The Epos H3 Hybrid is ready to take on just about any listening challenge: Connect it via USB for PC and PS5 gaming, 3.5mm cable for Xbox and Switch, and Bluetooth for phone use. Its dual mode lets you combine wired and wireless, and a subtle design and removable microphone let you use the cans in public without announcing that you’re a gamer.
Given Epos’s origin as a spinoff of Sennheiser, it’s not surprising that the audio sounds pure and the lightweight 10.5 oz headset is extremely comfortable. Though the design is plastic-heavy for premium-priced cans, the H3 Hybrid is solidly constructed and looks great with its padded leather-and-cloth headband and slick, hinged earcup design.
However, the $179 price is on the high end for a headset with its feature set. The Creative SXFI Air Gamer, for instance, offers a similar feature set for $30 less, though it lacks the H3 Hybrid’s impressive battery life.
Epos H3 Hybrid Specs
|Driver Type||40mm neodymium magnet|
|Frequency Response||20 - 20,000 Hz|
|Microphone Type||Boom mic: bidirectional; On-cup mic: omni-directional|
|Connectivity Options||2.4 GHz USB-C dongle, USB-A (via USB-C to USB-A adapter0, 3.5mm cable|
|Cables||3.5mm (4.9 feet/1.5m), USB-C charging (6.6 feet/2m)|
|Software||EPOS Gaming Suite|
|Extra||Headphone connector cover|
Design and Comfort
The Epos H3 Hybrid builds on the design of the original Epos H3 by adding both a USB 3 wired digital connection and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, while retaining the 3.5mm connector as well. With its relatively light 0.65 pound weight and padded headband, the headset is extremely comfortable in extended use, with just enough clamping force to keep them from slipping around without putting undue pressure on my head.
The earcups have leather around their outer edge and cloth covering on the portion that actually touches your ears. This combo does a great job of keeping them from getting as hot as leather-covered earcups can during extended usage, but providing better sound isolation than fully cloth-covered earcups.
The comfort is also aided by stylish hinges that connect the headband to the earcups, allowing movement in four directions. This lets the earcups’ weight distribute evenly across your head no matter what its shape, and also helps provide a solid noise-isolation seal.
On the right earcup you’ll find a Bluetooth button for pairing and answering calls, as well as a large volume dial with ridges that provide some grip. The volume dial design is great during gameplay, as it’s easier to find than volume buttons or a small dial, and more precise than touch controls. The left earcup sports the power switch and LED, as well as the boom microphone. If you flip the boom mic up, it mutes automatically, a nice feature that’s easy to quickly access when engaged in a game. The boom mic solidly attaches via magnets and can be easily removed and replaced with a plastic cover when using the cans for audio playback. With the boom removed, you can still take calls using a pinhole mic built into the earcup.
Along with a detachable USB-A-to-C cable you can use to connect to a PC or PS5, the headset includes a 3.5mm cable, and can also save up to eight paired Bluetooth devices. The wireless connection is solid, with no loss of music playback even when walking into the next room, and there’s no perceptible audio delay when watching YouTube videos.
The 3.5mm cable plugs to the left ear cup via a proprietary plug, meaning that you can't replace it with a standard audio cord. Epos does sell replacement cables for its headsets, so if something happens to your cable a replacement should be available. (You can also buy a replacement microphone jack cover should you lose yours; I unfortunately discovered its undocumented bonus potential as a cat toy.)
You can simultaneously connect wired and Bluetooth devices, so you can take a call or chat on Discord using your phone without muting your game audio.
Battery life is rated at 37 hours using Bluetooth, 24 hours using a 3.5mm cable, and 19 hours when using the 3.5mm and Bluetooth simultaneously. This bore out well in our testing. With about 8 hours of gameplay using the 3.5mm cable on a PS5 and Xbox Series X, the headphones still reported 60% battery remaining. In regular use, I never saw the power level drop below 60%, since the headphones charge whenever you’re playing via USB cable on a PC. Testing continuous Bluetooth music playback at 70% volume, the headphones actually beat their rated time, lasting 42 hours, 6 minutes before switching off.
Battery level is indicated both by an LED that pulses green, yellow, and red depending on status, and a voice confirmation when you power on the headset. The voice reports remaining battery in 20% increments, with a “Recharge headset” warning if you have less than 20% remaining.
Unlike some hybrid headsets, the headphones need to be powered on even when using the 3.5mm connector exclusively. With the rated 24-hour battery life in this configuration, this typically shouldn’t be a concern when gaming on a console or traveling, but keep in mind that you can’t use them unpowered if you do let the battery run dead.
