SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Review
Gaming headsets are a difficult product to get right. You're not only competing against other gaming headsets, but you've also got to beat regular headphones and in-ear monitors, which is a market segment that's been up and running for ages. As such, a gaming headset has to stand out if a company wants to make a wave in the (fairly saturated) gaming headset scene, and stand out the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless does.
SteelSeries' flagship headset is meant to be the ultimate audio solution; a state-of-the-art audio product complete with ANC, multi-device functionality, and a host of other technologies to make this the last (gaming) headset you will ever need. Whether or not the people at SteelSeries have succeeded in their mission is something that you can read in our full SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless review.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless - First Impressions
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless looks almost the exact same as the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless that I recently reviewed, and I see that as a good thing. This is a sleek, modern looking headset, and due to the fact that the microphone completely disappears in the ear cup when retracted this is a device that I would gladly wear when commuting or generally being out and about.
Inside the box you'll find the headset, the wireless base station, a quickstart guide, a carrying pouch, some artwork, a microphone pop filter, USB-C to USB-A cables, and a jack cable. That's everything that you need (and more) to get going, and I like the inclusion of the carrying pouch. This is a pricey piece of kit, so having that pouch to store it in makes for a more premium experience, even though the pouch obviously doesn't do much in the way of protection.
Build and comfort
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless looks and feels like a high quality product. The headset doesn't creak or rattle when moved and flexed, and as mentioned before this is a product that wouldn't look out of place in a serious office setting due to the stylish design and lack of RGB elements.
As is common with SteelSeries products, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless uses that ski goggles-style headband of theirs in order to ensure a snug fit. The tightness of this fabric band can be adjusted, and you can do the same with the headband frame itself, making for a headset that's easy to fit on your head in a comfortable fashion. I have a rather large skull and I managed to find a comfortable fit with ease. The clamping force, while on the higher side due to the active noise cancellation (ANC) feature on the headset, never got annoying and I can wear this headset for multiple hours without any issue. That's in large part thanks to the super comfortable fabric band design, making the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless sort of 'float' above your head, making it so that you never feel the frame itself pushing down on your skull. It takes a bit of time to get the perfect fit on this front, but it's worth it: this is one comfortable headset.
Despite not being a fan of leather/leatherette ear cushions, I found these to be more than tolerable. The material used is supple and rather breathable. It's nothing compared to mesh or velours materials on the breathability front, but the usage of this leatherette material was motivated by the choice to include ANC, so it's an understandable decision. The foam in the cushions themselves is soft and forms to your skull instantly, greatly aiding in the comfy feeling that this headset provides. I still had to take the headset off after longer and intense gaming sessions to let my ears breathe a bit, but as I said: that has more to do with personal preferences than with the overall quality of the headset. If you have no problems with leather materials then you will have no problems with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
All in all, I have absolutely no remarks about the comfort of this headset. It's adjustable in all the right ways (and the ear cups also fold flat so that you can lay it down on your neck if you decide you want to give your ears a breather) and built with great care, making the wearing experience match the asking price.
The ear cup covers can be removed (and replaced; SteelSeries sells customization kits) and reveal a battery on one side and a charging port on the other. The slightly awkward placing of the charging port is something I can forgive due to the fact that the battery life of this headset is virtually unlimited, but more on that later. Do note that these ear cup covers show scratches really easily. These can be buffed out by rubbing on them if they're surface-level, but it's still quite annoying.
Sound and mic
As far as gaming headsets go it's quite simple: the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is up there with the very best. The out of the box sound profile fits my preferences like a glove, and everything comes through clearly and without distortion. If I'm being extremely nitpicky I would say that the highs can be a bit underemphasized in the highest registers when listening to music, but this isn't something that ruins the experience, and I only noticed it on certain tracks and/or when I really was listening for it. Overall, this is one of the best sounding headsets I've ever tested, and it was a pleasure to use this for anything from gaming to listening to the newest releases of my favorite artists.
Something that helps with that audio experience is the Sonar app. That's a component of SteelSeries' configuration software, housing an equalizer with a bunch of presets and, of course, offering the ability for you to create your very own sound profile. This results in a headset that's extremely versatile; if I was listening to bass-heavy music I'd use the preset for that kind of music, while I switched to a profile with a much lower bass response for games such as CS:GO. All of this supports SteelSeries' idea to make this the endgame do-it-all headset for gamers, and I'm fully on board with that idea. I often found myself wearing the headset for the majority of the day, switching between different EQ profiles, and switching on the ANC when the situation called for it.
