STEELSERIES ARCTIS NOVA PRO WIRELESS Review | Outrageously expensive, but it can do a lot

 SteelSeries' Arctis line is a staple of gaming headsets. SteelSeries has a suitable model in stock for almost every requirement. With the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, the high-end elite is now also being attacked with features such as active noise cancellation, the connection of multiple devices, 360° spatial sound, and sonar software. However, this has its price - at 379.99 euros (RRP), the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is an expensive chunk even in the high-end sector. But you get a lot in return.


The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless quickly turns out to be an all-rounder. As usual, the headset is available in two variants, namely PC+Playstation and PC+Xbox – the tiresome issue of different wireless technology, which up to now has only been solved in a sensible way by Turtle Beach. SteelSeries kindly provided us with the PC Playstation version for our test.


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In terms of connectivity, the Nova Pro pretty much runs the entire program. It can be operated wirelessly on a PC, Playstation, and Switch, whereby two devices can even be connected via the wireless transmitter - it has two USB-C inputs, and the necessary cables are included. You can easily switch between the two sources at the push of a button. Great for those who may also have a PS5 in operation in addition to a PC and want to use the headset wirelessly on both devices.


STEELSERIES ARCTIS NOVA PRO WIRELESS Review

There is also a connection for an included 3.5 mm jack cable so that you can also use the headset with the Xbox controller or other devices via cable if necessary. And as if that wasn't enough: BlueTooth 5.0 is also available and can be used in parallel with wireless operation. Thus, the connection with smartphones or tablets is not a problem. So if you need one headset for everything, the Arctis Nova Pro is the right choice.


The wireless connection in 2.4 GHz mode is via a transmitter instead of a USB dongle, which also works as a GameDAC. As mentioned, you can connect two devices directly. But the transmitter has even more functions. On the one hand, it serves as a charger. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has two rechargeable batteries - one in the headset and one in the transmitter where it charges. If the headset battery is empty, you can swap it out in just a few seconds without switching off the headset. In an emergency, you can also charge the headset directly via USB cable, a corresponding connection is hidden behind one of the magnetic panels.


The battery life is specified as 18-22 hours, in practical use we achieved about 14-16 hours (we like it loud). So you should hardly ever be embarrassed that your headset runs out of juice. For emergencies, there is also a quick charge function that pumps enough juice into the headset battery for three hours of use within 15 minutes. A pretty clever solution, especially since the replaceable batteries also ensure certain longevity.


The Transmitter/GameDAC also serves as a control station in case you are not using the headset with the PC software (more on that later). In addition to volume, input selection, and game chat balance, an equalizer is also available there. Thanks to the rotary control and touch button, the operation is easy once you get used to the GameDAC's menu structure. One thing is clear: SteelSeries tries to do justice to all uses with this solution and it works pretty well.


STEELSERIES ARCTIS NOVA PRO WIRELESS Review

Let's get to the headset itself. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is optically relatively unobtrusive and is quite suitable for providing you with sound via BlueTooth outside the home without you getting fits of laughter. The design is simple, keep in matt black, and pleasing. The processing makes a good impression. As usual, SteelSeries relies on a solution with a flexible headband. The rotatable ear cups and the soft ear cushions covered with imitation leather ensure a very comfortable fit, which hardly makes you feel the already moderate weight.


The controls remain manageable. On the left, you will find the power button, mic mute, volume control, and the optional jack connection. A USB charging port is hidden under the magnetically attached side panel. On the right, you will discover the control button for BlueTooth connections. The replaceable battery is hidden under the right, also a magnetic panel. Simple, easy, and practical solution.


On the left side, you will also find the extendable microphone. A foam pop filter is included, but you can no longer hide the microphone in the headset when you use it – unless you take it off. The microphone is full-bodied as an AI-controlled "ClearCast Gen 2" microphone, which, thanks to artificial intelligence, should filter any background noise as best as possible. This also works quite well, but the general voice quality of the microphone does not quite correspond to the price of the headset. Don't get me wrong, voice chat, telephone calls, or calls work well, but the microphone doesn't have the recording quality to offer.


