Review
SteelSeries 5H-V2: Medal of Honor (Limited Edition)

By Jorge Figueiredo - June 10th, 2011

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It used to be the stability of your network connection that would determine your online first-person-shooter success; lag was an unforgiving enemy, and a poor connection would leave you wondering how you went from sprinting between cover to lying on the ground with a large hole in your noggin. Nowadays, it is safe to say that it is the rare bird that has a poor internet connection. Advantages are now bestowed by better graphics cards (increased visual detail), better audio cards (allowing you to pinpoint sound more accurately), more precise gaming input devices (headshots) and yes, even better headphones.

Headphones, you ask? Oh yes, my friends: headphones. These devices offer several benefits to your gaming sessions. Good headphones are comfortable, allowing you to focus on your game; they can also work hand-in-hand with your sound card, creating a virtual map of the in-game soundscape; this translates to an edge because it gives you another layer of information to use in a fight (that is, pinpointing your enemies), improving your overall gaming experience. SteelSeries created the 5H V2 to enhance this even further.

Right out of the box, this headset is impressive. Based on the 5H V2, this limited-edition hardware has been “re-skinned” with a battle-hardened look and the Medal of Honor logo. The unit has a hard-wired braided cord (durable) with inline volume and mic controls (complete with a clip to attach it to your clothing); there is also an extension cord included, also braided. The microphone is retractable and flexible, easily pulled out or tucked away at a moment’s notice. It is obvious that everything has been designed with ease of use in mind; the easier it is to use, the less time you will spend fiddling with it during a match, which translates to less time being killed.

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Simply beautiful.

This headset is one of the most comfortable I have ever worn. It is relatively light for its size, with comfortable padding on the adjustable headband and thick foam cushions around the earphones; the material that is used is soft enough to fit nicely around your ears without feeling oppressive, yet firm enough to hold its shape (both of these factors also help dampen external sounds). Additionally, with decent ventilation on the earphones, you won’t have to worry about your ears getting all sweaty from extended use: nice touch!

As impressive as the design is in terms of comfort, the audio quality that this headset delivers is fantastic. My old Plantronics gaming headset was fairly good in terms of sound quality. While not quite as full-sounding as my Nox Audio Specialist, they had fantastic bass response. I am happy to report that the 5H V2 headset puts forth incredible audio quality. Soundscape is full with nice low bass and excellent mid and highs with no distortion at low volumes and very little as you climb the scale. SteelSeries has also made some tweaks, enhancing the frequencies that carry noises like: footsteps, gunfire, clip reloads; a good number of subtle sound cues sound much clearer, allowing you to react faster. This is where the edge comes from.

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Flexible and durable, the retractable microphone is awesome.

I’m not usually someone who buys in to claims like this. Ever the skeptic, I always wonder if these sorts of claims are based on science, or if they are just “gimmicky”. Eager to find out, I booted up Battlefield: Bad Company 2 started playing using the 5H V2 headset. I have a respectable Kill/Death ratio on the average; would this headset improve my performance? I picked the Medic class and took down a few enemies; I ran into the underbrush to take pause and plan my next move. Suddenly, I heard the sound of someone approaching me from behind, so I did what came naturally: I spun around and stabbed my would-be assailant in the face. I realized after that point that the sounds of the game were slightly different. Not only was it easier to detect people sneaking around; I could also pinpoint the source of gunfire relatively accurately. On top of “what you hear” being great, the microphone delivers a great performance as well. My voice was easily picked up and heard by folks that I was playing with. Some testing using Adobe Audition revealed that the microphone worked across a wide range of volumes, whether I was speaking softly or not.

It’s nice to find a great headset that really enriches your gaming experience. The design is solid; the construction is durable; the sound quality is great (even music sounds wonderful); the headset is even easy to transport – it disassembles easily into three pieces! The price point is not bad, either: about ninety bucks in North America. All in all, this gaming headset is a great value. If you choose to get the Limited Edition Medal of Honor 5H V2 (or just the “plain” 5H V2), you are getting a great product that will enhance your overall gamine experience. Definitely a great value!

Click here to check out the 5H V2 Gallery! ยป

* – Although the construction left a lot to be desired; the headband had too many weak points and broke while I was adjusting them one day.

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