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SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro review

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro review

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless received our Editors’ Choice award for wireless gaming headsets thanks to its clear sound, strong noise reduction and easily replaceable batteries. That said, it costs $ 349.99. If you like the features of the headset but do not want to spend that much money, you may want to check out the $ 249.99 Arctis Nova Pro. The wired version of the headset is compatible with Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation (or Xbox, depending on which version you buy) and has robust sound, useful EQ software and excellent build quality. However, it replaces wireless connectivity and active noise reduction (ANC) to support Hi-Res Audio. If you do not mind that trade-off, you will find that the Arctis Nova Pro is one of the best wired gaming headsets on the market, making it worthy of our Editors’ Choice award.


Arctis Nova Pro Construction Quality

The build quality of the headset is first class. Whether I’m listening to podcasts, streaming the latest shows or playing late at night, I’ve never felt like a burden on my head. The earbuds swing to a comfortable position and have a subtle horizontal tilt that allows them to rest easily on the head without causing discomfort. That said, the padded foam earbuds became a little uncomfortable to wear in the summer heat; I could not stop thinking that my ears would be much cooler if SteelSeries wrapped the cups in something other than artificial leather.

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SteelSeries Headsets left earpiece with microphone extended

(Photo: Francisco Lahoz)

The left earpiece is where you will find the 3.5 mm audio connector, the volume wheel, the mute button and the extendable microphone arm that is flush with the earcup when not in use. A foam windscreen cover is included in the box to reduce unwanted noises when speaking into the microphone. The Arctis Nova Pro lacks the wireless version’s hot-swappable batteries (depending on how it needs to be connected to work), but retains the interchangeable headband and magnetic speaker plates that you can swap for different colors with SteelSeries’ $ 34.99 Nova Booster Packs.

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In a nice touch, the headset has a suspension strap that prevents the headband from pressing into your hair and leaving an ugly imprint. My regular headphones – Sony WH-CH700N – have this annoying band problem, so I’m glad SteelSeries found a solution to that problem. I also appreciate Arctis Nova Pro’s muted color choices. After all, not all gaming headsets need RGB lighting or gaudy colors; the matte black and metallic gray materials have a mature appearance.


Exploring GameDAC

In terms of functionality, the Arctis Nova Pro’s digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) is identical to the wireless version. However, this GameDAC (as SteelSeries calls it) is almost a third thinner, and has a triangular, prism-like design that takes up less space on your desktop. The monochrome OLED screen shows the active USB input and sound levels.

On the back there are two USB ports that allow you to connect the headset to a PC or game console. The standard model we have considered is specifically designed for PC and PlayStation use, but a dedicated Xbox version is also available (which also has two USB ports and works with PCs). The headset includes a line input if you want to connect speakers and control them with GameDAC. There is also a line output for sending audio signals to a mixer or PC sound card, which is useful for game streaming. The headphone jack is located to the left of the OLED screen.

Rotating the dial changes the volume, while pressing it starts ChatMix (more on that in a moment). Holding the wheel for a second activates a menu that allows you to switch between the two USB sources, adjust audio options (set a custom equalizer setting, gain, page tone) and change the line output settings.


The SteelSeries GG app opens in the Sonar menu

SteelSeries GG software

The free SteelSeries GG app (available for Mac and Windows) lets you manage and update all your SteelSeries products. The app has a sound-focused function, Sonar, which enables simulated surround sound. It also has a full parametric equalizer for game sound, and a 10-band equalizer for chat and microphone sound. In an annoying move, SteelSeries requires you to create an account to use Sonar – there’s just another account to keep track of.

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Downloading the app updates the headset to use ChatMix, a feature that gives you more control over the chat and game sound. Simply click on the GameDAC turntable and turn it until you find a sweet spot. In testing, turning it to the left made my Discord chat calmer and the game louder. Turning it to the right had the opposite effect. Unfortunately, updating the GameDAC to give ChatMix the ability to adjust the EQ on the GameDAC itself (you can make adjustments via the GG app, in that case).

The software allows you to save Sonar settings, which you cannot do with the wireless version. You can set custom EQ settings for individual games, and Sonar has presets for Call of Duty: Warzone, Dota 2, and other popular titles.


Back of GameDAC

(Image: Francisco Lahoz)

Arctis Nova Pro sound quality

Arctis Nova Pro’s rich sound provides an incredibly immersive gaming experience. In fact, wearing the headset while playing Dead By Daylight made it possible for the most terrifying experience I have ever had in the survival horror title. Sonar’s spatial sound created frightening scenarios where I could tell the killer’s position by hearing the game’s heartbeat come from specific directions. In addition, Arctis Nova Pro brought new life to Shantae and Pirate’s Curse’s high-energy music tracks.

Speaking of music, Arctic Nova Pro handles bass-heavy, lo-fi beats with conviction, but you may be a little disappointed to turn the latest Bad Bunny album to the maximum level, which creates a bit of distortion. On the upside, the Arctis Nova Pro keeps most of the sound isolated to your ears, even at maximum volume. This is helped by the thick foam padding of the earbuds. Arctis Nova Pro supports Hi-Res Audio, but you should check out the Audeze Penrose if you want a gaming headset with audio-file-level drivers.

Unfortunately, the Arctis Nova Pro lacks the active version’s active noise cancellation feature. If you use the headset in a noisy environment, such as public transport or a busy living room, you will miss out on noise-canceling technology. The padding of the earbuds blocks many sounds, but loud sounds get through.

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One of the best wired gaming headsets

Priced at $ 249.99, the Arctis Nova Pro is a well-built gaming headset suitable for people who spend a lot of time at their desks. The included GameDAC lets you quickly jump between audio channels, and the robust software lets you tamper with EQ settings for superb sound quality. For its overall performance, build quality and options, the Arctic Nova Pro is our new Editors’ Choice winner for premium wired gaming headsets. If you do not want to spend $ 249.99, check out the $ 59.99 Astro Gaming A10 (Gen 2), which is our best choice for affordable gaming headsets. Conversely, if you want high-quality audio file performance, the $ 299.99 Audeze Penrose is worth a look.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro

Benefits

  • Full, clear sound

  • Good microphone

  • Slim, useful GameDAC

  • Powerful software with comprehensive sound adjustments

  • Effective simulated surround sound

  • Suspension strap prevents ugly hair impressions

  • Supports Hi-Res Audio

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Cons

  • Relatively expensive for a wired headset

  • Foam earbuds become uncomfortable in hot environments

  • Some slight sound distortion on the high end

The bottom line

The wired SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro headset offers sharp sound, a powerful software package and a useful DAC, making it suitable for almost all your gaming needs.

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