Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless | The one to beat?
This review of the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless was originally posted in Dutch on Tweakers.net, the biggest techsite of the Benelux. This is a translation which for the most part has been kept the same.
Tweakers Test Panel
I was one of the lucky ones to be able to review a product as a member of the Tweakers Testpanel. They gave me the chance to test one of the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headsets. This was great news as I recently started using a wireless mouse and keyboard. I was already experiencing a lot less clutter on my desk because of this. I received a phone call from the courier company that delivered the headset on behalf of Tweakers.net After making an appointment, the headset got delivered the following day.
Specs of the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
- PC (with Sonar, windows 10 and higher)
- Mac (USB)
- Switch (USB)
- PS4/PS5 (USB)
- Mobile (Bluetooth)
GG + Engine: Windows 8.1 and above, Mac OS 10.13 and above
GG + Sonar Audio Software Suite: Windows 10 and above (required for ChatMix)
Neodymium Drivers: 40 mm
Headphone Frequency Response (Wired): 10–40,000 Hz
Headphone Frequency Response (Wireless): 10–22,000 Hz
Headphone Sensitivity: 93 dBSPL
Headphone Impedance: 38 Ohm
Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion: < 1%
High-Res Audio Capable: Yes (Headphone Speakers)
Active Noise Cancellation: 4-mic hybrid design with Transparency Mode
Microphone Type: ClearCast Gen 2 – Fully Retractable Boom
Microphone Polar Pattern: Bidirectional Noise-Canceling
Microphone Frequency Response: 100-6500 Hz
Microphone Sensitivity: -38 dBV/Pa
Microphone Impedance: 2200 Ohm
Infinity power system
Number of Batteries: 2
At Home: Non-stop battery with hot-swap (within 8 seconds)
On-the-go: 44 Hours – 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 Gaming Wireless / 36 Hours – 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 Gaming Wireless + BT (18-22 hours per battery)
Fast Charge: 15 mins for 3 hours play
Bluetooth Wireless: v 5.0
Gaming Wireless: Low Latency 2.4 GHz
Dual Connection: Simultaneous 2.4 Ghz & BT
Wireless Range: 40 ft / 12m (2.4 GHz)
- Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset
- Wireless Base Station
- 2x USB-C System Connections, 1x Line-in, 1x Line-out
- 2x Lithium Ion Batteries
- 2x USB-C to USB-A Cable (5 ft / 1.5m)
- 3.5mm to 3.5mm Audio Cable – 5 pole to 4 pole (4 ft / 1.2m)
- 2x Removable Magnetic Ear Plates
- Microphone Pop Filter
Unpacking the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
The Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro comes in a big box. The headphones are shown on the front of the box together with the supplied DAC. As you can see, this version is suitable for both the PC and the Playstation 4 and 5. There is also a version that works with recent Xbox consoles. On the sides, seen from the front, on the left some quotes from reviewers and on the right the technical specifications. A number of USPs of the Arctic Wireless Pro are highlighted on the back.
In the box
When opening the box, you immediately see the bag that contains the headphones. Below that is a manual with in this case a card with the text First Edition. Between the headphones is the supplied DAC. More on this later.
On the lower part of the box you will find a red box containing the following accessories:
- 2 x USB-A to USB-C cables
- 1x Audio jack 3.5 to 3.5 mm
- 1x pop filter for microphone
- 1x Extra battery
First Impressions of the Arctis Nova Wireless Pro
The headset gave me a good first impression. The headset is mostly black with a so-called space silver look on the headband and ear cups. It’s not a head turning look. Most buttons can be found on the left earcup. Here you will find the on/off button, the microphone switch and the volume wheel. The retractable microphone and 3.5mm connection can also be found here. A button has been placed on the right earcup controlling the bluetooth function.
