The EPOS H3 Hybrid is the follow-up to the widely well received EPOS H3 that launched at the beginning of the year. The new $259 H3 Hybrid builds upon its predecessor by adding some very welcome features like a built-in DAC for powerful surround sound, Bluetooth connectivity and finally, a detachable boom microphone. Praise Jesus!
Really, on paper the Hybrid is a home run for EPOS given how good the base H3 is but as we all know, specs don’t tell the whole story. In fact, the Hybrid specs say it has a smaller frequency response than the base H3. Additionally, the Hybrid still has one of the biggest complaints I had about the H3 so, should you pay almost double for this newer EPOS offering or are the additions just a gimmick?
EPOS H3 Hybrid Review
EPOS did a fantastic job with the design of the H3 family, radically slimming down their traditionally bulky gamer headsets into a much more manageable and dare I say, desirable headset. I’m a huge fan of the simpler headband design as I found the old EPOS headsets unnecessarily bulky and over-engineered. The new headband is comfortable with no pressure on my head. You can adjust the size of the band with more traditional sliding arms which have markings so you can easily balance both sides.
The ear cushions are a combination of pleather and memory foam that’s a light touch on the ears. They are an over-ear designed to conform to the natural slant of the ear but were a little too small for my ears, causing pressure on the outer edges really quick; like under two hours of wearing. This was especially so for my left ear which led to constant shifting around. However, I suspect those with smaller ears will find these to be an extremely comfortable headset.
One of my favorite additions to the Hybrid has to be the detachable microphone arm – something I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted on EPOS headsets. Their microphones are usually chunky things that stick out to the side of your head so having the ability to remove it is just wonderful. But also, EPOS really slimmed down the mic so it’s finally more sensible looking and pliable.
The mic attaches to the headset using magnets and comes off with a firm pull. EPOS supplies a cover to place here when it’s off and you can finally take these headsets on the road and not look like a total dork. EPOS also provides a handy magnetic cover to keep the port safe. Putting the mic back on is as easy as placing it near the headset and magnets just click it into place. Being removable has also done nothing to diminish the excellent quality it offers.
The old EPOS GSP headset microphones have always been great and I’m pleased to say that this one is no exception. Audio is very clean, with my voice sounding quite natural with none of that tinniness and hollowness most headsets exhibit. My video calls were all very crisp with no complaints from my colleagues about crackling or fading. There’s no sidetone but that handy flip-to-mute function returns.
As a primarily wired headset, there isn’t much in the way of controls on the ear cups except for a volume dial on the right cup and power/ pairing button on the left. The power button is strangely positioned on the front of the left ear cup instead of the back like most other headsets. This messed with my muscle memory and I always had to look for it. Also, while pressing it to power on or go into pairing mode, your finger covers the LED indicator so you can’t see if you’re successful. There’s no power-up or down(wink, wink) tone either which is weird.
Speaking of wires, this is where the Hybrid earns its name. The base H3 uses a standard 3.5mm cable for everything but the Hybrid adds on USB for PC/ Playstation and Bluetooth for wireless. The USB is used both to power the built-in DAC as well as charge the battery. While using the USB connection on a Windows PC, you have access to EPOS Gaming Suite audio tools which include EQ customization and 7.1 Surround sound.
And thanks to that internal DAC, the same EQ settings carry over into Bluetooth and 3.5mm mode. This means you won’t get a degraded sound experience. The Hybrid allows you to have simultaneous Bluetooth and wired connections. Using your PC and Phone audio at the same time is such a productivity boon that you’ll wonder how you lived without it. I use two computers at the same time most days, one for work and the other personal or review unit.
And the battery life is fantastic too. I regularly got about 30 hours with just Bluetooth use which is roughly 5 days. EPOS says you will get upto 19 hours for Bluetooth+3.5mm cable use. Yes, if you want to make use of the enhanced DAC-powered audio, you will need to power the headset on even while using a 3.5mm cable, you’ll need to power the headset on. Still, I’m more than happy with this battery life even though it’s nothing compared to the GSP 370’s insane 100 hours.
Now, when it comes to gaming and music, this is where the H3’s truly shine and that’s in big part thanks to the aforementioned DAC. Even with the smaller frequency response, the Hybrid’s sound fuller and richer than the H3 which already sounded better than most headsets. Then when you tinker with the EQ just right and turn on the 7.1 surround, the sound can be a wonderfully immersive experience that’s great in games and music.
The powerful bass never spoils the mids and highs which allows for impressive staging, clarity and detail in the audio. Music will have your head bopping and games will have your heart racing. Hearing footsteps and accurately positioning enemies in Apex Legends was great; I could clearly distinguish between single or multiple opponents. In Resident Evil Village, the atmosphere is thick with tension as doors creak, water drips and wind rustles the grass fields making for a hold your breath experience.
Overall, at $259, the H3 Hybrid’s are significantly more expensive than the base H3 but the addition of internal DAC, Bluetooth connectivity, great battery and detachable boom mic make it absolutely worth it in my mind. In fact, the only thing left to do is swap the USB wired connection for a wireless USB dongle! That would make it a strong competitor for the Steelseries Arctis 7’s.
Don’t get me wrong though, the H3 Hybrid isn’t perfect. The ill-fitting ear cups make me hesitate in recommending them and I suggest trying them out before buying if you can. I think if they were just slightly bigger cups, they would be perfect as everything else on the headset feels great. I can’t wait to test the recently announced EPOS H6 Pro which has larger, plusher ear cups and more powerful drivers. However, the H3 Hybrid is a fantastic multi-platform gaming headset that is sure to please many gamers.