The Epos H3 Hybrid gaming headset tries to do a bit of everything. It has Bluetooth connectivity for phones and Nintendo Switch, a USB cable connection for the PC and 3.5mm connection for PlayStation and Xbox. Overall sound quality is pretty strong, at least for stereo content, proving that Epos has kept momentum on that front in its post-Sennheiser collaboration days. However, its microphone is less than stunning, and the app-powered, 7.1-channel surround sound on PC is overwhelming. That makes the Epic H3 Hybrid’s price of $ 179.99 feel a bit high, especially when our Editors’ Choice selection, the wireless Razer Barracuda X and the wired Razer BlackShark V2, sounds far below that.
A little chunky
The H3 Hybrid has a discreet design that is more like a covered enterprise headset than a gaming headset. It is completely black with a plastic cover over a metal headband support. The over-ear ear pads are generously padded with memory foam, with imitation leather on the sides and a felt-like material on the turned surface that presses against the sides of your head. The top of the headband is lightly padded and wrapped with a combination of imitation leather and mesh fabric. The Epos H3 Hybrid rests comfortably on your head, but your ears can get a little overheated between the imitation leather and the dense memory foam during long play sessions.
The boom microphone is magnetically attached to the back of the left earcup, mounted on a flat, flexible rubber arm that tilts up and automatically dims when not in use. The left earcup contains an on / off button, indicator light, USB-C port for charging and 3.5 mm headset cable connector. The right earcup has a freely rotating volume wheel on the back and a Bluetooth pairing button on the side. You can switch the microphone and the volume wheel between the two ear cups, but it is difficult to get the wheel off.
It connects to everything
The H3 Hybrid offers both wired and wireless gaming with USB and 3.5mm wired connectivity and Bluetooth. The USB connection provides PCs with 7.1-channel simulated surround sound through the EPOS Gaming Suite software. The app also has a 10-band EQ and a number of microphone adjustments, such as sidetone and noise gate adjustment. The 3.5mm connection to the PlayStation and Xbox consoles depends on the sound processing of these systems for directional sound. Bluetooth works wirelessly with smartphones and the Nintendo Switch, but it only supports stereo sound.
The Boom microphone is strong and generally clear, but it does not quite reach the levels of Razer headset microphones. Test recordings were easy to understand, but I just picked up a bit of ambiguity in the sound. The H3 Hybrid works great for voice chat and calls, but it’s an acronym for podcasting, recording and streaming. In terms of microphone quality, the Razer Barracuda X and BlackShark V2 are better choices, but we always recommend getting a dedicated USB microphone if you are serious about creating content.
Less than the stars’ surround
Unfortunately, the 7.1-channel, simulated surround sound available through the Epos Gaming Suite app is overwhelming. When I played Doom (2016), I got very little sense of direction with the feature enabled compared to stereo sound. For precise positioning, consider getting Dolby Atmos for headphones or THX Spatial Audio in addition to the headset; Epos’ system does not impress.
Doom sounds loud and detailed even without good directional imaging, though the headset does not reach deep enough into sub-bass frequencies to really rattle your head (few headphones do). Gunfire, demonic growls and Mick Gordon’s driving industrial soundtrack all come through with plenty of high-mid presence and enough low-mids to make the sound sound full. Yet the sound balance does not stand out in terms of range or power.
The headset offers a similar experience when playing Fortnite. Shoots are powerful, and footsteps through grass and across trees come through clearly enough, but a little thunder accompanies them. The Epos-powered simulated surround sound also does not do much to present strong directional imaging; it is about as accurate as standard stereo.
Good for stereo music
The H3 Hybrid is a suitable headset for listening to music through your phone. It passed our bass test track, The Knives’ “Silent Shout”, at maximum volume without distorting. The bass synth notes and kick drum hits sound full-bodied and powerful, though the rumble lacks the right low-end to really shake your ears.
The open acoustic guitar picks in Yes’ “Roundabout” get a good feel of string texture with slightly higher frequency finesse, but the balance leans more towards the low-midtones, where the resonance of the notes protrudes. When the track strikes properly, the bass line stands out prominently, pushing the guitar to the background, though the vocals and high-hats get enough treble to hold their place in the mix.
Funky, flexible and a bit pricey
The Epos H3 Hybrid gaming headset offers plenty of connectivity options, and its overall sound balance is quite good. It does not have very strong directional image processing unless you use external audio processing, such as Dolby Atmos or THX Spatial Audio, and it is disappointing for a $ 180 headset. At that price, Epos’ own software doesn’t quite cut it, and the overall package would be much more appealing if a code for a spatial audio app were included. Its microphone is also not quite ready enough to be reliable for creating content.
$ 99.99 Razer Barracuda X, an Editors’ Choice choice, costs almost half as much as the H3 Hybrid, and its wireless USB-C adapter works with Android, Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation (even if you need the wired connection to the Xbox , and there is no good option for iPhone). Barracuda X does not have its own spatial sound system, but it does include a promotional code that lowers the price of THX Spatial Audio down to $ 10. The wired, $ 99.99 Razer Blackshark V2 and $ 129.99 Logitech G Pro X are also strong choices if you don’t mind giving up the wireless option, and if you specifically want to play on the Xbox, the $ 99.99 Xbox Wireless Headset another good option that includes Bluetooth.