SteelSeries 9H Gaming Headset Review
Subjective Listening: Music, Movies, and Games
Not everyone hears the same as each other. People’s ears are different and preferences dictate our style. The subjective listening tests in our reviews not only compare the product with other gaming headsets, but also audiophile-grade headphones. Those who don’t regularly listen with higher-end equipment may not notice the sound quality deficiencies we are able to notice.
The 9H has a rather flat signature tuned for gaming. Unfortunately, it isn’t very energetic and some songs may sound underwhelming. There is very little bass presence and those wanting a more powerful bass should be looking to use a graphic equalizer such as the one in the headset control software. Despite all that, a substantial amount of fidelity makes music listening more than bearable. The 9H expresses a wide frequency range with good detail and it was easy to adjust to this set of headphones when switching over from another pair with a different sound character.
Since the 9H was tuned to reproduce audio in a more natural manner for gaming, songs that utilize musical instruments with sparse bass tended to sound best. The 9H is still acceptable for all other types of music, but if your ears are having a bad day, it’s going to sound boring.
The 9H’s emphasis towards reproducing natural everyday sounds lends well to content that focuses on the real world. TV shows and documentaries sound rich and benefit from the headphone’s good audio detail. As with just about every headset we’ve reviewed, any movie is going to perform well because film audio is usually not edited to be overly busy. However, the 9H’s subdued bass doesn’t impart the cinematic impact from action heavy scenes.Games
The crispness and sharpness of the 9H’s sound design allows for precise, but subtle sounds to be heard. Additionally, speech and footsteps were well emphasized given the headphone’s tuning to emphasize natural sounds. While the stereo channel does have its limitations, the 9H’s positional audio reproduction is good enough for competitive gaming.
On that note, Dolby Headphone Surround is not particularly interesting because it trades sound quality for underwhelming surround emulation.
SteelSeries doesn’t skimp on their headsete microphone and the 9H’s is superb. Within the scope of gaming, recording playback was articulate and human sounding. Other players had no difficulty hearing and comprehending voice playback.