The SteelSeries Arctis is already on our list of the best gaming headsets since its launch. The only headset with the same versatility is the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless. However, the Arctis 1 Wireless does not have the same elastic headband or premium sound as the SteelSeries Arctis 7, making the Arctis 7 a better total investment for the PC and PS4. If you’re willing to pay a premium for a gaming headset, it should, of course, sound great, but it should also be comfortable, work with as many devices as possible and look stylish. This is our SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review.
1. SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review: DesignNext Section
As you can see in our SteelSeries Arctis 5 Review, the appearance of the Arctis 7 is almost identical. The headset is sleek and refined, with an elegant, streamlined look and a perfect adjustable headband. Instead of having to use monkeys with stiff telescopic rods, simply adjust two Velcro straps, and the flexible headband adjusts to the size and shape of your head.
What’s more, the Arctis 7 comes in both black and white, and there’s nothing special to keep your eye on. You could comfortably wear the headset in the subway without getting a second look, and while the Arctis 7 is a little bigger than a standard audio headset, it’s still small enough to throw in a backpack. You can even twist the ear shells to leave the device flat.
The right ear cup contains an on/off button and a chat volume slider. The left ear cup features reasonable volume control, along with a micro USB port for charging and a dedicated port that can be connected to a 3.5mm audio jack for mobile listening. Although the Arctis 7 needs power for wireless and surround sound functionality, the audio jack allows you to listen to whatever you want, whether the device has the power or not.
2. SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review: ComfortNext Section
As discussed above, the elastic band makes it easy to find the perfect fit with the Arctis 7. I’m always surprised that of all the major headset manufacturers, only the SteelSeries has embraced this approach, which consistently delivers much more reliable and comfortable results than trying to stretch two extremely fickle carved arms.
The ear cups provided a tight seal around my ears, but I’ve never felt that the ear cups were pushed down too hard. My only problem was that they tended to bounce while I was walking, which means they can prove frustrating if you intend to wear them while walking. Putting on the Velcro alleviated this problem, although the perfect balance between comfort and fit had to do with trial and error.
I gave the Arctis 7 to a colleague, who generally found them very comfortable. He said the auricles felt too tight in the beginning, but after about half an hour, it grew. He also cited the lightweight feel of the device as an advantage – not surprising given that the device weighs only 9.9 ounces.
The Arctis 7 is primarily a wireless headset. Just connect a wireless amplifier to a USB port on your computer, connect that amplifier to the headset, and you’re ready to go. The wireless is crystal clear and worked up to about 30 feet in my tests. The Arctis 7 runs on SteelSeries’ Engine 3 software, a clean, intuitive, and well-designed program that monitors just about every modern SteelSeries peripheral.
As well as setting sound profiles, you can also play with mic options; otherwise, the program doesn’t provide too many bells and whistles for this particular peripheral. Unlike the Arctis 5, there are no RGB lights on the ear cups. In my opinion, this is a negligible loss, because users cannot see the colored lights on their headphones after all.
The headset also comes with an in-built retractable, flexible microphone in the left ear cup. Just like the microphone on the Arctis 5, it is a high-end device that captures sound is clear and subtle patterns, although it does go a bit heavy on the “p” and “s” sounds. I wouldn’t record a podcast with it; however, it’s more than enough for competitive gaming or streaming on Twitch.
3. SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review: PerformanceNext Section
Like its wired counterpart, the Arctis offers 7 stellar gaming options. With both stereo and DTS 7.1 surround sound, and an abundance of equalizer options, you can get completely different configurations of the headset, whether you want to listen to music or make a Skype call. Luckily, setting up game profiles is pretty straightforward. Using SteelSeries’ Engine 3 software, you can play with the surround sound and equalizer settings, then create profiles and link them to particular games and programs.
I have tested sound profiles with Overwatch, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops, and Marvel Heroes to see how the headset has tackled multiple genres. On the flat equalization option with Stereo Audio, everything sounded good, from Captain America’s battle cries to Zerg’s death screams as Terran armies mow them down. A little tweaking, however, made it sound good. Surround sound in Overwatch made the footsteps of my enemies and the cries of my teammates for help sound immediate and urgent. At the same time, the Immersion setting in The Witcher 3 provided a fair balance between dialogue, swordplay, and the pounding storm of a storm at sea.
For the music, the Arctis 7 is not entirely in line with its game performance. I listened to tracks by Flogging Molly, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Rolling Stones, but also to the “Messiah” by G.F. Handel, and I was happy with the fine balance between vocals, trebles, and bass instruments. Surround sound made choral pieces sound like I was in a cathedral, while the stereo was sufficient for all my favorite rock and punk hits.
On the other hand, I had to open the Engine 3 software for each new track and play with it before I found the right balance of surround sound and equalizer options for each genre. Both the surround and stereo modes have Music presets, and they both sound pretty good, most of the time. On Flogging Molly’s “Salty Dog,” the standard modes put too much emphasis on vocals, while those modes produced one of the best renditions of “Let It Bleed” by the Rolling Stones I’d ever heard.
4. Price and AvailabilityNext Section
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 usually sells for $150. At the time of this update, the headset is sold out at most retailers, and sites such as Amazon, Gamestop, and SteelSeries are waiting for new stock.
5. SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review: ConclusionNext Section
Given that wireless headsets can yield hundreds of dollars, and PC-centric headsets often omit essential features such as 3.5mm connections, it’s refreshing that the SteelSeries Arctis 7 offers the complete package for $50 more than its wired counterpart. Although some of the features require a little legwork from the user, nothing is complicated, and everything works exactly as it is supposed to. Add in great sound – for games even more than music – and the Arctis 7 is a hard proposal to resist.
We have not yet found the perfect gaming headset, but our SteelSeries Arctis 7 review shows that this is about as close as any other company has come. For more options, check our list of Best Gaming Headsets :updated