Recently, I received three different wireless gaming headsets in post. All of them were in a similar price range and served roughly similar audience segments. Knowing that any reviews I produced would likely be quite similar, I thought I’d play these headphones off against each other. Entering the ring: the SteelSeries Arctis 7P+, the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless, and the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid.
Whose cans will reign supreme? FIGHT.
Steelseries Arctis 7P+ ($369)
The SteelSeries Arctis 7P+ is so close to being perfect. It’s the kind of headset that makes me smile wanly when I use it because everything is so close to being ideal.
The overall look is quite nice and, I think, kind of stylish. The design is pleasantly flat, with rounded edges that keep it from jutting too far wide of the head. Its overall build quality feels very strong. It feels sturdy and well-made in the hand.
This sturdiness translates to a fair bit of weight on the ears when worn on the head. Weight has always been the bane of gaming headsets, particularly wireless ones chasing high-quality audio reproduction on a battery. Razer has spent years slowly shaving grams off its headsets to get them down to a reasonable weight, and it seems SteelSeries now finds itself in a similar position. If you’re not the kind of person who plays games for long spells, then this won’t necessarily apply to you. It’s the people who love a binge, who are happy to sit down and spend 8 hours grinding for legendaries that will find it hard to manage. I played a whole day of Gran Turismo 7 using the Arctis 7P+ and even with regular breaks, my ears were aching at the end of it.
What I will give SteelSeries credit for here is that, as far as looks go, they’ve understood the assignment perfectly. The Arctis 7p+ is a colour match for the PS5’s white, black and blue scheme, meaning it should blend right into your minimalist setup and sit alongside the PS5 without complaint.
Where I found it didn’t gel with the PS5 so well was its USB-C wireless dongle. This strange, oblong piece of plastic occludes a whole other USB port when plugged into the PS5’s front panel. When plugged into my PC, I ran into a similar problem. Asking the user to sacrifice functionality on an entirely separate device for the pleasure of using your headset is truly testing the friendship here. I don’t know what SteelSeries was thinking with this dongle, but I hope it dies with this iteration of the headset. In terms of range, the dongle seems able to do its job. I was able to get up 10 metres away in our thick-walled house before it began to stutter, which is farther than most will ever need.
Finally, the sound. This is a headset still clinging to the aging idea that gaming headsets should be bass-driven devices. This is less prevalent now than it used to be. The thinking was that deep, rumbly bass would amplify naturally bassy sounds like gunfire and engines. And it does! But that usually comes at the price of obliterating all the high-frequency sound. Games with broader, richer soundstages automatically hold bassier headsets back. All this said, the Arctis 7P+ is far from the bassiest headset I’ve ever heard. Even if it prefers the rumble, SteelSeries has made an effort to find some middle ground here. While the engine roar of Gran Turismo 7 began to wear on me after a while, games with wider soundstages like Horizon: Forbidden West fared much better.
Verdict: Perfect for players who like short stints and their battle rattle thunderous. Death to the dongle, though.
HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless Headset ($159)
Oh HyperX, never change. Do I even need to say that? You’re not historically prone to change, so that may well be redundant.
The aversion to change-for-the-sake-of-it is something I respect and admire about HyperX’s range. It hit upon a few solid designs during its early foray into the peripherals space and has made very few alterations since. Take the Cloud Alpha Wireless as a prime example. I’ve reviewed headphones with this exact design a few times since 2017. It’s a strong style, with a red-on-black palette that appeals to the core gamer market. The sole subtle change in their design is that the cups are now slightly larger than they were in a corded model. This serves an obvious purpose, to contain the battery, power and wireless apparatus that give the headset its powers. They’re lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods, and they possess very few frills.
They also sound bloody great. Though it also leans on the bassier side, it’s not to the extent of something like the SteelSeries. The fine balance between lower and higher-end sound is a fullness to the soundstage in the Cloud Alpha Wireless that I generally only expect to hear in wired headsets. Positional audio is very strong, and Dolby Atmos implementation is first-rate.
