your house? That really depends on how important wireless and cross-platform play is to you. If you need a wireless system that can withstand a solid weekend of play without any time for batteries to recharge, this headset is for you. These cans are really comfortable too, meaning you can actually wear them all weekend. If you are more of a home cinema fan, however, I seriously recommend that you test these out somewhere first. The volume is lacking and the low-end bass could do with a slight increase. Your movies will lack in the dialogue department. If you enjoy music, remember to switch off the Dolby surround, unless you like hearing your favourite music echoing into your ears. In the end, it really comes down to the price you are willing to pay to avoid wires all over your lounge. If you need to change which cable is plugged into what because your current system doesn’t have enough inputs, then this could be the answer you have been looking for.
Transmitter connectivity 3.5mm analogue in and out, optical digital in and out, USB
Wireless range Up to 12m
Battery life Up to 20 hours
Frequency response 20Hz to 20kHz