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SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
May 24, 2022
USB-C to USB-A cables (1.5m)
3.5mm audio cable, 5-pole to 4-pole (1.2m)
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a new gaming headset from a company known for comfort and quality. It’s clear that SteelSeries is aiming for a new benchmark in wireless gaming quality here. Thanks to its low-key design and premium build quality, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless could be a good choice not just for a gaming headset, but also as a daily set of headphones ready to tackle commuting and Zoom meetings alike.
We spent a week with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless to see if this headset lives up to its high expectations.
Editor’s note: This SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless review was updated on August 23, 2022, to address how the headset compares to the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless.
What is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless like?
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a well-built, comfortable headset with a slightly tweaked headband design from the signature ski-goggle-inspired band. Other SteelSeries headphones use a headband suspension mechanism totally reliant on gravity. However, this one gives you a different kind of leeway to adjust the band height, with headset pins akin to a snapback hat.
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless sits comfortably on my head despite the additional weight commonly associated with wireless headsets. The combination of metal and plastic feels exceptionally sturdy. The ear pads use a faux leather material that feels good, but heats up after an hour or two of wear. A retractable microphone hides inside the left ear cup and blends into the outer shell inconspicuously.
One of the headset’s best features is the wireless base station that you can use to control it. The base station features two USB-C connectors, which lets you hook the headset up to two devices at once (for example a PC and a PlayStation 5), as well as a slot for charging the hot-swappable headset battery. The wireless base station also features a black and white OLED display and wheel that allow you to control all the software features associated with the headset, including a 10-band EQ and game/chat mix balance.
How do you control the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless?
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless features a set of easily accessible controls on both ear cups. On the left ear cup is the microphone mute button, volume slider, and the power button which doubles as a switch for active noise cancelling. On the right side of the headset is the Bluetooth pairing button. Compared to some other headsets, SteelSeries does an admirable job of differentiating each of these controls by making them all feel distinct from each other, which cuts down on confusion for new users.
The wireless base station also features its own set of controls, which lets you go beyond the controls on the headset without having to resort to the SteelSeries GG app. This is all controlled by a multi-function wheel on the right side of the box. On the main screen, the wheel usually adjusts the volume but if you enter the menus, you can easily scroll through and change settings on the fly. The only confusing part of this whole interface is the touch-capacitive back button to the left of the wheel, which isn’t immediately apparent on first use. You can also control the base station’s menu by clicking the volume wheel on the headset.
How does the SteelSeries GG software work?
When you buy the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, you get a complementary software called SteelSeries GG (Windows/macOS), which you’ll want for software updates. Downloading SteelSeries GG gives you access to the Moments and Sonar suits, which let you record your gameplay and adjust the audio settings, respectively. The companion app looks sleek, and the Sonar Audio is where you can select designated audio devices for game, chat, and mic audio with a few clicks. You can also play around with Sonar Audio’s EQ presets or create your own but be aware: it interacts strangely with the base station.
Upon installing GG and updating the wireless base station, you’ll notice that the base station has a new ability to separately adjust Sonar’s audio channels. Great. You still need the software to change the game/chat balance but that’s not too big a hassle. At the same time, once you apply an EQ through Sonar, it will replace the built-in EQ feature of the wireless base station. This means that you will lose custom control over the EQ directly through the base station, and if you want to change it, you’ll need to do so from the Sonar Audio suite.
Since SteelSeries has two different ways to adjust EQ (with Sonar being the newer one) you can still use the older SteelSeries Engine to adjust the EQ without running into this issue. Hopefully, Sonar will be updated in the future to work smoothly with the wireless base station’s EQ.
Is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless good for gaming?
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a very solid option for anyone looking for a gaming headset. We tested it with several games, including a session of Europa Universalis IV to test the comfort. The headset performs admirably across many different titles, representing the fantastical soundscapes of Elden Ring, or the violent wasteland of Fallout 4 wonderfully. The easy-to-use microphone and solid long-term comfort make it a great choice for late-night Discord hangouts and marathon gaming sessions.
Yes, this is compatible with the PlayStation 5’s Tempest audio engine for 360-degree sound, as well as Microsoft Spatial Sound.
How does the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless connect?
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is meant primarily to connect to the wireless base station, which has multiple I/O ports. Included are two USB-C ports and two 3.5mm TRS jacks (one line in and one line out) to allow multiple connections to and from the headset.
Overall the wireless connection is fairly solid, although we notice some very brief drops in quality sitting 1.5 meters away. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0 (SBC only)when you use it away from the base station and you get a 12-meter range. This means that the headset supports a wide array of different devices including PC, Mac, smartphones, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and the Nintendo Switch. You can also use the 3.5mm connector on the left side for wired playback.
