Steelseries Arctis 7 Gaming Headset Review

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The gaming headset market has long had one continuous business model: the less expensive the headset, the lower the quality of sound. As you move up in price, you get better sound quality and more features like RGB lighting and wireless connectivity. Steelsereies has set out to question this model with their new line of Arctis Gaming headsets. The idea is simple: Why should only those that can afford $200 headsets get the best experience? The answer is they shouldn’t which is where the Arctis line comes in – all three models have the same high-quality sound and mic. The price difference depends on the features you want. The highest tier model, the Arctis 7 blends most of the features of the Arctis 3 and 5 with a slightly different look and if I am honest, it may be the best gaming headset I have used.

Sound

Let’s start with the sound quality. The entire Arctis line comes with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound (only in Windows) which gives you a fully immersive experience when playing your game. The sound is fine-tuned and precise that I had no problem telling where my enemies were coming from when they attacked. When it comes to the drivers, the Arctis 7 (along with the rest of the Arctis line) comes with the same Top-Tier S1 speakers that Steelseries includes in their top of the line flagship Siberia models that run about $300. These two technologies come together to create amazing sound, not just for gaming, but for movies and music as well. The sound can be customized to your unique taste using the Steelseries Engine 3 software. There, you can boost the bass to get the music experience you like or boost the highs to catch your enemy off guard when the come around the corner.

Steelseries engineered the mic to deliver your voice to the chat as clean and natural as possible. The ClearCast mic is designed to filter out surrounding noises in the room and deliver only your voice to your team using bi-directional technology. Where other gaming headsets (including those in the Steelseries Siberia line) use uni-directional mics that only pick up from one direction, the Clearcast mic picks up from the front and back of the mic filtering out background noise and giving your voice a more natural sound in chat. I tested this on both my PC and PS4 using in-game chat and Discord with excellent results. My teammates reported that my voice was clean without any weird sound clipping. Even with the TV on in the background, they could only hear me.

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Overall the sound on the Arctis 7 is awesome. Chat and game audio come in clean, crisp and with depth. The ClearCast mic delivers my own voice to my team sound natural and clear so we don’t miss a beat. When it comes to the sound quality, this headset rivals not only those $200+ high-end gaming headsets but also the higher tier, non-gaming specific audio headphones on the market.

Features

Each model in the Arctis line comes with a slightly different set of features, which is what is used to differentiate among the different pricing tiers. When it comes to the Arctis 7, Steelseries opted out of the RGB lighting on the ear cups, which is okay with me. Instead, they included three different ways to connect your headset: USB, 3.5mm jack, or wirelessly. The removable cords are interchangeable depending on how you want to use them. Want to use them with your Xbox One? Attach the 3.5mm jack cord and plug into the controller. Forgot to charge it? Plug in the USB cord and use it as wired headset on your PC. Using the Arctis 7’s wireless option is simple and lag-free. In the box is a wireless received that can be used on your PC or PS4. All You do is plug it in, turn on the headset and you are ready to go. The USB receiver also includes input and output ports so it can be connected to your stereo system. Charging the headset itself can be done overnight and I have found that the battery lasts well over 8 hours of use.

On the ear cups are your volume control, mute button and chat mix. The chat mix on the right ear cup allows the user to find the perfect balance between chat and the game audio. On the left ear cup is the master volume and the mute button. Also on the left ear cup is the retractable ClearCast mic. The mic retracts in almost flush with the cup and has a LED indicator light to show when your mic is muted. The ear cups themselves are cushioned with the Steelseries Airweave Ear Cushions. These fabric cushions have the same feel as workout clothing. The fabric wicks away moisture and keeps your ears from overheating. Under the fabric is memory foam to keep your ears nice and comfy. All of that is wrapped in a thermoplastic material that helps with noise cancellation.

The Arctis 7 isn’t abundant in features, but it has what is important. A wide range of connectivity options mean I can use these not just for a variety of gaming scenarios, but I can also take them with me on the road to listen to music on my phone. The Airweave cushions are remarkably comfortable and provide enough noise cancellation to keep me focused on the game.

Design

The entire Arctis line is designed in a very minimalistic and sleek fashion. Gone are the bulky, plastic shapes encompass some other headsets making you look like something from a bad ’80s sci-fi flick. Instead, outside of the ear pieces is flat with a slight bevel and coated in soft touch rubber. The edge of the ear cups feels like high-quality plastic and the main headband is metal with a soft rubber coated cushion on the bottom.

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Like most of Steelseries’s Syberia line, the Arctis line uses a suspension system to give the right fit to anyone while evenly distributing what little weight there is. The suspension is achieved by using what is essentially the equivalent to a ski goggle strap. This helps the Arctis headsets achieve the maximum comfort for the operator regardless of head size or shape. The strap can be adjusted to the level of tension that works for each individual gamer and more straps can be purchased to show off different designs. This, however, is where the Arctis 7 stands out a little bit from the rest of the Arctis line. While the Arctis 3 and 5 use a half wrap design for the suspension, the Arctis 7 uses a full wrap allowing the band to wrap around the top of the metal headband for an extra design element. From what I can tell, there is no comfort advantage to the band wrapping around the metal, but instead, it is simply for looks.

Without a doubt, this is the best-looking headset I have owned. The minimalistic design is very modern and easy on the eyes. I don’t feel awkward taking these to my local Starbucks to listen to music while I work. The quality of the materials used definitely feels like high end and would be comparable to high-end headsets and headphones alike.

Final Reaction

The Arctis 7 may just be the best headset I have used. The sound is clean, crisp and has depth. Whether I am escorting the payload in Overwatch or listening to Spotify while working on articles, the high-quality sound does not disappoint. The ClearCast mic delivers my voice clearly to my squad while removing excess noise and all without clipping off my words. Through multiple uses my team reported that my voice was natural and very clear. Although the Arctis 7 doesn’t have a bunch of features, what it does have is what is important. Onboard chat mixer and volume controls have come in handy more than once and allow me to adjust the sound on the fly without additional equipment or software. The design of the suspension system and the Airweave ear cups provide a level of comfort I have not found in other headsets.

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This is normally where I would include something like “These are really good, but….” and bring up the negatives I found. However, in all honesty, I have not found one thing that was disappointing about this headset. Even the price is great coming in at $149.99 USD. Headsets with comparable features could run you as much as double that price. Steelseries set out to change the headset market and I think they hit the mark. I have found my new daily user for gaming, and I highly recommend you pick these up for yourself as well.

Final Score: 5/5 Atoms

NR 5 Atoms - A

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