SteelSeries 7H

The SteelSeries 7Hs are pricey, but the isolation is impressive as is the portability, and the balance between gaming headphones and music is well struck.


8.0
CNET Rating

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CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


The 7H sits at the top of SteelSeries' headphone pile, and it's not hard to see why. Exquisitely built with leather head rest and closed ear cups, the isolation is also highly impressive, giving even noise-cancelling headphones a run for their money. When we plugged them in, almost all we could hear was the ringing of our own ears, leaving us wondering if we'd even plugged them in at all.

If you don't like leather ear cups, don't fret — SteelSeries has included some velour ones, which you can swap in at will.

Like the 5Hv2s, it pulls apart into three pieces, the top part of the headband coming away so it can be easily packed into a travel case. While it still features a 3-metre, braided detachable cable that breaks into 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, new this time is the ability to disconnect the cable itself from the right ear cup, further increasing the portability. The clamping force of the headphones is also quite strong, although we imagine that this would give over time.

Like other SteelSeries headsets, if you ramp the volume up too high on the inline control the treble takes over to the exclusion of everything else — around the three-quarter mark a better tonal landscape is created. We'd advise finding the tonal sweet spot, then using the Windows volume control or a dedicated amp to adjust the volume afterwards.

Plugging them into a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic and firing up Team Fortress 2, it became apparent that sonically the 7H is the hybrid of the Siberia and 5Hv2, as a result offering the best soundscape of the lot.

Sure, it still attempts to pull out vocals and drum shots, but compared to the other SteelSeries headsets the treble finally sparkles, and the range doesn't sound oddly compressed. Playing back Karnivool's Goliath, bass was definitely more defined, although drums are still shot to the fore, we're guessing as a side effect of the frequency of gunshots being tweaked for competitive gaming.

We like the 7Hs, but at AU$189 they're not cheap. Still, the isolation is brilliant, as is the portability, and the balance between gaming and music is well struck. If you lean more towards the gaming side, the 7Hs are a good purchase — but at this price if you're more music inclined, it's probably time to start looking at mid-range headphones from the likes of Audio Technica or Beyerdynamic.



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Niraj posted a comment   

The Good:Retractable mic, cloth padding is extremely comfortable, crystal clear sound

The Bad:Not very sensitive so sound card needs to be powerful (or use USB)

I've just had this for a couple of days but have been using it extensively. I purchased it as a replacement for my Creative HS-600s which died due to cable damage.

I can tell SteelSeries put a lot of thought into the 7H. Some points of note:

I couldn't bear the lack of airflow of the pleather ear pads so I was glad they included cloth ear pads, which I also think are softer than the pleather ones, though they offer less sound isolation.

The mic and speaker drivers are not very sensitive compared to most other headphones. This means you'll need a good sound card or amplifier if you want to use them at high volumes. Or get the USB edition which includes a sound card.

The included extension cable is awesome. I use a laptop and don't use the extension cable. Being able to choose betwen a 1m and 3m cord length is great. This prevents it from getting tangled with my chair as the HS-600s often did.

The only gripe I really have is that the volume control feels too plasticky. The mic switch rattles when shaken. Fortunately when you have it on the passive noise blocking is so good you can't hear it. The volume control is also as light as the cable itself so it doesn't pull on the headset.

The braided cables are a nice touch. It makes them slide on things rather than grip and tangle. The fact that the cable is removable from the headset is also nice for when the wire gets pulled it could just snap off the headset rather than causing damage to the wire.

The sound is great and definitely on par if not slightly better than the HS-600s, low frequency (bassy) and high frequency sounds are a bit exaggerated at times, but I can get used to that. Every detail in every note is cleary audible.

This is a great all round headset you could use for gaming, music or voice chat. The retractable mic is a nice touch and makes it feel even more sturdy. You don't feel the mic slapping around when putting it on/pulling it off like you do with other headsets.




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