The Steel Series 4H is what would be considered abudget headset in the competitive gaming world. It retails for $39.99 and comes with just the bare essentials for gaming on a PC. Included in the box is nothing but your headset with the normal PC connectors for mic and headset.
The target audience here is people who aren’t looking to drop $100+ on a headset but are looking for something with good audio quality, a microphone, and reasonable comfort. The resulting product is a lightweight over-ear headset with a retractable mic. Does the product meet its intended demographic? How does it hold up against the higher end headsets?
Comfort and Aesthetic
These headphones are really light, considering they have full size ear cups. The pads themselves on the ear pieces are quite comfortable and I had no problem wearing these headphones for long periods of time. The padding for the bar on top of the head was adequate, although I’d of liked for something a tad nicer. The headset also has a sliding expandable band which stretched to fit my large head and then some. That sliding band does lead to my one comfort complaint though in that it uses a metal notch type system which my hair tends to get caught in. I didn’t have a huge issue with it since my hair is shorter right now, but people with long hair should be aware of this.
Design wise, there isn’t much to talk about. They look like your typical PC headphones, as you can see in the photos. Would of been cool if they could have at least made a bit of an effort in that area, but that said they don’t look ugly so I can’t really complain.
Sound Quality and Microphone
Sound quality is solid but nothing mind blowing. Sounds about the same as other headphones in this price range. They will work well for gaming but don’t expect some supernatural ability to hear people sneaking up on you.
The retractable microphone worked fine on Xbox Live using the Steel Series Headset Connector (sold separately). Wraith and Phobos both reported being able to hear me just fine, although it did require some tinkering since the retractable mic didn’t come around my head far enough to be directly in front of my mouth. This probably won’t be issue for most people but if you have a big head you could run into the same issue. The in-line microphone control does let you select between “High”, “Medium”, and “Mute” as well as adjust audio volume.
My main concern with the 4H comes in the materials which it is built from. They don’t feel sturdy at all, and I feel like without being really careful they will end up breaking. This isn’t too surprising considered the budget price point, but I wish they could have made it a little bit sturdier.
The wires are extremely thin and feel frail, especially compared to the Siberia Neckband which we reviewed last week. I’ve had nothing but poor experiences with products using this thin of a wire, so it is definitely a point of concern. The plastic on the shell is very thin, which helps the headset feel extremely light but also raises some concerns regarding the durability for me. These are far from being the sturdiest headphones I’ve used.
That said, despite the concerns, I did use these heavily for 2 weeks without any issues.
Who Should Buy?
The word I’d use to describe these headphones is value. The fact of the matter is that despite the shortcomings in some aspects, the 4H’s are an excellent buy for those looking for an affordable headphone solution. At $70, you simply won’t find many other options for a solid gaming headset, much less one with a built in microphone.
If you are looking to spend a bit more, there are better options both from Steel Series and its competitors. However, at the $60-80 price point I’d recommend the headset so long as you take good care of it to ensure it doesn’t break.
Those looking to buy these for console are going to need to buy the Steel Series Headset Connector separately for $15. Alternatively, Steel Series announced a new headset at E3 called the Spectrum 4xb which looks like it will be a console version of the 4H. It is scheduled to release Q3 2010 and has no price announced yet.
- CES 2011: Razer Chimaera Wireless Headset
- Urbanears Medis Earphones
- Nox Audio Gaming Headset
- Teknine Nine Millimeter Earphones
- Astro Gaming's New Wireless Mixamp 5.8 Mixamp and A* In-Ear Headset Announced
- URBANEARS Fall/Winter 2010 Collection
- CES 2011 Recap: Motorola Xoom, Turtle Beach PX5, And Fast Cars
- SteelSeries Spectrum Headsets
- adidas Originals x Sennheiser Headphones
- Review: Astro Gaming A40 Audio System BXR SE Edition