In recent years, gamers tend to flock to SteelSeries when seeking out the best gaming headset. It’s understandable.
The company makes a lot of headsets covering many different budgets, and all are well-made. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the most expensive of the bunch. That’s even more than the recent Turtle Beach Stealth Pro, so this is quite the investment for gamers.
On paper, the headset offers everything you could want from a gaming headset. That includes active noise cancellation to block out surrounding noises, exceptional sound quality via its hi-res capable drivers, dual USB connections and simultaneous 2.4GHz and Bluetooth. The PlayStation model we tested also supports Tempest 3D audio while the PC sees 360 spatial audio via the SteelSeries Sonar software. However, do all those fancy specs translate well in reality? And how do you feel about spending over $300/£300 on a gaming headset?
The battle among gaming headsets is hotly contested these days with there being a lot more to the technology thanks to the rise of competitive gaming.
Obviously, there are far cheaper options out there than the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. This is a premium, high-end, whatever-you-want-to-call-it-to-justify-the-expense kind of headset. If you’re serious about gaming and have the money to spend on having the very best equipment, SteelSeries wants you to pick the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
In the past, the Astro A50s and others rivalled it for price but it’s possible to pick these up for far less these days with regular discounts. Some prices stay lower with the SteelSeries Arctis 9 even cheaper with sales often happening. Similarly, the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless is just under $200/£200. That’s before you delve into more budget offerings with wired solutions being cheaper still.
Design & Build: Classily designed
Some might say the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless look unexciting but we’re erring on the side of them looking professional and ideal for a gamer who doesn’t want excessive bright RGB lighting or a garish colour scheme. This is a headset that will look just as appropriate during a business call as it will when playing Fortnite or Warzone. It’s a touch lighter than your average high-end headset and that reflects during use. A combination of metal and plastic means this is a sturdy headset but one that doesn’t crowd your head.
Part of that success is thanks to the headband suspension mechanism seen on other SteelSeries headphones, so you don’t feel sweatily warm wearing it. The ear pads use faux leather that — again — doesn’t get too sweaty given what’s involved. If you wear spectacles, there’s no clamp-down effect and the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless rests easily alongside your frames.
During use, it’s simple to swivel one ear cup around to interact with someone nearby, so it also means the headset lies flat on the ground or desk when not in use.
On one ear cup are buttons for power and mic mute, along with a volume dial. On the other is the Bluetooth pairing button. Each ear cup panel lifts off too with one side unveiling the USB-C port for wired charging and the other being the home of the battery for wireless use. They’re tucked away nicely with a magnetic grip keeping everything secure.
Features & battery life: So very much
Demonstrating why the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is so expensive is a long list of features. We’re not just talking about its 40mm custom drivers or its Active Noise Cancellation, we mean customisation.
We had the PlayStation version to try out so we couldn’t connect wirelessly to the Xbox Series X but everything else went very well. It’s designed for those with multiple devices. You can connect a PC and PS5/PS4 to it as well as a Switch. Being able to hook it up to two devices at once is a nice touch if, for instance, you’re watching a show on Netflix on your laptop at the same time as grinding out some experience on an RPG on your PlayStation 5.
There’s also the rather nice SteelSeries Base Station. It works partly as a place for charging the battery life, but it also has an OLED display and a wheel that allows you to control many of the headset’s features. Besides affecting volume, it has a 10-band EQ along with a game/chat mix balance. Set up the SteelSeries GG software on your PC or Mac and you can play around the EQ presets further.
The back of the base staton also has two USB-C ports and two 3.5mm jacks for line in/out so you can use wired playback as well as 2.4GHz or Bluetooth 5.0. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts here which is exactly what you want to see from a high-end gaming headset.
Battery life is also pretty good. Two hot-swap batteries are included with each offering about 20 hours each. Impressively, the headset lasts without a battery inserted for just under 10 seconds so you can swap them out quickly and not miss out on anything. 40 hours across two batteries isn’t the biggest of battery lives out there (that has to go to the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless) but that neat addition certainly gives this headset the edge. Also, a quick 15-minute charge gives you three hours of power while being able to have one battery on charge at all times is always a useful feature.
Sound quality and noise cancelling: Near flawless
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless offer some very crisp sound quality. Audio sounds detailed with bass lines deep and thundering, adding a great sense of doom to horror games in particular. Crucially, when trying to listen out for footsteps, you’re in luck here. That’s further enhanced when playing a game that supports Tempest 3D audio on the PS5. It makes a fantastic difference. While the soundstage isn’t the widest around when listening to music, you still feel truly part of the action while playing.
The orchestral pieces within World of Warcraft felt more thunderous yet detailed too, reminding you of the production values of a game you’ve probably long forgotten to pay as much attention to as once before.
Poke around with the Sonar software and the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless potentially sounds even better, but it’s not exactly essential and you’ll still do well with the standard out-of-the-box experience. A mobile app would have been a nice addition but again, you’ll be happy with the core functionality.
ANC is pretty good too. Thanks to its design, even left disabled, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless still isolates noise well. However, it’s that touch better with ANC enabled. It doesn’t rival the best headphones but for gaming, it more than suits the role well.
For voice comms, the mic works well whether hidden away or pulled out from its retracted home. It’s a somewhat cool way of doing things, with whichever option still sounding clear and easy for others to identify you.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless verdict
There’s no denying the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a great headset. So it should be at this price. However, the little things add up fast to make it more than ‘just’ a great-sounding headset. Pulling out the mic when you end up teaming up with some friends is more convenient than a detachable one. The heft of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is perfect to lift to your head, while the Base Station feels gloriously nerdy yet straightforward to use.
Battery life is reasonable too, as helped by being able to swap them out so readily, and there’s that air that everything about the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has been designed with convenience in mind.
The sound quality is at the level where you’ll feel like you’re rediscovering some old favourite games, but you’ll also love how those subtle footsteps or gunshots creep through more clearly than before.
If you can afford it, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is something special.
Stuff says: Packed with cool features, all while still sounding fantastic, it’s hard to find fault in the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless until you spot that price tag.
Packed with cool features, all while still sounding fantastic, it’s hard to find fault in the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless until you spot that price tag.
Exceptional sound quality
Battery features are useful
Practical base station
Robust yet lightweight build
Understated appearance won’t suit everyone
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless tech specs
|40mm custom drivers
|2.4Ghz, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C
|18-22 hours per battery
|3.4×6.6×7.5in / 8.8×16.8x 19.2cm, 0.75lb / 298g