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SteelSeries 7H USB

5 Gaming Headsets Reviewed
By

We have always been a fan of the gaming-oriented products produced by SteelSeries. From the 5H headset first tested on Tom’s Games to the Siberia v2 we tried last year, the company always releases quality products, and that’s what we expect with the new 7H USB headset.

If you go to the SteelSeries website, you will find two 7H headsets, one is a USB version and the other only uses 3.5mm plugs (and is $30 less expensive). The USB portion of the 7H is simply a USB dongle included with the 3.5mm headset, which also comes with 3.5mm extension cords, a second set of fabric earpads (the ones attached to the 7H in the box are leather, so take your pick), users manual and a SteelSeries sticker. The 3.5mm cable connects to the headset via USB and completely detaches, similar to the quick-release on the Turtle Beach Z2.

From a design standpoint, the 7H looks like a SteelSeries headset, with the soft black coloring accented by plastic silver strips on the cans and headband. The headset breaks down into three pieces like the 5H v2, and has a similar hide-away mic that tucks into the left can. Unfortunately, the 7H is not nearly as comfortable as the Siberia or 5H v2 we tested in years past. In fact, this is by far the least comfortable headset in the roundup, as the headband is very stiff and feels constricting. This stiffness also goes down to the cans, which press a little too hard against the side of the head. This makes long sessions of CS or TF2 pretty uncomfortable, so big-headed buyer, beware!

The 7H is a tale of two headsets, for sure. When we used the 7H as a 3.5mm headset, the mic quality was excellent, the positional audio was perfect and overall, the audio was a pleasant experience. The lack of bass wasn’t as noticeable as on the Z2 or Specialist headsets, but it could have been better. When we used the USB dongle, the mic quality went from excellent to ugly. There was a steady stream of static and noise in the background, which remained even when we made the room virtually silent. Our Counter-Strike test subjects were none too pleased with the change, either. The dongle did make the headset louder, and thus the bass more present, however. While the 3.5mm experience was great, the USB dongle has a definite and negative impact on the 7H's sound quality score, especially since it costs an additional $30.

As for console compatibility, SteelSeries makes an Xbox 360 adapter ($9.99), which seems to be similar to the Turtle Beach offering. We did not test it, so we cannot comment on its performance, but if it works as advertised, then the $10 should be worth it.

The 7H has some shining moments and some dark spots, but at the end of the day, we have to ask: Why? For us, there isn’t any noticeable positive difference between the 5H v2 and 7H, with the exception that the cable completely detaches from the headset. The 5H v2 USB costs $30 less than the 7H USB, and based on our experiences with both, we would choose the former over the latter in a heartbeat. Any improvements that SteelSeries claims to have made have fallen on deaf ears. That said, the 7H still has above average audio quality and excellent mic quality (when you throw away the USB dongle). Overall Score - 3/5

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  • 2 Hide
    AMW1011 , July 26, 2010 7:38 PM
    Good review. It highlights their features and is honest about the sound quality.

    Too much do I see people saying that their $200 headset is amazing for games, movies, and music. The truth is that the right professional headphone will blow all of these away.

    I have only heard one headset that had the positioning and imaging of the Audio Technica AD700s, and it was well over $400 compared to $80 for the AD700s.

    I use Audio Technica ATH-M50 because they have pretty good imagining and have a very nice punchy bass impact that is fun in games and a very nice neutral sound with a slight bump in the bass department for music.

    When you go for actual headphones, you will get so much more for the price, but you will need to get a separate MIC.
  • 0 Hide
    weirdguy99 , July 26, 2010 11:15 PM
    Why don't people just buy conventional headphones (such as the AD700s mentioned above) which are great for music, movies AND gaming and just buy an external $15 microphone? Logitech provides mics that have sound suppression which are external so there's really no point for a gaming headset.
  • 0 Hide
    Chillburger , July 27, 2010 1:15 PM
    I'm making an upgrade to my headphone setup in a few weeks, which will hopefully consist of a set of Sennheiser HD 555s and one of these Zalaman mics: http://www.amazon.com/Zalman-Microphone-Zm-Mic1-Sensitivity-Headphone/dp/B00029MTMQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1280236374&sr=8-1-spell
  • -1 Hide
    ekidhardt , July 27, 2010 4:22 PM
    Why did you review the lesser of the Turtle Beach ones? Heeeellloooo...Turtle Beach HPA2 with ACTUAL 5.1 speakers rocks all things, including the Z2. Seriously, you all dropped the ball by picking the Z2.

    Review the HPA2 if you want a real PC gaming beast!

    Readers: get the HPA2 not the Z2!!

    e

  • 0 Hide
    dconnors , July 27, 2010 4:32 PM
    ekidhardtWhy did you review the lesser of the Turtle Beach ones? Heeeellloooo...Turtle Beach HPA2 with ACTUAL 5.1 speakers rocks all things, including the Z2. Seriously, you all dropped the ball by picking the Z2.Review the HPA2 if you want a real PC gaming beast! Readers: get the HPA2 not the Z2!!e


    We didn't pick the HPA2 because it's an older headset. When we review a product it needs to be something new, like the Z2.

