Hands-on review: SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro gaming headset
SteelSeries, being no stranger to creating premium gaming peripherals, sent over its Arctis Nova Pro wired headset kit for us to take a look at.
The box contains the Arctis Nova Pro headset, a detachable cable with a 3.5mm audio jack, a protective cloth bag and an external soundcard- referred to in the packaging as a Gamedac Gen 2. The Gamedac unit has a 3.5mm audio socket for the headset and similar 3.5mm sockets labelled “line in” and “line out”.
There are two USB sockets for the included Type A USB cables labelled “USB” and “Xbox”. The Arctis Nova Pro headset feels robust with a grey metal headband that pushes the earcups snuggly over your ears. The headset size adjustment is via a thin flexible cloth-like insert that can be loosened by selecting different clip positions.
The same flexible insert works in lieu of a cushion around the headband. I’m too not taken by it as it looks like a bit of an afterthought. It does, however, do the job. The earcups pivot quite a bit horizontally, but only slightly vertically. Nevertheless, they feel quite comfortable over your ears and the headset fits nicely over your head.
On both sides, the earcups have removable magnetic metal plates with the SteelSeries logo. One assumes replacements will be/are available to customise the headset. The left earcup has a discreet mute button and a volume dial. My favourite feature on the left earcup is the retractable flexible microphone that can be pushed right back into the headset when not in use. The mic has an optional foam cover for use when extended. The inside of each ear cup has a very soft leather-covered foam insert that adds to the headset’s very comfortable feel when worn.
The 40mm speaker drivers have a frequency response between 10–40,000 Hz. The bidirectional noise-cancelling microphone has a frequency response of 100–10,000 Hz. In practice, this provides crisp audio and very clear vocal pickup.
Whilst the Arctis Nova Pro headset performs like a star on its own, the real hero of the package is the Gamedac Gen 2 external soundcard. External soundcards are great when used with a PC or a console as they can get the best out of even the cheapest headsets. Paired with the quality of the Arctis Nova Pro you should expect something very special.
The Arctis Nova Pro box is emblazoned with the Xbox logo and corresponding green trim with the “designed for Xbox” logo. The truth is that that headset and Gamedac set-up can be used with any console or device capable of USB audio input/output.
I set up the headset connecting the Gamedac’s Xbox USB cable to an Xbox Series X and the other USB cable to a PlayStation 5. The Gamedac switches input automatically depending on which console was switched on. Both the Xbox and PlayStation automatically detected the headset and microphone.
The Arctis Nova Pro kit with the Gamedac works with PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. The Gamedac Gen 2 external sound card can also be used with any headset with a 3.6mm audio jack. The Arctis Nova Pro headset alone can also be used with a Nintendo switch and with mobile phones that have a 3.5mm audio socket.
The Gamedac has a small LCD screen with a menu that allows for adjustment of features without external software or apps. On Xbox this allows owners to not only adjust the volume, but also the chat mix. The “USB” input only allows the volume to be adjusted. The menu also allows for the adjustment of EQ settings, both using custom levels and a few pre-sets. The mic can also be adjusted for gain and sidetone.
When plugged into a PC, the Gamedac is automatically detected and set up as a new sound output device labelled “Arctis Nova Pro”.
There’s no messing about with pairing or drivers. Any 3.5mm headset can be used and take advantage of the sound equaliser and microphone settings.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro kit offers a premium wired console and PC audio solution. With the included Gamedac 2 external sound card and its integrated display, you have all the information you need without installing software or navigating console menus. The headset audio sounds crisp and clear, and the mic is perfect for in-game chat. Simple to set up and great to use, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro is easy to recommend.