Steelseries 3Hv2 Headphones Review
Have gaming headphones, will travel.
When you think of gaming headsets you often picture something large and gaudy with LED lights, sharp angles, and huge microphones. For gamers that want something a little more low-key and casual that they can easily take on the go wherever they game there aren't a lot of options. The SteelSeries 3Hv2 Gaming Headset (MSRP: $39.99) might be the solution for gamers on the go with a budget.
The 3Hv2 feature an affordable price, a compact and travel-friendly design, and the SteelSeries brand name. If you're a gamer on the go or just looking for a budget friendly headset you may be drawn to this introductory model.
Unfortunately, the numbers don't lie and the sound quality tells a different story. These are headphones designed for first person shooters and therefore downplay much of the upper frequencies in favor of bass. If you want to use these for anything other than holding the line with your brothers in arms or listening to chest rumbling music, they won’t hold up very well.
The first thing you’ll notice when you open the box is how compact SteelSeries was able to make this headset. When the 3Hv2 is completely folded it looks like it could almost fit into my pocket. A retractable microphone that rests inside the left ear pad when not in use further supports this travel-friendly design.
But, that compact design translates to a tight fit that presses a little too firmly after extended use. This, combined with the padded leather cushions, creates a heat seal around your ears, and it didn’t take long before my ears started to turn red. If you're looking for a headset to take you long into the night on a gaming binge, these may not be a good choice.
Where these headphones truly find their place is as a travel headset for LAN parties. The quality is good enough to get you through a gaming session with friends, and when you’re done it folds small enough to travel easily. Unfortunately, for a gaming headset built for portability there isn’t a carrying case to ferry them from game to game.
In fact, there is only one accessory in the package: a small cable adapter that unifies the separate microphone and headphone jacks. It’s a nice touch, letting these easily function with mobile devices (both Android and iOS), so you can play games and take voice calls without switching your gear. Speaking of cables, the 3Hv2 has a soft-rubber cable that resists tangling. It’s nice, but it only stretches to around four feet. That’s fine for laptops and other travel-friendly gaming devices, but older consoles may be too far away.
Rounding out the features of this introductory model are the retractable microphone and the in-line mic/volume controls. I tested this headset with some games and a Skype call and found the microphone matched the other basic features of the headset; the clarity wasn’t perfect, but it performed well enough for my uses–both in-game and during a voice call.
The 3Hv2 are the introductory model in the H-Series, and it shows in almost every aspect of the design and function. The included accessories and features are the bare minimum for a gaming headset, but that’s exactly what you’re paying for.
As soon as we started testing with our good pal HATS, we noticed some troubling data. While the 3Hv2 excelled in a couple of tests, it performed poorly where it really counts.
To put it simply, the 3Hv2 are not designed for listening to music. Any song you listen to will be very unbalanced, with an emphasis on bass and the lower mid-range sounds and a severe drop in anything higher than that.
Basically, you wouldn’t want these on your head if you're playing a RPG that features a detailed music score, like Final Fantasy. Instead, the 3Hv2 are engineered for first-person shooters, a genre that revels in the deeper sounds of gunfire, action, and the musical stylings of Eminem.
The Bottom Line
The low price tag on the 3Hv2 makes this headset enticing at first glance, but you’ll have to remember that you’re mostly paying for the compact design and not the audio quality. These were not made for listening to the subtle nuances of music. Instead, they were engineered for a particular type of video game and video game player–one that is constantly on the go and under fire.
Even with those considerations, the 3Hv2 may be a difficult buy for most consumers. If you're looking for an affordable gaming headset that doesn't sacrifice quality we recommend the Razer Carcharias, which you can usually find online for $70.00.
If you game on the go, need a headset that locks in sound, or one that is compatible across computers and mobile devices they could be an effective budget alternative. But if you want gaming headphones that will be multi-purpose, the 3Hv2s aren't the best fit.
Get Our Newsletter
Real advice from real experts. Sign up for our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!