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SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Review: Best Of The Best, Forget The Rest

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The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the ultimate gaming headset with a price tag to match.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
$349.99
Rating
star star star star star
Pros
  • Excellent clear audio
  • Long battery life, with hot-swappable batteries for basically infinite uptime
  • Really good noise cancellation
  • Extremely comfortable
  • multi-platform compatibility with dual, simultaneous connection
  • Good mic
  • Stylish game DAC with multi-functional controls
Cons
  • Pricey
  • The best sound experience demands some fiddling with the software

SteelSeries sent out this headset for testing but did not see the review before publishing.

Let’s just get one thing out of the way from the start so there’s no illusions. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless isn’t perfect, and we think our review reflects that. That being said, this is probably about as perfect as a gaming headset can be. For now. Let me put it another way. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a shining example of how good a gaming headset can be when your primary objective is excellent sound quality.

But it’s not just the sound quality that makes this headset stand out from virtually every competitor. The headset comes with many of the features available on other high-end options. Plus a few rare and/or unique features that you won’t find anywhere else. No matter how hard you try. SteelSeries really did nail this one. And for us, at least, a lot of that is owed to the design as much as the other excellent features.

But like I said. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless isn’t perfect. It’s expensive, and I’ve run into the occasional hiccup during my time with it. I still love it though, and it quickly and easily has become my favorite gaming headset to use for everything. So let’s get into why.

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The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the battery life king

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One of the biggest issues with wireless headsets has always been battery life. Even now, wireless headsets still struggle with it. With the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless this is a non-issue. SteelSeries has kept the same battery design as its older Arctis Pro.

With removable batteries that can be swapped out when one gets low enough to need a charge. This ensures you’re always keeping one battery charged up at all times so it’s ready to go. Then when you need to swap the one in the headset out for the charged one, you simply slide the dead battery into the side of the game DAC and repeat the cycle.

What I really liked about this is that I never had to actually charge the headset. There’s always a powered-up battery good to go which means I just have to turn the headset on and use it. I never worry about battery life anymore. The batteries on the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless are also hot-swappable. You have about 5-8 seconds from the time you take the battery out of the headset to pop in the new one before it disconnects.

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Which is extremely useful for when you’re in voice chat. In my time with the headset so far, I’ve had to hot swap the battery about 10 times. And each time it became more apparent how useful it is to have a feature like this. More or less, this gives the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless what feels like a nearly infinite uptime. As long as you always have one battery charging/charged up. This is also quite possibly the best thing about this headset. Though, it’s hard to say because there are so many other good features here.

Use it with all your platforms

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Does it annoy you when you have to disconnect your wireless headset dongle from one platform and move it to another? While having a single headset for all your gaming platforms is great, this is one problem I’ve ran into for years.

The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless solves this problem as well. And it’s all thanks to the game DAC. It lets you keep two devices plugged in at once. There are two USB ports on the back so you can keep one plugged into your PC and another plugged into your console, in my case the PS5. Then anytime you want to use the headset with one or the other, all you have to do is use the game DAC to change the audio input to the device you’re playing on.

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It can even simultaneously connect to mobile via Bluetooth while you’re connected to PC or console wireless audio using the game DAC. I will typically use this feature when I play on PS5 but want to be in a voice chat on Discord. For example, during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Beta last month. I was playing on PS5 with friends who were on PC, and we all hopped into Discord. Then I connected the headset to my phone and hopped into the call through the Discord mobile app.

I also tend to play Final Fantasy XIV on PS5 but many of my friends are on PC. Which always left me with choosing what audio to hear. I could either listen to Discord or the game. Sometimes both, if I wanted to slip one of the headset earcups off. But that became uncomfortable pretty quickly. With the simultaneous connection, you don’t have to choose. And trust me, it’s amazing.

The best-looking headset SteelSeries has ever made

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SteelSeries headsets have always offered pretty good sound quality. But I have never been a fan of the ski goggle headband design the company used to use on all of its headsets. It just felt like it didn’t provide enough support and the ears were never extendable. The only way you could adjust the length to account for larger heads was by shortening the ski goggle strap. Honestly, to me this was a bad design that was way less efficient.

