Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Epos H3 review

Two-minute review

The Epos H3 are slightly more expensive than similarly-specced gaming headsets, but they deliver on three core areas that make them a compelling purchase: they’re incredibly comfortable to wear, equipped with an excellent microphone and deliver a pleasingly rich and detailed sound signature that’s perfect for spatial audio.

There are a few design quirks that we don’t like, however. The non-detachable microphone prevents these headphones from being anything but an “in-home” pair, and the flush volume dial isn’t the most intuitive method we’ve ever used. The low-end frequencies might be a touch too light for some, too.

The competition from wireless headphones also means that wired headphones aren’t as much of a no-brainer as they were before. However, the versatility offered by being able to connect to anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack – Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X and more – is certainly welcome. 

The Epos H3 are a fine pair of headphones, then, and yet another top contender for gamers to mull over in a market that has improved substantially in quality and selection in recent years.

Epos H3 price and release date

The Epos H3 cost $119 / £109 / AU$179 and was released on April 20, 2021. It sits just above the sweet spot of being under $100, but it’s a great all-rounder for those who want a gaming headset that also excels in other areas. 

Unfortunately for the Epos H3, competition is fierce at this price point with more wireless headsets offering great sound quality and desirable features, such as Bluetooth connectivity with two devices. The Xbox Wireless Headset is still our pick for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S owners, but the Epos H3 has the advantage of working on every platform.

Design

Epos H3 volume wheel

(Image credit: Future)

An evolution of the GSP 300 series, the Epos H3 sports an all-black design (a white variant is also available) and is made of premium materials that give it a durable feel and comfortable fit. The earcups initially seemed rather small when we first unboxed the headset, but once they were on, they fit snugly around our rather large ears without any pain or pressure being applied. We also found that the top headband didn’t cause any discomfort, even after wearing them for hours when grinding through Outriders

It’s easy to get a good fit with the Epos H3 headset, too. The stainless steel slider in the headband has a satisfying click whenever you adjust it to a new notch, and the earcups have a dual-axis hinge that helps create a good seal over your ears no matter your head or face shape. We particularly enjoyed the leatherette and softer material found on the earcups, which are made from nice and responsive memory foam. These features make the Epos H3 one of the comfiest gaming headphones we’ve worn for quite some time, and we had no qualms about being a bit rough with them due to the headphone’s solid construction. 

A large microphone sits on the left-hand side of the Epos H3 headset, and there’s a volume dial on the outside of the right earcup. The volume dial is flush with the housing, which means you’ll need to use your index and middle fingers to turn it properly. It’s easy enough to adjust, but it’s hard to find exactly the right level due to the design. We also noticed that when the volume wheel is turned all the way down, the sound still comes through, which is odd and pretty annoying if you just want complete silence.

Audio performance

Epos H3 design

(Image credit: Future)

So the Epos H3 are lovely to wear, but how do they sound? In a word: clean. That might sound like a boring description, but audiophiles will know that headphones that deliver a “flat” sound present the source material as it’s intended, which is what we want. The problem is, when it comes to gaming in particular, having a flat sound can be counterintuitive.

The Epos H3 were designed with a custom speaker system that takes full advantage of sound design in games that relies on delivering a tricky mix of low frequencies for explosions and spectacular set pieces, but without masking the midrange and higher frequencies that give life to the virtual world’s we love to get lost in. The end result is a sound signature that really hones in on every detail, but thankfully packs enough of a punch that makes you sit back and smile when the on-screen action gets particularly hectic.

We were noticeably impressed by the way the Epos H3 handled spatial audio, which always benefits from headphones that don’t muddy the higher frequencies with too much bass. When playing Dirt 5, which has native Dolby Atmos support, we were genuinely surprised when the exhaust backfired during a gear change, as it sounded as though it literally happened behind us. We were also frequently reminded about finer audio details that we often forgot about in some of our favorite games, like hearing the convincing sound of rainfall in Forza Motorsport 7 or the creak of wooden boards in Sea of Thieves as the waves crash against the hull.  

With an impedance of only 20 Ohms, the Epos H3 headset is also easy to drive, which means you should have plenty of volume to work with. We did find that the volume dial, which we were not the biggest fans of, only really had a tangible effect towards the top end, so it can be a bit fiddly to find the right volume level you desire.

Microphone quality and compatibility

Epos H3 microphone

(Image credit: Future)

Another area where the Epos H3 excels is communication. The headset’s bi-directional microphone works admirably, and we were told we consistently sounded clear when in a party chat, with background noise rarely interfering. 

The microphone is effortless to use, too: simply pull it down to activate, which is made clear thanks to a subtle click, and flip it back up to mute. There’s a slight flex to the boom arm, but we found that unlike some microphones we didn’t have to waste any time trying to determine the best position for our voice to be heard clearly.

Despite the excellent performance, we do wish the microphone was slightly more discrete, though. It dominates the profile of what is a rather sleek and fetching pair of headphones and puts us off from ever wearing these cans outside. We’d love to see if Epos improve the design in future models but keep the quality we’ve come to expect. 

The advantages of being a wired headset means the Epos H3 works on basically anything with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The two-meter-long braided cable is the ideal length when you’re plugged into the PS5 DualSense or Xbox Series X controller, and you also get a splitter cable for PC.

Should I buy the Epos H3?

Buy it if… 

You want something that’s versatile
The Epos H3 headset works on any device with a 3.5mm headphone jack, but crucially, they sound great no matter what you’re using them for. Whether it’s hardcore gaming, listening to music or watching your favorite films, we were impressed by how the Epos H3 handled every type of media.

You don’t want to compromise on comfort
We found the Epos H3 headset to be one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones we’ve worn in quite some time. They’re light, have a slight bit of flexibility on the earcups, and don’t clamp onto your head too firmly. The headband also never felt like it was digging in or putting pressure on the top of our head, even after hours of use.

You need a reliable microphone
The Epos H3 may have a non-detachable microphone, but it works exceptionally well. You won’t be misheard when you’re communicating with your team while wearing this headset, no matter how heated things get.

Don’t buy it if… 

Bass is your priority
Even though the Epos H3 delivers a sufficient amount of low-end thump, we do wish there was a touch more bass. However, this could risk muddying the rest of the sound, which we wouldn’t be prepared to give up.

You’re tired of wires
If you’re ready to ditch the wires for good, then Epos H3 isn’t for you. Though having a wired headset avoids any connection issues, audio lag and lets you use it on a wide variety of devices, the fact there’s an ever present cable can be annoying at times.

You want something you can wear outside
While the Epos H3 is a good-looking pair of headphones, the non-detachable microphone is a bit of an eyesore. It also makes the possibility of wearing these cans outside of the home a no-go, unless you don’t mind the odd confused glance from passers-by.

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