Recently EPOS — the former gaming brand of audio juggernaut Sennheiser, now its own thing — launched new flagship wired gaming headsets in both open and closed flavours. The EPOS H6PRO Series comprises a pair of gaming headsets clearly designed for working from home by day, and playing at night. After using both the open and closed variants of the range for a week, these are my thoughts.
How does the EPOS H6PRO sound?
This is really the most important bit, and both the open and closed variants nail it. They don’t feature life-changingly good sound, but they do feature slightly better sound than I would expect for $260. EPOS’ Sennheiser roots always raises my expectations whenever I try out one of their headsets, and they almost always meet those expectations.
Being gaming headsets, both are a touch heavy on the bass for general use, but that enhanced bass absolutely comes in handy while gaming to hear a car rev in the distance, or those light footsteps coming from the right. It was perfect for a quality reproduction of the distinctly different car sounds in Forza Horizon 4.
Unfortunately they’re purely stereo only, making them unhelpful for games where directional audio is important.
They do sound great for music, games where you don’t need to know specifically if something is behind you, and chatting with colleagues in a long Zoom call, though.
They were fantastic for music, as long as you’re ok with the very boosted bass (and it’s easier to use songs as examples because they’re more easily replicated than a multiplayer gaming moment). What I found interesting on a song like Warrior by Skarlett Riot was how separate the high, deliberately tinny cymbals sounded to the rest of the drums. In music, that kind of distinct separation is a little jarring, but in a game it’s key to be able to pick out the little details and frequencies. But then on a song with relatively cohesive frequencies, like Break My Heart by Sara Ramirez, everything came together nicely, even if the snare drum does sound a touch flat, missing the light it gets on more premium headphones.
What’s the microphone like?
Speech quality is usually the Achilles heel of gaming headsets. For some reason companies just forget that people want to talk to each other on headsets with massive boom mics. The H6PRO range does an admirable job of replicating the microphone quality of a good phone. Nowhere near as good as a proper, separate microphone, but more than good enough to chat to a friend (or on company-wide meeting) for hours. There’s a slight tinniness, which is a little frustrating, but the directionality of the mic was so good that my friends couldn’t hear the construction workers jackhammering tiles out my window, which is damn impressive.
The boom mic is also detachable for when you want to use a fancier mic, or use them as your normal headphones out in the world.
The difference between open and closed-back headphones
The closed headphones did a fantastic job of blocking out environmental noise. I’m aware the sounds exist, but I can’t make out detail, and I can’t hear someone else speaking at a normal volume. That’s perfect for when you want to be able to block out the world.
The problem is the closed headphones, although lighter than their predecessors, are still heavy and get quite uncomfortable after an hour or so, despite the soft ear cups. The issue is in the headband and the pressure that gets put on the top of the head. It perhaps could be improved with extra padding under the headband.
The open headphones were much better. I live in a relatively quiet apartment and don’t need to block out roommates, so having the lighter, significantly more comfortable headphones was much more pleasant. I could also comfortably wear them for a full work day without getting the pain and sweat the closed ones caused.
The pair that works best for you will depend on your opinion of outside noise and shape of your head.
The EPOS H6PRO Series shape doesn’t deviate too far from the older GSP 600 series, but the new colours and aesthetic have them looking like cleaner, more sophisticated older siblings.
They’re clearly designed with both work and play in mind, rather than the usual ‘Swedish Eurovision entry’ aesthetic of most other gaming headsets. They would work well paired with a suit, the same track dacks Sydney and Melbourne folks have lived in for the last three months, or an excessive amount of eyeliner.
I love the deep midnight blue of the darker colour-way, and the white colour-way has stayed looking surprisingly fresh — likely to the grey accents on the ear cups and headband masking the inevitable grime that comes with having a corporeal form.
I really liked EPOS’s new headsets, even if the name is a little shouty. While the superior audio fidelity of the closed back headset is usually preferable, it’s the long-wearing comfort of the open headset that makes it the winner for me today.
Are they the best gaming headsets on the market? No, not by a long shot, but they’re also priced halfway between the fancy expensive $500 ones and the cheap and cheerful $99 headsets. For $260, you could do a little better (the Logitech G733 comes to mind, there’s the planar Audeze Penroze for higher-end gaming, and the brilliantly affordable official Xbox headset), but you could do much worse. They look good, they sound good, and the mic is quite fine.
Overall, they’re pretty good.