SteelSeries Arctis Pro Review
Here at ProSettings.net we’re always very busy keeping you guys up to date with the latest info about the gear and settings that pros are using. As such it’s easy to notice when a peripheral starts to make its way onto the desks of more and more pro players. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is one of those products. This is definitely not a new release but that doesn’t stop it from drawing the attention of more and more professionals so naturally we were keen to check out why that is.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro promises to be a top of the line gaming headset in all the ways that matter: it has DTS Headphone:X v2.0, a ClearCast microphone that promises studio-quality voice clarity, an aluminum alloy and steel construction, and, perhaps most importantly, ‘industry leading hi-res capable speaker drivers.’ In theory this should be one of the best headsets that money can buy at the moment, but we all know that theory isn’t the same as practice. To help us differentiate between the two we’ve sent over a headset to our resident reviewer. Enjoy!
SteelSeries Arctis Pro – First Impressions
The Arctis Pro is very much a premium product, and that’s clear on all fronts. The headband is made out of sturdy aluminum/steel materials and finished with a nicely detailed stretchy fabric to ensure a comfy fit on your head while the ear cups are luxuriously padded with a very soft and breathable material.
Contrary to what you’d expect from a top of the line gaming headset the Arctis Pro won’t make you stand out from the crowd, and that’s a good thing if you’re asking me. Aside from the fully customizable RGB zones on both ear cups there’s nothing here that would turn any heads: the whole thing looks sleek, professional, and stylish. Of course all of that doesn’t really matter for a gaming headset, but the looks deserve some praise here in my opinion.
Inside the box you will find everything you need to get going. Aside from the headset there’s the USB chat mix ‘dongle’, a cable to connect the headset to said dongle, and then also a 3.5mm audio jack adapter.
Aside from the usual documentation you also get a little foam cover for the mic. This lowers the amount of ‘pops’ that you get when speaking into said mic and that can definitely be handy for people who will use this headset mic for more than just ingame callouts or short ‘in between rounds conversations’ with friends.
It’s a small detail perhaps, but it does show that the people at SteelSeries care about the mic quality and want to give you the best experience possible so it’s nice to see that this has been included.
Build and comfort
The Arctis Pro, as I briefly mentioned already, is built like you’d expect a premium headset to be built. There are no thin or flimsy plastic parts anywhere and the whole thing feels like it’d be able to take some punishment. The headset sits on top of your head by means of a stretchy band that’s sitting below the thin (but hard) material that the actual headband is made out of. You can customize the fit by adjusting the tightness of the elastic band until the headset sort of ‘floats’ above your crown.
I have a pretty large head (so much so that my friends can’t stop themselves from joking about it every now and then) but even for me this all worked out. Despite the fact that there are no adjustments to be made aside from lengthening the fabric band I felt like I could get a good and comfy fit. The actual metal/aluminum alloy part of the headband is also decently flexible (though you can’t twist it very far) so that definitely helps to accommodate larger domes such as mine. It’s not the most comfortable headset I’ve ever worn, but the Arctis Pro definitely passes the ‘can I use this thing for multiple-hour gaming sessions without wanting to take it off test‘ with relative ease.
The ear cushions are made out of a soft and rather breathable mesh material which gives you a pleasant seal without necessarily ‘shutting your ears in’ like leather or leather-like materials can do. Of course this is all down to preference: some people love leather ear cups while others want to stay as far away from them as possible but since I’m more of a mesh fan this’ll do just fine for me.
All in all this is just a really solid piece of kit. It’s rather heavy on its own but it honestly doesn’t feel like that once you’re wearing it, and the combination of the materials they’ve chosen along with the solid build quality (there’s no creaking or other annoyances when moving your head around or readjusting the headset) makes this a really nicely put together product if you’re asking me.
Little sidenote: in case you want your headset to look a little bit more ‘out there’ you can purchase different ear cup covers and headbands from SteelSeries’ website. The cup covers are attached to the headset via magnets so they’re super easy to replace.
Sound and mic
A headset can look the part, feel the part, and have all of the extra features and knobs you’d ever want but if the sound that it produces isn’t up to snuff then all of that doesn’t matter. Luckily the Arctis Pro delivers in spades.
A little note before I go on: this headset is commonly sold/paired with SteelSeries’ GameDAC. That’s a Hi-Res Audio certified Digital-to-Analog Converter that further boosts the audio quality of this (and other) headsets. I reviewed the version without the GameDAC since that seems to be what most pros are using so I’ll be judging this headset on its own. If I ever review the GameDAC I will obviously update this review and/or link to the appropriate pages.
So, audio performance then. There are a bunch of settings that you can tweak in SteelSeries’ software (more on that later) as well as a basic equalizer with pre-configured profiles built in. Because I’m judging this mostly on its gaming prowess I set the surround profile to gaming and the EQ settings to performance (which lowers the bass and boosts the higher frequencies) and got to gaming and I have to say I was mightily impressed.