With the Cloud Alpha Wireless, HyperX finally caves to a bit of boasting on the box. The big claim is that the Cloud Alpha Wireless can hold over 300 hours of battery. And I’m sure it could hit the big 300, if I were to leave it on the lowest volume, with power draw down to a level barely detectable as a coma. What I’ve seen under real-world use is certainly much longer than normal battery life. Where the EPOS H3PRO Hybrids below could only run for a couple of days before needing some help, it took five days of solid use to get the HyperX Cloud Alpha down to 30% battery. Pretty impressive. Part of how it conserves energy is its aggressive idle timer, which shuts the headset off after only a few minutes if no audio is detected.
As someone who is putting headphones on and taking them off all day while they work, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a feature like that.
Despite all the gear inside to make the Cloud Alpha Wireless sound great and hold a lengthy charge, the headset itself is surprisingly lightweight and durable. That the battery isn’t weighing the thing down by itself is something of a miracle. Given how long you can get out of a single charge, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it were much heavier.
Verdict: A solid headset through and through. The one to grab if you want great sound and don’t particularly care about bells-and-whistles.
- No significant changes to the look or colour scheme. Why mess with a proven winner?
- Ticks three important boxes: Strong build, lightweight, and great sound.
- Long battery for the kind of sound it can produce. Not 300 hours, but up to four or work five days on a single charge.
EPOS H3PRO Hybrid ($399)
The EPOS H3PRO Hybrid headset combines the best of EPOS’ world-beating H3 gaming headset with an internal battery for wireless use. EPOS is still a relatively new player in the games space, and as such still feels like it’s experimenting with different builds and designs. The goal here is plainly to move EPOS’ top tier sound into the coveted wireless headset market, and the result is a top-flight headset with surprisingly short battery life.
Right off the rip, the H3PRO retains the luxe look and feel of the standard H3 headset. The shape of the cans has been refined, and they are now slightly smaller than those on the H3s. The headband is a gorgeous, plush dark leather that is so comfortable against the head. The padding around the ears is similarly comfortable, though it is leather so it will get quite warm if you’re playing for long periods. The cans clamp down over your ears quite hard and cut out quite a bit of external noise. The headset is also surprisingly light given that it’s now carrying a whole battery around inside.
Perhaps my favourite part of the headset is its colouring. You can get the H3PROs in the now-standard EPOS black, but they also come in a dark green and gold combo that honestly recalls Aston Martin’s 2022 F1 car for me. With this colour scheme, the look and feel of a luxury headset is complete.
The sound is, obviously, the standout here. The H3Pro Hybrid is one of the most beautiful-sounding wireless gaming headphones I’ve heard in some time. It’s a mix with manners, that wants you to hear as much of its soundstage as possible. The bass is tastefully low, allowing the high-end sound to properly ring out above it. Beautiful work.
It did take a little finagling to get the microphone sidetone working properly through my Blue Yeti X microphone, which surprised me. I was ultimately able to resolve it, but it was an interesting development when the cabled H3s have never given me the same problem once.
Where I felt the H3PRO Hybrid stumbled was its battery life, which I found I could run down with a day or two of solid use. It’s not that big of a pain to recharge, just pop it on overnight. However. when the competing HyperX has the kind of sound-to-battery-life ratio it does, I do want to see EPOS push the envelope a bit more.
Verdict: I would recommend the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid in a heartbeat. If the shorter battery life doesn’t bother you against its fantastic sound, then absolutely grab a pair. You’ll be very happy with them.
- Luxe look and feel
- Fantastic, well-mannered audio balance
- Clamps down on the ears, but isn’t heavy
- Some issues when connecting directly to an external mic, but forgivable
Pick of the month:
It’s got to be the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless Headset. The price simply can’t be beaten when placed against the kind of sound it can produce and the battery life it possesses. Though the Arctis 7P+ and the H3PRO are fantastic headsets in their own right. The SteelSeries has buttery smooth integration with the PS5, and the H3PRO features beautiful studio-quality sound. But the Cloud Alpha Wireless offers the best of both worlds, and it runs for days on end, at half the price.
Congratulations, HyperX, you are our winner of the Kotaku Australia Headphone Battle Royale for May.