A decade ago picking a gaming headset was relatively straightforward. There were maybe three brands, with a few options that were little more than chat or everything. Since then the market has expended, resulting in so many options. Every brand has their own take on desired features, be it look, certain sounds, connection, options, buttons and so much more. One of EPOS’ recent headsets, H3 Hybrid, takes their critically successful H3 headset and modifies it to suit a specific demographic. While this option is great for those who need it, is the H3 Hybrid a must for certain gamers or does it offer too little for far too much?
Similar to the base H3 model, H3 Hybrid boasts EPOS’ new packing that closer resembles what you’d expect from a gaming headset. Despite this, EPOS keeps things simple by giving a potential buyers a clear understanding of what they’re getting. The front simply shows the headset with the EPOS logo in the background, along with the name, headset type and, in the case of H3 Hybrid, mention of Bluetooth. One of the sides clearly lists the box contents, plus a small note on how to get 7.1 surround sound on a PC. On the back, EPOS keeps it simple, listing a couple fundamental features and offers a small paragraph that touches on one of their brand pillars.
Upon lifting up the flap, you’ll find H3 Hybrid securely held in place by foam on both the top and bottom of the box. Under that is a small box containing documentation and accessories (USB-C cable, 2.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable and boom mic cover plate). It creates a sense of quality, one that extends beyond the packaging itself.
Despite being based off H3, EPOS changed some things with H3 Hybrid. The headband remains plush, but now features a breathable fabric top. It feels a lot nicer to the touch than H3 or a lot of other headsets I’ve reviewed. Some of the accent pieces on the headset were changed from a matte to more of shinier finish. Earpads are leather with what feels like a suede for what goes against your head. Inside is breathable mesh, making them a little cooler than more enclosed headphones. In addition to the staple EPOS design, the headband has a metal slider with each notch numbered. This makes it extremely easy to even out the sides. Finally, there is the boom mic, which is actually a massive win for EPOS’ newer headsets.
Unlike most headsets with a removable mic, EPOS makes it simple by eliminating the 3.5 mm port for a magnetic connection. This makes it extremely easy to remove or add back on at a moment’s notice. The aforementioned boom mic cover plate is also magnetic, Simplifying the process without sacrificing looks. All of this makes for a great initial impression but it doesn’t mean anything if the sound experience isn’t there.
One thing that stands out with EPOS headsets is their default sound calibration. It’s very neutral and flat, in a market typically dominated by bass or tone heavy headsets. I actually did a fair amount of my Back 4 Blood runs with H3 Hybrid, making it pretty easy to tell what was coming from where. If anything it made the experience more terrifying, as I was hearing birds that exist in the background or far off threats that we would eventually face.
This is really the advantage to H3 Hybrid. Without overwhelming sounds, you get situational awareness coupled with a more immersive experience. Key sounds, such as a footstep, bird wings flapping or even a far off gunfight aren’t lost in the action. Naturally, this isn’t going to be for everyone and stands out a lot more when it comes to music.
As the name suggests, the stand out feature in H3 Hybrid is a Bluetooth connection. It allows players to use H3 Hybrid as a standalone headset, in addition to your game or mix and match as you see fit. While the aforementioned sound profile makes everything clear, certain songs lose their impact. This is far more noticeable if you come from a sound experience that is more bass heavy. There is also a certain richness that H3 Hybrid lacks. Be it a new song or one of my test songs, it will take some calibration, either through EPOS’ dedicated app or your Bluetooth device, to get the sound experience you’re likely use to.
Perhaps the most surprising featuring was the Bluetooth range. I got about 60’ away from my phone before I lost connection. This is more than enough to go anywhere on my propriety without missing a beat.
Beyond being a simple Bluetooth headset, EPOS included many staple features. The Bluetooth button, referred to as the “smart” button also handles key functions like answering your phone. Other functions can also be assigned in the app, be it surround sound or something else. Since it’s likely you’ll remove the boom mic on the go, there is a small mic built into the headset itself. The quality isn’t comparable to the boom mic, though it’s great to have the option.
Speaking of the mic, it performed fairly well. It’s slightly on the loud side, meaning you might need to adjust your settings. Clarity was fine, with only a slight muddle. More than enough for playing with random people or your friends.
Despite having a lot of positives, there are some downsides. Unfortunately, H3 Hybrid does not work without power. This can be a fairly substantial negative, given anything without Bluetooth will still require a wired connection. Speaking for myself, I sometimes would forget to turn H3 Hybrid off and the battery would drain. Thankfully, the substantial 24 hour battery life can prevent it from being a session killing issue, just not to the point where it isn’t a problem.
EPOS H3 Hybrid Review Verdict
H3 Hybrid does a good job fulfilling a wide variety of roles. Not only does it handle gaming, music or whatever else just fine, it can easily swap between a gaming look to more conventional headphones in seconds. This, coupled with premium build, great Bluetooth range and comfortable design make it a solid choice for anyone looking for a jack of all trades headset.
[Editor’s Note: EPOS H3 Hybrid was provided to us for review purposes.]