SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless Review
SteelSeries is a brand with a great reputation to uphold when it comes to headsets. They've produced some of the most well-loved and well-liked headsets in the gaming scene, and today we're taking a look at one of their newest efforts, the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless. Not quite the highest tier headset that SteelSeries has to offer, the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless aims to be the best all-round audio solution for dedicated gamers thanks to its multi-platform compatibility, simultaneous Wireless and Bluetooth connection, and AI-driven features to drown out distractions and noise.
Is this Arctis Nova 7 Wireless the ultimate audio solution for gamers who like to stay mobile? Find out all of that in our full SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless review.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless - First Impressions
Thanks to the retractable microphone that disappears into the shell and a very discrete design, the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless is a product that you could easily use when commuting or when on the go. A distinct lack of any RGB lighting (there is a minimal-looking status indicator on the bottom of the headset, but I don't classify that as RGB lighting) further adds to that aesthetic.
Inside the box of the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless you will find the headset itself, a quickstart guide, the USB-C receiver, a USB-C to USB-A dongle extension cable, a USB-C to USB-A cable, and a minijack cable. That in combination with its Bluetooth functionality means that you can connect it to pretty much any system you can think of.
Build and comfort
The exterior of the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless is made out of plastic, but that doesn't give the product a cheap or flimsy feeling. There's no creaking when wearing the headset and moving around, and when flexing the headband and headset there's no real noise to be heard either. All in all, the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless looks and feels like a well-designed and reliable product.
I also found the headset to be extremely comfortable to wear. The ear cushions are made out of a breathable fabric material and do an excellent job at preventing your ears from becoming too hot during long gaming sessions, but they're also dense enough to provide some basic-level noise isolation. There is no ANC on this headset so you won't be able to drown out loud noises, but things like two people chatting a couple of meters away aren't an issue when you're wearing this headset.
Couple these nice quality ear cushions with a flexible, soft, and adjustable headband (you can shorten or lengthen the headband to some degree) and a clamping force that's just right for me personally and you've got a headset that feels great to use for hours on end. This is one of the comfiest headsets I've worn in recent times and even when I took a break from gaming by watching some YouTube or browsing the web, I didn't feel the need to take it off.
The comfort of this headset coupled with the fact that you can connect it via Bluetooth and the wireless receiver at the same time greatly enhances its 'one headset for everything' capability. When you're done gaming, you can put on a tune on your phone as you hop on your bike to drive to a friend's place or what have you, and it's all seamless and without any hassle.
Sound and mic
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless has an inoffensive sound profile, but I did find the highs to sometimes sound a little too muffled and lacking brightness. This isn't something that will immediately be noticeable when gaming, but if you're listening to tracks where there's a lot going on in the higher registers this might bother you. Aside from this, the bass can also start sounding distorted if you turn it up, which some might want to do as it initially sounds a little bit subdued. The sound profile of a headset is partially down to personal opinion of course, but for me this isn't the best for content consumption. Gaming is where this headset really shines.
Using SteelSeries Sonar (which is part of SteelSeries GG) it's possible to tweak the sound that the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless puts out. There's a myriad of profiles to choose from, ranging from gaming-focused profiles that lower the bass response (which is something you don't really need for competitive gaming) to profiles that focus on content consumption, and then there's of course the possibility to tweak those profiles or create your very own custom EQ.
I find the choice to not only offer a large variety of game-specific EQ presets, but also a bunch of content-focused profiles a very welcome approach. Few gamers will buy multiple headsets for multiple purposes, and having one device that can do it all is a great solution for players who want to focus on hardcore competitive games but also like to kick back at their PC to watch the latest House of the Dragon episode, for example. Note that you can't use Sonar if you're connecting via Bluetooth, though.
The EQ settings also make a noticeable difference. Going for the CS:GO preset will give you a completely different auditory experience than what you're getting with the Music: Deep Bass profile. Positional audio and imaging overall is also excellent. Pinpointing where certain sound cues are coming from is easy with this headset, and due to its general sound profile (lighter on the bass overall, and more focused on the middle tones) it performs exceptionally well in competitive games.
