Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless review
Steelseries is back with its all-new flagship gaming headset, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. It’s the company’s most high-tech and feature-rich gaming headset, with active noise cancellation, hot-swappable batteries, customizable Hi-Res Audio and more. Starting at $249 for the wired version with no ANC and $349 for the wireless, this gaming headset will let you block noise and fade away in your games, but is it worth the hefty cost of entry?
- Current price: $349 (Amazon)
- Main characteristics:
- Reach almighty audio levels with the Nova Pro acoustic system and premium high-fidelity drivers with immersive 360° spatial sound*, enhanced with Sonar software *Fully compatible with Microsoft Spatial Sound / Tempest 3D audio for PS5
- Active noise cancellation completely immerses you in the gaming world by removing outside distractions with optional Transparency mode
- Hot-swap between two batteries to keep playing as long as you want, never running out of power
- Simultaneous 2.4GHz and Bluetooth allows mixing game and mobile audio for phone calls and media playback at the same time
- AI-powered ClearCast Gen 2 noise-canceling microphone reduces background noise and keyboard sounds for pristine audio communication and fully retractable design
- Multi-System Connect with two USB ports works with Xbox, PC, Mac, PlayStation, Switch and more
- Speaker Drivers
- Neodymium Drivers: 40mm
- Headphone frequency response (wired): 10–40,000 Hz
- Headphone frequency response (wireless): 10–22,000 Hz
- Headphone Sensitivity: 93dBSPL
- Headphone impedance: 38 ohms
- Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion:
- Active noise cancellation: hybrid 4-mic design with transparency mode
- Hi-Res Audio Compatible: Yes (Headset Speakers)
- Microphone Type: ClearCast Gen 2 – Fully Retractable Boom
- Microphone polar pattern: two-way noise cancellation
- Microphone frequency response: 100-6500 Hz
- Microphone sensitivity: -38dBV/Pa
- Microphone impedance: 2200 ohms
- Infinity Power System
- Number of batteries: 2
- At home: non-stop battery with hot-swap (in 8 seconds)
- On the go: 44 hours – 2.4 GHz Quantum 2.0 Gaming Wireless / 36 hours – 2.4 GHz Quantum 2.0 Gaming Wireless + BT (18-22 hours per battery)
- Quick charge: 15 minutes for 3 hours of play
- dual wireless
- Wireless Bluetooth: v5.0
- Wireless gaming: 2.4 GHz low latency
- Double connection: simultaneous 2.4 Ghz and BT
- Wireless Range: 40 ft / 12 m (2.4 GHz)
- Box contents
- Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X Headset
- Wireless base station: 2x USB-C system connections (1 dedicated Xbox port), 1x line in, 1x line out
- 2 lithium ion batteries
- 2x USB-C to USB-A cable (5ft / 1.5m)
- 5mm to 3.5mm audio cable – 5 pole to 4 pole (4ft / 1.2m)
- 2x removable magnetic ear plates
- Microphone pop filter
- Information guide on the product
Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – What is it?
The Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is designed to be the wireless headset that aims to replace several other headsets you may be using. It’s one of the first gaming headsets we’ve come across that really doesn’t seem to make any sacrifices in the features it offers. The Nova Pro has it all: Simultaneous Bluetooth and game audio, multiple other audio sources (2.4 GHz, USB and analog, in addition to the first USB source and Bluetooth), active noise cancellation, excellent battery life and comfort battery life, and even a dual battery system that can be hot-swapped for over 40 hours of total battery life – but the GameDAC charges the other battery while you’re using the first, so you have unlimited battery life. This is the Arctis recreated for 2022 and it might just be the best gaming headset money can buy right now.
The design has undergone a few changes since Arctis’ last release, but Steelseries hasn’t sacrificed anything on comfort. The earcups are no longer pure ovals and are instead oblong with cushion pads that better match your ears. The ski band system has also been reworked. The band now buttons under the metal headband. There are three buttons to adjust the helmet up or down by one centimeter. The earcups are also height-adjustable to make it easier to find a comfortable fit, and the earpads have been replaced with leatherette AirWeave fabric for better sound isolation.
Aesthetically, the Nova Pro Wireless is sleeker and much closer to something we might wear out of the house. There are no bright colors (although they are available in booster packs for additional customization) to draw unwanted attention. The microphone is retractable and sits inside the left earcup. The only accents are the faceplates on each earcup, which are brushed aluminum and add an attractive little glow to the headset. If you’re familiar with the Steelseries logo, you’ll be able to tell them apart by the subtle embossed logo on each earbud, but otherwise you’d think they’re normal Bluetooth headphones.
