EPOS H3 Hybrid Review – Not a Great Headphone for Gaming PCs

EPOS wasted no time in establishing itself as the leading headphone brand in the wake of its split from Sennheiser, where it has stood tall as the masters of microphone. The EPOS H3 Hybrid attempts to continue that legacy by drawing on the design of the original EPOS H3 released a few months ago, and while it manages to do little more than just cut the wire, it may not be the best gaming headset. There for PC game lovers.

Instead of decompromising the Bluetooth compatibility of its main headset and connecting to it on a daily basis, EPOS wants the H3 Hybrid to be a one-stop shop that pairs with just about any device — and in some cases, two at the same time with one wired and one wireless. It’s not the first to make multi-connection a major feature, but I’m sure I can’t see enough of it when the Nintendo Switch still requires you to run your voice chat through a third-party platform.

But if the PC is your main gaming device, it’s hard to justify the $179 / £149 MSRP when hybrid wireless comes with caveats and there are several alternatives.

Most gaming PCs don’t have Bluetooth built in and the H3 Hybrid doesn’t ship with a dongle, which means you don’t get the same level of comfort as a dedicated wireless gaming headset unless you already have your own receiver. Even then, you’ll need to make sure it’s up-to-date to make the most of Bluetooth 5.0 support in the H3 Hyrbid, as pairing it with older standards will increase latency. If your dongle is ready to scratch, you’ll benefit from a near-slow experience that isn’t so far Smooth 2.4GHz connection, but latency is less clear than older Bluetooth versions.

So, unless the stars align and you’ve packed the right hardware or fork for a newer receiver, you’ll likely benefit from keeping it connected to your computer through a USB-C or 3.5mm headphone jack. Even this option comes with more strings attached, because the H3 Hybrid is a purely digital headphone that relies on the battery to power its sound.

EPOS H3 Hybrid Steel Series Arctis 9
wireless
Steel Series Arctis 3
Bluetooth technology
EPOS H3
frequency accuracy. 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 22 kHz 10 Hz – 30 kHz
Connection 3.5 mm
USB-C . port
Bluetooth technology
3.5 mm
Micro USB
Bluetooth technology
2.4GHz
3.5 mm
Bluetooth technology
3.5 mm
mic response 100 Hz – 7.5 kHz 100 Hz – 6.5 kHz 100 Hz – 10 kHz 10 Hz – 18 kHz
Battery life Bluetooth: 37 hours
3.5 mm: 24 hours
Both: 19 hours
up to 20 hours up to 28 hours Unavailable
Domain 20 pm 12 pm 10 pm Unavailable
Weight 298 grams
278g without microphone
376g 318g 270 grams
price $179
£149
$199.99
£189.99
$99.99
£99.99
$99
£89

You don’t need to think about this if you stick with a USB cable, because your cans are always on charge. Otherwise, the headset meets EPOS battery life claims and will only need to be plugged in after 24 hours when using a 3.5mm connection, 37 hours over Bluetooth, and about 17 hours using the two simultaneously.

Not only are there compromises when using the H3 Hybrid on PC, you can take advantage of the EPOS Gaming Suite to enable virtual 7.1 surround sound, which is very immersive when paired with the right game or movie. It doesn’t replace the fullness of a dedicated subwoofer, but it’s better than many of the default alternatives out there and entirely optional since the standard audio signature is well balanced.

It’s nice that EPOS doesn’t fall into the trap that many competitors do, ensuring the bass doesn’t get beat, but this mutes the blast effect on the likes of Far Cry 6. The midrange and highs are clear despite the smaller 40mm drivers, with chromatic separation Cute makes it very easy to spot the enemy’s footsteps in FPS games like Rainbow Six Siege. Overall, the H3 Hybrid is a jack of all trades, suitable for most genres of games and genres of music.

It’s similar to the original H3 with the volume dial on the right ear and the flip-to-mute microphone on the left, but it actually has more in common with the EPOS H6Pro since the microphone is now detachable. The headset comes with a panel to cover the gap so it doesn’t look out of place while you’re wearing the H3 Hybrid outside. The cans don’t twist inward, so they won’t sit comfortably around your neck.

Unfortunately, the boom mic quality is not as sharp as I expected from EPOS. That doesn’t mean your teammates will rush to mute you on Discord, the H3 Hybrid still has a sense of clarity and detail that many other gaming headsets lack, such as capturing the lower, deeper sides of your vocals. However, it presents a noticeable pressure surrounding your constant voice. You can adjust the microphone’s EQ settings from within the EPOS Gaming Suite, but there’s no way to improve its quality, which leaves something to be desired at such a high price.

There is also an internal microphone so you can answer calls when the separate arm microphone is not connected. As you might expect, it does not shine and often leaves your voice muffled because the noise suppression is suitable for quieting the traffic around you. But since there aren’t many built-in mics that perform better, it’s a good idea to have the option.

The cases are very solid despite the almost entirely plastic construction with a steel supported headband. As with previous models, this makes them lightweight to reduce fatigue from long sessions, durable against falls, and somewhat resilient. The ear cups are a combination of suede at the contact point to ensure they are breathable, memory foam for comfort, and leather around the edges to make them last.

On paper, it has all the right ingredients for a winning headphone, but comfort is more than just the sum of its materials. On the one hand, the earbuds passively cancel outside sounds well to keep you from unwanted distractions, but they’re also a touch too small for the average user. I have fairly small ears, but even I felt as though the H3 Hybrid was too snug at times and I can only imagine how uncomfortable it would be for someone with normal sized ears. Of course, your mileage will vary, but comfort is a cornerstone not to be taken lightly if you’re the type to wear a gaming headset for hours on end.

Obviously, the EPOS H3 Hybrid isn’t a good headset if you’re primarily a PC gamer, but it also struggles to hold it against other multi-platform headsets as well. With $179 / £149 MSRP, it’s just $21 cheaper than the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless, which comes with a fast 2.4GHz connection. And the Bluetooth, so you can connect to two devices with or without a wire. It’s also $80 more expensive than the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth, which admittedly has a shorter battery life and a muddy microphone, but is more comfortable and has the same multi-connection tricks.

All in all, the H3 Hybrid doesn’t find its offering at an amazing price in an already competitive market. However, the arrival of these new cases brought the price of the original EPOS H3 down to $99 / £89, suggesting this could be less painful going forward. However, comfort is a real Achilles’ heel, as this is a fundamental problem that cannot be easily changed – although EPOS could use the hot-swappable nature of earplugs to address this. If that’s not a great deal for you, the H3 Hybrid offers great sound quality, a relatively good microphone, and industry-leading battery life.