The new EPOS H3 Hybrid is a wired gaming headset that also supports Bluetooth connections. The manufacturer is responding to the trend of no longer just wanting to play games, but also wanting to chat with friends on Discord at the same time. But is this the perfect tool for anyone looking for a contemporary gaming headset?
EPOS H3 Hybrid – who is this gaming headset suitable for?
With its Bluetooth connectivity, the EPOS H3 Hybrid is aimed particularly at gamers looking for a flexible headset: Connected to a Playstation, Xbox or Switch, you can simultaneously exchange information with friends via Discord or stream music via smartphone. Thanks to the rechargeable battery and detachable microphone, the EPOS H3 Hybrid not only looks good when you’re on the move but also during video conferences in the home office.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid, available in black or white with black accents, is made primarily of plastic and appears to be impeccably crafted. With a concealed steel band for size adjustment, the headband adjusts to your head shape in ten steps and retains the size once selected, thanks to ratcheting. The headband has leatherette padding with an indentation to relieve pressure on the head, while the top is covered with textile. The headset has a two-part hinge system, which enables vertical and horizontal adjustment to the shape of your head, but you will have to do without a travel bag-friendly packing size: The EPOS H3 Hybrid does not fold flat.
The ear pads are made of memory foam covered with synthetic leather and a suede-like material. The latter rests on the ears and feels pleasantly soft and sufficiently padded. However, the removable ear pads are not the largest (approx. 7cm x 3.5cm). Large ears do not disappear completely under the pads. Due to the rather high contact pressure, this becomes uncomfortable over time. So I’d recommend this headset for small to medium head sizes.
The passive noise reduction is very high, provided the headset fits snugly, and the pads seal accordingly.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid have a power button and a flip-to-mute microphone on the left side of the headphones, which docks magnetically and can be easily removed when not in use. A plastic cover plate, which is included, covers the microphone hole like a “cosmetic plaster”. There is a multifunction button on the right side of the headphones that starts Bluetooth pairing, accepts or rejects phone calls or – if the headset is connected to a PC via USB – switches between EQ pre-sets or activates the virtual surround sound function. However, the latter requires the EPOS Gaming Suite to be installed. In addition, the volume can be changed on the right via an infinite rotary control, which worked rather haphazardly; the plastic wheel “scraped” on our test device so that the grinding noise it makes is transmitted to the housing.
Unlike many other headphones that can be connected both via analogue and support Bluetooth, the H3 Hybrid headset requires power at all times and must therefore always remain switched on. If you opt for purely analogue operation via mini jack, you should always keep an eye on the battery. Unfortunately, this is not a particularly efficient solution.
But you still have the USB connection and the Bluetooth functionality at your disposal. The latter can be used in parallel with cable operation, but this does not apply to the analogue connection. In other words, connecting a USB and a mini-jack to two different outputs does not work.
With regard to the wireless link, the H3 Hybrid supports Bluetooth version 5.2, but unfortunately, only the SBC codec is supported. Although this puts Android and iPhone users on an equal footing, we would have liked to see a high-resolution codec included.
EPOS Gaming Suite
Thanks to the configuration software (for Windows only), the H3 Hybrid can be adjusted accordingly. Unfortunately, the software does not seem particularly reliable because the headset was not recognised when we first started up the Gaming Suite, nor could the headset be updated to the latest firmware. Only after several restarts did the software seem to like the headset.
Once the connection is established, updates can be carried out, the language can be selected, and you can also adapt the sound to your own needs. You can either use one of the four pre-sets (Flat, Movie, Esport, Music) or the equaliser with nine bands, each of which can be adjusted by ±6 dB. Of course, you can also save and use your own EQ settings. The audio playback can be set from 2.0 to 7.1, which activates a slider for sound reverberation. However, if this is set to 100%, the sound becomes unattractive and unfortunately also unusable. When adjusted correctly, it immediately appears more realistic. In terms of sound, the virtual 7.1 surround sound of the EPOS H3 Hybrid is one of the better ones available because the artificial room sounds quite good.
Of course, you can also tweak the microphone using Gaming Suite: an EQ with new bands is available here, as are some pre-sets. The activatable loudness booster amplifies the microphone signal, and the sidetone and noise gate can also be configured here.
