SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Review

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless won the Editors’ Choice Award for Wireless Gaming Headsets thanks to its clear sound, strong noise cancellation, and easily replaceable batteries. That said, it costs $349.99. If you like the features of the headset but don’t want to spend that much money, you might 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 features robust sound, useful EQ software and excellent build quality. However, it trades in wireless connectivity and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for Hi-Res Audio support. If you don’t mind that compromise, you’ll find that the Arctis Nova Pro is one of the best wired gaming headsets around, making it worthy of our Editors’ Choice award.


Arctis Nova Pro build quality

The build quality of the headset is top notch. Whether it was listening to podcasts, streaming the latest shows, or gaming late at night, I never felt like it was a burden on my head. The earcups swivel into a comfortable position and have a subtle horizontal tilt that allows them to rest easily on your head without causing discomfort. That said, the foam-padded ear cups did get slightly uncomfortable to wear in the summer heat; I couldn’t help but think my ears would have felt a whole lot cooler if SteelSeries had wrapped the cups in something other than faux leather.

The left earcup of the SteelSeries headset with extended microphone

(Photo: Francisco Lahoz)

The left earcup is where you’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack, volume wheel, mute button, and retractable microphone arm that sits flush with the earcup when not in use. used. A foam windshield cover is included in the box to reduce unwanted noise when speaking into the mic. The Arctis Nova Pro lacks the hot-swappable batteries of the wireless version (because it needs to be plugged in to work), but retains the replaceable headband and magnetic speaker plates that you can change color with the $34.99 Nova Booster packs from SteelSeries.

In a nice touch, the headset has a hanging strap that prevents the headband from digging into your hair and leaving an unsightly imprint. My regular headphones – the Sony WH-CH700N – have this annoying tape issue, so I’m glad SteelSeries has found a solution to this problem. I also like the understated color scheme of the Arctis Nova Pro. After all, not all gaming headsets need RGB lighting or flashy colors; matte black and gunmetal gray materials have a mature look.


Explore the GameDAC

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

On the back, two USB ports allow you to connect the headset to a PC or game console. The standard model we reviewed 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 contains a line-in port if you want to connect speakers and control them with the GameDAC. There’s also a line-out port for sending audio signals to a mixer or your PC’s 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 touching launches ChatMix (more on that in a bit). Holding the dial for one second activates a menu that allows you to switch between the two USB sources, change audio options (set a custom EQ setting, gain, sidetone) and change the output settings of line.


The SteelSeries GG application opens in the Sonar menu

SteelSeries GG Software

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

Downloading the app updates the headset to use ChatMix, a feature that gives you more control over chat and game audio. Simply click the GameDAC’s rotary dial and turn it up. until you find a sweet spot. In testing, turning it to the left made my Discord chat quieter and the game louder. Turning it to the right had the opposite effect. Unfortunately, updating the GameDAC to gain ChatMix removes the ability to adjust the EQ on the GameDAC itself (you can make adjustments through the GG app, in this 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.


The back of the GameDAC

(Photo: Francisco Lahoz)

Arctis Nova Pro sound quality

The rich sound of the Arctis Nova Pro delivers an incredibly immersive gaming experience. In fact, wearing the headset while playing Dead By Daylight facilitated the scariest experience I’ve ever had in the survival horror title. Sonar’s spatial audio created spooky scenarios where I could tell the killer’s position by hearing the game’s heartbeat alert coming from specific directions. Additionally, the Arctis Nova Pro breathed new life into the high-energy musical tracks of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse.

Speaking of music, the Arctic Nova Pro handles bass-heavy lo-fi beats with aplomb, but you might be somewhat disappointed to crank Bad Bunny’s latest album to max, which creates a bit of distortion. By contrast, the Arctis Nova Pro keeps most of the sound isolated to your ears, even at maximum volume. This is aided by the thick foam padding of the earcups. The Arctis Nova Pro supports Hi-Res Audio, but you should check out the Audeze Penrose if you want a gaming headset with audiophile-grade drivers.

Unfortunately, the Arctis Nova Pro lacks the active noise cancellation feature of the wireless version. If you’re using the headset in a noisy environment, like public transport or a busy living room, you’ll miss its noise-canceling technology. The padding in the ear cups blocks out a lot of noise, but the loud ones get through.


One of the best wired gaming headsets

Priced at $249.99, the Arctis Nova Pro is a well-built gaming headset aimed at people who spend a lot of time at their desk. The included GameDAC lets you quickly switch between audio channels, and the robust software lets you tweak EQ settings for exceptional sound quality. For overall performance, build quality, and options, the Arctic Nova Pro is our new Editors’ Choice winner for premium wired gaming headsets. If you don’t feel like spending $249.99, check out the $59.99 Astro Gaming A10 (Gen 2), which is our top pick for affordable gaming headsets. Conversely, if you want audiophile-grade performance, the $299.99 Audeze Penrose is worth a look.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro

Advantages

  • Full and clear audio

  • good mic

  • Fine and useful GameDAC

  • Powerful software with many audio settings

  • Effective simulated surround sound

  • Hanging strap prevents unsightly hair prints

  • Supports Hi-Res Audio

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The inconvenients

  • Relatively expensive for a wired headset

  • Foam ear cups become uncomfortable in hot environments

  • A slight audio distortion on the high end

The essential

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro wired headset offers crisp sound, a powerful software suite, and a useful DAC, making it suitable for nearly all of your gaming needs.

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