Steelsound 5H Headset

Aron Schatz
October 3, 2005
Steelsound 5H Headset
Headphones are ideal if you live in an apartment with cranky neighbors or don't want to disturb the people around you. They are also great for LAN parties. This headset is built with gamers in mind, and I was quite impressed with the sound quality. Read more...

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Steelpad makes »some nice mousepads and »some not-so-nice ones. Being a company that caters to gamers, Steelpad has branched out into the audio market with their new Steelsound 5H USB. This product combines a quality pair of headphones with an external USB sound card.



Steelpad packages the product in a nice-looking, clear plastic BOX, not the "Blister Pack" packaging that is so common with today's retail products. (They look pretty on the store shelf, but sometimes you need a machete and a blowtorch to get them open.)



* Frequency response: 16-28.000Hz
* Impedance: 40 Ohm
* SPL@1kHz, 1V rms: 110dB
* Cable length: 1+2 = 3m

* Frequency Response: 75-16.000Hz
* Pick-up pattern: Uni-directional
* Sensitivity: -38dB
* Impedance: 2K Ohm

The impedance would be a bit high for speakers, but this is an acceptable number for headphones. In general, the lower the impedance, the better the sound will be. (For more detailed info on impedance, click here:



Included in the package are the headphones, an extra-long speaker/microphone cable, the USB sound card, a driver CD and the manual.

The Headset:

Broken Headset
Retracted Extended

The headphones in this package are more like the kind designed for studio/DJ work and more "serious" listening. They are not just a pair of $10, throw-away headphones. These have a much more accurate sound output, and wrap around your head, creating a near sound-proof barrier between your ear and outside background noise. Since these are headphones for gamers, a couple of special features have also been added with their needs in mind. The first is portability, as this set easily breaks down into three smaller parts for better mobility when going to LAN parties. The second is the built-in microphone, which can extend and retract when not in use. The microphone is constructed with a bendable metal support and can be adjusted to be the perfect distance from your mouth. Many PC games are using voice chat today, and I'm glad that there are headphones that include this important feature. There is nothing more annoying than having to listen to a game full of mouth-breathers with their mics too close to their pieholes.


The color scheme of the headphones is the ever-popular silver and black. The headband is made of leather, while the cups are made of soft cloth. Based on my testing, I'd say that these are quite comfortable to wear even in extended gaming sessions. For people with large, Charlie Brown-sized heads, the headphones can extend quite a bit to accommodate. Each side is individually adjustable for correct placement on each ear... just in case your noggin is shaped like you just stepped out of a Picasso painting.

There is a handy volume knob built into the speaker cable going to the headphones for easy, on-the-fly volume control. I found that when adjusting the volume, there was a slight static sound at some spots, but the noise disappeared when the adjustment was completed. This is an unfortunate (albeit minor) annoyance.

The USB Sound Card:

More Stuff

Steel includes a Cmedia USB sound dongle to provide the same audio clarity at any workstation. Thankfully, there is no need for the driver CD if you are running Windows XP: you can simply plug it in and listen. The drivers included with the headphones do more than basic functionality, of course. They include Xear virtual 7.1 sound. It is a nice concept that works well considering that there are only two speakers. The virtual 7.1 setup lowers and tunes the volume for each speaker to 'position' the speaker a certain distance away from your head. It was impressive and quite convincing.


Next, I went about listening to music and doing some gaming with the headphones. (This type of testing is very subjective, so don't mistake this for any sort of standardized testing procedure.) I found music playback to be very good with equal highs and lows. You can feel the bass of the music without using an equalizer, and the highs are crisp and audible as well. Music sounded full and vibrant, even when compared to my speaker setup. Granted, my 5.1 speaker system can blow any headphones out of the water, but for their intended purpose, these cans sound great.

I fired up some Burnout Revenge and played through the computer with a capture card, and the sounds from the game were incredible. You could feel the cars coming up from either side and it was a truly immersive experience. Outside sounds were blocked out enough, but not enough that you are oblivious to your surroundings: you don't want to miss a fire alarm while you're playing a video game. All in all, these are an impressive set of headphones.

The microphone also performs well. I tested it by attempting to do an audio review of Burnout Revenge. The sounds it captured were a bit lacking in bass, especially when compared to the nice studio mic that Rude has, but it serves its intended purpose of communicating in games with voice chat. (I'll have that audio up for Burnout Revenge soon.)


Although the set is a bit pricey (over $100), the sound quality is truly excellent. Getting a good-sounding pair of speakers/headphones really helps immerse yourself in a game, and makes chilling out while listening to some tunes much more fun. As noted, the set comes with an optional USB sound card to provide the same sound no matter where you are. This is a nice addition, but I'm glad that the headphones can be used without the USB dongle as well.

Steel has really come through for gamers with this set of headphones. Since these are rather expensive, though, you may want to weigh the alternatives before purchasing them outright. For most, a good speaker kit is usually the thing to get, but if you're worried about neighbors and/or the police banging your door down at 2 AM, look no further than this set. This product seems to be diffucult to locate online or in a retail store to actually purchase though, so you'll have to head directly to Steelpad to get them.

I'd like to thank Jakob from Softtrading for providing the Steelsound 5H for review.

Remember to »enter in our four year anniversary contest going on right now. A simple post in the forums is all you need to do to qualify. Good luck.


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