Published on November 5th, 2007 | by Erich Becker0
Summary: These great sounding, comfortable gaming-geared headphones impress
The latest and greatest from SteelSeries’ line of award winning headsets is the 5Hv2, incorporating everything that made the original 5H such a gaming favorite and building upon that to deliver one of the best, if not the best, headsets on the market. After having reviewing the 3H and 4H in previous months, I was anxious to see if the 5Hv2 was going to be able to top to audio performance of the 3H and the comfort of the 4H, but after weeks of testing, the 5Hv2 comes out on top in both categories.
The headset is built of sturdy plastic, giving it a solid feel, even though some of the features, such as disassembly, may lead you to believe otherwise. For easy transport the unit can be taken apart into three separate pieces. The top headband, and each earpiece are completely independent pieces, and when assembled are held together tightly and the audio connections between the headband and earpieces is done via gold plated connectors.
The cord is braided, giving it an elegant feel and just that little bit of notice you’re working with a higher end, more expensive unit. The actual cord length is rather short, coming in around three feet, but SteelSeries includes a full extension cord, making it easier for users whose towers are on the floor, or require some cable routing to get to. As with the 4H, a small audio control unit is included allowing you to change the mic sensitivity and earpieces volumes. This remote has a small clip on the back for those who will be using the unit on the go.
As with all SteelSeries units, the 5Hv2 also comes with a fully retractable (and nearly hidden) microphone in the left earpiece. The microphone is fully adjustable and easily slides in and out, making the headphones ideal for both gaming and non-gaming use.
To test the unit we did our standard series of tests, music, movies, and video games. Since all SteelSeries products are geared towards gaming, that’s where we started. Using World of WarCraft as our benchmark (since it was used previously in our 3H and 4H reviews) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the audio quality, which had dipped a bit with the 4H, was back up to 3H levels. The ambient sounds came across crisp and full through the unit, even at a medium volume setting. The splashing of water in Nagrand was wonderful to hear, and the SteelSeries’ bread-and-butter, the bass, really came through while battling for Halaa. This is definitely a gamer’s headset.
For music we tried a number of different genres to get an accurate picture of how the headset would perform. To start we loaded up Dane Cook’s new Rough Around the Edges to see how a spoken word album would fare. Unfortunately, not so well as Cook was easily overtaken by the more bombastic crowd noise and yelling at times, making some of the albums tracks difficult to hear. We’ve noticed this recording problem using other headsets and speaker set ups, so it’s not entirely the 5Hv2, but the headset does seem to amplify it. Next up we mixed up a playlist in Napster consisting of 80’s, hip-hop, and rock, of which the 5Hv2 easily cleared the floor with its brethren providing a clean sound, dwelling a bit in the lower range because of the bass-focused setup, but still making the music completely listenable.
The 5Hv2’s big difference from the original 5H is its added padding, making it one of the most comfortable headsets we’ve ever tested. Along the headband and the earpieces, we never once experienced any fatigue or pain while testing the unit. The ear cups are big, and broad, easily encompassing even the largest ears, and the unit as a whole is not overly heavy, leaving no straining of the neck, even during long playtimes.
Everything about the 5Hv2 shows that SteelSeries once again delivers a high quality, highly usable unit. The audio performance is excellent, the comfort level doesn’t lead to the need for acupuncture, and the little things like braided cables and gold plated connectors all lend themselves to this being one of the finest products on the market and an easy recommendation for any gamer.