Important sounds such as footsteps and reloading enemies came through with excellent clarity and exceptional positioning. People often say (as a joke) that blatant cheaters ‘just have good headphones’ because a good audio setup can really help you out when it comes to knowing precisely when an enemy will round a corner or things like that, and the Arctis Pro is one of those headsets that can deliver those moments. Of course this isn’t the only headset out there that’s capable of that, but the sound quality that this product can produce really impressed me.
What was a tiny bit less impressive was the performance for media consumption, even after playing around with various EQ settings. That’s not to say it’s bad because it really isn’t, but I wasn’t as blown away when listening to music or watching movies with this headset as I was when I was testing it for gaming. Perhaps that’s where the GameDAC comes in though, and again: this headset is more than fine for music and media. It’s better than most other gaming-style headsets on the market even, but the bar was set really high after I tested it for gaming.
The mic on the Arctis Pro promises to be ‘the best in gaming’ and after testing it I can see why they so proudly put that statement on their marketing materials. I mostly used it with the pop filter attached (because why wouldn’t you) and the clarity and consistency of the mic is mightily impressive. You don’t get that feeling as if someone’s talking through multiple filters nor do you get the nasal kind of sound you so often experience with headset mics: this is a natural sounding microphone and I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to use this as a mic if I was a beginning streamer or something like that.
All in all the sound performance of this headset puts it right up there with the best of the best if you’re asking me. Certainly for gaming this is top tier, and even though I wasn’t as impressed when listening to music (perhaps that’s down to me generally preferring the sound of open-backed headphones though) it’s still leagues above what most other gaming companies are offering, and the fantastic mic is a nice cherry on top.
Features and ease of use
To get the most out of the Arctis Pro you’ll need to download SteelSeries’ software suite. That’ll allow you to finely tune things like the EQ, the mic volume, the amount of noise reduction, the surround sound profile, and so on. It’s all extremely easy to use and you’ll find pretty much every bit of functionality you could want here, including sidetone. That’s a function that works as a monitor does for musicians: it allows you to hear your own voice when you’re speaking. I always use this whenever it’s available on the headset that I’m using so I’m glad to see it included here too.
A special mention should also go to the ‘live mic preview’ function. Of course this is present on most VOIP programs such as Discord but being able to test whether or not your friends will be able to hear the neighbor’s dog or what have you in the software itself is a handy little addition, and it further underlines how much thought SteelSeries have put into the ‘microphone experience.’
It’s not all dreamy though: when I tried to change the RGB on the headset I had the SteelSeries Engine crash on me a couple of times. This only happened when I was messing about in the RGB settings and the issue disappeared on its own after a day so no real harm done, but I’d have been pretty miffed if it prevented me from changing the actual sound or mic settings.
On the headset itself you have an overall volume dial as well as a big button to mute your mic. Muting illuminates a red LED on the microphone itself but sadly that’s not very visible when you’ve got the filter installed. That’s just a minor annoyance, but perhaps it would’ve been a good idea to have some kind of indication on the chatmix dongle as well. Speaking of minor annoyances: the volume dial on the headset itself is pretty loose to operate and it’s situated in the exact spot where I grab the headset whenever I take it off which caused me to accidentally turn to volume to ‘full blast’ when I grabbed it a couple of times. Again: merely a minor annoyance, but perhaps it’s something they can check out when designing future versions.
Last but not least is the chat mix dongle. The dial to mix chat and game audio is very smooth and has a tactile bump right in the middle so that you can also operate it in the dark but I do wish that they’d put some kind of (reusable) adhesive on the bottom of it. The dongle is pretty light and the cable to connect it to the headset is rather short, so it accidentally flipped over when I was using it during game multiple times as I went to take a sip of my drink or something like that. Again: this is only a minor annoyance and it speaks for the quality of this product that my biggest gripes with it are so minor but of course I have to mention those little issues as well.
This turned out to be a pretty long review but of course there’s a lot to unpack here. Luckily I can be pretty brief in my conclusion: this is one of the best gaming headsets you can get right now.
Everything from the carefully thought out way they handle the microphone (which is an underrated aspect of gaming headsets if you’re asking me) to the premium feeling build quality just makes me really appreciate this headset and convinces me that the people at SteelSeries know what a good gaming headset should be. Of course all of that functionality comes at a price; a budget headset this definitely isn’t.
If you’re looking for a dedicated gaming headset with lots of configurable features that can handle media consumption at a high level too then this is definitely one of your best options right now. If you’re asking me there are a couple of minor design mishaps (such as the volume wheel’s position and the dongle/dongle cable causing some annoyances) but of course that in no way hinders this headset in delivering fantastic audio along with a top tier mic and great comfort. Thoroughly recommended.