SteelSeries’ Arctis line of headsets have been reliable audio options for years as the company has continued to improve upon its design across platforms and into the next generation of consoles and gaming technology. The latest fruit of SteelSeries’ efforts comes in the form of Arctis Nova Pro, including wired and wireless models. I got my hands on the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless and while the price tag may be hefty on this new lineup, the features and performance more than outdo anything I’ve seen out of SteelSeries so far.
What’s in the box?
There’s a ton going on with the new Arctis Nova Pro series and it begins at a redesigned and sleek headset. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a pair of over-the-ear headphones featuring a lightweight design, but feeling sturdy all the same. While previous Arctis models have served me well, I’ve never been fond of how clunky they can look. The Arctis Nova Pro is far more low profile by comparison. It even features an entirely redesigned retractable microphone. Where previously Arctis headsets had the nub of the mic sticking out, this one can be retracted flush with the headset to make it look non-existent.
Moreover, this headset forgoes the stretching or auto-adjusting inner band in favor of one that affixes to pegs inside the headset. It was extendable enough to fit my big noggin, but can be adjusted down to far smaller head sizes as well. Most importantly, when I had it on, it was as comfortable as any SteelSeries headset I’ve ever worn and I could outright forget I had it on when I wasn’t playing anything.
In addition to these on-headset features, the Arctis Nova Pro interfaces with a new control deck which is shipped with both the wired and wireless versions of the headset. The control deck is one of the stars of this show for a few reasons. For one, it features not one, but two USB-C line-out ports. That means you can plug it into a PS5 and a Nintendo Switch at the same time and then switch between the audio sources without having to move wires around and reconnect anything. You can even interact with the features of the control deck via its direct interface or by way of controls on the headset for fantastic ease-of-access.
Finally, the wireless headset is powered by a fast-charge lithium ion battery, a spare battery comes with the package, and the batteries can be charged inside the control deck. I consistently got about 8 hours of play out of a full charge and when one was running low, I’d just swap it with the battery charging in the control deck and be right back to the action. There’s a pop-filter for the mic, but I found it kind of defeats the purpose of the plus retractable design and the input of vocals seemed to do well with or without the filter.
How does it perform?
I have used a lot of headsets from various brands and I think the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless may be the most in love I’ve ever been with a headset. The features on this thing, inside and out, aim to please everyone from the standard listener to the audiophile. I already mentioned being able to effortlessly swap between two audio sources, but the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless also features 5.0 Bluetooth, which can be used simultaneously with the regular audio, meaning you can hear the game and also pair to your phone to take a call or, say, log into Discord and talk to your pals through the mobile app.
The Arctis Nova Pro is also the first SteelSeries headset to feature Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes. The first allows you to cancel out sounds and immerse yourself entirely into whatever audio you’re listening to. It works great, but for me, who has a spouse that regularly comes in to talk to me while I’m working and a dog that needs to let me know when she needs to go potty, the Transparency feature was highly desired. It lets me hear beyond the headset when there’s stuff going on around me while still enjoying music, games, and more. The only issue I had with the Transparency feature is that I couldn’t find an easy way to get it to scale with the headset's volume, so if I had my volume high, it would often drown out anything coming through the Transparency mode. I would have liked a volume control on the Transparency to help me stay in the know of my surroundings without having to turn my audio down.
That said, this headset gets a lot out of any audio source with its standard array of options, but it will get the most out of pairing with SteelSeries' new Sonar Audio software on PC. Here I was able to tinker carefully with the base, treble, highs, lows, and surround sound of the headset, to name a few options. I loved how much I was able to adjust the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless to be able to get my ideal surround sound audio experience. Unfortunately, this level of customization requires Sonar and is confined to PC for the time being. Even so, the Arctis Nova Pro is still feature rich and provides an incredible audio experience whether you’re running PS5 and Switch games or PC audio through Sonar.
Get what you pay for
Now here comes the heavy part: the price tag. The MSRP on the Arctis Nova Pro series headset are not for the faint of heart. There are wired and wireless versions, both in Xbox/PC and PlayStation/PC variants. The Arctis Nova Pro wired headset comes in at $249.99 USD while the wireless version retails at $349.99. I would happily argue that the control deck and two rechargeable batteries in addition to well-performing headset more than make up for that price, but there are also plenty of solid headsets out there that don’t require that kind of scratch. If you go in on the Arctis Nova Pro series, you are getting what you pay for in functionality and performance, but you’d best be sure you’re 100 percent all-in.
The next big thing for SteelSeries
I’ve been fairly pleased with the SteelSeries Arctis line over the years, but nothing has tickled my audio needs and fancies quite like the Arctic Nova Pro Wireless. Between the easily swappable and long-life batteries, the ability to plug two audio sources into the control deck and run Bluetooth at the same time, and being able to operate it all from the comfort of wherever I’m sitting via the headset’s controls, it’s easy to lose track that the Arctis Nova Pro is also just a dang comfy and well-performing headset. I wish Sonar worked outside PC and that the Transparency mode was more adjustable, but these small gripes aside, if you can stomach the price, this might just be the last pair of headphones you need for a good, long time.
This review is based on a review sample of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset provided by the manufacturer. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro is available in wired and wireless versions for Xbox and non-Xbox platforms via the SteelSeries website and through participating retailers.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset
- Lightweight and comfy over-the-ear design
- Consistent 8 hours of battery & spare battery
- Control deck can plug into two audio sources & charge battery
- Swap between audio and other options from the headset
- Can operate simultaneously on Bluetooth
- First in brand ANC & Transparency
- Mic is functional and retracts flush with the headset
- SteelSeries Sonar adds great customization on PC
- Crisp, high-performance sound with or without Sonar
- Huge price tag
- Sonar doesn't work outside PC
- Transparency doesn't scale with audio volume
- Pop filter defeats the purpose of the retractable mic
TJ Denzer posted a new article, SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless review: A new era of Arctis
Ooh, interesting, I'm going to have to read more about these. Is the power button still a hold press to turn on? I wish my Arctis 7s used an instant-on switch or didn't take so long of a hold.
The power button is hold to turn on and with good reason. You also use single taps and double taps on the power button to activate/deactivate Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency respectively. Possibly still annoying, but with the extra functionality, it makes sense to me.
Damn, those look sweet.
Good article, I don't mean to be "that guy", but it's "x lines up Flush" not "Plush".