Steelseries. It’s a name all gamers are familiar with, and it’s a company which deals with all aspects of a gamers needs by providing good quality peripherals and accessories. The Steelseries 9H is a top range headset from the H series of tournament grade headsets provided by Steelseries and has been available only as of late 2013.
Starting with the aesthetics, the 9H looks like a heavy duty headset which has padded ear cups thick with leather cushions used to isolate noise in a passive fashion, encompassed by a durable plastic sheath around each ear cup which can resist a sizeable amount of wear and tear. The black on orange is a characteristic Steelseries colour combination and it functions very well, producing a great overall look. The headband is an iconic design emblazoned with the Steelseries logo and is complete with four discrete cushions which are, similar to the ear cups, very soft and do make it very easy to last long gaming sessions without having the need to readjust or remove the headset. It is of a great overall build quality, as the sturdiness of the outer shell coupled with the luxurious cushions definitely makes it feel like a high quality headset.
The bass and the treble quality produced by the 9H exceed the price tag of the headset. It functions like professional headphones when listening to electronic music, however the highs aren’t as crisp as would be preferred, however this is a minor issue which can be overlooked considering the headset is not designed with music in mind, and the infrequent highs in games means that it wouldn’t normally be noticeable. The bass feels richer, however it surprisingly does not detract from the overall sound quality which is a combination rarely achieved by headphones. The headset boasts virtual Dolby 7.1 surround sound, which significantly enhances the gaming experience and allows elevated precision pinpointing of sound origins, a critical feature which I personally found to greatly add to the experience of games. This is facilitated by the addition of a USB sound card with the headset which is an optional feature, but allows for a wealth of customisation to suit the user’s needs. An equaliser is provided to easily adjust the sound settings for different game types and different needs, and a host of microphone settings are provided which can reduce ambient noise as well as automated microphone compression which allows for a constant microphone volume across different communication software, removing the need to fiddle around with settings on different VoIP programs, all in a simple user friendly piece of software downloaded from the Steelseries website.
The microphone is one aspect of the 9H which was average at best. The quality is very good, and the background noise reduction is highly effective, however in the midst of these settings, the true sound of the voice is somewhat distorted and does not clearly represent the voice of the user. It must be added that the unidirectional nature of the microphone is a fantastic feature and definitely helps to pick up only what needs to be heard.
Overall the Steelseries 9H is a perfect accessory to all varieties of gamers and is a solid purchase. At £130 it is not the cheapest headset out there, but it is a worthy investment for those looking to buy a good headset to last them for a long time. They are durable and provide a high sound quality, and with their swappable cables they can be taken on the go to listen to music, not restricting their use on the computer. The lacking microphone quality and the slightly lacklustre highs are the only issues with an overall outstanding headset, and it therefore gets a score of 8.5/10.