Steelseries are one of the most well-known accessory companies in PC gaming. If there’s one thing we know here at MMORPG, it’s that many of us also game on console for those sweet, sweet exclusives. Today, we’re looking at the Arctis 9X Wireless Gaming Headset designed for Xbox. Never fear, PC players, it also features Bluetooth and wired support for to play on all of your devices. Should this be your next gaming headset? Join us as we find out.
Current Price: $199.99
Neodymium Drivers: 40 mm
Headphone Frequency Response: 20–22000 Hz
Headphone Sensitivity: 98 dBSPL
Headphone Impedance: 32 Ohm
Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion: < 3%
Headphone Volume Control: On Ear Cup
Microphone Frequency Response: 100–10000 Hz
Microphone Pattern: Bidirectional
Microphone Sensitivity: -38 dBV/Pa
Microphone Impedance: 2200 Ohm
Range: 20 ft, 6 m
Battery life: 20 hours
Bluetooth version: 4.1
Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, HFP, HSP
If you own an Xbox One, you already know why the Arctis 9X is important. When it comes to gaming headsets, there’s no shortage but wireless headsets are another issue entirely. With Sony leading the console wars and supporting Bluetooth out of the box, it seems like every major headset supports PS4. The Xbox, on the other hand, is often left out in the cold with its proprietary solution. The Arctis 9X comes to market with the weight of Steelseries’ past successes, which left me particularly excited following the announcement.
If you’re familiar with the Arctis line, you’ll have a good idea what to expect here and that’s a very good thing. The 9X bring back core staples from the line-up, including the durable frame, ski-band suspension system, and the superior comfort that made prior models in the series so popular. It also brings back the ClearCast microphone, which Steelseries claims offers superior noise cancellation to make sure your comms come through crystal clear.
Like the Arctis Pro I reviewed last year, the Arctis 9X is a well-made headset. Picking it up, the steel headband feels solid yet clearly flexible. A good stretch revealed that the band can be stretched nearly flat before springing back into place with no creak or crack to make me worry about its durability. The ear cups are made of plastic but have a nice weight to them. The yokes are also plastic but the joint attaching them to the earcup is metal, so there’s a nice amount of reinforcement there. For the price, I do wish there were more metal in the build, and especially the yokes,
I love the overall look of them. The headband is styled in green and black to match the Xbox. It’s tasteful and not garish. The green is the only bit of color on the headset, the rest is shades of matte and gloss black for the trim. If not for the retractable microphone, you could easily wear these out the house with passersby none the wiser that you were wearing a gaming headset.
The Arctis 9X also continues the trend of being exquisitely comfortable. I’ve used a lot of gaming headsets and Steelseries just has the secret sauce for being able to deliver a headset that I can wear for hours and hours without ever wanting to take them off. It’s a result of two things: the suspension system and the excellent ear cushions.
The suspension band is such a simple concept, it’s a wonder other companies don’t copy it. Around the frame is a simple ski-goggle band. This allows the headset to rest gently on the top of your head to prevent soreness over time, something I’m particularly susceptible to and didn’t experience once here. Other suspension systems leave it there but because it’s a ski-goggle band, you can tighten it to increase the grip on your ears, something self-adjusting headphones lack. You get the best of both worlds here suspension for long-term comfort and adjustment to still get a snug fit.
The ear cushions are also very nice. They’re a fabric-trimmed memory foam that’s exceptionally breathable. Heat build-up isn’t an issue at all and they generally feel very pleasant and even a little cool on the skin. They don’t do a good job at isolating noise, however, and will bleed sound at higher volumes. If you need to hear what’s going on around you, this could be positive but even for gaming in my living room, I wished they did a better job of blocking out outside noise.
Like many gaming headphones, the Arctis 9X are tuned for cinematic gameplay and to drive home those heart-pounding moments that keep us coming back to our favorite games. The bass is big and rich. In some moments, it does step on the mids a touch but Steelseries has given them enough of a tweak to make sure footsteps and the direction of gunshots come through loud and clear.
I also enjoyed these headphones for music. They have a very fun sound to them thanks to the punchy low end. Steelseries has also done a good job of giving the Arctis 9Xs a wide soundstage, so the sense of virtual space and distance is quite good. It also helps that they have a great range of 20 feet or so before the signal starts to cut out.
One thing they lack, however, is built-in surround sound. Since both the Xbox and Windows 10 PCs have the option for Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos, that’s the option you’ll need to choose. While I would have liked to have seen an onboard solution I honestly don’t mind this. I’ve had issues with the surround sound on older Steelseries headsets and Windows Sonic is a stellar free option for spatial audio.
If you do plan to use these headphones with PC, just make sure you have Bluetooth or you’ll need to invest in an Xbox Wireless Adapter. This will run you an additional $24.99 and I really wish a dongle was included in the box. If you don’t mind playing wired on PC, you can still connect with an AUX cord. It’s not ideal, but if you’re interested in playing only on PC, the Arctis 7 is the better, cheaper choice.
Finally, we have the ClearCast microphone, which is the same we’ve seen on other entries in the Arctis line-up. It offers a decent sound for a wireless mic but it’s no longer the trend setter it once was for wireless mics. We’ve seen big developments from the likes of Astro and Audio-Technica in wireless microphone quality where you could reasonably even use one for streaming. Here, the ClearCast mic will work perfectly fine for chatting with friends even if you’re in a noisy environment. I wouldn’t use it for content creation though, which is an increasingly in-demand quality.
If you’re an Xbox gamer, the Steelseries Arctis 9X is one of the best options on the market today. It offers superior comfort, excellent stereo sound, solid range, and a good 20-hour battery life. If you’re on the hunt for a great wireless headset for your Xbox, the Arctis 9X is definitely worthy of a look.
- Very comfortable - love the suspension system and ear cushions
- Well-built, feels solid in the hand
- Great stereo sound that delivers punchy bass
- Good range and battery life
- Rather expensive at $199
- ClearCast mic is beginning to feel a bit dated
- PC wireless requires Bluetooth or an extra adapter
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.