SteelSeries are no stranger to providing some of the highest quality gaming headsets out there. Their newest entry, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, is a tremendous success for those looking toward the premium end of the market. Featuring Active Noise Cancellation, memory foam earcups and a dedicated DAC, there’s not much more you could ask of this technical marvel. Although the $679 price tag is bound to scare off some of the more casual gamers, SteelSeries have done their best to invent something sleek and reliable for all situations. Should you be happy to invest, you might just find the one headset to rule them all. It’s worth noting, we are reviewing the Xbox version of the Arctis Pro Nova Wireless headset.
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless shares the same design with it’s sibling, the Arctis Nova Pro Wired. That being said, both diverge from the traditional Arctis line-up, instead opting for a sleek, gun metal grey paint job, a rigid metal headband with underlining elastic, and telescopic arms for extra adjustment. It’s bound to fit over most heads, including larger heads like mine. Memory foam ear cups also go a long way in providing comfort for longer gaming sessions, while adapting to you preferred positions in the long term.
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless leaves no stone unturned in terms of design. In one earcup, you’ll find the interchangeable 22-hour battery (with ANC on), while in the other, a dedicated USB-C charging port. This might not seem like a huge deal, but considering SteelSeries intend for this headset to be used both in and out of gaming environments, it’s nice to know that your battery won’t be useless when taken outside the house. The other earcup holds one of the two hot swappable batteries, while the other sits and charges within the DAC. This means you’ll literally never run out of battery, should you be near the DAC. The headset even has the ability to remain powered for a short amount of time which removes even the need to turn the headset on again. While it’s truly a nit-pick it’s worth noting that the magnetic lids covering each of the earcups can be prove a little cumbersome to remove as I can never decide if it’s better to wedge my nails underneath the groove to pull them off, or twist them until they come off.
Where do we begin? When it comes to functionality, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has it all. Active Noise Cancelling? Check. Dual interchangeable batteries? Check. A dedicated DAC that works across multiple consoles? Check. The list really does go on. A huge plus for most gamers and headphone enthusiasts will most definitely be the inclusion of Active Noise Cancelling, which extends to both the earcups and microphone to block out unnecessary distractions like background noise or the loud chewing of chips during longer gaming sessions. If you like to snack during sessions like me, this is a miracle. Well, mostly for my friends. That being said, it’s not quite on par with some of the more elite and dedicated lifestyle options like the popular Sony WH-1000MX5 headphones.
While those are indeed one of the best Active Noise Cancelling headphones available, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless feels like a half measure. They’re sure to drain out most of the mundane noises in the background, they won’t completely drain out the more prevalent sounds, like loud mechanical keyboards for example. It’s not even disappointing as for the most part, none of my friends complained about my constant chewing or super clicky keyboard. However, it’s probably not the Active Noise Cancelling headset you would take on a long flight.
General connectivity and sound quality is fantastic too. I get that audio quality for a headset of this price would be a given, but overall quality is punchy and versatile, with an impressive amount of bass and depth. 360 degree audio with the inclusion of PlayStation 5’s Tempest 3D Audio provides another layer of overall immersion and should be used at every opportunity. The ability to connect via 2.4GHz and Bluetooth is a real treat, meaning you can connect to the DAC for gameplay while connecting to an external device like your phone to listen to podcasts, music and even take phone calls. It’s a slight bummer that the overall volume control only controls the volume of all devices, so you’ll have to alter the volume on your external device independently, should you want it louder or softer than your primary audio. It’s also worth noting that if you do have an external device connected via Bluetooth, turning the headset off only disconnects the primary audio, while the Bluetooth connection needs to be disconnected separately, or else the headset technically remains on.
DAC & Software
The provided DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) serves as you hub for all things EQ and customisation. The DAC is small and neat in terms of design, with a single knob on the right witch controls volume and menu navigation. Aside form control, there’s a few things to do within the DAC alone, including monitoring your selected EQ, along with left and right driver activity. The Xbox version of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is also compatible with both PlayStation 5 and PC and is the option we would recommend should you own all three platforms. With two USB-C ports on the back, you’ll be able to connect two consoles, while the Xbox version has one of those ports set aside for the titular console. The other port will still connect to your remining consoles and the DAC does a great job at switching on the fly.
The real fun begins when you pair the DAC with the SteelSeries GG App via your Windows PC. This nifty piece of software will allow you to customise and save your audio experiences and preferences for the ultimate edge. From here, you’ll be able to customise your EQ settings by game. Along with some pre-made setting for certain games like League of Legends and Apex Legends, you’ll be able to create an EQ which highlights certain layers of sound within a particular game. I’m no sound engineer, so thankfully the GG App was easy to use and highlighted exactly how my adjustments would impact my experience, should I wish to drain out background noise and highlight footsteps in a competitive shooter like Call of Duty. Most pre-sets will do the trick, but the ability to adjust sound on this level is absolutely mind blowing. This level of customisation also extends to the microphone which can help alter your voice, for example making you sound a little deeper.
Verdict & Value
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless quite literally has it all. Sure, some features like ANC might need a little work when compared to elite lifestyle headphones, but since SteelSeries decided to break new ground with a truly terrific gaming headset, it’s hard to argue with the results. While the hefty price tag may ward off some of the more casual gamers, there’s no doubting SteelSeries were aiming big; and for the most part, they succeeded. Combining terrific sound quality, virtually limitless battery life and a DAC that allows for endless customisation options for multiple gaming experiences, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless may be the last headset you’ll need for the foreseeable future.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Gorgeous deign and build quality; Excellent sound quality; Comfortable for longer listening and gaming sessions; Solid battery life; Stellar EQ customisation options.
Lowlights: ANC could be better in certain situations; Premium price tag will most likely ward off casual gamers.
Available: 31 July
Review based on unit supplied by SteelSeries.