The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a wild change to the company’s former flagship headset, but is it worth the steep asking price?
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro wireless headset shook up the gaming headset market, as it was one of — if not the — first wireless gaming headset to come with a premium DAC and a hot-swappable battery.
After the success of the Arctis Pro, SteelSeries is now releasing a highly anticipated flagship successor, the Arctis Nova Pro headsets, which shakes up the design, and has a few more tricks up its sleeve, too. We’ve got our hands on the wireless variant of the headset, and have put it through its paces.
But at a rather high $350 price point, is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless really worth it?
- Connectivity: USB-C, 2.4ghz Wireless, Bluetooth 5.0
- Driver diameter: 40mm
- Frequency response: 10–22,000 Hz (Wireless), 10-40,000 Hz (Wired)
- Mic: Bidirectional Noise-Canceling
- Weight: 338g
- Compatibility: PC, Mac, Playstation, Switch, Xbox (Xbox version only)
- Features: Active Noise Cancelling, Transparency Mode, Hot-swappable battery
Included in the box: Headset, GameDac Gen 2, 2x Battery, 2x USB-C to USB-A Cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm Audio Cable, 2x Removable Magnetic Ear Plates, Microphone Pop Filter.
While the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro’s are technically a spiritual successor to the Arctis Pro, they only share a few design aspects with the old headset.
SteelSeries has ditched the infamous Oval Arctis design, for a more sleek and modern matte black look. The earcup is paired with a retractable microphone, which now sits flush with the headset. Included magnetic plates hide the swappable battery and USB-C charging port with an ever-so-subtle SteelSeries logo on both sides. These small additions elevate the SteelSeries Nova Pro towards a more premium look compared to other gaming headsets.
The company has ditched the athletic ski-goggle headband in favor of a slightly stronger-feeling elastic band, which has mounting points near the earcups for noggins of all sizes. Between the new headband and faux leather earcups, the Nova Pro’s clamp my head just right for moving around during the work day with little to no discomfort.
With the switch from cloth earcups to faux leather, we were worried about how sweaty we would be after wearing them — and we were pleasantly surprised when our ears were still sweat-free after 6+ hours of use.
While they’re a gaming headset at the core, SteelSeries has elevated the audio on the Nova Pro Wireless, which boosts the audio resolution to 96Khz/24-bit, which allows for much more detailed, high-resolution audio.
This is done through the use of their second-generation GameDac, which allows the headset to sound good across the entire spectrum. From booming lows to riffy mids and the highest of highs. Though, listening to music over the Nova Pro wireless’ included Bluetooth connection causes it to lose a little bit of its sparkle in just about every aspect. This is a shame, though it’s clear some thought has been put into the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’s experience.
Unlike its predecessor, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless sports a four-microphone system (two inside, two outside) that provide active noise canceling, and a much-appreciated transparency mode that gives users the opportunity to hear almost nothing or everything all at once.
The noise-canceling does a good job at drowning out everyday sounds like the air conditioner and our keyboard during the work day. Though, it struggled with the hustle and bustle of the traffic outside. It’s purely serviceable, and nothing too special.
SteelSeries has introduced Spatial Audio with the Nova Pro, which offers a ‘performance’ mode to improve your sense of direction, which is ideal for FPS games like Call of Duty, Warzone, and Apex Legends. For single-player games and movies, you can also tune your spatial audio to ‘immersion’ which gives the headset a more realistic surround experience.
On the PC, the headset has ditched the earcup-based chat mix from the older Arctis model, in favor of the more detailed Sonar Software that is built into their all-in-one app — and we’re here for it. The hardware dial on the Arctis line was easily bumped into, causing everything to go out of whack in the process.
SteelSeries Sonar Software offers separate volume controls for your game and chat application. This allows you to mix both audio sources to your will, and it works decently enough. This is a staple feature in most gaming headsets, so we’d be more worried if this crucial feature was missing.
The software also takes it a step higher for both game and chat mixes. For the game mix, you’re offered an equalizer, spatial audio options, as well as gain and volume dials. When it comes to the chat mix, Sonar replaces spatial audio with ClearCast AI noise cancellation and adds noise reduction sliders as well as a noise gate and smart voice.
These are nice bells and whistles to mess around with, though we wonder just how many people will end up tweaking the experience this much. Noise gates can be applied through other pieces of software, and though Clearcast might be decent, it’s no match for Nvidia’s own Broadcast software. Regardless, centralizing it here is useful for users looking for an all-in-one app.
One of the aspects that helped the SteelSeries headsets gain such widespread popularity is the high quality of the microphone. SteelSeries did not let us down with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The mic is comparable to our dedicated USB microphone — and sounds like you’re talking to your friends in person.
The microphone uses the same bi-directional microphone design that Formula 1 crews use. This might appear to be a marketing gimmick, but they are really just that good. Paired with the ClearCast AI Noise Cancellation built into the accompanying Sonar Software, you can eliminate everything from the clicks and clacks of your mechanical keyboard to your little sister trying to talk to you in the background.
Thanks to the redesign of the Nova Pro Wireless, when you’re done talking — just retract it into the earcup and those around you won’t even notice it’s there. It’s a much more elegant solution than having a detachable mic that sits around, waiting to get lost.
SteelSeries offers three variants of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless: PC, PS5, and Xbox. But, there’s not a lot of difference between the three.
With a feature named multi-system connect, the PC and Playstation versions of the headset are able to switch between PC, Mac, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch. Though, you’re only able to use two of the options at a time via USB-C, with one extra available via Bluetooth.
However, if you’re an Xbox owner, only the Nova Pro wireless for Xbox will allow you to connect, and you have to sacrifice one of the USB ports on the back in order to do so.
The GameDac Gen 2 provides plenty of outputs and offers a nice way to adjust your headsets options while charging the (included) second battery for non-stop gameplay. But that’s not all, as it also works as the headsets control hub with options to control the ANC, Transparency Mode, input selection, the ‘sleep’ timer to conserve battery, and it’s all tied together with a handy volume knob.
The Arctis Nova Pro wireless has stellar battery life — with roughly 22 hours on wireless with the ANC on, or 18 hours on wireless and Bluetooth at the same time. After a few weeks of having the headset and using it eight hours a day, we’ve only had to charge both of the included batteries once.
They only take three hours to charge in the GameDac Gen 2, so users will virtually never suffer from a dead headset again. This is probably one of the best features of a gaming headset, so you’re never going to be scrambling for a charging cable in the middle of a match ever again.
Should you buy it?
While coming in at a particularly steep price, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless gaming headset is one of the most impressive gaming headsets money can buy.
From the high-quality audio which sings in your ears, to the added comfort afforded by its smart redesign. It’s all aided by heaps of connectivity via the second-generation GameDac, which neatly wraps a bow on top of this gaming headset. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless ticks all of the boxes to deliver an overall experience that its competitors simply can’t match.
SteelSeries’ Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is one of the best gaming headsets you can buy today. With unique features that you can’t get anywhere else, it’s a worthy upgrade for any setup. While expensive, it simply offers much more than its competitors. Whether you’re looking for an upgrade, or want a high-quality gaming headset, you could do much worse than picking up the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
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