The microphone on this headset is a bit of a mixed bag. In its default configuration it sounds rather subpar (especially when compared to wired headsets) but luckily the mic can be tuned via SteelSeries' Sonar app as well. Doing this can lead to a result that sounds a lit better than the metallic, thin sound that it puts out when you take it out of the box, but the mic never really gets any better than 'just decent' in my opinion. This is more than fine for gaming sessions with your pals, but if you need a microphone for daily meetings or content creation and the likes I would definitely consider an external mic.
Mic Sound Test - No Processing
Mic Sound Test - Sonar On
Features and ease of use
SteelSeries' Sonar app (which lives inside SteelSeries GG) is the app that drives much of the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless' power, so I highly recommend that you install that app if you choose to go for this headset. Sonar is extremely easy to use, and the customization options really make a difference in how the headset acts and feels. What I particularly love is that you can not only adjust the sound of your game/media, but also the sound of your own voice and the sound of your chat mix. This allows you to tone down the treble a bit on that one friend who's using a high pitched, nasal-sounding microphone, for example. All in all, I love how customizable the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless is.
On the headset itself you'll find the usual controls: a volume wheel, a mute button (which has a sound indicator to tell you you've pressed it), an on/off button, a game/chat mix wheel, and a Bluetooth button. This Bluetooth button acts as a multifunctional button to skip tracks, take calls, and the likes when you're using the headset in Bluetooth mode.
As a 'do it all' type of headset I'm really loving this thanks to the aforementioned customizability and the connectivity options, but there are some things that annoy me. The wireless receiver dongle, for example, is too wide. If I plug it into one of the ports on my laptop, it's blocking other ports. Then there's the disconnect behavior. The range on this headset is quite stunning (I managed to go down a floor in my house without any breakups) but once you leave that connectivity range you can get some really sudden and loud static 'bangs'. Other wireless headsets give you a gentle noise indication telling you that you're out of range, but that's not the case here. These are minor annoyances, but those are things that can and should be improved if you ask me.
Moving on from those annoyances, though, I can say that the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless is a great all-round headset. Things like its fast charging capability (giving you 6 hours of battery life on just 15 minutes of charging) along with the respectable battery life of around 38 hours make it so that you won't ever run out of juice unless you go to sleep with the headset on, and this is one of the most comfortable headsets I've tested in recent times to boot. It has become my main headset due to the comfort, ease of use, and overall sound quality. It's also lovely to be free of a wire with a headset.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless is a fantastic option if you're looking for a wireless do-it-all gaming headset. It's a bit wonky in the highs and can lack distinct bass tones, so it's not the best as a main content consumption headset. The sound that it puts out is certainly commendable and inoffensive, so it's not a bother to listen to at all, but for gaming purposes it really shines. Audio imaging is great, and if you choose the correct EQ settings (there's a large number of presets in SteelSeries' GG software) it becomes even easier to hear important sounds in your favorite game. The gaming performance of the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless really is amazing.
It's a decently light headset to wear, offering supreme comfort that will feel right at home on your head on both hot and cold days thanks to the great materials that they used for the ear cushions and the adjustable headband. Its dual connectivity capability (meaning that you can have audio from your BlueTooth connection and the 2.4GHz connection coming through at the same time) makes it a fantastic all-rounder for gamers who are often on the go or who want a single headset that does it all.
It's not perfect, however. The microphone sounds decent at best (and that requires you to tweak its sound in SteelSeries GG), the wireless receiver is obnoxiously wide, and the overall sound profile is, as mentioned, a bit funky with its muddled highs and lack of clarity in the lower register when boosted. This makes it not ideal as a content-first headset, but it does shine in the gaming department, so it's important to consider what your main focus is when shopping for a headset. If you're primarily going to be using it for gaming and you want a reliable all-in-one audio solution that you can take with you on the road without a hassle then this is a strong contender. If you're mostly a music listener who games on the side, for example, you should probably let this one slide since its main strengths lie in its gaming performances.