SteelSound 5Hv2 Headset Review
by Jonathan Trevisani, Computer Games Online
Sometimes it seems like the world is conspiring against you. It's not the fact that your postman has the funny look about him when he delivers your mail or the idea that you landlord is rummaging through your trash. It happens when you hear the snap of those expensive headphones that you purchased not too long ago. This supposed to be the replacement headset for the previous set that broke when you pulled on the cord a little too much. The number of headsets that you can go through in a year or two is extremely high considering how vital they are to your gaming survival. SteelSeries had you and your continued gamer existence in mind when they created the SteelSound 5Hv2 Headset. The robust design and amazing comfort of this headset let you know that the days of wondering about your headset's durability are at an end.
SteelSeries is a relative newcomer to the headset market since their initial product launch a few years ago. The original 5H headset received mixed reviews but allowed the company to look further into its design and improve upon it. Thus the second version (v2) was created with a lot of features that should appeal to the gamer in all of us. Whether you are constantly on the move to the next LAN party or just like playing at home without the need to hear your noisy neighbors complain that your 'video games' are ruining their evening, the 5Hv2 is sturdy enough and comfortable enough to be your headset of choice.
The look of the 5Hv2 lends itself to simple design with its smooth edges and a single headband. Other headsets might utilize extra supports to connect the headphones, but they become cumbersome whenever they aren't on your head. Try lugging around or packing up a headset with so many bars and struts that is just begging to be bent or broken one of these days. There are no extraneous design features of the 5Hv2 because travel was included in its repertoire of functions. You can even detach the headset into three separate pieces for easy transport and convenient setup. There is no need to worry if you never plan on using this feature because the headset is very sturdy and its easy to forget the pieces are detachable because they fit snugly together.
Once you are finished looking at the headset and actually put them on, there is always a concern about whether they will be too tight or tough on the ears. Most of the time you will not notice immediately if you are in for a world of ear pain since it takes some extended wearing time to really put the clamp on your ears. Good headsets are able to lessen the vise-like feel of the headphones for a while; great headsets never let that feeling occur. In a stroke of brilliance (and hopefully a continuing trend) the 5Hv2 never touches your ears. There is a sizeable cushion 'donut' that is placed on your head right outside of your ears. This cushion is a mixture of felt cloth and what feels like Styrofoam since it is able to maintain its shape fairly well. Needless to say that your boney head is able to handle a lot more pressure from the headset than your delicate ears ever could. The cushion is comfortable and seals off a lot of outside noise for a great game experience. There are even vents in the headphones that prevent your ears from heating up during more intense gaming sessions.
Other physical features of the headset include an extendable microphone that is placed in the left headphone. You can simply pull the microphone down into place whenever you need it without any extra attachments or swivel motions. It gets a little difficult to grab the microphone if you place it all the way into the headphone, but a little leverage isn't a big deal. The microphone is on a very flexible arm that can be positioned to maximize the comfort and effectiveness. The arm itself could be a bit longer since it doesn't quite reach in front of your mouth which leads to lower volume conversations. The microphone itself is fairly decent, but an extra inch or two for the arm would have helped tremendously.
In place of a standard six foot cable to connect your headset, the 5Hv2 has a relatively short cable with an inline volume control and then an extension cable to round out the cable length. The control is very simple and small so it will not get in the way of your gaming sessions. It controls the headset volume and a switch for the microphone. Another unique feature that seems to be taking peripherals by storm is the headset's braided cord. The common rubber cable that is so easily damaged has been replaced with a cloth texture much like a shoelace. It is similar to the mouse cord of the venerable Logitech G5 mouse. With a bit of added protection, the cable has more durability and a nice feel to it as well. The short cable can be used with laptops for convenient use and without extra yards of cable all over the place. The extension cable gives you the same distance found with many headsets so there is no cause for concern with large desktop setups.
The sound quality of the 5Hv2 focuses a lot of attention on the higher level frequencies and treble. This allows you to hear a lot of different sounds that could be critical when you are trying to track down your last opponent or wait for the right opportunity to strike. Gunfire and voices are very prevalent with the headset and get the proper amount of attention during game play. The bass and lower level frequencies seem to be lacking with the headset which takes away from the deep explosions and gives a bit of a tinny quality to the other sounds. It's not very noticeable considering that most headsets have difficulty with bass on such small speakers, but higher prices headsets do a better job. Music and movies don't suffer too much from the tinny quality, but it might be something that you don't notice or can't stand if you are an enthusiast.
Overall, the SteelSound 5Hv2 is a great headset with a solid design and superior comfort. The super-sized cushions on the headphones and band have made this headset a comfortable ride with no traces of post-headset headaches. It is within the midrange price for quality headsets with a $99 price tag, but once you place it on your head, you realize it is worth every penny. You can honestly forget that you are wearing it sometimes during play. The sound quality could use more bass and the microphone could use another extension, but SteelSeries is on the right track with the 5Hv2. If you want a dependable headset that will give you great comfort and a sturdy design, look no further than this one.
Overall score: 4 out of 5
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