Compatibility: Universal Wired 3.5mm, PC 7.1 via USB, and Bluetooth.
Test Time: 50 hours across all 3 input options as well as dual connectivity.
Price: $259 (AUD)
Battery Life: Approx. 37hrs Bluetooth, 24hrs on 3.5mm and 19 for dual connectivity and USB-C for charging. 1.5 hours for full charge.
An EPOSitively functional headset
The newly independent up and comers, EPOS, are throwing another hat into the ring of gaming headsets. This time with the H3 Hybrid. Built around the same chassis design as their entrymium (is that a word? well it is now) level H3, but now applied with a very solid coat of extra connectivity features. Gaming, chat or work from home, they seem to be offering up one very versatile, price accessible, one size does all headset.
Very much like its less connected twin, the H3 classic, its a classy mix of premium finishes while using cost effective material. The headband is a steel runner wrapped in foam wrapped in hybrid (appropriately) cloth and leatherette. The rest is lightweight plastic on the cup frame and the cups, and again dual fabric on the cup cushions.
On the surface, the headsets look simply professional. Coming in a nice sleek Onyx Black, and the 'Just the right amount o'white' Ghost White, both units look suave. The Ghost White edition is an especially smart design in the sense that it's white where it can be noticed, and its black where it needs to be in the high contact stain zones of the head band and actual ear cups. Its a small detail that really does make it an effective sales pitch for selling a 'white look' product. It especially looks nice up against the new PS5 design.
Other small premium aesthetic touches here firstly include the cloth wrapped with leatherette lined head band, the dual fabric ear cups with leatherette wrap for sound leakage protection and a suede material on the front of the cup for a more breathable contact point. The entire housing makes use of matte and gloss finishes which compliment each other beautifully. Even the nice long hollow guide channel for the 3.5mm cable helps make the process of wiring up while wearing the headset a breeze. These are all minor details that make this so much more of a contender for the 'only headset I need' award.
Yet there's more. The cups are a multi pivot design, which means seal contact is spot on. The steel runner is even sporting indicators so you know you're equal on both sides (which is amazing for OCD types like myself) and the tactile click from each slide point is solid. The boom microphone is also a feat in itself. Here we have a first in the gaming market. It has a MAGNETICALLY detachable flip-to-mute boom arm. It has firm rotation and a great 'mute point' feel to it. The removable boom has got a perfectly balanced amount of hold. Its firm when socketed and needs intentional force to remove. Once removed, it triggers it's omni directional pinhole mic on the left cup which takes over audio pick up. The left over socket from the main boom can be covered with a magnetic plate so you can use them while out and about. The stops, they have all been pulled out by EPOS on this one.
All three connection types offer up slightly different results here in the audio reproduction side of things. But no matter what the input, all of them are having their signals pumped out via 40mm Neodymium magnet driven drivers built into the closed back, sealed cushioned cups.
Bluetooth input runs purely on the Qualcomm chipset in the headphones. This is relative to what we will discuss shortly about battery life. The 3.5mm connection is punched through the Qualcomm chip and also a Codec DAXXXX chip (as per information provided by EPOS) and also requires further Digital Sound Processing to get an accurate sound stage for gaming environments. The USB C connection allows for passing through of full point to point digital 7.1 processing while also charging the unit. So it is expected that there's 3 slightly different results here.
Bluetooth is standard fare with no formal Hi-Res audio capability, but I would imagine any audiophile is going to be running USB C or 3.5 Aux if frequency levels are important. That said, its still no slouch. For an everyday user, you wouldn't be disappointed given the already hefty feature set in these headphones. It's volume capabilities are still quite impressive, as much as its a little more compressed and flat than running a direct cable connection. But lets face it, this functionality is primarily for those needing to pair to an alternate device for voice chat, like discord, while playing cabled into a console or PC.
3.5mm connection is cleaner than the Bluetooth system, with a wider sound stage on offer. After testing, I noticed it's volume level is not quite as powerful as USB-C. This could be however a power saving situation due to the internal digital upscaling process for this particular connection method as the 3.5mm connection does require the headset to have battery to function.
USB-C ultimately is where you'll get ideal results given that's the most effective data stream. Its volume is heavy, and there's clarity throughout. Thanks to the sealed closed back setup, the bass is actually nice, punchy and tight. It may not hold that heavy reverb type of bass, but that's not what 40mm drivers or gaming headsets are really for. Throw into the mix the EPOS software, which slowly seems to be getting better with age, you can tweak the equaliser to find a happy custom setting for your ears. Its quite capable in the surround department too. I found playing Deathloop that it was pretty accurate in positioning and felt solid enough during gun fire and action sequences.
We've almost covered this in the above, but having all 3 mainstream options, with one cabled option and Bluetooth running simultaneously is extremely handy.
Bluetooth is done via holding in the BT Smart Button on the right ear cup, and indicated with blue and red flashing LED on the left. Up to 10 devices can be loaded for ready-pairing at one time. The smart button when 'Bluetoothed' into mobile has no music control, but will function for phone calls with one press to answer and a double press to hang up. On PC, you can actually set it via the EPOS Suite to be either a Preset or Surround sound switch.
The H3's continue sporting the long running and effective 2.5mm to 3.5mm plug system that has been long established in the original Sennheiser EPOS co-op on the GSP series. This consists of a large round "channel" (see pictured) on the cup and the cable having a longer hard tube like plug to make it more durable and less likely to snap the pin inside the headset after an unexpected or accidental heavy pull on the cable.
Then alongside that is a very prominent USB C socket. Again EPOS have made this almost feel-able by hand so its not hard to find without removing the headset. It provides the best of the options for audio quality and EPOS are kind enough to include a 2m USB-C to USB-A cable. Compatibility for USB-C works for both PC and PS5, albeit 2 metres of cable might be short for couch to console reach. That said, most console gamers I know would primarily use 3.5mm to controller connections anyway.
Now battery, this is quite interesting. When I first read the quoted results, I had to contact EPOS to confirm. 37 hours on Bluetooth, 24 hours on 3.5 cabled, and 19 hours on dual connection is what's stated. Obviously USB-C use provides charge so that's irrelevant here. But I can't say I usually see a wireless battery figure trumping that of a cabled connection. So to paraphrase the reply, basically on Bluetooth, the low power Qualcomm Bluetooth chip is all that's active. Whereas when the analogue 3.5mm connection is in play, that's where both the Qualcomm chip and digital audio processors start to fire up and therefore consume a bit more juice, which makes sense as cabled does sound slightly more accurate than BT audio. But, how on earth they're squeezing up to 37 hours on Bluetooth is super impressive as it still sounds pretty damn decent in BT mode.
There is one small downside, they require power to function at all. Analogue connection wont work without power being available to drive the processors. That said, the battery life times are already better than most battery orientated headsets and on top of that they charge super quick via USB-C, so I don't believe a responsible user would get stranded with a dead headset very often.
Time to wrap things up H3re
This is a great gaming headset, a top tier work from home headset, and a general good all rounder that can be taken with you further than the office. They're stylish, functional and sound great. I've usually given EPOS a little bit of a hard time over pricing, but in this instance, I feel $259 is well reasonable if you're going to use the amazing range of functionality the Hybrids offer up.
Nathan is a Gamer, Collector and an Electronics Retail Lifer/Employee. He can't commit to a favourite game, but the Hitman Saga is up there and you'll find him on twitch.tv/nateoriousfox casually playing Rainbow Six Siege. His dedicated hardware reviews and other critical thoughts can be found at technatelogic.com (coming soon).