    -Devin
  • 1 Hide
    I800C0LLECT , July 27, 2010 6:31 PM
    but if you never reviewed it...and it's still sold on the market...it's new :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 28, 2010 10:41 PM
    Sennheiser HD580's still reign supreme, especially if you're using the Dolby DSP processor addition
  • -1 Hide
    agnickolov , July 29, 2010 6:12 AM
    None of these come even close to my Sennheiser PC 350 gaming headset... Can we have an article with serious gaming headsets instead of the crap load reviewed here? Not a single one had decent bass reproduction for crying out loud! The PC 350 plays in the same league as professional headphones with its 10Hz - 26kHz frequency response. (For comparison the popular Sennheiser HD 280 PRO professional stereo headphones offer 8Hz - 25kHz response.) And the PC 350 sells online starting from $125 - definitely in the same price range as the gaming headsets reviewed here.
  • -2 Hide
    MisterJohnnyT , July 29, 2010 6:35 PM
    LoL at that chart,
    it is a FAI
    L
  • 0 Hide
    the associate , July 30, 2010 1:19 PM
    agnickolovNone of these come even close to my Sennheiser PC 350 gaming headset... Can we have an article with serious gaming headsets instead of the crap load reviewed here? Not a single one had decent bass reproduction for crying out loud! The PC 350 plays in the same league as professional headphones with its 10Hz - 26kHz frequency response. (For comparison the popular Sennheiser HD 280 PRO professional stereo headphones offer 8Hz - 25kHz response.) And the PC 350 sells online starting from $125 - definitely in the same price range as the gaming headsets reviewed here.


    I got the same ones, their awesomesauce :) 
  • 0 Hide
    demosthenes81 , July 31, 2010 12:40 AM
    I have a pair of the astro A30's and love em got the metalgear solid peacewalker edition ive always disliked the over the ear style cuz they make me sweaty no problem with that on the A30's they might not be the best thing ever but they destroy my old logitech gaming headset and noone sneaks up on me in bfbc2 or mw2 anymore
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 31, 2010 6:54 PM
    Well I do not want to sound as an asshole but... All these headphones are terrible. The only valuable thing here is the Astro Mixamp ( which I have and love ) : it's god gift to Console gamers.
    Still the other posters are right , a CHEAP AD700 or HD555 will blow out of the water into the outer space all of these.
    My gaming sound setup consist in : Xbox 360 --Toslink--> ASTRO Mixamp --> Mini3 Amp --> Beyerdynamics DT880
  • 0 Hide
    iolas , August 1, 2010 10:37 AM
    No review for the Turtle Beach Earforce x41s? Wireless and Dolby 7.1

    I love mine.
  • 0 Hide
    artemis00 , August 3, 2010 8:56 PM
    To those that tout the use of separate headphones and a mic, I'd like to say that's solution just isn't for everyone. I hate clip- ons, get a lot of complaints in chat about the sound quality. I like the convenience of the attached mic. Not an audiophile so I want to just slap on the headset and go. I also prefer open ear so I can my voice isn't muffled and I can hear the tv.
  • 0 Hide
    Marcus52 , August 12, 2010 11:03 PM
    agnickolovNone of these come even close to my Sennheiser PC 350 gaming headset... Can we have an article with serious gaming headsets instead of the crap load reviewed here? Not a single one had decent bass reproduction for crying out loud! The PC 350 plays in the same league as professional headphones with its 10Hz - 26kHz frequency response. (For comparison the popular Sennheiser HD 280 PRO professional stereo headphones offer 8Hz - 25kHz response.) And the PC 350 sells online starting from $125 - definitely in the same price range as the gaming headsets reviewed here.


    Just because it says "Sennhieser" on it, doesn't make it the be-all, end-all in gaming headsets. In fact, I've read other wise in other publications about some Sennhieser products. You may be right, you and others who say "all these headphones are junk" or something like that, but the fact is, NONE of you have listened to them all, and the best you know about them is their spec sheets, if you even bothered to look at that. I have no respect for that kind of opinion; it amounts to product bigotry.

    Any true audiophile can tell you that a spec sheet is only a guide when it comes to judging the performance of audio equipment, and can be a poor guide at that. Most of them can also tell you that the MP3 format is junk, yet most people are perfectly happy with it. In a time when the majority of people are quite happy with MP3 quality, calling these headsets "good" might be on-target - for those people, if they aren't actually good otherwise.

    Really though, if you want to get serious reviews about audio equipment, go to a site that specializes in audio equipment - or at least is more serious about it. It is not one of Tomshardware's strong suits.


  • 0 Hide
    tohyj , August 13, 2010 5:31 PM
    Wondering how does the Turtle Beach Z2 compare to the Logitech G35, if price is not an issue.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 19, 2010 8:02 PM
    I would think the G35 would be quite a bit better considering it has the Dolby 7.1 built into it. With the Z2, you have to buy the 80 dollar accessory to get the same thing, but it does work with any headphones you have, not just the Z2.
  • 0 Hide
    tohyj , September 19, 2010 5:02 AM
    Then how would the Turtle Beach Z2 compare to SteelSeries Siberia V2?
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