SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi Assessment

The SteelSeries Arctis Professional Wi-fi wowed us in 2018 with its intensive connectivity choices, sturdy sound high quality, and helpful twin batteries. That was over 4 years in the past, although, and it’s taken that lengthy for SteelSeries to make a correct follow-up. The Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi is the corporate’s latest flagship wi-fi gaming headset, and it carries the identical $329.99 worth, plus many enhancements. It seems and feels higher, its base station isn’t as boxy, its simulated encompass sound is rather more efficient, and it now has energetic noise cancellation (ANC) to dam out distractions. Though you’ll get essentially the most options and choices from the Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi when utilizing it with a PC, the headset’s base station has two USB ports so you can even join your PlayStation or Xbox (relying on the mannequin of headset you purchase; the 2 platforms nonetheless don’t play good collectively). The Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi earns our Editors’ Alternative award for wi-fi gaming headsets, simply justifying its worth with its sturdy performance and efficiency.


SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless


(Photograph: Will Greenwald)

New Headset, New Base

The headset definitely seems and feels as premium as a gaming headset can get with out spilling over into the acute audiophile realm just like the $900 Audeze LCD-GX. The matte black, plastic earcups are easy and well-built, with round gunmetal-colored steel earcups on the again. The earcups are joined by a same-colored steel headband with plastic and rubber operating alongside the underside for additional assist, and an adjustable ski goggle-style suspension strap to maintain the band lifted above the scalp. The earcups also can lengthen and retract, that are customization choices that almost all ski-goggle headsets lack. The fake leather-covered earcups are generously padded with reminiscence foam, although they aren’t detachable. You possibly can substitute the steel panels and suspension strap with $34.99 coloured kits, however you may’t swap the fake leather-based earpads for cloth pads. Nonetheless, this can be a comfy headset that feels as good as equally priced headphones, and ought to be wearable for lengthy durations of time.

Most controls and connections run alongside the aspect of the left earcup, and embody an influence button, mic mute button, quantity wheel, 3.5mm port for wired listening, and the pleasantly stealthy increase microphone. It’s a plastic capsule that sits on the top of a black, versatile arm, and rests flush inside a cut-out on the earcup to virtually fully disappear when not in use. The suitable earcup holds solely a Bluetooth pairing button and Bluetooth/ energy indicator LEDs.

The earcups have magnetic again panels, and so they simply pop off. The suitable panel hides the detachable battery slot, which may be very helpful because the Nova Professional Wi-fi, very similar to its predecessor, contains two batteries so that you don’t have to cope with downtime when charging. The left panel hides a USB-C port for charging the headset on the go, when you may’t entry the transmitter’s battery slot.

Talking of which, the transmitter has been fully overhauled with a a lot sleeker design and totally different connectivity choices. The black, plastic gadget options curved sides, making it now not appear like a sq., blocky audio element. The gunmetal-colored multi-purpose knob sits on the fitting aspect of the transmitter’s face, with a monochrome OLED show subsequent to it. The again panel loses the earlier model’s optical audio enter and output, however options two USB-C ports so you may join two USB units—similar to a PC and a console—without delay. It additionally holds 3.5mm line-in and line-out connections.

The transmitter’s proper aspect options the distinctive and helpful battery slot. In line with SteelSeries, every of the headset’s two batteries can last as long as 36 hours simply linked over the two.4GHz transmitter, or 18 to 22 hours utilizing each 2.4GHz and Bluetooth. The batteries also can present three hours of use with only a 15-minute cost.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless


(Photograph: Will Greenwald)

The OLED display screen shows the present gadget getting used by way of the headset, the battery ranges of each the headset battery and the battery within the transmitter’s charging slot, the sampling and bitrate of the incoming audio, and a easy two-bar visualization of the sound coming by way of every earcup. A big, round meter to the fitting of the audio standing and visualizer bars exhibits the headset’s quantity stage, and the sound could be adjusted with the massive quantity dial. You possibly can click on the dial to alter the management to ChatMix, which helps you to alter the steadiness between recreation audio and voice chat audio.