If you think that's all, you haven't seen the most important thing. While you only have the GameDAC as a regulating element for consoles, there is much more to do on the PC. On the one hand, you have the SteelSeries GG software, which again offers some rudimentary setting options. Far more important, however, is the integrated sonar software, which allows the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless to fully flex its muscles.


The Sonar software provides you with an extensive portfolio of setting options, garnished with over 20 ready-mades presets for well-known games, music, and films. Not all of them are completely successful, but thanks to the 10-band EQ and profiles that can be created, it's no problem to find optimized settings based on the presets or to create your own. There are also configuration options for 360° spatial sound with different settings, for example with regard to the distance between the individual sound sources, which all in all enables a very round surround image. There is also a mixer, an equalizer for the microphone along with AI noise cancellation, noise gates, and a number of other settings.


The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless pushes the whole thing into your ears via special 40 mm drivers that work with 10-40,000 Hz (cable) or 10-22,000 Hz (wireless). The drivers have a pleasantly clear and balanced sound without any modifications, but it is only with the Sonar software that you can really exploit the full potential. We tried the headset with different scenarios from shooters to dialogue-heavy role-playing games, music of different genres, and films and were extremely satisfied across the board. If you don't mind tinkering a bit with the software, you can tease remarkable worlds of sound out of the headset.


And as if that weren't enough, the headset also features active noise cancellation via a 4-microphone hybrid system. This also includes a switchable transparency mode that lets you through ambient noise. While the technology doesn't come close to the qualities of Sony headphones or the new INZONE H9 gaming headset, it does a pretty solid job overall.


In practical use, we were extremely impressed by the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, especially because of its wearing comfort and the good sound, which can be optimized and adjusted wonderfully with minimal settings - at least on the PC. The tinkering without software directly on the GameDAC for external sources other than the PC is a bit tedious but definitely has an effect. The headset is in the top league, the sound may not be quite as strong as the Audeze Penrose, but it is much more comfortable, it has significantly more connectivity than the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless and is even more comfortable overall and, above all, better than it in terms of configuration and microphone Sony INZONE H9.


CONCLUSION

That almost borders on delusions of grandeur

With the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, you can't help but wonder if the brief was to cram everything that could possibly be done into the headset. It is admirable that SteelSeries managed to do this without completely overtaxing the user, even if you certainly have to take some time to get the full range of functions under control.


The all-rounder from SteelSeries scores with a mercilessly large number of connection options from jack to BlueTooth to wireless with the possibility of even connecting two platforms (e.g. PC and PS5) to the wireless transmitter. The wearing comfort is high, and there is nothing to complain about in terms of workmanship. And the solution with the two exchangeable batteries, one of which charges in the transmitter, is very clever.


Above all, however, the almost endless configuration options are convincing, which open up above all on the PC thanks to the Sonar software. Okay, not all presets are successful, but the work to adjust the sound to your own taste is comparatively minimal. The wireless transmitter even allows adjustments to the console sound thanks to an integrated equalizer.


In terms of sound, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless collects a lot of points, especially on the PC, even if the sound via BlueTooth or from the console is certainly not the worst. The whole thing is then garnished with 360° spatial audio and the almost perfect headset is ready. There are minor drawbacks with the microphone, which doesn't quite do justice to the price, and with the active noise cancellation, which is a bit better than the competitor Sony H9.


If you are not put off by the horrendous price, you will get one of the best gaming headsets currently on the market - both in terms of sound and functionality.


Pros

  • Two platforms can be connected to the wireless station
  • parallel BlueTooth operation
  • high wearing comfort
  • good workmanship
  • Immense configuration options via sonar software
  • optional jack connection
  • clever solution with replacement batteries
  • 360° spatial audio, adjustable
  • very many presets in the sonar software

Cons

  • very high price
  • Microphone and ANC "only" good

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