The Nova Pro Wireless seems durable and well made. The headband is metal and won’t break over time, and although the yokes and earcups are plastic, they feel sturdy. There are no annoying squeaks or rattles when you turn the headset on and off, or even shake it in your hand.
The same goes for the GameDAC, the wireless base station the headset connects to. It’s mostly plastic with a small, glossy OLED display and a large, metal volume wheel. Nothing about it feels cheap, which makes the considerable investment this headset requires easier to swallow. You get a premium product and it shows immediately from the start.
Arctis headsets have always prioritized comfort, and the Nova Pro Wireless is no exception. At just under 340 grams it might feel heavy, but the comfortable suspension band does a great job of distributing that weight and preventing hot spots from forming on the top of my head. The new cushions aren’t as breathable but don’t make my ears sweat. I found that my ears were touching the mesh covering the driver, so users with larger ears may find this problematic.
Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – Features and Performance
What really makes this headphone is its mix of features and outstanding sound quality. Like the Arctis Pro Wireless released in 2018, the Nova Pro Wireless includes a dedicated GameDAC that handles audio processing and acts as a gateway to some of the Nova Pro’s most compelling features. And this headset is nothing if not feature-rich.
Starting with connectivity, the headphones can connect to two USB audio sources, as well as an analog audio input and a 2.4GHz wireless connection. Two versions of the headset are available, one dedicated to PS5 and PC and the other to Xbox. The only difference between the two is that the Xbox version can connect to all three platforms while the PS5 version lacks the security chip to connect to Xbox – so get the Xbox version if you have both consoles. The headset can also connect directly to Bluetooth audio or to a controller with an aux cable. It’s smart enough to move audio sources around, but you’ll have to navigate the GameDAC when first setting it up.
The GameDAC also includes a ton of other features. Holding down the volume wheel takes you into a main menu and can adjust everything from custom EQ curves to adjusting game-chat balance. You can adjust your mic volume here, as well as the side tone you hear in your ears, enter pairing mode for Bluetooth and 2.4GHz audio, adjust your line out between speakers or switch to a live stream.
The GameDAC is also how the Nova Pro Wireless pulls off one of its best tricks: the dual-battery charging system. The headset comes with two small batteries, each capable of delivering 22 hours of audio with a single audio source connected and ANC enabled. A battery fits in a compartment under one of the headset’s ear plates. The other slots into the side of the GameDAC, so it’s fully charged when your first runs low. The headset’s capacitors are even able to store enough energy to keep the headset powered on for eight seconds when changing batteries, so you won’t need to power it back up when you replace it. It’s an exceptional system which essentially means you never have to plug the headset in to charge it; you will always have a full battery ready to use.
The other unique feature is active noise cancellation. Press the power button to turn ANC on or off, allowing the microphones to monitor and cancel noise in your environment. It’s not best in class (don’t throw away your Bose QuietComforts yet) but it’s still good at filtering out low humming noises, like your PC case fans. While it’s not the best at filtering out voices, once you start playing a game the Nova Pro does a good job of blocking out the world so you can focus on the game. If you have need to be heard, press and hold the power button to invert these microphones and activate transparency mode, spreading the noise around you.
Steelseries also touts the quality of the mic, although I found it more mixed. The microphone does a great job of blocking out surrounding noise so your teammates can hear you clearly, but I found my voice to be quite compressed. It’s nothing you’ll want to stream with, but it’ll work well for taking calls and chatting with friends.
But how does it sound? This is where the Nova Pro Wireless is a real winner. This is, hands down, the best gaming headset I’ve ever heard. The stock sound profile is rich and detailed, but enabling the preset EQs lets you add more bass or bring out important in-game details like footsteps. What really struck me was how well tuned it was. It’s headphones you can slip into your favorite song with and have a great time. The speakers deliver plenty of punch and snap for explosions and kick drums, and the layering and separation of sound is exceptional.
Any other gaming headset makers that release “audiophile-grade” headsets need to stand up and take notice. That’s how it’s done.
The Steelseries Nova Pro Wireless isn’t cheap, but it’s one of the best gaming headsets money can buy. Connectivity and sound quality are second to none. More than any other headset in recent memory, the Nova Pros really could be the headset you use for everything. They’re not perfect, but they’re really good.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.