As mentioned, the headset looks quite understated but feels solid. The headset is mainly made of plastic. Plastic has one big advantage over metal; it is light and therefore less likely to have a tiring effect while wearing. It also transmits less cold and heat to the user as metal does. A metal strip is mounted on top of the headband. The headset is easy to adjust in height, although there is no noticeable click while doing so. All in all the headset comes across as sturdy and doesn’t creak anywhere.
There is a magnetic cover on both ear cups. These immediately reminded me of an earlier model of Steelseries which I have used in the past. Although this was a headphone where the covers were purely cosmetic, they now both hide a different function. Under the left cover you will find a USB-C connection and under the right the removable battery.
The ear cups themselves are made of artificial leather. This feels very comfortable and seem to have memory foam in inside of them. Removing the earcups also reveals one of the microphones that assist in the noise cancellation. I have read a number of stories where people indicated that they felt these and where bothered by it. For me personally, this has not been the case during testing. The ear cups are easy to rotate. This way you can fold the headset flat and transport it more conveniently.
Replacing the earcups of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
There’s something else about the ear cups that I’m personally a little concerned about. These are provided with a plastic cover with which you have to click them into place. I had a similar system with a Philips Fidelio Bluetooth headset. These earpads, also made of Pleather, needed to be replaced after a few years. Due to the very specific way of clicking into place, replacing it was no longer reasonably possible. I hope that Steelseries itself or a third party will release replacements for this headset in the future.
Removable Comfort Headband
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has a so-called comfort band; a flexible soft band that stretches with you. This band rests on the head and adapts to its shape. This provides an extremely comfortable feeling. There is a plastic belt which has various triangular structures in which there seems to be a soft foam. The strap can be adjusted in height if desired and is interchangeable.
Operating the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
In general, I like the buttons on the headset. I do find switching it on and off confusing and I would have preferred a slider for this function, such as with my Bose 45 headset. I sometimes think to turn the set on or off, which does not seem to go well in practice.
Wireless Base Station
The Steelseries Arctic Nova Pro Wireless comes with a wireless base station. This makes it possible to connect the headset to the PC with a 2.4GHz connection. The main advantage compared to a bluetooth connection is that there is less latency. Of course during competitive games you don’t want to hear the footsteps behind you a second too late!
The base station is relatively small in size, about as wide and less deep as my DAC/AMP from Topping. There are two USB-C connections on the back for, for example, the PC or console connection. A 3.5mm line-in and line-out can also be found here. The unit itself is made of plastic and has an OLED screen. The display shows all information in white; there are no options for other colors. A large rotary knob has also been placed on the front. Finally, there is a recess on the side where one of the batteries can be placed to charge it.
On the base station itself you can read things like the volume, the bitrate that is used and the balance between the right and left channels. The volume knob can also be used to navigate the menu. You can confirm by pressing this button, while navigating back is done by means of a capacitive circle on the screen.
Software for the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
To use the base station properly, it is necessary to download the steelseries GG software. When using the software, there was an immediate request to provide the headset with new firmware.
The headset can be fully configured to taste in the Engine software. For example, there are an equalizer, audio presets for music, games and speech, but you can also configure when the headset should go into standby.
Under the heading Apps, there are various settings that can be applied to the screen of the wireless receiver. For example, it is possible to show stats from your PC, discord messages can be displayed or song info from Tidal.
Finally, it is possible to link specific settings to individual games; for example, opting for more bass in Hitman 3 and focusing more on vocals in a game like Hades.
Sonar is a must-have in my opinion if you want to get the most out of the Arctis Nova Pro wireless. Here you can really go wild to personalize the headset. There is a more extensive 10-band equalizer, more presets, smart volume, but also spatial audio. With spatial audio you can fine-tune where and how your sound should be positioned. This way you can adjust the distance of the sound, but you can also move a slider either towards performance or immersion.
