First thing you pull out of the box are the headphones obviously. The design is focused towards to gaming elite, and well they look damned cool. The product finish is excellent and the headphones are well made and sturdy.
Built into the main connector set is a handy volume controller with separate controls for both the headphones and the microphone. The headphone volume control is a slider wheel, while the microphone controller is a toggle switch. The toggle has these options: OFF, LOW, HIGH.
Setup of this product can't be simpler, they've color coded the entire head of the plug. They chose to use sound card industry standards, those being green for sound and pink for microphone.
The microphone in this unit is a handy little tool, it is built directly into the headset with a bendable arm to get the perfect distance from your mouth. This feature allows you to retract the microphone back into the headset to an almost completely hidden state.
As you can see, there is a large amount of very comfortable, flexible padding for the users head. The headband is also removable for ease of transport, without any damage coming to the headset.
You can see the ventilation system built into the Steel Sound 5H headphones, though after some prolonged use it doesn't look to be enough. I'll explain more in the testing section.
I have always been a big fan of Steelpad's mouse pads, though a little pricey they work very reliably and have definitely given me an extra edge in the middle of fragfests.
I chose to test the headset in a few different scenarios, those being: DVD Audio, MP3 Audio, and in-game usage. The software used was my old favorite Unreal Tournament 2004. The game utilizes some very specific sounds as well as a high volume of in game voice chatter. I have always found this game to be an excellent test of a sound systems capabilities. For DVD, I used WinDVD and iTunes for MP3s.
The headphones during testing utterly failed, even with the volume at very low levels you could hear distortion in the audio, at first I figured it was a loose connection on the extension, so I tried plugging two different other pairs of headphones (Cheap dollar store brand and the Icemat Siberia Headset) into the extension and found crystal clarity. I then tried plugging the Steel Sound 5H headset directly into my computers sound card without the extension, and again I was faced with horrid distortion. The sound quality was pretty much the same in all different scenarios no matter what application or software used.
The microphone, on the other hand, had some great quality sound reproduction with very precise capture of the tones in my voice. I used in-game chat in UT2K4 and Windows Sound Recorder and found a great playback nearly every time.
The convenience of having the microphone pull in and out of the headset is an excellent feature, as is the removable head strap. These both were definitely designed for the gamer traveling from one LAN Party to the next. The earphones themselves could use some more ventilation, after an hour of use they were basically sticking to the sides of my head.
The cable extension was a handy addition and will definitely reach to your PC seeing it measures a full seven feet in length. This is really handy if you don't have a standard computer configuration with the tower right beside you.