South African Pro Audio Distributor, Audiosure, recently added HP Headphones to their product profile. With their extensive background in Pro Audio, Studio and DJ Equipment they have the perfect channels and expertise to branch out in the Lifestyle Audio field. They let me check out the entry level USB gaming headphones before they landed in stores. Here are my thoughts.
The DHE-8003 headphones are for the most part constructed out of a robust matt black plastic with flat metal pieces used to reinforce the headband slide. The cup has 50mm drivers installed with a small microphone stem on the left that can be extended or retracted back into the cup. The driver side of the cups are covered in a soft, breathable, black leatherette material that totally covers your ears.
They are very comfortable, and the outside of the cups also have the blue backlit HP logo’s that can be switched on and off. The headband attaches to the cup at two points and also has a slight twist so the fit of the headphones is really snug on your head. There is no visible cable running from the headband into the cup. The headband is also plastic with the same soft breathable leatherette covering the inside of the headband for comfort.
The volume control is a large handle sized plastic controller, with switches for the lights on the headphones, and mic mute and an ambidextrous volume control wheel. This control portion is positioned quite close to the headphone itself. So, on a shorter person the control might lie on the desk but for me (just over 6ft) it feels a little strange dangling. It’s not in the way and doesn’t put any strain on the cable attachment into the headphone itself but the control itself is quite big so I feel it could be a little longer. The cable itself is an inexpensive 2M plastic covered cable that terminates in a flat USB connection.
So I plugged the DHE-8003 into my work computer, a robust Dell Latitude, and the audio worked instantly. No having to dig around in the driver settings and change everything. Skype worked the same way. Zero setup. Plugging into my iMac just required that I instruct OS X which audio device to use via right clicking on the speaker icon and they worked perfectly from there.
The DHE-8003 are very detailed and extremely good value for their price. They sound fantastic and really wrap around your head to isolate your hearing from the outside world. And it is a very immersive experience inside. They are light and comfortable and lend themselves well to extended sessions. The audio fidelity is solid, while remaining detailed. High resolution audio formats such as WAV, AIFF and FLAC audio are easily discernible on the headphones when compared to compressed streaming formats such as MP3.
The surround sound effect is great and really gives you a fantastic stereo image when gaming. I tested it on a decent spec gaming machine with Call of Duty – Warzone, Farcry 5, FIFA20 and ARK and playing through the game you can accurately discern direction and distance of sounds in games such as animals, vehicles, footsteps and most importantly shots coming your way. The retractable gooseneck microphone is clear with very little EQ or coloring of the signal and can be neatly stowed away in the cup housing or pulled out to be closer to your mouth for cleaner signal in a louder environment.
The stitching for the material on the one ear-cup wasn’t quite the same as the other on close inspection but it was the side with the microphone so I suspect there is a little more tech loaded into that side. That being said, the build quality is solid for a headphone in this price bracket.
The overall experience is fantastic and ticks all the boxes of the quality and connection options you would expect from a headphone bearing the Hewlett and Packard badge. It is certainly not competing with the high spec professional gaming sets from its Omen range, but it performs better than pretty much all the headphones in its class and with a suggested current retail price of R1200 you are getting great value for your own private audio environment, whether you are going to be using it for gaming or for work.