SteelSeries have long been the go to brand for gamers wanting a high-quality headset, for a range of different budgets. Now SteelSeries have upped the ante, and dialled their Arctis range all the way up to 12, adding a Pro range of headsets to its line-up.
With a fanfare launch, three different variants of the Pro were made available all on the same day.
|Arctis Pro||Arctis Pro + GameDAC||Arctis Pro Wireless|
|Electronics||USB ChatMix Dial||GameDAC||Transmitter Base Station|
|Speaker Drivers||Hi-Res, 40,000 Hz output||Hi-Res, 40,000 Hz output||Hi-Res, 40,000 Hz output|
|Hi-Res Audio Certified||No||Yes||No|
|Surround Sound||DTS Headphone: X v2.0||DTS Headphone: X v2.0||DTS Headphone: X v2.0|
|Wireless||No||No||Lossless 2.4G & Bluetooth|
|Connections||USB, 3.5mm||USB, Optical, 3.5mm||USB, Optical, 3.5mm|
|Compatibilities||PC||PC & PS4||PC & PS4|
No matter which model from the Pro line you choose, the specifications for the speaker drivers & microphone remain the same:
|Headphone Frequency Response||10-40,000 Hz|
|Headphone Sensitivity||102 dBSPL|
|Headphone Impedance||32 Ohm|
|Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion||<1%|
|Microphone Type||Retractable Boom|
|Microphone Polar Pattern||Bidirectional Noise-Cancelling|
|Microphone Frequency Response||100 – 10,000 Hz|
|Microphone Sensitivity||-38 dBV/Pa|
|Microphone Impedance||2200 Ohm|
|Microphone Noise Cancellation||Yes|
We have both the Pro + GameDAC and the Pro Wireless in hand today to take a closer look at, and do a little side by side comparison.
Anyone familiar with the existing Arctis line-up will recognise the aesthetics of the Pro line up immediately, with these new models taking many design cues from the hugely popular Arctic 7.
The all-aluminium frame returns, along with the ski goggle headband for extreme comfort fit when wearing. The high level of comfort extends to the ear cups, thanks to the insanely soft cushions which are wrapped in Airweave fabric.
The on-ear controls are almost identical for both the GameDAC and Wireless versions, with microphone mute button, volume wheel, audio input port and 3.5mm jack all sitting on the outer edge of the left ear cup. The Wireless model adds a charging port to the left cup, with the right cup also having power and Bluetooth buttons.
Both models feature removable magnetic covers, which opens up the possibility of getting custom covers in the future, or even for the end user to modify them personally. Under the Pro GameDAC covers we find the RGB LED lighting, whilst the Wireless Pro fits the rechargeable battery pack neatly under the right cover.
The GameDAC unit itself is a fairly discrete desk mounted unit, which allows you to directly adjust setting without the need for software. This is useful for quick adjustments when playing on PC, but will really come into its own for PS4 owners.
The front side of the unit houses the screen, allowing you to access volume, ChatMix, equalizer, Hi-Res mode and stream mixer settings using the large dial, pressing down to confirm selections.
Around the back we have the I/O ports consisting of optical, micro-USB, line out and mobile ports. The Pro headset connects to a port on the side of the unit on the left-hand side.
The Pro Wireless transmitter unit is larger than the GameDAC unit, and also features a front facing screen and large control dial. To the side of the unit is a great feature, with the ability to slide in the spare headset battery, and charge it whilst the transmitter has power, ensuring hours of uninterrupted gameplay.
Around the back we have line in & line out ports, the optional DC power port (this is how you provide the unit with power to charge the spare battery), USB port and optical in and out ports.
Performance & Testing
The Arctis range have historically been widely acclaimed for their performance… the Pro range pushes that up to a whole new level.
Whilst the GameDAC’s party piece is Hi-Res audio, there are very few games that support it currently. With that said, the reproduction of in game sound was second to nothing I have ever experienced before. The clarity of even the faintest background noises was a joy to behold and provided a hugely immersive experience in just about every game I threw at it.
Whilst in the midst of a tense firefight during a round of PUBG, the surrounding gunfire and bullets peppering our building was really something special, and just proved what I had missed out while using my previous headset.
For a gaming headset, the performance when listening to music really is top notch, and it’s really where the GameDAC version comes into its own with the Hi-Res audio, especially at the high end where it delivers serious clarity. That’s not to say the Wireless version isn’t also really good though, and both versions offer deep bass, and a good all-around range with the default out of the box settings.
Steelseries’ ClearCast microphone as long been heralded as one of the best in the business, so if it isn’t broke… don’t fix it! The Arctis Pro’s retractable microphone offers nice clean voice audio, and friends in my chat reported absolutely no issues whatsoever. Whilst chat functionality is only reserved for PC & PS4, there is the option to connect either headset up to a smartphone or XBOX/Switch using the supplied cables.
As you would expect, the new Pro range integrates in with the SteelSeries Engine 3 software (although at the time of writing, the majority of options for the Pro wireless are greyed out, with a note that functionality is due for release soon). The fact that all the settings required can be controlled on either the GameDAC or the Wireless receiver, means that there really is no need to use the software, unless you really want to.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro +GameDAC & Pro Wireless Headset Review: Our Verdict
- Premium Build Quality, with a full metal body
- Superb all round sound quality for both gaming and music
- Supreme comfort even during the longest of gaming marathons
- Crisp & clear microphone performance
- Pro Wireless features 2.4Ghz wireless as well as Bluetooth
- Expensive pricing at launch
- Cables on the +GameDAC are fairly short. A desk setup will be fine, but if connecting to a PS4 and you want to sit on the couch, they are likely to be too short
There can be no doubt whatsoever, that the new range of Arctis Pro headsets from SteelSeries offer some seriously good sound performance. The GameDAC offering Hi-Res accreditation will no doubt be a huge deal for audiophiles, but there are currently very few games that support it.
I am in no way an audiophile myself, but I can appreciate the supreme build quality, and the sheer comfort that the Pro headsets offer. The trade-off for that however is the price. At £250 for the GameDAC version, and a whopping £300 for the Pro Wireless, it certainly places these headsets in the somewhat niche area.
Our Platinum award negates the impact of any cost, because it is retained for the most premium of products that if money was no object, then you would be hard pressed to find anything that would be better. And that’s where I find myself concluding the new Arctis Pro headsets.
If you are on a specific budget, and aren’t a diehard audiophile, then there are other headsets that will offer a more than satisfactory result, at a fraction of the cost… but if you want the best, and don’t mind paying the premium, then you won’t be disappointed with the Arctis Pro.
Huge thanks to SteelSeries for sending the Arctis Pro +GameDAC and Arctis Pro Wireless in for review.