It’s not always easy to recommend every budget headset. While headphone manufacturers know that not everyone can afford the $300+ audiophile level headphones with all of the bells and whistles, the meat and potatoes of their customer base typically starts with the cheapest entries that they can afford in order to get “on board” with premium gaming peripherals. I can’t say I blame them, because when I first started buying “gaming” equipment, I had no idea how the difference in price also impacted quality of performance as well as craftsmanship. Thankfully, peripheral makers are starting to realize that budget doesn’t have to mean “cheaply made” and SteelSeries has entered the game with perhaps the most versatile starter wireless headsets available on the market today.
- MSRP: $99.99
- Ultra-low latency lossless wireless for PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Android
- Discord-certified ClearCast noise canceling detachable microphone
- Same high-performance speaker drivers as the award winning Arctis 7
- Steel-reinforced headband for a perfect fit and lasting durability
As SteelSeries likes to compare the Arctis 1 Wireless to their Arctis 7, I thought it might be fun to break down how similar they are. For starters, you’ll notice that the Arctis 7 (pictured on the left) has an almost identical look, but the biggest difference is the Ski Goggle style headband. This was probably my favorite feature of the latest generation of the Arctis headsets, because it increased their comfort level by a ton and helped reduce pressure on my head. This also reduced fatigue from extended use and saved me (literal) headaches until the headset had been sufficiently broken in. The Arctis 1 Wireless instead uses the older style headphone band, which is a little bit tight out of the box, but surprisingly didn’t give me as many issues as I expected. The Arctis 1 Wireless is tighter than I would have preferred, but it’s still comfortable, which meant I was able to use it for extended sessions without getting a headache.
As you can see, the headband on the Arctis 1 Wireless is considerably thinner and less flashy, but it doesn’t feel cheap and the steel-reinforcement along with the padding is just thick enough to make it feel sturdy. This feels like a significant upgrade over the Arctis 1 - which, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t ever really a fan of. I thought it felt cheap and uncomfortable. I actually preferred the Arctis 3 for my plug-this-into-your-device-and-go as I thought it sounded the same but felt more comfortable due to the Ski Goggle headband.
SteelSeries says that the Arctis 1 Wireless uses the same sound drivers as those found in the Arctis 7, and while I can see that, the Arctis 1 Wireless does have big sound - but it’s not the clearest or the cleanest sound you’ll get. Everything I tested on the Arctis 1 Wireless sounded the same pretty much across the spectrum. Crisp, but the bass wasn’t so good, and environmental sounds are pretty much drowned out by the focus on keeping the sound at an even kilter. The lack of noise cancelling on the Arctis 1 Wireless not only impacts what you’ll hear, but also what others hear from you. There’s no noise cancelling when listening, which means you’ll hear people around you or traffic if you wear them on a run, but since there’s also no noise cancelling on the microphone, all of your background sound will get picked up as well. Voice communication was clear and I never had any issue with not being heard, but people could hear the whirr of the PlayStation 4 Pro fans engaging or the TV if my wife was watching something in the same room.
My favorite feature of this headset is how quickly you can get it up and running with nearly any device you own. Wireless pairing via the USB-C dongle is almost instant, even on the initial connection, and it’s seamless as you jump from device to device. If you’re playing something on the PS4, you can just swap the dongle out and plug it straight into the bottom of your Switch to dive right into a different session with mere seconds of downtime. If I had any complaints at all about the versatility of the Arctis 1 Wireless, it would be the lack of wireless capability with the iPhone. Even with a Lightning to USB-C dongle, there was no way to use the Arctis 1 Wireless with my iPhone unless I plugged it in via 2.5mm cable. It worked great when I tried it going from PS4 to PC to Switch and even to my wife’s Galaxy S9+, but the lack of support for my iPhone 11 Pro Max was a real bummer and hopefully that can be addressed with a future firmware update.
For years, I’ve been recommending the HyperX Cloud Stinger as my recommendation for entry level gaming accessories. This officially ends that era, as the Arctis 1 Wireless is the new king of the mountain. For under $100 you can buy a headset that not only works with almost everything you throw at it, but with the detachable microphone, you can wear it in public and not look like a goon wearing an obvious gaming headset.
- Feels like a well made product
- Extremely versatile
- Good battery life
- Detachable microphone
- Sound is good but not nearly as good as the Arctis 7
- No wireless support for Apple products
- No space on the headset to store the dongle, nor does it come with a carrying case for the dongle/cables/microphone
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.