Sonar has another card up his sleeve. There is Clearcast ; AI driven Noise cancellation which is still in early access. Noise gate cuts sound when it falls below a certain level, while Smart voice keeps sounds at a preferred level. After all, Noise Reduction is there to filter out things like keystrokes and case fans during recordings.
Sound quality of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
I have used the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless to play games, listen to music, make phone calls and watch movies. My experiences have been largely positive.
I started using the headset while gaming. I really enjoyed sound in games like Hitman 3 where the sound was very detailed. Dialogues in the game were easy to understand and sound from, for example, throwing away a crowbar came in more impactful. Sea of Thieves was a great experience with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The music, but also the sound of confrontations on the high seas with another crew, fantastic! Spatial audio really adds something to games, enemies can be heard coming from all sides and directions.
Tears in rain, Bladerunner soundtrack, Vangelis
I played this song on the clear vocal settings, full immersion and the very close range. In the beginning you can hear Rutger Hauer doing his iconic monologue. I had the feeling that I myself was kneeling in my trench coat with him. Awesome!
Your latest trick, Brothers in Arms, Dire Straights
The intro with trumpet (CD version) but also the saxophone can be heard well next to the vocals in the song with the Punchy setting. Occasionally the music sounded a bit too shrill for me, but adjusting the equalizer and the various presets is easy enough to set things straight.
The Business, The Business, Tiësto
This song, of course, was set to the Deep Bass preset. The bass got a nice boost without completely ruining the vocals. bass-heads can also have fun with this headset!
While playing games, I didn’t get any negative feedback. When I asked how well I could be heard, I was told that I was well understood. People sometimes thought my voice sounded a bit too soft though. Perhaps this is a software setting that I have overlooked. Or it is something a firmware update is able to fix.
During a telephone conversation, I was clearly understood by the other person. I did get the comment that it was very good to hear that I happened to be taking a plate out of the dishwasher. Apart from that, the person I called was surprised when I told them I was calling with a headset. I could also understand the other person very well.
This is a recording made with the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro wireless headset. Clearcast AI is not enabled.
This recording is made with clearcast enabled and set to the default settings.
The bluetooth connection works great with my phone, Chromebook, and Windows laptop. The range and stability are excellent. However, I did experience an annoying drawback. While playing movies on my Chromebook, I noticed a lag. I couldn’t get this resolved myself and ended up using the headset wired. I think using the latest bluetooth 5.2 would have been a better option here.
Unfortunately, I think the ANC is less successful. I may have been spoiled with a Bose QC-45 headset though. The Steelseries headset does not reach this level. I can barely tell the difference between on and off. I can still hear sounds coming through in the background that I can’t hear while using the Bose.
The Steelseries Arctis Pro has a suggested retail price of €379 in Europe and $349,- in the US. Although this is not a small amount, you do get a lot for your money. Not only do you get excellent sound, but you also get a great microphone and a wireless DAC for a stable 2.4 GHz connection. Finally, there is the software which really has added value in this case. For this amount you actually get two headphones, because it can also be used on the go thanks to bluetooth and a 3.5mm connection. The design is quite understated and the microphone is neatly tucked away, so you don’t have to worry about people staring at you.
For the most part the Steelseries Arctis Wireless Pro headset is an excellent product. The headset is lightweight and feels solid despite the use of mostly plastic materials. Using interchangeable batteries that can be charged in the DAC are excellent choices. I would have liked to have seen a separate charger for a weekend trip, for example though.
The headband and ear cushions are made of fine material and provide great comfort. It’s nice to see that Steelseries makes it easy to replace the headband and covers and let you personalize them with other colors. I hope they will also sell individual earpads as they require a special click adapter. For me personally this is a disadvantage given previous experiences with other brands. Hopefully Steelseries handles this well.
The software is also fantastic and of added value. The connection of bluetooth could be better, perhaps this can be adjusted through a software update. The ANC is nice to have but not that great. All in all, I am very satisfied with the Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless and can heartily recommend it if you are looking for a premium wireless headset.