Finding a gaming headset that does everything well can be difficult. It’s got to be comfortable, sound great, be compatible with as many gaming platforms as possible, and hopefully look slick so you can actually wear them out in public. The SteelSeries Arctis 7 manages to fulfill all these criteria effortlessly at a price that won’t make your eyes water.
It’s a truly universal set that works flawlessly across different devices, with a stylish design and high level of comfort. It also packs in outstanding audio, including incredible surround sound capabilities with high spec customization options and great connectivity. The SteelSeries Arctis 7 has really set the bar high when it comes to the best gaming headphones.
So, let’s take a closer look in this in-depth SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review…
Straight out of the box, first impressions are good. The Arctis 7 are a classy looking set of headphones, with a minimal and sophisticated style. The adjustable headband is one of the easiest systems imaginable. And utilizes Velcro straps with the flexible band to contour perfectly around any head size.
Black or white versions are available, and although they are slightly bigger than your average set of headphones, they’re still portable enough to be easily carried in a small rucksack. Although technically gaming headphones, the subtle design means you wouldn’t look out of place wearing these on the subway.
We certainly like this shift towards a more audiophile look rather than headphones with flashing LEDs that scream ‘gamer.’
A power button and a volume control for chat can be found on the right ear cup. The left ear cup is home to regular volume controls, the charging port, and a 3.5mm input to listen with a wire.
Plug them in, and you can listen regardless of whether the headphones have power or not, although you won’t be able to use the surround sound function. The left ear cup also plays host to a 4-inch retractable microphone on the end of a flexible wire.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 score top marks when it comes to comfort. It goes without saying how important this is in the gaming world. Sessions can go on for multiple hours, so it’s one of the top considerations for gamers when shopping for the right headphones.
The Velcro fixed elastic band design is so easy to use and incredibly comfortable even after hours of use. It’s a mystery why more manufacturers don’t adopt this design. It’s so obviously a superior system to the traditional notched arm approach that it’s shocking that SteelSeries seem to be the only ones to have realized this.
The clamping force is just about right, creating a good tight seal around the ears and keeping the headphones securely in place without ever pushing down too restrictively. Basically, you never feel like you need to take a 5-minute break to alleviate any discomfort, which is just what the best gaming headphones should be aiming to achieve.
The lightweight design also helps when using the Arctis 7 for longer durations. Topping the scales at just under 10 ounces, they never feel like they are weighing you down.
A full charge will give you a whopping 25 hours of continuous usage, enough to last even the most extreme of gaming sessions and good for at least three days of average use. They can also be used whilst on charge or plugged in via the 3.5mm port. The battery life will decline slightly over time, but heavy users report good charge retention over a year later.
The accompanying SteelSeries Engine 3 app allows you to customize your listening experience in a few different ways.
The DTS Headphone X virtual surround sound options can be toggled here along with the audio dynamic range. An adjustable equalizer also allows you to make changes to the output across the frequency range and save them as sound profiles.
Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do. A library section allows you to store the profiles for easy access when playing different games or listening to music. Once you’ve done the legwork, the results are well worth it.
The 4-inch retractable and flexible mic is a very capable piece of kit capturing and reproducing your voice very clearly. It’s not the kind of professional equipment you would want to use for professional podcasting, but it’s more than up to the task of supplying clear communication when live gaming or streaming on a platform like Twitch.
Connectivity was seamless with a solid range of up to 12 meters without any cutting out. This is great, although most gamers won’t find a real need for this as not many stray too far from their screens. But if you’re planning on using the Arctis 7 in other capacities outside of gaming, then we can report that the connection holds up very well.
PC & Console Compatibility
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 works seamlessly across all PCs and the major gaming platforms. The headphones work wirelessly on the PS4 and on the Xbox One, by plugging the 3.5 jack into the controller. However, because of this, the surround sound options are not available to Xbox users, which isn’t the fault of SteelSeries.
The excellent mic makes for very clear communication in multiplayer games.
So How Do The SteelSeries Arctis 7 Sound?
Traditionally gaming headsets have relied on a bass heavy sound profile to exaggerate rumbling explosions. There has been a move away from this ethos in recent years, towards a more neutral, audiophile pleasing signature, with SteelSeries at the forefront of this revolution.
As a result, you get amazing clarity even at high volumes, and the Arctis 7 can get loud without any noticeable distortion. This improves the overall listening experience for both music and gaming purposes. Bass no longer overwhelms the show. It’s still got the necessary punch, but the mids and highs are allowed to share the stage with equal space to shine.
The gaming experience, especially with the 7.1 Surround on, is given a far higher degree of sophistication, with subtler sounds that might be drowned out by more bass orientated headphones, clearly audible.
Whether you’re a casual or professional gamer, this can only be a net positive. It will also make you a more successful gamer in games where clarity of sound is important. Games like Overwatch are brought alive with the surround on, creating a more immersive and urgent experience.
Due to the neutral frequency response across the range, music from any genre is faithfully reproduced without any over-emphasis in any department. Fortunately, they also sound great. They won’t be winning any audiophile awards, but the extra versatility this gives what essentially are gaming headphones, makes for a very attractive package.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 performs well in the noise isolation department, considering it doesn’t employ any Active Noise Cancelation technology. Most in-room distractions will be blocked out just fine. They can also be taken out if connected with the 3.5mm wire. They won’t do a great job of blocking out louder urban rumblings, but it’s frankly good enough that they can go mobile.
SteelSeries Arctis 7 Pros & Cons
- Very comfortable.
- Excellent balanced sound.
- Incredibly versatile.
- Sophisticated look.
- Impressive mic.
- Superb value
- Nope. Can’t think of any.
In terms of gaming options, it’s worth checking out our review of the Sennheiser Game One for some perspective.
As for more traditional headphones, take a look at our reviews of the Bose Soundlink Around Ear, the 1More Triple Driv er, the Bose QuietComfort 25, the Bose QuietComfort II, the Sony MDR 7506, and the Sony WH1000XM3.
The answer is a resounding yes. What’s not to like? They’re undoubtedly one of the best wireless gaming headsets available for PC and console users alike. They are also the most comfortable to wear for long sessions thanks to simple design innovation that other companies have been very slow to pick up on.
We particularly like SteelSeries deliberate move away from the traditional gaudy gamer look, to a more stylish and frankly, grown-up aesthetic. You can wear these out and about with no shame. The traditional bass-boom of gaming headphones has also been replaced with a more neutral and pleasing sound signature. This improves sound quality no matter what you are using the headphones for.
The fact that SteelSeries manage to pull all of this off at an exceptionally reasonable price easily makes the case for the Arctis 7 being the best wireless gaming headphones you can currently buy.