Just when you think you’ve got your gaming setup actually set up, along comes a manufacturer with a new headset to make you question whether the audio grass might sound greener elsewhere. When that manufacturer is EPOS – born of Sennheiser’s gaming department – then this could well be the emerald brick road you need to follow. The question remains though; does it lead to gaming audio Oz or an angry little man talking through a microphone?
The H3 is the latest offering from EPOS; a 3.5mm wired, mid-range gaming headset that’s an evolution of the really rather good Sennheiser GSP 300, weighing in with an RRP of £109. It’s going up against some of the heaviest wired headset hitters out there, taking on the likes of HyperX, Logitech and Razer and hoping to come out on top. Fortunately, that Sennheiser legacy is clear to hear in the H3’s phenomenal audio output.
Unfortunately, as you pop the headset on your noggin, there’s at least one key annoyance in the H3’s physical design, and an element that’s a real step down from the GSP 300: the volume control dial. As a wired, passive headset, it’s little surprise to find few physical controls on the H3, and since the flip-up mic arm also mutes the microphone’s output, the only thing you’ll find is the volume dial on the right earpiece.
Where the GSP 300’s chunky dial protruded from the earpiece and gave you instantaneous, intuitive control, the H3’s is inset into the earpiece with ridges to give your fingers some degree of purchase in order to turn it. The problem I have with it is that it’s not intuitive or comfortable to use, and using one finger isn’t effective, leaving you to awkwardly position two fingers into it in order to move it correctly. It’s not a dealbreaker given how rarely you’ll adjust the volume once you’re in-game, but it’s a shame to see the company take a little step back from what’s gone before.
The H3 comes in either Ghost White or Onyx Black, with our review unit the darker option. Beyond some extremely minimal EPOS branding in grey and the steel adjustment sliders of the headband, this is a smart, wholly black unit. There’s fairly unique-looking connective arms that allow the earpieces to shift and adjust to the shape of your head, but aside from that it’s so unassuming that it doesn’t even whisper the word gamer.
The 3.5mm connector means you can plug it into nearly everything, so whether you’re a PS5, Xbox Series X or Nintendo Switch aficionado, or you’re really set on that iPod Shuffle you’ve had since you were twelve, you’re pretty well covered. Sure, you might need adapters for iPhones and comparable high-end Android phones, but you’re not being pigeonholed.
You will want to plug it into everything humanly possible too, as the H3 is one of the best-sounding headsets in this price range. It performs fantastically with music, and listening to a series of Ultra HD tracks, from Lil Nas X through Jason Derulo to Bring Me The Horizon, the H3 puts in the kind of performance that simply makes you enjoy music more.
The soundstage is pleasingly wide for a closed-back headset, and vocals and instruments benefit from the effortlessly smooth delivery of top end details, while the thump and hum of kick drums and bass carry real weight without being overwhelming.
That level of audio quality translates perfectly to gaming, and whether you’re playing in stereo or using a spatial audio option like Dolby Atmos, the H3 sounds fantastic. Explosions rumble their way from the screen in Outriders, the New York cityscape of Miles Morales feels alive and exciting, while the clanging ring of Final Fantasy VII Remake’s swords reach your ear in perfect form. If you’re a fan of gaming, the H3 has the ability to embed you even further in the world’s you’re visiting. At this price-point you’d hope for that to be the case, but it’s still feels like a fantastic achievement.
Given that the audio is so good, you’ll be glad to learn that they’re very comfortable as well. The headband has just the right amount of memory foam, itself covered by gentle faux-leather to keep the pressure off the top of your skull. Meanwhile, the ear cushions boast a soft fabric inner that rests soothingly against your head.
The only mild downside here is that it feels as though the ear cushions are just a fraction smaller than you’d expect. My ears certainly aren’t small, but equally I don’t think they protrude excessively, and yet I can tell I’m wearing the H3. Admittedly the soft cushions feel perfectly pleasant against your ear lobe, but I can see it putting some players off.
That just leaves the question of the microphone then, and EPOS brand it as a “studio-quality” mic. While it’s probably a little hopeful for this to try and compete with my Shure SM7B, it is a powerful and reactive microphone that delivers plenty of realistic weight to both your well-reasoned conversation (and your less well-reasoned shouts and screams when multiplayer games go against you). The flexible arm is fairly rigid, and once you’ve bent it into place it will stay there until you don’t want it to. The mic’s pick-up is quite strong though, so you won’t need it too close to your mouth anyway.