For the past couple of years, the SteelSeries Arctis line has had arguably the best overall design when it comes to modern-day gaming headsets. The Arctis Pro wireless headphones are no exception and still do have an exceptional design-style. Its black-colored plastic chassis lightweight, medium-sized and just plain unassuming. With no sharp edges and a matte finish, this gaming headset is an absolute joy to wear, whether you are out and about or whether you’re at your gaming station. It has big, plush earcups that sit comfortably over the user’s ears which don’t press on them too tightly.
Most people’s favourite physical feature is the headset’s ski goggles-style, elastic headband, which helps users get their ideal fit without them having to tweak and micro-manage tedious notches. The overall tightness can be adjusted with the help of a Velcro strap, however, all you basically need to do is place the headphones over your head and allow gravity to do its thing. It’s quite a beautiful concept, and it’s great to see other manufacturers trying to follow suit. Otherwise, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro has tried to keep things as simple as possible. It has a retractable microphone located on the left earcup, with a volume wheel and mic button at the backend of the same earcup. There are also different connectors for charging cables and audio ports. The right earcup, on the other hand, only houses the headset’s battery, which can be hot-swapped thanks to second battery that’s constantly charging inside the transmitter.
As most wireless gaming headphones do, instead of connecting through USB dongle, the Arctis Pro communicates via a big transmitter box (a four-square that’s got rounded edges), which can be connected to either a PC or PS4 via USB. The box itself is actually pretty simple and comprises of a white-and-black OLED display screen at the front, a variety of power and audio ports at the back, a knob and two buttons. It’s a fine box which can be used to control most of the headset’s features using its volume dial. The only downside here is that it isn’t crystal clear on what each port is meant to do, and you’ve got a living-room setup going on, it’s almost impossible to see what’s going on in the small display from couch distance.
The Arctis 7’s overall design closely resembles that of its cousin, the Arctis 5. It’s a sleek-looking, sophisticated and elegant headset with an entirely foolproof adjustable headband and streamlined appearance. Instead of having to constantly tweak rigid extendable rods, the Arctis 7 headset has two adjustable Velcro straps you can play around with and its flexible headband will easily conform in any head size and head shape. Beyond that, you can get it in either a white or black color scheme, with nothing in particular that’ll help catch the eye. You can easily have the headphones on, on the bus or subway, without getting even one second glance from another person. Furthermore, while the SteelSeries Arctis 7 device is much larger than you standard gaming headset, it is still tiny enough to be easily tossed into a backpack or laptop bag. The earcups can even be rotated so that the headset can lie flat when being stored.
Unlike the Arctis Pro, the chat volume slider and power button are found on the headset’s right earcup. However, the 3.5mm audio jack port (for mobile listening), the microUSB port and regular volume slider are located on the left-side earcup. Although this headset needs power for both surround-sound and wireless functionality, users can listen to whatever they want via the 3.5mm audio jack port, whether the headphones have power or not.
The SteelSeries Arctis brand produce arguably the most comfortable gaming headphones on the market, and the wireless Arctis Pros are no exception to this. It’s incredibly easy to find the perfect fit, no matter what head size you happen to be rocking. The headset will sit lightly on the dome and make a tight, though not uncomfortably, fit around the user’s ears. You can wear it for hours (whether for listening to music, commuting or gaming) with no ill effect. SteelSeries is definitely doing something right.
The Arctis 7’s elastic headband makes it very easy to find the perfect fit, which has kind of now come to be expected with Steelseries’ headset products. In fact, it’s still so surprising that other major gaming headset makers haven’t started embracing this innovative approach, given how SteelSeries how this concept continues to consistently provide more comfortable and reliable results. It’s way better than having to constantly reduce and extend two incredibly fickle notched arms. Anyway, the headset’s earcups provide a tight seal around the user’s ears, and you never feel like the cups have pressed on the ears too hard. The only criticism here is that the sometimes tend to bounce around during walks or jogs, which means that they can prove really frustrating if worn while you’re out and about. This issue can be alleviated when the Velcro straps are tightened, although you’ll have to undergo some trial and error to strike a good balance between fit and comfort.