How good is the battery life of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless?
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’ base station includes a slot for charging the removable battery (you get two). Each battery is advertised to last between 18 and 22 hours, and in our testing, we found that it lasted a total of 22 hours, 36 minutes when playing back music continuously at a peak level of 75dB(SPL). This result doesn’t match up to a lot of recent standouts, like the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless or SteelSeries’ own Arctis 7+, but the base station has a trick up its sleeve to level the playing field.
You can quickly swap a battery out by removing the magnetic cover on the right side of the headset. The headset will remain on for a full eight seconds without a battery inserted, giving you time to switch it out for the other included battery that you store in the base station’s charging bay. Thanks to this system, you can use the headset effectively without turning it off for sessions of any duration. The headset also features a USB-C port on the left ear cup underneath another magnetic cover that can be used to charge the battery when away from the base station (when using Bluetooth).
How well does the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless block out noise?
Without the use of active noise cancelling the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has generally pretty good noise isolation thanks to its closed-back and sturdy design. The addition of active noise cancelling (ANC) makes this headset a fantastic choice for anyone gaming in a noisy environment. The hum of an AC unit or outside traffic is easily suppressed, sounding around half as loud, and even room-level conversations are difficult to hear with ANC turned on.
How does the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless sound?
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has a pretty good-sounding frequency response. Compared to our ideal consumer curve, this headset has a slight emphasis in the bass range (around 100Hz) and a slight dip around 4kHz. The narrow 8kHz peak, and high-end roll-off beginning around 10kHz aren’t too noticeable, but it is noteworthy if that’s something you might be sensitive to. Although this frequency response isn’t perfect, it still makes for an impressive and enjoyable listening experience for both games and music.
Lows, mids, and highs
The guitars of No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age fit the frequency response of this headset particularly well, with the high-end sounding clear and the bass guitar being easily distinguishable alongside it. Reptillia by The Strokes suffers a little bit due to the particularly “hissy” hi-hats and cymbals used in the song, which don’t fit with this headset’s high-end response as well. Other genres of music sound fantastic here, however, such as the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony where the headset accurately reproduces everything from the low bass instruments to the air of the high strings. The bass on songs like Block Rockin’ Beats by The Chemical Brothers also comes across wonderfully thanks to the headset’s enhanced low end.
How is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless microphone?
The retractable microphone is easy to pull in and out, and position for optimal sound. When retracted, it sits flush with the rest of the ear cup, and a visible red light illuminates when you mute the mic. The microphone’s response is highly optimized for communication, and compares well with the best gaming headset mics. It features a gentle slope up to around 3.5kHz followed by a sharp drop off around 6kHz, covering the critical speech band well. At the same time, the high-frequency pre-emphasis really helps with intelligibility.
Take a listen to our standardized microphone demos below, and let us know what you think:
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless microphone demo (Office conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless?
Although it is on the pricey side, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is jam-packed with many unique features, and comes with our highest recommendation. This headset delivers excellent sound quality, noise cancelling, and comfort, while also delivering a hot-swappable battery with excellent battery life. The wireless base station helps it stand out from a sea of other gaming headsets and really enhances gameplay. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is so well designed, that you could use it as a gaming headset and as your daily pair of headphones without it feeling out of place.
If you don’t care for any kind of wireless connectivity, you could get virtually the same experience from the cheaper SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro. Then again, you can go even more affordable with the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless. This gaming headset uses the same frame as the Nova Pro Wireless but with a slightly cheaper build. Battery life is good at just over 41 hours, but you miss out on all the fun features that the Nova Pro Wireless’ wireless base station offers. At least you can still use SteelSeries Engine and Sonar with the Arctis Nova 7 Wireless.
What should you get instead of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless?
The first port of call if you’re considering other wireless gaming headsets is likely the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid. This headset delivers similar quality to the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless and is around the same price range, while also having better support for Xbox consoles.
A standard SoundGuys recommendation for a gaming headset that isn’t too expensive is the Razer Barracuda X, which is one-third of the price but which still delivers on quality and features fairly well. Finally, you might want to consider one of SteelSeries’ other offerings, such as the Arctis 7+ Wireless, which features the same ski goggle style headband that the company is known for.
Frequently asked questions about the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
SteelSeries ships two different versions of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, the one we tested for this review supports PC and PlayStation. Another SKU supports the Xbox Series S/X consoles, but not the PlayStation consoles. This is due to differences in how these two consoles handle external audio devices. It’s important to note here that SteelSeries may have been able to support both consoles with one SKU; some headsets from other manufacturers allow users to toggle between PlayStation and Xbox support on the fly using a switch.