The new SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro is the best premium gaming headset
SteelSeries consistently makes some of the best gaming headsets for both performance and comfort. The SteelSeries Arctis 7P+ takes the top spot on our list of the best PS5 headsets, while the Arctis 7+ stands out from a crowded field on our list of the best PC headsets. I usually use both with no complaints, but now they’re retired in favor of a new premium headset: the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro. I’ve tested dozens of gaming headsets over the years from all the leading manufacturers, and the Nova Pro is hands down the best gaming headset I’ve ever used in terms of audio quality, comfort and customization.
Before we delve into what makes the Arctis Nova Pro so great, let’s get the price out of the way. There’s no denying it: the Arctis Nova Pro is a high-end gaming headset with a high asking price. Wired versions of the Nova Pro (Xbox and PC) retail for $250. If you want to cut the cord, you’ll have to shell out $350 for the PlayStation, Xbox, or PC versions. That’s a lot of money for a gaming headset, especially when you consider that you can get the Arctis 7P+ for less than half the price of the Nova Pro Wireless.
That said, the Arctis Nova Pro does have a couple of notable bonuses going for it. As for gaming, it’s one of the few headsets that works wirelessly with both PS5 and Xbox. If you have both platforms, you’ll want to opt for the Xbox version of the headset (functionally the same), as it’s compatible with both consoles and PC. The PlayStation Edition is for PlayStation and PC only.
The other big plus of the Nova Pro is the aforementioned studio-quality audio. The Nova Pro’s high-fidelity drivers and wealth of customization options, both out-of-the-box and with the free Sonar app, allow it to compete with similarly priced headphones from audio giants like Sony and Bose. I switched between the Nova Pro and the newer Sony WH-X1000M5, and while the X1000M5 certainly offers richer acoustics, the Nova Pro held its own. It’s a viable option for someone looking for a stellar gaming headset that can double up, quite impressively, as an everyday pair of headphones.
The Nova Pro looks noticeably different from other SteelSeries headsets and from most gaming headsets in general. The headphones eschew the conventional bulky look in favor of a compact form factor that makes them look more like a regular pair of headphones from a company like Sony. The ultra-smooth ear cups rotate freely and are wrapped in synthetic leather that helps reduce heat when worn for long sessions. The steel headband is strong and lightweight and is complemented by a redesigned inner support band that can be adjusted to provide a looser or tighter fit. And unlike the 7P+, the length of the Nova Pro can be altered by sliding the ear cups down without compromising the sleek look. When it comes to comfort, the Nova Pro is easily best gaming headset i have ever used.
The emphasis on aesthetics extends to the two-way noise-canceling microphone, which is now hidden on the side of the left ear cup. You can extend it like a regular headset mic when playing with friends and then slide it back into its compartment when listening to music or playing solo.
However, the Nova Pro isn’t all form and no function. I was incredibly impressed with the sound quality of the Nova Pro right out of the box when I first turned it on. There’s a marked difference in audio clarity and acoustics on the Nova Pro compared to previous Arctis models, which is pretty strange considering the Arctis line was already top-notch.
The left earcup houses the volume dial, mic mute, and power buttons, while the right earcup only has a button for Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth is a welcome addition here, allowing you to easily sync the Nova Pro wirelessly with smartphones and other devices like the Nintendo Switch. You can also use a 3.5mm cable to wire the connection on the Nova Pro Wireless. The power button can be tapped to switch between active noise cancellation and transparency mode, allowing you to hear ambient sounds around you if needed.
Both the wireless and wired versions of the headphones come with a handy little receiver with a small OLED screen. The Nova Pro Wireless Base Station is where the proverbial magic happens. The base station has several ports to connect to a console and a PC. You can switch between inputs on the base station when you switch between Xbox and PlayStation, Xbox and PC, or PlayStation and PC. The base station also has a dial for adjusting EQ and ChatMix (in-game audio and chat sound levels). Console/PC inputs are USB-C on all versions of the Nova Pro Wireless, but Xbox, unlike PS5 and PC, has a special audio format. So your Xbox should be plugged into the port marked “Xbox” on the base station, while the PC/PS5 should simply be plugged into a regular USB port. That’s why those who have an Xbox or plan to get one should go for the Xbox edition.
On the side of the base station there is a compartment for a battery. The Nova Pro Wireless comes with two batteries, one in the headset and one that can be placed in the base station for charging while gaming. As long as you remember to always have one of the batteries in the base station, you’ll never run out of charge when gaming. You can easily change batteries by removing the magnetic earcup cover on the right side of the Nova Pro. A USB-C charging port sits under the cover of the left earcup, in case you need to charge the earbuds on the go while you’re away from home. the base station.
Although I’ve been mainly talking about the wireless version of the Nova Pro, the wired version is definitely worth considering if you’re primarily a PC gamer or play console games on your desk. Technically speaking, the wired version is superior to the wireless one when it comes to audio quality. Although the receiver it connects to looks quite similar to the wireless one, it is actually called the GameDAC Gen2, an upgraded version of the Gen1 GameDAC that comes with Arctis Pro. The GameDAC Gen 2 supports 96KHz/24-bit audio compared to 48KHz /16 bits of the wireless. In practical terms, you get a more accurate sound with the wired version.
PC gamers have access to a host of customization options through the free Sonar app. Basically, Sonar gives you full control over your audio experience and is particularly useful for online multiplayer games. Along with general sliders for microphone, chat, game audio, and master audio, you can play around with the game audio mix in bass, mid, and treble. Sonar’s best features allow you to create game-specific profiles to help you gain an advantage. For example, you can make Sonar perfect footsteps, the sound of a bomb going off, a particular weapon, and many other sounds in multiplayer games that are useful for knowing when to plan your next moves. To help you stay in the zone even more, you can use Sonar’s noise-canceling technology to eliminate specific distracting noises, like typing or background conversations from your teammates’ homes.
If you’re looking for a new gaming headset and cost isn’t a concern, the Nova Pro is truly sublime. Considering the high prices of the wired and wireless models, the Nova Pro is probably more suitable for competitive gamers and those who log many hours of gameplay in general.
The SteelSeries Nova Pro and Nova Pro Wireless gaming headsets are available to buy now on SteelSeries.
SteelSeries provided the first sample units of the Arctis Nova Pro for the purpose of this review.