For a very long time, the SteelSeries Arctis line of headsets has appeared on the prime of our listing of gaming headset suggestions. They’re a simple and in style choose: comfy, great-sounding and accessible in a variety of codecs to go well with all method of platforms, connection varieties and budgets. However 5 years after the primary Arctis headsets have been revealed, the general system hasn’t modified a lot – and so, it is time for one thing new. That one thing is the Arctis Nova Professional, a well timed redesign that recaptures the road’s strengths whereas additionally marking essentially the most substantive evolution in its historical past.
The £250/$250 Arctis Nova Professional and £330/$350 Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi are high-spec, feature-rich, all-platform headsets, so I will deal with what I consider are essentially the most significant adjustments and additions. These embody a extra comfy and adjustable design, improved dual-input base stations and higher sound – plus lively noise cancelling and a handy twin battery system for the Nova Professional Wi-fi mannequin.
Let’s take a look at the Nova Professional’s design first. The look could be very harking back to the sooner Arctis fashions, full with a material suspension headband, however SteelSeries audio czar Brian Fallon says it was redesigned from scratch – albeit to pretty comparable ideas. The dense plastic body is a special form and extra adjustable to make sure it will get a great seal across the ears – one of many few complaints levelled on the authentic design was that reaching that seal could possibly be tough for some people, resulting in inconsistent sound.
The athletic material used for the earpads within the earlier lineup has additionally modified to a leatherette for a similar purpose – though I would gladly sacrifice a little bit of sound high quality for cooler and extra glasses-friendly velour if I used to be given the choice. The headscarf now has three match ‘settings’ to accommodate a wider vary of skulls, and the earcups fold flat to relaxation extra comfortably in your shoulders.
Exterior of consolation, there are different tweaks too, with round metallic discs on every earcup that conceal the wi-fi mannequin’s swappable battery and USB-C charging ports and a microphone that now retracts absolutely to change into flush with the headset. The entire meeting feels extremely strong and extra premium, which factors us in direction of an total design purpose of manufacturing a headset that is sensible out on the earth quite than simply subsequent to your gaming platform of alternative.
The lively noise cancelling on the wi-fi mannequin will be wrapped right into a larger theme of ‘life-style’ compatibility that make the Nova Professional rather more helpful when it is away from a online game system than its predecessors have been. Just like the Arctis 9X, the Nova Professional Wi-fi helps each 2.4GHz wi-fi by way of a base station (for low-latency situations like gaming) and direct Bluetooth (for wider gadget compatibility and use on the go). Each wi-fi strategies can be utilized independently, with separate controls, and the 2 can be utilized in live performance, eg if you wish to chat to somebody in your cellphone whereas taking part in your console.
I examined the ANPW on a few flights, and located that the ANC is nice at eradicating deeper, duller sounds, however struggled to drown out nearer conversations and the whine of the engines. I additionally seen that the angle of my head made an enormous distinction – mendacity again was the simplest, ANC-wise, whereas leaning ahead brought about the engines to change into noticeably louder. Nonetheless, enabling it made a optimistic distinction, and longevity was strong at round 20 hours per battery – even when recharging by way of USB-C seems to be a bit bizarre because the port is within the centre of the left earcup, giving the headset gentle Apple Magic Mouse vibes.
The one main subject I encountered was the dearth of a cell app, as there is not any option to regulate settings on the go once you’re utilizing the headset in Bluetooth mode alone. Proper now, it is advisable join the headset to its base station to make adjustments to the EQ, facet tone and so forth, which is not actually handy for holidays. There may be at the very least a tender case supplied with the ANPW to make throwing it in your bag rather less nerve-wracking.
Whereas cell use is far improved, the Nova Professional and Nova Professional Wi-fi are nonetheless at their finest at dwelling because of the bottom stations that accompany every unit. The wired mannequin comprises a strong Sabre quad-DAC which supplies a noticeable uplift to sound high quality versus utilizing the headset by way of a 3.5mm cable, whereas the wi-fi base station pumps out dependable 2.4GHz wi-fi to a shocking vary whereas charging your second battery, making certain you by no means have to attend for the headset to recharge in regular use. Altering batteries takes half a minute, and if you happen to put the brand new battery in rapidly sufficient it’s going to energy up mechanically to save lots of you an extra button press.