Because this wireless headset has a lot of ports in the transmitter, it can be connected to a gaming machine in a variety of ways. For starters, though, let’s look at how it does on PC and PS4, since SteelSeries itself was thinking about these two systems when it was designing the headset. So, while the transmitter will be connected to PC through the USB and an optical audio cable for the PS$, the sound quality that’ll be produced from both will be the same. The sound quality is all basically determined by how each particular system goes about processing the linear PCM sound. Thanks to its transmitter, user can get to experience the popular 7.1 surround-sound on both platforms. They can also customize equalization options for Performance (multiplayer gaming), Immersion (single-player gaming), Entertainment, Music and much more.
If you’ve gotten the chance of using a pair of Arctis headphones before, then the great sound quality produced by the Arctis Pro won’t surprise you much. While you definitely should strongly consider tweaking its equalization options, you will experience defined lows, clear mids and subtle highs. They could’ve added a bit more power to the bass sounds, especially when it comes to music, however, the balance it provides is generally ideal for gaming. PC gamers will probably already be used to headphones that deliver great sound quality, however, this is much rarer when it comes to PS4 gameplay. Hearing voice work, sound effects and music pumped in via the optical audio cable shows just how awesome everything sounds.
Just like the Arctis 5, its wired cousin, and the Artcis Pro, the Arctis 7 headset offers outsanding sound quality, especially in the gaming department. Although you’ll need to do some legwork if you want to unleash its true power. With both the popular 7.1 surround-sound and stereo sound, alongside a wide array of equalization options, users can get access to wildly different configuration settings from their headphones, whether they’re using them on a Skype conversation or simply listening to music. Fortunately, unlike its Arctis Pro counterpart, setting up individual game profiles is quite easy.
SteelSeries’ Engine 3 program will allow you to tweak with both the equalization and surround-sound settings. These said profiles can then be linked to individual apps, programs and games with the same software. When the sound profiles were tested with The Witcher 3, Marvel Heroes and Overwatch they actually performed really well. On the Stereo’s Flat Equalization option, everything sounded just fine, from Zerg’s death screams as Terran legions mowed them down to Captain America’s battle cries. In Overwatch, the Surround-sound feature enhances enemy footsteps and teammate calls for assistance sound urgent and immediate. The Immersion settings in games like Ghost Recon provided a clean balance between gunplay and dialogue.
The Arctis 7 can also be easily connected to an Xbox One or PS4 via the audio jack feature. All you need to do is attach it to the controller, though they PlayStation 4 can also work wirelessly via the USB dongle. Even though going this route will mean you won’t have access to the surround-sound options, the headset still offers decent sound quality, and the microphone is perfect for competitive multiplayer gaming.
As far as music performance is concerned, the Arctis 7 doesn’t perform quite as well as it does in gaming. When you use it to listen to rock music, it does provide a keen and neat balance among bass instruments, treble instruments and voice work, and even though Stereo sound on its own suffices, the surround sound feature made some choral pieces feel like you were listening to them in a large hall or cathedral.
You’ll have to activate the Engine 3 program and play around with it a little before you find the right balance of equalization and surround sound options for each music genre. Both the headset’s stereo and surround sound options have specific music presets, which actually all sound pretty great most of the time. Anyway, it shouldn’t be that surprising that a gaming headset has inconsistent music options given the fact that they’re were designed with gaming in mind first. With that said, the music performance is satisfactory, however, maybe not for the die-hard audiophile. Though, if there’s one place you can say SteelSeries missed with this particular headset is in the way it handles music.
