SteelSeries has been introducing some new headsets this year and they are promised to deliver a tournament-grade audio experience, that’s the reason why many gamers were excited. SteelSeries 9H is the newest edition of the already popular H series.
Unboxing and Overview Video
Design and Features
The package includes a headphone unit, a standard cable with in-line controls to connecting to the headphone, microphone-headphone adapter, extension cable, mobile adapter, and a USB sound card. I loved the different cable ends because I could choose a suitable one depending on the audio source. For example, when I use the headset with my smartphone, I will just need the short mobile adapter with 3.5mm jack. However, the design showed some disadvantages in this specific product, and we will talk about it later in the review.
The headphone is very lightweight because most components are made of plastic, just like other SteelSeries’ headset. Although the headset doesn’t look like a premium product, gamers will still like it because it is quite comfortable on my head. I don’t feel much pressure from the headband as well as from 2 earcups. It has thick layers of cushion, especially the earcups are very well-padded with leather design to provide better noise isolation. The 9H looks a little more gorgeous thanks to metal parts on its adjustable headband. Similar to other products, you can also find a retractable microphone on the left earcup, it can be pulled out anytime you need to use it.
I also downloaded the newest SteelSeries Engine software to upgrade firmware for the USB sound card. The software easily recognized the 9H headset and gave me options to turn on Dolby technology, change equalizer, turn on/off mic noise reduction, auto mic compression, mic sidetone and mic volume. The interface looks very clean and you can easily get used to it in a few seconds. In terms of its performance, we will talk about it in the next section.
I put a lot of expectations in the audio quality of the headphone because it comes with a USB soundcard. The soundcard was advertised to deliver Dolby technology with realistic multi-channel surround sound. However, I was a little disappointed with its performance.
There are some serious issues on this headset. Firstly, the Dolby Headphone technology is rubbish, it creates a virtual surround sound with a lot of echo effects. You hardly can listen to the voice and music with this feature, therefore, this is the first thing you will need to turn off.
The second issue is that the overall volume is very low. I cranked up the volume in the software, in-line controller and on my computer to maximum but the volume is still the lowest among all headphones I’ve ever used.
This seems to be the problem of the USB soundcard. So I got rid of this device and connected the headphone to the 3.5mm jack. Ironically, this seems to be the best mode for this headphone. Now, the sound is way better. The volume is still low, but it is enough for me to listen to music at night. The bass sound is not excessive, so it will make your ears more comfortable for long-term listening. The midrange is crisp and clear, there is just a little distortion at high notes. However, that’s not the end of the issues. The 3.5mm jack keeps being disconnected and I lose the sound on one side all the time, the connection is not tight enough and it ruined the whole listening experience.
- The design is improved compared to older versions.
- Noise-cancelling works great on the microphone.
- Lightweight and very comfortable for long-term wearing.
- The sound is good when the headphone works.
- Plastic materials looks cheap.
- Gimmicky Dolby technologies.
- USB soundcard is useless.
- Sound is very small.
- The 3.5mm extender is very loose and the sounds keep being interrupted all the time.
The headphone is a big disappointment in my test. I’m not sure if this is a defective unit or not but I’m not the only user having this issue. The SteelSeries H9 is available on Amazon for $159, more expensive than the older and better SteelSeries 5Hv3. I will not recommend this product at the moment.