Speaking of ANC: it's pretty satisfying here. I am not a big expert on ANC, but it works great on the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless to tune out fan noises, droning machinery, and so on. It's not the best at removing sudden, sharp noises such as someone shouting or what have you, but that's just a limit of ANC technology in general. I had a great experience using the noise cancellation for tuning out outside noises when I was working with the window open and the likes, and it works great to quiet down noisy environments so that you can fully focus on your game or work. It's worth noting that the passive noise cancellation is also pretty good; the thick leatherette cushions do a good job at removing the sharpness of outside noise even without ANC activated.
The microphone on the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is easily the best wireless microphone I've heard so far. It's clear and precise and does its job without dropping out, and while it's (obviously) no match for dedicated external microphones I would not hesitate to use this for calls and gaming. Inside Sonar's app you can also tweak the sound profile of the mic, making it so that you can have your mic match your voice, resulting in a pleasant sound that never gets jarring for your conversation partners.
In short: the great news show continues here. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is one of the best sounding gaming headsets I've ever heard, and it pairs it with a great microphone.
Mic Sound Test - No Processing
Mic Sound Test - Sonar On
Features and ease of use
SteelSeries Sonar is an interesting app that's agnostic, meaning that you can use it even if you're using a headset that's not made by SteelSeries, so I won't spend too much time on its features (you can read our article on it here) but I really dig it. Having the ability to tweak the sound of your teammates' microphones is something that's quite unique, and it's wonderful to be able to lower the treble on that one friend's subpar microphone, for example. As I said, though, that's something that you can do with any headset (so long as you download SteelSeries GG) so I'll focus on the headset-specific features in this section.
The standout on this front is, for me, the fact that the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless comes with two batteries. The included wireless base station has a slot in it to store one of these batteries to charge it, making it so that you have a headset with a practically endless battery life. This is a genius way of doing this, and the convenient battery indicators on the base station's display make it so that I never ran out of battery during my testing period.
Speaking of the base station: I also love this. It allows you to tweak a number of settings (toggle ANC, lower or raise the volume, change the chatmix, ...) and even change the EQ, making it so that you basically never have to go into the software if you don't want to do that. It also looks sleek and stylish, making it a good looking addition to your desk.
One thing that I would like to see is more customization options for the base station. Currently it shows kills, headshots, and other tidbits of info when you're playing compatible games (such as CS:GO) but when you're not really playing anything or listening to music it would be good to have it time out its display after x amount of time. One really annoying aspect that I would like to see changed immediately is the fact that it never turns off, though. Even if I turn off my computer, the screen of the base station stays on. I know that I can probably mess around in the BIOS of my PC in order to completely cut the power to its USB port, but all of my other peripherals turn off their lighting/display when I power down my PC, so I would like to see this here too. Since my gaming PC is in my bedroom the light of the base station can get really annoying when trying to sleep, and it's equally annoying having to unplug it every time I stop using the PC.
Aside from this minor hiccup (which can be fixed with a firmware update I assume) the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless offers the most seamless and pleasing experience I've ever had with a gaming headset. The fact that it can connect to multiple devices and even connect via Bluetooth and USB at the same time makes it the perfect 'do it all' headset for gamers, and the ability to just stand up from my desk and start doing housework chores while taking a call is something that I found amazing. Once you have the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless integrated into your routine, you really won't want to go back.
One caveat here is that the wireless range doesn't extend as far as it does on certain other gaming headsets when it's in Speed mode. This is easily fixed by switching to the Range mode prior to moving (far) away from your PC, but that's a habit that you'll have to get into if you're used to a bigger range.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the best gaming headset I've ever used. It's not the absolute best sounding pair of headphones that I've ever tried, but as a package that's aimed at (competitive) gamers it's hard to imagine how this could be made a lot better.
It has a great build quality, fantastic sound, great mic, and even if some of the auditory aspects aren't to your liking there's the ability to tweak those via SteelSeries' GG app. Combine all of that with the sleek and stylish wireless base station (which isn't only for looks; the so-called 'Infinity Power System' is absolutely genius) and a number of incredibly handy features to make it into a 'all in one' audio solution and you've got one of the best audio devices in the gaming world right now.
Of course there is the price. This is one expensive package, and if you're a budget-conscious user you will absolutely want to skip this. There are a number of alternatives that match or surpass the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless on certain aspects (you can get a better pure audio experience from some dedicated audio headphones, for example, and there are also better ANC headphones out there) but if you're looking for the ultimate high tier gaming audio package with all of these features combined there's not really anything I can think of that beats this. This is some seriously impressive work from the people at SteelSeries.