All the interesting features are found in the Arctis Pro’s transmitter box. Here, you can control volume, switch inputs, manage sidetone, toggle surround sound, create/change equalization profiles, adjust chat mix and more. Although, it’s kind of a bummer that its OLED display is so tiny, which makes it almost impossible to see clearly from afar. Additionally, setting up the box on both PC and PS4 is also pretty difficult, however, at least you only have to go through this process once. Aside from that, the box as a whole is a pretty remarkable tiny device. It gives you an impressive number of options, as well as the ability to control these options via hardware instead of software, of which can all be done right from the headset. In most cases, this helps make the device way more user-friendly because you won’t have to constantly jump into an Engine software program to make simple changes.
Also, users don’t have to go back and forth between the 2.4-GHz wireless connection and Bluetooth connectivity. They can have both of them running simultaneously. This can come in handy when, say, you want to pound it out on the PS$ while still listening to your favorite podcast on your smartphone. Oh, and the Bluetooth feature comes with some interesting perks as well. Songs can be skipped or paused right from the headphones themselves, and calls can be taken and ended this way too. Furthermore, the mic works just as well on 2.4-GHz connection as it does over Bluetooth. And speaking of mics, it is up to the usual SteelSeries Arctis standard, which is both precise and clear, with emphasis on the S and P sounds.
This pair of headphones uses Steelseries’ Engine 3 program, which is a well-designed, intuitive and clean software that helps users keep tabs on everything inside the headset. In addition to creating unique audio profiles, users can also play around with the microphone options. But, other than that, the software doesn’t really offer that much for this particular SteelSeries peripheral. However, one interesting thing about this software is the Library sections. This feature allows users to keep tabs on all the profiles they’ve created, and stores each of them under the same heading. If you make headset, mouse or keyboard profile for, say, Witcher 3, for instance, they’ll all be stored in the same box. This is an incredibly convenient way to synchronize all the peripherals in your possession, provided that they’ve been manufactured by SteelSeries.
The headset’s wireless capabilities can also be leveraged for a speaker or phone, although doing so can be a bit convoluted. Although, while this isn’t as convenient as an in-built Bluetooth system, it does mean users can stream wireless sound both from and to more than just a headset and a computer, which is pretty awesome from a headset that costs $150.
The Arctis 7 also comprises of a flexible, detachable microphone located on the left-side earcup, and just like the Arctis Pro, it’s a high-end piece of tech that captures audio in very subtle and clear patterns. However, it still strongly emphasizes the S and P sound, just like the Pro does. You don’t want to use it to record your podcast, but it is more than sufficient when it comes to streaming on Twitch or competitive gaming.
The SteelSeries Company claims that the Pro Wireless will last you around ten-hours on a single charge, which you’ll find is actually not far from the truth once you test it out yourself. Since its transmitter is always charging the second battery, theoretically, users can indefinitely swap between the two whenever they deem fit. You’ll also have the option to charge through a microUSB, which makes it kind of hard to imagine a scenario where you’d run out of juice completely. Also, regardless of whether the headset has any power or not, you can use the 3.5mm audio jack to listen with.
As far as quality gaming headphones are concerned, if you’re going the SteelSeries route you’ll probably be getting a really good headset, whatever the choice you make. They are manufactured by a company that takes quality very seriously, which is not easy to come by these days. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is a high-level gaming headset that was designed with PC gamers in mind. Furthermore, not only does it have high-quality sound but it’s offers one of the best wireless connectivity out there. Truth is, though, the frequency response might not be the best and it has an interface that can be completely customized, it’s actually might be overkill for a lot of people. That being said, if you can break the bank for high-quality gaming peripherals, then this will certainly blow your mind.
The Pro is actually just slightly better than its Arctis 7 counterpart. It has more connectivity options because of its Bluetooth feature. Furthermore, its base acts as a charging station as well as a wireless transmitter. Its mic also performs really well. Though, if you’re not willing to throw a lot of cash on a headset, are okay with swappable batteries and you don’t have any need for Bluetooth then the Arctis 7 is probably what you need.