SteelSeries’ Software program Suite

The headset is designed primarily to be used with a PC or Mac over USB, with assist for both PlayStation or Xbox relying on the mannequin. Whether or not you employ a PC or Mac, you may set up the SteelSeries GG software program to get essentially the most out of the Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi. This system manages and updates the firmware of all linked SteelSeries units, and supplies a number of helpful options for audio units underneath its Sonar tab.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless

Sonar provides a full parametric equalizer for recreation (and media) audio, letting you make way more granular changes than your customary 5- or 10-band EQ. You continue to get a standard 10-band EQ for chat audio, and one other EQ for the microphone. Every equalizer has a number of totally different presets in the event you don’t wish to experiment an excessive amount of.

Sonar additionally allows audio options together with spatial audio mixing with seven directional channels. Apart from the simulated encompass sound, you may activate Sensible Quantity to maintain your audio from all of a sudden getting too loud or too quiet. For each the chat audio and microphone feed, there’s a Sensible Voice characteristic much like Sensible Quantity; ClearCast AI noise cancellation that filters out non-vocal sound; and handbook noise discount and noise gate features in the event you don’t wish to use ClearCast.

Tweaks made in Sonar don’t apply when the headset is used with a Bluetooth connection, however you may nonetheless make some changes in a special a part of the SteelSeries GG software program. The Engine tab supplies a separate EQ for the headset, which is saved to it to be used with Bluetooth, away from the bottom station.


Clear, Tweakable Mic

The Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi’ microphone sounds excellent, particularly with its options enabled in Sonar. Clearcast AI Noise Cancellation (which is separate from the energetic noise cancellation the audio that is available in by way of the headphones receives) reduces outdoors noise, and Sensible Voice regulates quantity. Each options labored effectively, with the previous eliminating each laptop computer fan noise and the chirps of birds outdoors, and the latter preserving my voice at a listenable stage. It is best to maintain these options activated, as a result of in any other case the microphone produces a slight fuzz that seems like wi-fi interference (although that might have been outdoors noise).

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless


(Photograph: Will Greenwald)

You would possibly wish to play with the mic EQ presets in Sonar, too, as a result of the default flat setting isn’t the most effective; it made my voice sound each tough and barely sibilant. Oddly, the Balanced setting is sculpted, and cuts out the bottom frequency band, as does the Much less Nasal setting. Each made my voice sound crisp and clear, and Much less Nasal truly barely decreased the congested sinus sound my speech can get.

It took a little bit of tinkering in Sonar, however after I discovered the most effective settings (Clearcast and Sensible Voice turned on and EQ set to Much less Nasal), the microphone sounded wonderful. A devoted USB mic virtually at all times sounds higher for critical content material recording and streaming, however with the fitting tweaks the Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi’ mic works in a pinch.


Sturdy Noise Cancellation

Energetic noise cancellation (ANC) has grow to be an more and more frequent characteristic in high-end gaming headsets. Apple, Bose, and Sony all have the strongest ANC know-how at present accessible, however their greatest noise-canceling headphones price at the very least $330 and don’t have the Arctis’ connectivity or gaming options. Luckily, different headphone and headset producers have demonstrated that you would be able to get strong ANC with out reaching these costs, and SteelSeries counts amongst them.

The Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi’ noise-cancelling circuitry is surprisingly potent. It successfully blocks out the sounds of my workplace’s air conditioner and laptop computer followers, although it doesn’t fully eradicate the air conditioner’s hum. It additionally doesn’t fully dampen the subway’s rumble, however it nonetheless makes for a a lot quieter trip and considerably tamps down on the loud music that performs in my native espresso store. The Bose QuietComfort 45 and Sony WH-1000XM5 are each more practical throughout the frequency ranges and are available nearer to fully eliminating a whole lot of noises, however that is nonetheless a robust displaying for a gaming headset. Beforehand, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset had the most effective ANC within the class, however it’s since been discontinued. 


SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless


(Photograph: Will Greenwald)

Sounds Greatest With Changes

The Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi can put out some spectacular low-end sound, as heard with our bass take a look at monitor, The Knife’s “Silent Shout.” At most and unsafe quantity ranges, the kick drum hits and bass synth notes are palpable and virtually painful, with none distortion.

The opening acoustic guitar notes in Sure’s “Roundabout” come by way of with strong low-mid resonance, whereas providing some finesse within the increased frequencies to carry out the string texture. When the monitor correctly kicks in, the bassline sits a bit in entrance of the opposite components, however the guitar strums, drums, and vocals can all be clearly discerned, and don’t take an excessive amount of of a again seat to the bass. That is with the default EQ settings, and setting the preset to Music: Brilliant considerably brings out the high-mids and highs. In actual fact, its curve is a bit too aggressive within the excessive finish, however you may attain a wonderful center floor with some experimentation.

The backbeat in The Crystal Technique’s “Born Too Sluggish” reaches deep sufficient to ominously drive the monitor, although the riffs and vocals are barely blunted within the increased frequencies with the default EQ setting. The Music: Brilliant setting improves the steadiness considerably as-is, however as soon as once more you may actually get the sound you need out of the headset by taking part in with the software program.


Gaming and Spatial Audio

The simulated encompass sound that comes by way of the SteelEngine software program sounds impressively correct utilizing the Arctis Professional Wi-fi. Enjoying Passable, I bought a robust sense of directionality from the whirr of machines round me, panning and mixing between the ears to provide a strong impression of not simply left-right, however forward-back imaging. The sounds of trade had been full and clear, with the crunch of building, the woosh of hypertubes, and the soothing ambient soundtrack well-balanced and clear.

Fortnite additionally sounds good with the Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi, once more with strong simulated encompass. I may simply select the final course of close by footsteps and pictures; it was about pretty much as good a directional sense {that a} pair of headphones can provide. The Fortnite EQ preset additionally helped carry out the sport’s sound results with frequency spikes that highlighted each loud weapons fireplace and extra delicate ambient sound.


SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless

A New Greatest From SteelSeries

It took a variety of years, however SteelSeries has up to date its flagship wi-fi gaming headset in lots of great methods. The Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi is a bit dear at $330, however it provides wonderful efficiency and loads of connectivity. The headset does its greatest work linked to a PC, with the SteelSeries GG software program enabling surprisingly good spatial audio and providing preset tweaks that basically enhance the audio steadiness previous its default setting. The energetic noise cancellation is surprisingly efficient, too, and just like the earlier Arctis Professional Wi-fi, the dual-battery setup that retains a contemporary battery absolutely charged within the base means you may maintain taking part in with out pausing to plug in your headset. For all of those advantages, the Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi earns our Editors’ Alternative award for wi-fi PC gaming headsets.

If you would like a great deal of options for much less cash, the $199.95 JBL Quantum 800 provides ANC, Bluetooth, and simulated encompass sound, plus RGB lighting. Its efficiency and construct aren’t fairly on the Arctis’ stage, nevertheless, and it lacks official console assist. The $299 Audeze Penrose has audiophile-pleasing sound out of the field due to its planar magnetic drivers, however it’s restricted to Bluetooth and wired connectivity and lacks spatial audio processing. The $249.99 Razer Barracuda Professional is one other technically spectacular headset that provides ANC and simulated encompass sound, and has a a lot smaller transmitter and a helpful journey case to make it simpler to hold than the Arctis. Nevertheless, the headset’s noise cancellation is not fairly as efficient, and its non-boom mic leaves rather a lot to be desired.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi

Professionals

  • Full, clear audio

  • Good microphone

  • Surprisingly sturdy noise cancellation

  • Intelligent base station with hot-swappable batteries and two USB ports

  • Highly effective software program with intensive audio changes and efficient simulated encompass

  • Bluetooth

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The Backside Line

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Professional Wi-fi is among the most spectacular wi-fi gaming headsets we have examined, with wonderful audio, efficient energetic noise cancellation, twin swappable batteries, and a strong software program suite.

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