Here at MMORPG.com, we are no stranger to premium audio gear. From high-powered digital analog converters (DACs) to USB audio interfaces, we have seen or, more aptly, heard a thing or two when it comes to the gear. With that in mind, we are no strange to the audio offerings from SteelSeries. Last year, we reviewed the Arctis Pro + GameDAC, declaring it “2018’s Best Gaming Headset So Far.” Does 2019’s wireless update to the Pro lineup live up to the legacy and are they worth the premium? We will find out.
- Current Price: $329.99 USD
- Speakers: 40mm Neodymium Drivers
- Frequency Response: 10Hz - 40kHz
- Sensativity: 102 dB SPL
- Impedance: 32 Ohm
- Polar Pattern: Bidirectional Noise-Canceling
- Frequency Response: 100 - 10,000 Hz
- Sensativity: -38dBV/Pa
- Impedance: 2200 Ohm
- Battery Life: 20 hours (10 per battery)
- Connection type: Bluetooth & Lossless 2.4GHz
- Bluetooth Version: 4.1
- Bluetooth Profile: A2DP, HFP, HSP
- Wireless Range: 40 ft (12m)
- Included: USB wireless transmitter station, 3.5mm mobile, USB audio cable, mobile charging cable, microphone windscreen, Toslink optical cable
Features Set and Settings
The Arctis Pro Wireless headphones represent the first wireless offering in the Pro lineup. Uses the 2.4GHz frequency band to provide a wireless connection, this Arctis Pro is also equipped with Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. Using both protocols allows you the flexibility to connect wirelessly to your PC or Playstation 4 while the headset is also connected to other devices, such as your phone.
In case you are wondering how awkward taking a phone call while gaming is, these headphones makes sure that it isn’t. With the Arctis Pro Wireless, there is a setting called ChatMix. This setting will allow you to prioritize game or call audio without losing the call. When answering a call, the Arctis Pro will automatically reduce the game volume to whatever balance was set with ChatMix. Once that call is finished, audio will return to your former settings.
This is not all of the audio mixing that you can do with the Arctis Pro. Whether you mix from the wireless transmitter station or within the SteelSeries Engine 3, you have a 5-band EQ to play with. This includes six preset mixes and the option to completely customize your experience. Throw into the mix options for bass and dialogue enhancement, DTS 7.1 Surround Sound, volume limiters for the built-in microphone, as well as stereo profiles to widen the soundstage and the Arctis Pro Wireless is as versatile as it is comfortable.
At first glance, the Arctis Pro Wireless are very similar in design to the Arctis 9X we reviewed last month. This is not a bad thing; SteelSeries headphones have a sleek, understated look to them that, in a see of over-built and garish offerings, is a welcome corner in the market.
The Arctis Pro Wireless are light weight and comfortable, constructed form a mixture of metal, rubber, and plastic parts. Don’t mistake the use of plastic as them being cheaply constructed. This mixture of material keeps the Arctis Pro light weight and comfortable while providing support in places that it is needed the most. Rubber dots beneath the earphone yolks keep the cups from stretching too far out of their natural positioning, removing stress from that joint. The metal headband provides incredible support without being noisy like we have seen in other builds. This band softened by the partnership between silicon-like rubber padding and adjustable (and interchangeable) elastic “ski goggle” headband.
Moving down to the ear cups, these are some of the more comfortable ones that I have personally experienced in headphones. The cushions have a soft padding with a silky smooth fabric that is both breathable and comfortable. Even as a glasses-wearer, I have worn the Arctis Pro Wireless for extended periods of time without the fatigue that can come from headphones like these.
Testing in the Wild
Before I get into their performance, I need be candid for a moment. I was not expecting to have the experience with the Arctis Pro Wireless that I did. While I wouldn’t classify myself as an audiophile, I know what I like to hear and I have a certain level of expectation attached to price brackets. This experience has made me a quite skeptical when I see high price tags attached to “gaming” iterations of products. What I found with the Arctis Pro Wireless came very close some of my most formative pro audio experiences.
With every set of headphones I test, I threw them into the gauntlet, pushing them to the far reaches of their frequency response. What I found was that the frequency range of the Arctis Pro Wireless leaves plenty of headroom to keep the low-lows and high-highs from getting compressed or lost within the mix. Whether it was the low droning hum of energy weapons in Sci-Fi titles, sweeping orchestral scores, heavy bass and drums, ambient synth electronica, or screaming guitars, the soundstage of the Arctis Pro Wireless felt full and articulate.
If you are looking for an immersive experience in gaming, that level of articulation is what you are look in a pair of headphones and the Arctis Pro Wireless delivers on all connection types we tested. On top of that, the software-based DTX Headphone X 2.0 surround sound helped provide positioning cues that has become a necessity in modern competitive gaming.
Unfortunately, this level of quality does not carry over into it ClearCast microphone itself. Even though there is a built-in software limiter, it is hard to get the right balance with this mic. The audio quality sounds very thin, hovering on the higher end of mid range frequencies and rolling off much of the bass. We have not seen an update of the ClearCast mic in some time.
We won’t sugar coat it: the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are expensive. At $329.99 USD, you start getting into a price bracket is usually where many high-end, audiophile-grade headphones can be found. This is where you would want to make an informed choice to discern what your overall use-case for these headphones will be and what your needs are.
That being said, what you are getting with the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is an entire audio system, no just a pair of headphones. The transmitter base station serves as a one-stop shop for your audio needs. It is a charging station for your extra battery, it functions as a mini-stereo receiver for Toslink optical audio, and as line out to your PC speakers.
If you are looking for an all-in-one solution for your gaming audio needs and you want something that can hang in both the wired and wireless world, the Arctis Pro Wireless are a tempting offering that stands up to the legacy of the past. The quality of the sound whether wired, wireless, or Bluetooth is consistent across connection types and the options available via the receiver make this a multi-purpose audio system that could be your last for a while.
- Extremely comfortable for long-term use
- Versatile usability and consistent audio quality with multiple devices (wired, wireless, Bluetooth for phone, console, and PC)
- Good battery life
- Excellent sound stage for both gaming and music
- These headphones are an investment - make sure this is 100% what you need before buying
- No real update to the ClearCast microphone
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.