The manufacturer claims a battery life of up to 41 hours when the EPOS H3 Hybrid communicates via Bluetooth. These are very good values for a headset and were even exceeded by almost two hours in our practical test. In mixed mode, these values drop, but at the end of the day, the H3 is still on top form: 24 hours of playback via the 3.5 mm mini-jack cable and about 19 hours with dual connectivity (3.5 mm cable and Bluetooth). The EPOS H3 Hybrid charges the non-removable batteries as soon as it is connected via USB, i.e. even when playing games.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid sounds unspectacular right from the start. Neither the deepest sub-bass rumble nor silky, shiny highs await us here. It is already apparent: The H3 is not for bassheads who want to feel explosions as well as hear them. Occasional gamers who like to enjoy classical music on the sofa via a high-end amplifier should instead do so with an appropriate hi-fi pair of headphones.
But that doesn’t mean that the EPOS H3 Hybrid sounds bad. If you find the basic sound too lame, you can intervene with the equaliser and create your own – albeit limited – sound characteristics.
With the EQ deactivated, we listened to a wide range of genres without picking up anything too noticeable. With tracks like those by Cardi B, it becomes obvious that the low bass simply lacks pressure. Bass drums and basses can always be reproduced tonally without any problems, but at full playback volume, they become muddy, especially with densely packed arrangements. Here, the midrange rushes ahead and outshines the upper basses, and depending on the listening material, this almost hurts the ears.
That’s why we liked the EPOS H3 Hybrid’s sound signature best when the volume indicator on Windows didn’t go above 90. The highs were unobtrusive and quite tame – if you want more sparkle and crispness, you should consult the EQ again.
When it comes to gaming, the EPOS H3 Hybrid does well: if the headphones fit you like a glove, there’s nothing to stop you from gaming for hours on end. We particularly liked the hybrid function: While we were riding our horse through the wilderness in Red Dead Redemption 2 for what felt like hours, we listened to podcasts, music and made phone calls with our smartphones. This worked reliably as far as it went, but sporadic drop-outs of the Bluetooth wireless link in the millisecond range could still be detected. A nice solution was the volume control on the right side being responsible for the volume of the USB audio stream while the Bluetooth volume could be controlled via our smartphone.
As already briefly mentioned above, the EPOS H3 Hybrid is capable of virtual 7.1 surround sound. We have not yet been able to really convince ourselves of this with any headset, but it must be attested that EPOS’s version is one of the best on the market. In contrast to a real loudspeaker surround, a lot of room information falls by the wayside. No wonder, because this is simply inherent in the system: differences in delay between the ears simply cannot be adequately reproduced by headphones with one driver per side. The result is a kind of “wide stereo sound” that sounds spatial thanks to all kinds of DSP and filter technology, but we also had trouble with the H3 Hybrid when we conducted a”blind test” to precisely assign sound events. This does not mean, of course, that the headset sounds imprecise: enemies could be located and details such as gunshots in the distance were not masked.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid has two microphones. The flip-to-mute mic sounded decent and only tended to be sharp when the mouth was too close. This can be counteracted with the equaliser in the Gaming Suite. So while our colleagues in online meetings had nothing to complain about, our test recordings showed that for professional livestreams or voice recordings, you should use a specialist.
The second microphone is hidden in the left ear cup and aims to ensure clear voice transmission in Bluetooth mode. Unfortunately, this does not work. The sound was muffled and the noise suppression was so powerful that even our voice suffered. Of course, it’s enough for phone calls, but if you’re looking for great speech intelligibility, you’d be better off putting Jabra, Apple or Bose on or in your ears.
The EPOS H3 Hybrid is a good all-rounder with an interesting key feature: gaming at home and chatting at the same time is possible, as well as listening to music and making phone calls on the go via Bluetooth with a smartphone – this headset does it all without any problems. Sound-wise, the drivers are quite unspectacular, as is the microphone. The surround emulation sounds good, but not real – but opponents can still be located at all times. The EPOS H3 Hybrid also deserves praise for its very good battery life, which makes it one of the longest-lasting gaming headsets on the market. But where there’s light, there’s also shadow: Here it is the wearing comfort, which is not always equally good for different head sizes, and the non-performing connection between software and headphones. If these downsides don’t pose any problems for you, you can have a lot of fun with the EPOS H3 Hybrid.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Sound pressure level (SPL)116 dB
- Weight without cable298 g
- Cable length150 cm
What's in the box
- Mini jack cable
- USB A to C charging cable
- Cover plate