Review: SteelSeries 7H Gaming Headset

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Short version: SteelSeries makes great keyboards and mice, but headphones have always been a weakness of theirs. The 7H isn’t bad, really, but considering what’s out there for the same price or less, it’s a hard set to recommend.

Features:

  • 50mm drivers
  • Interchangeable ear-cushions (leather and cloth)
  • Disassembles for travel
  • Retractable microphone
  • MSRP: $129.99

Pros:

  • Decent sound, mic sounds good
  • Easy to break down for travel
  • Robust and meaty 1/8″ jacks

Cons:

  • For $130, they feel pretty cheap
  • Fit isn’t very customizable
  • Inconvenient cord length

Full review:

I don’t know what it is with SteelSeries’ headphone line. First, there was the dismal 5H and great-sounding but utterly impractical Siberia. They updated the Siberia, and the new pair is pretty solid, but it feels cheaper than the old one. They updated the 5H, same complaint. And now we have the 7H, and although they’re a decent pair of headphones, I really don’t think you’re getting your money’s worth.

It seems strange how little the headphones are like the rest of the SteelSeries lineup. I’m typing this on a 7G keyboard and using a Xai mouse, but I’d never pick their headphones for my go-to pair.

The 7H is a bit anonymous-looking. Understated is one thing, but these are anonymous. They’re relatively light, though, which is good — and the ability to break them down into pieces (the headband breaks off from the cups, and the cord disconnects) is nice and easy to do.

The fit is… a little weird. They clamped my head pretty hard, and I didn’t feel like the weight was being properly distributed. The headband part is practically squared off, and seems to only barely touch the top of my head. The cups seemed a little small, but they made a nice seal around my ears, especially with the leather cushions. I actually liked the more breathable cloth ones for longer sessions, but for isolation the leather is the way to go.

There’s a retractable mic, which you kind of have to jiggle back into its place, but it’s not much of an inconvenience.

More puzzling was the cord, which at one meter is long enough for a laptop, but not nearly long enough for almost anything else. It includes a two-meter extension cord, but who wants ten feet of cord? Why not have two 1.5-meter cords? The cord itself is nice, though; it’s got a braided coat and feels heavy-duty. The actual plugs are well-built, chunky, and easy to grip, something a lot of audio devices fail to consider.

In the middle of the cord is a little puck remote, which, while tastefully designed, is a little too minimal. There’s a mic on/off switch and a tiny volume control, but no clip with which to attach to your shirt — something I’ve always found helpful on other pucks.

I’m concerned about the build quality, though. On the Logitech, Razer, and most recently the Nox headsets I’ve reviewed, I’ve never been concerned about the build. Nor on other Steelseries product lines, which have generally felt pretty solid to me. But no, like most of the other headsets from SteelSeries, the 7H feels hollow and chintzy, especially the earcups and remote. My fears were confirmed when, while trading earcup cushions, one of the pins that holds the cup on snapped right off and is at this moment rattling around in the right earpiece. And hey, I’m no Hercules, I was just pulling the piece off like normal. Pretty unacceptable.

Conclusion

Although the sound of these headphones is perfectly good, I just don’t enjoy wearing them — as opposed to the cheaper and lighter Razer Carcharias and Nox Specialist headsets, which are both light and comfortable and produce good sound. Sorry, SteelSeries… better keep trying.

Product Page: SteelSeries 7H headphones

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