On wired and wi-fi fashions, you get the power to vary the sound profile by way of preset and customized EQs, regulate the sport/chat combine (on PC/Xbox) and swap between the 2 USB-C inputs that run to your PC or video games console of alternative. The bottom stations are intelligent sufficient to swap to the opposite enter in the event that they detect the present enter has misplaced energy (eg you’ve got turned off your console), however if you happen to use sleep mode you then’ll need to make the change your self. Fortunately, the comfortably giant knob and smaller round button are handy sufficient to function rapidly. The bottom stations are additionally simply nice items of package to have at your desk, with comparatively excessive refresh price shows reflecting the present sound ranges on every channel, the set quantity, the lively enter and battery ranges for each batteries. (When photographing the bottom stations, I did discover that these shows are removed from flicker free – not prone to be a problem for one thing you look at sometimes I suppose!)
We have not mentioned sound high quality but, however maybe we’re saving one of the best for final. The wired mannequin presents maybe one of the best sound I’ve skilled exterior of a planar magnetic headset for years, with the same total sound signature to earlier Arctis fashions – comparatively impartial, with loads of width and element however a brighter vibe total. I used to be choosing up devices and background vocals that I would by no means seen earlier than, even in albums like London Calling that I’ve listened to lots of of instances earlier than, and that is definitely the mark of a particular headset.
The Nova Professional Wi-fi is a bit more peculiar in that respect, nevertheless it’s nonetheless one of many best-sounding wi-fi headsets I’ve used. If you happen to’re not a fan of the default combine, then altering to one thing extra V-shaped or bass-heavy takes only some seconds with the bottom station, and the Sonar characteristic constructed into the SteelSeries engine software program permits you to craft much more detailed parametric EQs – that ultimately can be shareable amongst different customers, which could possibly be nice for crowd-sourcing EQs for particular video games. Simulated 7.1 encompass sound can also be provided – one thing SteelSeries name ‘360° Spatial Audio’ – and the headset can also be suitable with numerous 3D audio options provided on PS5, Xbox and Home windows. Personally, I choose easy stereo with in-game HRTF, however you do you!
Lastly, mic high quality. As traditional, the wired model performs higher than the wi-fi, and also you do really want to convey the pull-out mic in entrance of your mouth to get good outcomes – leaving it in seems to be cleaner, however makes you sound understandably distant. Fortunately, it stays in place effectively, and sounds cheap too – not one of the best I’ve tried, however not the worst both. There may be additionally AI noise cancelling accessible by way of the GG app on Home windows, which makes the mic significantly better in louder environments. I had no issues utilizing the mic for convention calls and Counter-Strike classes, even with out the software program working, however I would nonetheless go for a correct USB or XLR mic for something like streaming or recording VO.
So: a cushty match that ought to go well with extra individuals, higher base stations with twin inputs and a way of life focus with a strong construct, USB-C charging and ANC on the wi-fi mannequin. It is all fairly spectacular stuff, however in fact it comes at a price – the Arctis Nova Professional and Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi are significantly dearer than the (now closely discounted) Arctis Professional and Arctis Professional Wi-fi. By and huge, that enhance in worth is mirrored within the higher construct and added options, however if you happen to do not want these enhancements – you simply desire a good cozy headset for a single PC or console at a time – then the sooner fashions are a greater worth. Nonetheless, because the PS5, Xbox Sequence and Nintendo Change consoles are all getting cheaper (or at the very least extra available), I believe there’s a market that can be capable to actually get pleasure from all the new options and for which the Nova Professional headsets make sense.
If you happen to do not want a headset to take out with you into the world, then the wired Arctis Nova Professional sounds higher than its wi-fi counterpart and prices much less – that is most likely what I would choose up if I have been in a special line of labor that did not characteristic gaming headsets showing as if by magic within the submit. Nonetheless, the Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi appears like the last word type of the brand new design, a real do-anything headset that places up a genuinely good exhibiting towards one of the best headsets in a number of classes. Its ANC is not fairly on the extent of one of the best from Bose or Sony, nevertheless it’s additionally a dramatically higher gaming headset than something these firms have produced. Towards the likes of Razer and Corsair, the Nova Professional fashions additionally impress, even when the competitors is a bit tighter.
The again to fundamentals method has actually labored for SteelSeries right here, and I am hoping to see a few of these design enhancements filter all the way down to extra reasonably priced headsets quickly – not everybody can drop £250 on a gaming headset, however if you happen to are you able to’re in for a deal with.
Disclosure: SteelSeries paid for flights and lodging to see the Arctis Nova Professional headsets previous to launch.
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