The H3 Hybrid’s 40mm drivers do a very good job of presenting a clear, accurate audio soundscape in games. Voices and sound effects were sharp and clear in Hades on the Switch, and the action, vocals, and soundtrack mixed well listening to Deathloop’s 3D audio on the PS5. Playing Back 4 Blood on the PC . After enabling the Epos Gaming Suite’s 7.1 audio, I found the surround audio cues did a great job of alerting me to the presence of nearby mutated threats.
That said, gunfire and explosions lacked some oomph, because unlike some gaming headsets, the H3 Hybrid doesn’t heavily enhance low-end frequencies. Bass is still clear and low sounds are reproduced well, but you don’t get that extra emphasis that can make game action and hip-hop music more exciting.
While game and movie audio sounded clear and accurate, the default soundstage felt a bit flat when listening to music. The lack of extra bass emphasis was evidenced in the less impactful beat listening to Kendrick Lamar’s PRIDE, and the highs in Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond were a bit lost in the mix. I was able to tweak both styles of music to sound much better when listening on my PC by adjusting the equalizer in the Epos Gaming Suite. When listening on a phone via Bluetooth, you’ll want to find a playback app with an EQ to tweak the soundstage to your liking.
While our review found the open-backed Epos H6Pro had a disappointing maximum volume, the closed-back H3 Hybrid doesn’t have this issue. With the source volume maxed out, I could adjust the H3 Hybrid’s volume dial to an uncomfortably loud level. The passive sound isolation is very good as well. I could only hear the loudest environmental sounds, and others in the room reported they couldn’t hear the music I was listening to even when I had the volume cranked.
The headset also does a great job in presenting audio clearly when mixing sources. I was able to play Microsoft Flight Simulator with a USB connection to my PC, while talking with friends over both Discord and cellular calls using an iPhone 13 Pro Max, and both game and phone audio were crystal clear. When in mixed mode, the volume dial on the headset controls the game audio level, and the phone’s volume control adjusts the Bluetooth portion of the mix.
The detachable boom microphone did a good job of clearly capturing my voice, even if I wasn’t careful about positioning it close to my mouth. Unfortunately, despite its bidirectional design, it also captured external noises, albeit at a lower level. If you’re gaming in a quiet environment it’s fine, but if you’re wearing headphones because you’re sharing a space with loud roommates or other external noises, you’ll want to consider a headset with better mic isolation.
The second microphone built into the earcup lets you take calls when the boom mic is removed. While my voice sounded more distant when using this mic, it was still clear to listeners on the other end. Of course, this mic also picks up even more background noise. Also, when the boom mic is removed, this mic is always unmuted, so you’ll need to use your device’s microphone mute function if you want to disable it.
Features and Software
The Windows Epos Gaming Suite lets you swap between 2.0- and 7.1-channel playback, adjust the equalizer and reverb, tweak the microphone gain, and update the headset’s firmware. The EQ has four presets for Music, Esports, Movies, and Flat listening, and you can individually adjust the emphasis in nine steps across the audio spectrum. The Esports preset worked well for gaming, and the manual adjustments let me tweak music to sound better whatever style I was listening to.
The software only works when connected to a PC via USB. So when using a Mac, 3.5mm cable or Bluetooth connection you’ll have to rely on the host device to tweak audio.
There’s a lot that I like about the Epos H3 Hybrid. Gaming audio is excellent across both USB and 3.5mm connections, and I don’t miss the overemphasized bass of competing gaming headsets, which might sound cool but can be distracting in action-packed situations. Music is a bit less impressive out of the box, but nothing a little tweaking with the EQ can’t fix. With its wealth of connectivity options I can use it with every gaming device I own (PC, PS5, Switch and Xbox Series X). The hybrid mode comes in really handy when using Discord in multiplayer, particularly with the Switch, which lacks native voice chat.
The physical design is one of the most comfortable I’ve used, particularly with the earcups, which do a great job of dissipating heat. Only the super-lightweight and inexpensive Logitech G435 Lightspeed was more comfortable, owing to its 5.8 oz feather weight. But that headset doesn’t sound nearly as good, and it lacks wired connectivity options.
The boom mic’s mediocre job of eliminating background noise and the somewhat high asking price, though, keep it from being a clear winner in its class. Creative’s SXFi Air Gamer, for instance, costs $30 less and has a better mic and RGB bling, though it boasts less than half the H3 Hybrid’s impressive battery life.