Choosing a headset can be a tricky business these days, especially given the wide variety of ways in which they can be used.
Some are plugged straight into game controllers using a 3.5mm audio jack, others connect through Bluetooth for wireless sound, and PC players will sometimes use USB headphones for convenience.
The H3 Hybrid from Danish company EPOS attempts to tick all these boxes and offer a catch-all solution – a headphone jack of all trades, if you will – and the results are impressive, if rather expensive.
If EPOS isn’t a name that’s familiar to you, that’s because the company has only been known by this name since 2019. Before that, it was a partnership between Danish personal communications company Demant and German audio specialists Sennheiser.
The latter of these names should raise an eyebrow – Sennheiser is a company renowned for its high quality audio products, and EPOS has clearly taken its learnings from its previous partnership and carried them on to this headset.
Simply put, the sound quality is sensational. Everything we tested with the H3 Hybrid was crystal clear, from the voices appearing all around you in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice to the pitter-patter of the rain in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
We even connected it to our TV while playing some Nintendo 64 games, and Magical Tetris Challenge has never sounded so good. And we bet that’s a sentence you never thought you’d read coming into this review.
The quality of the sound can’t be denied, then, but it’s the versatility of the H3 hybrid which really makes it stand out. It has three separate ways of connecting to your devices: USB, 3.5mm cable and Bluetooth.
Its USB-C to USB-A cable lets you plug it into a PC and charge it while you listen. Such is the quality of the sound that it’s now become part of our daily routine on VGC as we listen to the Out Run soundtrack on Spotify while working.
“The quality of the sound can’t be denied, but it’s the versatility of the H3 hybrid which really makes it stand out. It has three separate ways of connecting to your devices: USB, 3.5mm cable and Bluetooth.”
When it comes to console compatibility, the H3 Hybrid also has a separate 3.5mm cable, which can be removed from the headset when you’re not using it. This can be plugged into an Xbox or PlayStation controller, allowing you to hear game and chat audio through it.
It also supports a variety of other audio formats, so if you have a licence for Dolby Atmos for Headphones on either your Xbox or PC, it works perfectly well when plugged into either the controller or PC USB (and sounds phenomenal when watching 4K UHD discs on Series X).
If you aren’t interested in pesky cables and want a wireless experience, the H3 hybrid also lives up to its name by offering Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity. This lets you wirelessly connect it to your phone, your Switch or your TV with relative ease by simply holding the Bluetooth button on the headset for a few seconds then pairing it on the device.
We put the headset through its paces one day by trying to use it in as many situations as possible. First, we connected it to our PC via USB to listen to music while working our VGC shift.
When work was over, it was time to make dinner, so we paired the headset to our phone via Bluetooth and listened to a podcast while preparing it.
When dinner was done, we plugged the headset into our Xbox Series X controller and used it to watch a movie with Dolby Atmos for Headphones (Rogue One on Disney+ if you’re asking). We then plugged it into our DualSense controller to play some Returnal, which is a fantastic use of the console’s 3D sound.
Finally, we decided to play a bit of Metroid Dread. We used Bluetooth again to connect the headset directly to our LG TV then, when it was time for bed, paired it directly to the Switch and continued playing in bed without wires.
Bluetooth battery life is healthy enough for it to rarely be an issue. EPOS says it delivers 37 hours of battery on a full charge, though because its hybrid nature meant we were listening via USB during the day (and therefore charging it) we never came close to that limit.
“Bluetooth battery life is healthy enough for it to rarely be an issue. EPOS says it delivers 37 hours of battery on a full charge, though because its hybrid nature meant we were listening via USB during the day (and therefore charging it) we never came close to that limit.”
Another interesting feature the headset boasts is dual connectivity. This means you can connect to both Bluetooth and 3.5mm phono at the same time. For example, you could have the headset plugged into your Xbox controller to listen to game audio, but also have it connected to Bluetooth to talk to friends via Discord. Talking to your mum for 40 minutes on the phone is much easier when you’re playing Tekken 7 at the same time.
Speaking of voice chat, the headset comes with a microphone which is also detachable – a greatly appreciated touch, as the headset we previously used had one that was permanently attached, even when we didn’t want to use it.
It attaches via a strong magnet on the left ear, snapping on with a satisfying clunk and requiring some reasonable effort to pull it off. This definitely won’t fall off, and when you aren’t using it there’s an optional cap you can put on the headset in its place to protect the connector.
The microphone quality is perfectly fine for voice chat, though naturally it’s not the sort of thing you’ll want to use for proper audio recording such as streaming or podcasts.
The H3 Hybrid is a fantastic piece of kit, then, but it isn’t without its issues. One of these is the fact that it still uses up battery even when connected through the 3.5mm cable.
While most wired headsets don’t require any extra power while connected through a 3.5mm socket, the H3 hybrid lasts around 24 hours with this connection, or 19 hours if you’re paired with Bluetooth at the same time. Again, it’s a healthy enough battery life and is hardly going to leave you in many situations where it’s going to cut out, but it’s still a negative.
Its volume dial is also a little fiddly. It’s located on the right ear and is an easy enough mechanism, in that you continually spin it round to raise or lower the volume. The problem is, because there’s no specific end point and it just turns forever – rather than a dial with clear low and high points – it’s impossible to tell your volume setting at a glance.
There can also be some compatibility issues depending on the situation, those these aren’t necessarily the fault of EPOS. For example, some televisions (including our 2020 4K LG model) disable Game Mode if you connect a headset to them via Bluetooth.
This is likely due to the low display lag of Game Mode resulting in the picture arriving quicker than the audio, though obviously if you’re playing a game you want display lag to be as low as possible, so you’ll be sacrificing some responsiveness as a result.
In situations like that, we’d recommend connecting the headset to your Xbox or PlayStation controller with a wired connection, or directly to your Switch via Bluetooth, so your TV can continue to display Game Mode.
Ultimately, though, the biggest drawback is the price. There’s no doubt it’s a premium product, but at $180 / £150 you’re certainly paying a premium price too.
Of course, headphones can be far more expensive than that – the most devoted audiophiles can find high-quality pairs for hundreds and even thousands of dollars – so in that respect the H3 Hybrid is a solid option.
However, given that it’s primarily being pushed as a gaming headset, it’s only natural that you should be comparing it with others on the market.
Both the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 have their own official $100 / £90 wireless headsets which deliver impressive performance. If you’re only looking to buy a headset for the sole purpose of playing on that device, you may be best suited buying one of those instead.
“Both the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 have their own official $100 / £90 wireless headsets which deliver impressive performance. If you’re only looking to buy a headset for the sole purpose of playing on that device, you may be best suited buying one of those instead.”
EPOS also sells a non-hybrid, wired version of the H3 which comes in at a similar price to Xbox and PlayStation’s official offerings, and provides similar high quality audio, so that’s another viable option for $80 less than the Hybrid’s price.
The ideal H3 Hybrid customer, then, is an indecisive sort who frequently switches between entertainment formats. If you’re looking for a headset that covers a variety of needs and connections, then the H3 Hybrid lives up to its name.
In our specific case, we regularly juggle between PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Switch, TV and mobile connections, and for that reason the H3 Hybrid has instantly become an essential part of our daily life.
This won’t be the case for everyone’s needs, however, and if you aren’t likely to make the most out of the Hybrid’s myriad connections, then you may be best looking for a cheaper, less versatile headset.