Gaming headsets are a dime a dozen. That’s part of the problem consumers face when trying to make an educated purchase. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, the choices are endless. At the very high-end of the spectrum, both from a price point and feature set, sits the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. It is possibly the single-best wireless gaming headset you can find on the market today, provided you’re up to paying the price.
Is my Search Finally Over?
I’ve gone through more headsets than I’m willing to admit. Not because the ones I’ve tried before were bad headsets, but because my standards and expectations are exceptionally high. A couple of months ago, I went on a quest to find the one gaming headset that meets all my requirements. The desired features included excellent sound quality, comfort, wireless freedom, long battery life, a better-than-average microphone, and the ability to connect it to multiple devices. After several failed attempts with high-end gaming headsets that all satisfied some but not all the requirements, I decided to give the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless a try.
Let’s have a quick look at the features that SteelSeries jammed into its flagship wireless headset. Instead of connecting to your PC or console via a dongle that is either unsightly or in the way, the Arctis Pro Wireless connects via its own hub. While this does take up more space on your desk, it does offer several significant advantages, which I’ll go into shortly. The hub allows connectivity via the included USB cable. It features both a digital optical input port for connecting a PlayStation 4 or SPDIF-capable soundcard, as well as a 3.5mm audio port. It also houses a spare battery, which means you never have to plug this headset into any cable. You simply swap one battery for another. Brilliant!
A small display panel indicates charge and battery status and a set of simple controls allow you to switch inputs and toggle a variety of settings. All of these can also be accessed from the headset, but I find it a lot more convenient turning a large dial next to a display rather than fumbling with buttons somewhere on the side of my head.
The Best Wireless Functionality Available
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless headset communicates with its base station via a 2.4Ghz wireless. This means you can expect very little chance of interference and lag-free audio transmissions. The headset also has Bluetooth built-in, allowing you to pair your phone and quickly answer phone calls or listen to music while you game. While the hub does offer a significant level of input options, most of the mixing functionality is exclusive. This means that while you can have up to three (four including Bluetooth) devices connected at once, you can only listen to one at a time. It doesn’t do mixing as some other headsets do, but this wasn’t a critical requirement of mine. I merely wanted the ability to swap between devices without ever having to touch a cable.
The APW’s wireless signal is phenomenal and an order of magnitude better than its equally or higher-priced competitors. I can move around both floors of my townhouse and still maintain a stable connection to the hub. I have also never experienced any interference, lag, or disconnection whatsoever. I turn on my gaming system, turn on the headset, and I’m connected and ready to go.
As mentioned earlier, the replaceable battery is kept inside the right earpiece of the APW and can be swapped out for the spare battery at any time. The hub has a slot that ensures your extra battery is always being charged. I don’t know why more manufacturers don’t do this, but I never want to have to charge a headset differently ever again. Each battery’s charge is notably shorter than that or other headsets, but since you always have a fully charged backup, you never experience more downtime than the ten seconds it takes to swap them. You can even do this without taking the headset off.
Form, Fit, and Function
Like most of SteelSeries’ headsets, the Arctis Pro Wireless uses a ski band-like restraint mechanism at the top, which means it is not as adjustable as more traditional headsets. So if your head is unusually large or small, you may have some issues. It’s not my favorite feature of the APW, but it is comfortable for long sessions if it fits you well. The ear cups are covered in a very lovely and breathable Airweave fabric. My main problem with these is that they are not quite large enough to fully engulf my ears, meaning they sit against part of my ear rather than around it. Your mileage may vary, I do have relatively large ears. I’ve been able to replace them with larger third-party cushions that make things more comfortable for me, though I do miss the Airweave fabric. Hint to SteelSeries: make a larger cushion as an optional add-on, please. Headset fit is a very personal thing, so if you have the opportunity to try these on in a store, I highly recommend doing so.
The sound quality of the Arctis Pro Wireless headset is excellent. When connected via USB, you can choose to enable SteelSeries’ surround sound feature, which does a pretty reasonable job of portraying a larges soundscape. This can be done from the headset, the hub, or the SteelSeries Engine software. Custom EQ settings are also available. I opted for leaving things at stereo settings because I find that the directional sound is superior.
Wireless gaming headsets are known for having poor microphone quality for a lot of reasons, and while the Arctis Pro Wireless microphone isn’t the best I’ve ever used, it is far better than the average. The Discord-certified audio is clear, and my gaming partners can hear me precisely. It also offers very good noise-gating, meaning that the microphone picks up far less background noise such as keyboard sounds than other higher-quality devices. It’s a trade-off, for sure, but for purposes of gaming and being able to communicate with your teammates; this microphone does an excellent job. The microphone is retractable into the left earcup, which is nice because it makes for cleaner storage and non-mic related use, but I do find that the boom is often stiff and doesn’t quite keep the exact bend that I want from it. It’s a minor nag against it, however, and the ability to quickly mute the headset and have a visual indication that it’s muted, is handy.
It Ain’t Cheap, but it’s Worth it
After having used a high number and wide range of gaming headsets, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is by far my favorite. It’s my everyday gaming headset and is versatile enough for me to use it for all audio tasks, short of podcasting. Whether I’m playing an intense multiplayer game with friends, running a D&D session, or enjoying a solo gaming experience on a console, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless hits the spot. There’s a distinct class of $300+ gaming headsets, and if you’re looking in that price range, look no further than the Arctis Pro Wireless. I promise you won’t be disappointed.