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Now, though, SteelSeries has switched things up and is changing the design on all of its headset models. Starting with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless and a couple of others. Thankfully, gone is the ski goggle headband. In its place is a stretchy strap that provides a little tension support. The strap tension can also be adjusted using little snaps on the inside of the band.

Another detail that’s changed is the metal band itself. The band is now uncovered (meaning no ski goggle strap running across the top of it) and has some soft-touch plastic on the underside to help with the structural build. Additionally, the earcups also now extend, and the band has a slight angular look to it starting from the earcups, flattening out as it gets towards the middle.

I’m also really loving the gunmetal color, and because the mic is retractable and fits into the left earcup, the headset can easily be used as a Bluetooth headset on-the-go. To round things out, you have all the necessary buttons and dials on-ear. Power, mute, and volume on the left, and Bluetooth on the right. The power button also serves as your ANC button with a quick click. And both earcups have removable covers for accessing the battery and a USB-C port for software updates.

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Some of the better active noise cancellation on a gaming headset

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While I don’t think the active noise cancellation on the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the best of any gaming headset, it’s certainly up there. In fact, for the most part it does what it sets out to do. And I can tell you that even in cases where I was playing games on a laptop in a noisy cafe, I rarely heard anything other than my game. This was without having to increase the volume to extremely high levels mind you.

Should you want to hear things around you, you can by turning on the transparency mode. Though in most cases I’m not looking to hear the outside world while I game, sometimes I’m playing while also trying to have a conversation with a friend sitting near me. It’ll also be useful if you wear these out and about and need to talk to other people without taking the headset off.

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The headset has four mics to help with ANC with two positioned on the outside of the ear and two on the inside. And there’s an additional fifth mic on the actual microphone you use for chat. That way your friends only hear your voice and nothing else.

Overall the active noise cancellation works pretty well. It’s not going to hold a candle to the Sony XM4. But I’m willing to bet most people’s experiences would be close to mine and the headset would be capable of blocking out most if not all sound.

Endless sound customization options with SteelSeries Sonar and GG software

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The headset sounds great without doing much to it, but if you want to really fine tune things you can using the SteelSeries GG software suite. One of the better audio features of the headset is the Sonar software that’s built in. And in conjunction with the GG software you can adjust all kinds of things to personalize the sound. You can set up different game profiles, and adjust sub bass, bass, low mids, mid range, upper mids, and highs to get things perfect.

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Or you can go the easy right and select from a dropdown of pre-set custom game profiles like Apex, Valorant, CoD: Warzone, Rainbow Six Siege and more. There’s also a toggle for spatial sound which I highly recommend turning on as this makes the game audio that much more immersive. Another really cool feature is the ‘Smart Audio’ toggle. When enabled, this automatically keeps the audio in a range that prevents it from being too loud or inaudible. And it has an associated slider that lets you increase or decrease the effect. These are also just the settings for the Game tab.

You’ll find a bunch of tweaks you can do with the Chat and Microphone segments too. And there’s a “test sound” button at the top of each tab so you can see how things sound before committing.

For the most part, the software works well. But I have had times where the audio cuts out when using it. The software did also have a tendency to lock up from time to time and block me off from using certain features. A quick reset of the software usually fixed this. In the end the Sonar and SteelSeries GG suite definitely enhance the headset. But you do really have to sit down and spend a little time tweaking things to make the most of it.

Should you buy the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless?

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Not everyone is going to want to spend this kind of money on a gaming headset. And I totally get that. I do however think it’s worth the investment. That being said, not everyone is going to need all these features. Some players won’t need something wireless. Some won’t need the ability to swap batteries and don’t mind plugging the headset in when it needs a charge. But if you do want a high-end gaming headset with lots of bells and whistles, I say this is the only one to consider.

Its ease of use, excellent audio quality, stylish design, and hot-swappable batteries are a feature combination you just won’t find on other peripherals. So, should you buy this headset? It depends. Here’s who I think it’s perfect for.

You should buy this headset if:

  • You want a high-end gaming headset with tons of features
  • You want long battery life
  • You play games on multiple platforms

You should avoid it if:

  • You don’t want to spend a ton of money
  • You prefer wired headsets
  • You like wireless headsets but just want something simple

Overall this is an excellent gaming headset and truly the cream of the crop. If you want the best, this is it. If having the best doesn’t matter to you, there are plenty of good options at lower price points with decent features and sound.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless