SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 review: Quality at an affordable price
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 offers impressive audio quality, comfortability, and a sleek design at a price point that suits gamers who aren’t looking to break the bank.
It’s safe to say the gaming headset market can be an intimidating place if you’re looking for a top-quality product that’s available for an affordable price, as so many cheaper gaming headsets can be of a relatively dubious quality.
While premium headsets like the Sony INZONE H9 guarantee an incredible experience, not everyone wants to spend huge amounts of money on these devices.
Of course, finding headsets that strike a balance between affordability and quality isn’t easy, but it appears SteelSeries have crafted exactly that with the Arctis Nova 1, a successor to their extremely popular Arctis line of gaming headsets.
- Connectivity: Detachable 3.5mm wire (Headset jack/combination jack)
- Frequency response: 20 – 22,000 Hz
- Weight: 236g
- Compatibility: Anything with a 3.5mm combo jack, headphone jack, and mic jack
- Features: ClearCast Gen 2 noise-canceling microphone, SteelSeries Sonar Audio Software Suite with Pro-grade Parametric EQ, 360° Spatial Audio
- Price: US $59.99 / EU €69.99 / AP $69.99
- Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy
What’s in the box: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 gaming headset, 3,5mm to 3.5mm combo jack, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio and mic jack.
Straight out of the box, you’re immediately struck by the elegant simplicity of the Arctis Nova 1 and its incredibly sleek exterior. It’s obvious SteelSeries wanted to create a device that blends perfectly into a PC gaming setup and wouldn’t look out of place resting on top of a PS5 or Xbox.
Whether it’s the AirWeave memory foam cushions, the smooth volume controls, or the retractable mic that can be hidden away in a matter of seconds, the Arctis Nova 1 doesn’t stand out from the crowd, but its minimalistic design is definitely one of its biggest strengths.
Weighing just 236 grams and equipped with memory foam earcups, the headset is prepared for marathon gaming sessions no matter what title you’re playing. SteelSeries has replaced the typical leather padded interior with a stretchy overhead band, a design hallmark of the Arctis line of gaming headsets. While this was a concern for us at a glance, the headband is surprisingly comfortable and from an appearance perspective, fits the sleek design of the Arctis Nova 1 perfectly.
Of course, questions surrounding build quality have to be asked about any lightweight wired headset, especially in the affordable price range. Luckily, the smooth plastic that makes up the structure of the Arctis Nova 1 feels durable and tough, so it’s clear SteelSeries has built the headset to survive any potential accidents that happen while you’re gaming.
As the Arctis Nova 1 is listed at $59.99, expectations have to be lowered slightly compared to a premium headset that’s available for almost double or triple the price. Despite this, SteelSeries’ latest product still manages to hold its own, delivering impressive sound quality and clarity that’s immediately obvious as soon as you place them over your head.
The Arctis Nova 1’s 360° Spatial Audio is a key feature that can immediately transform the experience on console or PC, especially if you’re playing an immersive title or open-world RPG like Elden Ring. The headset is particularly brilliant on PS5, where the compatibility with Tempest 3D audio ensures you can get lost in any of Sony’s exclusives.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the package though is SteelSeries’ Sonar Audio Software Suite with Pro-grade Parametric EQ, available through Steelseries GG. Compared to its competition at this price point, the Arctis Nova 1 blows them out of the water when it comes to customizing your audio experience and controlling specific sound frequencies. This can all be altered via the software and is incredibly easy to use, allowing you to switch between standard and spatial audio on the fly. These options are perfect for competitive gamers who are looking to get the edge over their foes and pinpoint the position of footsteps in an instant.
It’s worth noting that although the Arctis Nova 1’s offer crystal clear audio, they do fall short when it comes to bassy sound effects that require a heavy impact. While this won’t be a dealbreaker for a lot of gamers, it may affect your experience if you listen to certain music genres.
While certainly not a standout feature, the Arctis Nova 1’s retractable mic does what it says on the tin, offering noise cancellation via the ClearCast Gen 2 hardware. The bidirectional mic reduces background noise and is ideal for competitive gamers who prefer to keep comms clear when looking to secure a victory.
Similar to the audio, the Sonar suite on the GG software also allows you to test and customize your mic sound with a range of options. Whether you want more bass, low mids, upper mids, or highs, there are sliders for every setting, allowing you to perfect your audio before heading into a Discord call.
Should you buy it?
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 is an impressive wired headset that offers all-around quality at an affordable price point. Whether it’s the crystal clear audio, minimalistic design, or Sonar Software, SteelSeries has created an ultra-lightweight slim profile headset that’s ideal for gamers on a budget.
Other than a lack of bassy tones and an occasional stiffness when attempting to re-adjust the size of the Arctis Nova 1, there’s very little to complain about considering they’re priced at $59.99.
If you’re in the market for an affordable gaming headset that delivers quality audio on PC and console, you can’t go wrong with the Arctis Nova 1. The product particularly shines when paired with the Tempest 3D audio on PS5, and could be a cheaper option for those who don’t want to invest in the more expensive PULSE 3D headset.
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