In a previous digital life, I reviewed a number of headphones from a variety of manufactures: on ear, over ear, earbuds, boutique, high end, mid-range, and bargain units. When our assistant editor said, “I have some headphones for you to review,” I thought to myself, “Self, you’ve done this before; this will be easy.” But there was one little twist with this unit; these are more a gamer-oriented setup than the others. Enter the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid headphones.
So, I took all the bits out of the box, read the instructions (which are a combination of limited text and pictographs), and started listening. I used them with my Switch, of course, but also with my iPhone and PC. This highlights one of the nice features of the unit—they can be used across multiple platforms, wired or wireless. There is even a USB dongle/antenna you can use to plug into a device to create a wireless connection if Bluetooth is not available. The box says the dongle is low latency and it does a good job on that front.
It’s evident the engineering and construction are well thought out executed. The review unit I have is black with dark blue accents, and it looks very good. It’s easy to see the functional elements and that there was some attention paid to visual appeal. The EPOS H3PRO Hybrid headphones maintain a clean look—more professional, less flash, which I appreciate. There are three color options: white with pale gray accents…
… green with gold accents…
…and black with dark blue accents:
They all look good.
The unit is a bit on the heavy side, but the cushions on the cans—coupled with a well padded and well tensioned steel headband—offer good support and a comfortable fit. The headband adjustment is a friction fit with incremental stops; each small adjustment will click in place for stability. The band also has numbers etched on it so you can see what fits you best and reset it easily.
This brings us to one point regarding the fit which I will make happily; I wore these for about 7 hours one day at work, with only a couple breaks (oh, the lengths to which we go for our dear readers), and was pleased at how comfy they stayed. This is a significant concern for me because I wear glasses, and a set of over-ear headphones which don’t fit well can get very uncomfortable quickly. On this point, I’d like to give a special shout-out to the designers; well done!
Speaking of comfy cans, the padded interface between the unit and your head is made with a synthetic leather-like trim for the outer surface and a synthetic suede which actually makes contact with your head. I have encountered this suede-ish material before. I have a pair of nice headphones which didn’t get a lot of regular use in the past few years, and the suede-ish stuff dried out and crumbled to black candruff (see what I did there?). If the suede-ish stuff on these is the same material, be on the lookout for material degradation in a few years. On the up-side, you can get replacement pads as integrated pad and base units. So, all you have to do is pull the old pads off and snap new ones in place.
Now, let’s look at the stuff which will help all our gamer friends out there. The unit comes with the ability to connect with either a cable (3.5mm) or wirelessly via Bluetooth. The unit has built-in Bluetooth capability and comes with a dongle to bring a console or PC up to wireless connectivity if it doesn’t already have it. Here’s where we get to have some extra fun. If you are plugged into your Switch, you can still use the wireless connection with your phone to talk with your friends. You get it, right? Physically plugin into your Switch, then use Bluetooth for the Nintendo Switch Online phone app simultaneously in the same headset. Even if you’re not using the official app, this is handy if you just want to chat while you play or set up a different method of multiplayer conversation if the game doesn’t support live chat. The connection flexibility means you can connect to your Switch, your PC, phone, PS4, PS5, and others, so you may now only need one headset to rule them all.
To help your friends on the other end hear you well, the unit comes with a swivel boom mic. When you swing the mic up and out of the way, you will hear a soft “click” – this is the switch which mutes the mic so people can’t hear you softly sobbing as you get your posterior handed to you by the boss you thought you were ready for (I hate when that happens). More good news on the boom mic front is that if you don’t really need it, you can simply pull it off the headset. The connection is magnetic and it is keyed such that you can only put it on one way—the right way. If you do wish to go sans boom mic, there is a small disc you can use to cover the connection point to keep it clean and to keep the headset from looking like it’s missing a part.
Speaking of the mic, I did a couple checks with different audiences and the response was consistent; the sound quality the mic delivers is very good. The speaker comes across clear and clean. While using the multiple connections mode, I was playing a game and speaking on the phone and confirmed there is no signal bleed from the game to the conversation on the phone, so you don’t need to worry about noise muddying up your phone call.
Let’s talk about the other hardware bits you get. There is a 3.5mm cord you can use to physically plug in. The cord is sheathed with braided thread and extra reinforcement on the plug ends. One end has a 90 degree plug for connection to your audio source and a straight end for the headset. The straight end is extended and the headset connection port is deep enough to allow half of the reinforcement to seat within the can to make extra sure the small connection post and receiving port never take any lateral shock. I have experienced first hand how fast a jack/port can be damaged with a good tug in the wrong direction, so this is another point in favor of good design. You also get a handy USB charging cable so you can charge from numerous ports and charging stations. I hooked up the test unit and went from a 20% charge to fully charged in a little over an hour. That beats my phone, so not bad there. There is also the aforementioned USB A cable with a dongle to offer more connectivity flexibility. All in, this is a good kit.
Now for the most important section: “How do these things sound?” We have touched a bit on the sound quality above, but let’s take a deeper dive. I have some mixed feelings regarding the sound quality. Whether hard wired or connected wirelessly, the sound is good across a decent frequency range (not the greatest range, but good). This is if you are using the active noise canceling. The ANC also does a good job of reducing background noise and uses little enough power to let a full charge last for several hours. However, when the ANC is not engaged, the sound is a bit less full, especially the bass. Everything still sounds clear and clean, but it could really use an EQ of some sort. It does have a software suite to allow control of the audio. The suite can turn on 7.1 surround and an equalizer, but you can’t use it with either the Switch or an iPhone. Also, I was told I can (and should) quote my assistant editor on this point: “… there is no excuse these days to not have a Mac version” (of the audio extras). I will add that, given the popularity of the Switch and smart phones, not offering the audio control extras on a mobile app or for consoles seems a bit of a let-down.
When using the unit, all the controls are in easy reach on the cans. The power button is on the left and uses a simple push-and-hold for a couple seconds to actuate. On the outer face of the right can is a low-profile dial for volume control. Spin it clockwise to increase the volume. When you hit the maximum gain, the unit will give you a beep. On the side of the right can there are two buttons: one for the Bluetooth connection, the other for the ANC. Both are easy to find and distinguish while wearing the unit.
So where do I stand on the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid headphones? There are a few minus points. The wireless range is a bit shorter than a lot of Bluetooth devices (~20’). When the ANC is not engaged, the sound is a bit thin. There is no Mac/iOS/Android/Switch support for the nifty advanced audio controls. And finally, the price is a bit high (at the time I’m writing this, $279.00 on the EPOS site).
On the plus side, the design is good looking, and the hardware feels well made. This headset is comfortable to wear even for long duration sessions. They also have good connectivity and pair easily with your Bluetooth devices. When using ANC, the noise suppression is effective and the sound quality is pretty good. But most importantly, you can now connect to a wide variety of game systems/smart phones and handle your wireless headphone needs simultaneously with one unit. Even with the ANC situation, the battery can handle running with all the bells and whistles on for well over 8 hours.
This is a good bit of kit.