I usually chew up a headset in several months. Most often, through some combination of tugging and pulling and twisting, the cable craps out. Since I donít have the patience to deal with warrantees (especially not the crap Best Buy puts you through), $40 later I have another cheap headset thatís good for 3-6 months. Eventually, after a few years, the ridiculously over-priced models with stupid-sounding names and endorsements from pro gamers I couldnít care less about look attractive. After all, if Iím going to spend $120 on headsets in a year anyway, it might be worth a shot trying a high-end version.
Enter the Steel Sound 5H USB
. A large, robust and fully-featured headset, it comes with its own USB sound card but that is detachable and the Steel Sound 5H can be connected to your regular audio device. Of course, in that case, you may wonder why you bought the USB version at allÖ
The 5H is a competent headset noticeably higher in quality than the cheaper Plantronics and other devices Iíve used in the past, but still falls well short of a comparably-priced Sennheiser pair of headphones. Of course, with the microphone it technically offers more features than a HD555 for example, but the sound quality difference is too vast to ignore. Though I am far from being an audiophile, the 5H clearly has a flat higher range compared to my beat-up Sennheisers. That, as well as a certain static and hiss at some volumes and frequency ranges, are the main drawbacks. For a gaming headset, there is no doubt that the 5H delivers good audio, but it pales in comparison to similarly-priced audio products.
Of course, quality listening is not why I bought the 5Hs. Where the headset stands proud and tall is in its features and durability. After 6 months of frequent use and constantly having the cord tangled in my feet or rudder pedals, not to mention the usual tugging, pulling and twisting, there is no sign that this headset is about to give out. It has endured more abuse than any other head audio piece Iíve had other than my Sennheisers, which have had their cords replaced routinely.
The microphone itself is about 5 inches long and retracts into the left headphone. Composed of a flexible metal cable, it is also durable and hasnít suffered from stress, like the stiff plastic Plantronics devices have. More importantly, microphone response is very good. It obviously wonít compare to a professional device, but whether tested against stand-up boom microphones or the ones on a headset, it is vastly superior. The difference is most noticeable in Ventrilo where audio quality is high, but fellow players on even TeamSpeak felt the difference was clear compared to the stand-alone boom microphone. My voice came in more naturally and clearly, with less distortion from amplification.