Late last year I took a look at the Arctis 5 from SteelSeries and I was extremely impressed with their new audio series. It won our Top Honors Award and the Editors Choice and I liked them so much that my wife has been using them for the past 6 months. The only reason I didn’t snatch them up myself was that I wanted something wireless so I kept bugging SteelSeries and when some of the Arctis 7’s came in I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. With a similar design, I have high hopes for their audio performance and I’m really hoping this is going to be the wireless headset that I finally stick with. SO today let’s check them out and see how they perform.

Product Name: SteelSeries Arctis 7

Review Sample Provided by: SteelSeries

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Compatibility

PC, Mac, Playstation, Xbox, VR, Mobile

Neodymium Drivers

40mm

Effective Range

12 m, 40 ft

Headphone Frequency Response

20-20000 Hz

Headphone Sensitivity

98db

Headphone Impedance

32 Ohm

Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion

< 3%

Headphone Volume Control

On Ear Cup

Microphone Frequency Response

100Hz - 6500Hz

Microphone Pattern

Bidirectional

Microphone Sensitivity

-48 db

Microphone Impedance

2200 Ohm

Microphone Noise Cancellation

Yes

Microphone Location

Retractable

Microphone Mute Toggle

On Ear Cup

Connector Type

Wireless USB and Wired analog options Single 3.5mm, 4-pole plug when wired

Cable Length

1.2m, 4ft

Cable Material

Rubber

Adapter

Single 3.5mm, 4-Pole Plug

Share Jack

Yes

Detachable Cable

Yes

Box Content

Product Information Guide

Arctis 7

Wireless Transmitter

Mobile/Console Cable

Micro-USB Charging Cable

 


Packaging

The box for the Arctis 7 has a black and gray background with a little orange in the mix. On the front, the main feature is a photo of the headset with the Arctis 7 branding is relatively small letters in comparison. The back is simple as well, it is all black with photos of the headset from a few different angles. There are short descriptions of key features but I did find it odd that four of them are numbered then the rest just aren’t numbered after that.

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Along with the headset, SteelSeries sent along a few of the different headband styles as well. They come in a transparent bag with just a small sticker on each.

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When you open the headset box up there is a plastic insert inside that helps keep it in place. Going this route is much nicer than twist ties holding the headset down, making it a lot easier to get out from the formed plastic tray the Arctis 7’s sit in. Up under the headset are all of the accessories. You get an information guide and a small paper that asks if you love it. There are three cords included, one is the antenna/USB sound card, the middle is a USB charging cable, and the last is an adapter cable that lets you plug the Arctis 7’s into a standard headphone jack for wired use.

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Photos and Features

The overall look of the Arctis 7’s is similar to the Arctis 5’s I previously took look at. They have the same oval earcup shape with a flat outside of the ear cups. They have a suspension style headband that uses elastic. But when you look a little closer there are some details that are different. The headband uses aluminum and a completely different elastic band design and there isn’t a lighting ring around the earcups on the 7’s. Then, of course, there these aren’t wired at all being the biggest difference.

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So like I said the earcups have an oval shape to them. They mount to the headband with a plastic mount that attaches not at the top, but at around 60 degrees clockwise from the top. The mounting location still allows flexibility. Being wireless, the Arctis 7’s have a little more going on than the 5’s did. The right earcup has a power button and a wheel. This wheel, like the wheel on the USB adapter for the Arctis 5’s controls the mix between in game audio and your coms. On the other side, there is another wheel, this time for volume. Then there is a 2.5mm jack to share your music and a small proprietary cable connection that works with the included 2.5mm adapter cable if you want to go wired. Then there is a micro USB connection as well to charge the batteries. The left earcup also has a small button just past the volume controls to mute the microphone.

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On the inside of the earcups, the padding is thick and covered in a microfiber finish. The earpads are replaceable and SteelSeries sells a few different types, I’m personally planning on trying out the Velour ear cushions if I continue to use the Arctis 7’s but you can also get leather if that is your preference or if you get the factory pads dirty you can get a replacement set as well. They call the material Airweave. Inside the earcups, you get 40mm drivers with Neodymium magnets. They have a sensitivity rating of 98db, an impedance of 32 Ohms, and have a frequency range of 20-20000 Hz. This is a touch lower than the Arctis 5’s that did 22000 Hz on the high end but still not too bad, especially for wireless.

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So the headband design is completely different. The Arctis 5 had a plastic support and the elastic band itself was just under the headband where the 7 uses a different design. It has an aluminum band for support and the elastic band goes under for the area that touches your head but then wraps all the way over the top as well. You can see the design around on the top and on your headband and it attaches via Velcro on the side. I’m a big fan of suspension headbands because I don’t feel like they put as much pressure on your head and the elastic worked well with the Arctis 5. I imagine the life of the headband isn’t as long because it is elastic so it is a good thing SteelSeries makes replacements, being able to change up the look is just a bonus.

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The microphone has the traditional SteelSeries retraction so you can keep it stored in your headset when not in use. With the Arctis line, the microphone was an area that they focused on a lot, that is why it is much larger than past SteelSeries headsets. The frequency range is 100Hz to 6500Hz for the Arctis 7 and I have to say that is a big drop even from the Arctis 5 that peaked at 10000Hz. But compared to the Sennheiser’s or even the wireless Logitech G533’s it is even worse. I’m curious how it will compare in testing.

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Here are a few photos with the Arctis 5 and Arctis 7’s next to each other. I have the cord off the 5’s but as you can see the design is very similar other than the headband.

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So being wireless doesn’t do anything if you don’t have anything to send out a signal right? Well for the Arctis 7 SteelSeries went with this small oval design. It is at the end of a long cord so you can get it up on your desk if you want. The SteelSeries logo is up on top along with a status light. Then on the back, where the USB cord comes in it also has two 2.5mm jacks. On top of being a wireless adapter, it is also the USB sound card so these two plugs let you hook up a wired headphone or to input audio. Both are labeled but because they are on the back of the device they aren’t easy to get to and are easy to forget they exist. Personally, I would have liked to see a way to charge the headset right from this, but with the Micro-USB connection, I can just use a phone charging cable that is already on my desk.

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Here are the three replacement straps that they sent along with our headset. These do not come with the headset normally but are available on the SteelSeries website. They are also working on more designs, if the vote was any indication there are a couple of really cool designs on the way. That said the three they sent over all look good. My main complaint would be that only the middle strap actually has the design on both sides. The other two are white on the backside. Considering you see the back on the top of the headband it is a weird choice. I would also love to see more solid colors be available. I would be really happy with just an orange strap, just like a lot of people might just want to match their favorite color or match the color theme of their build/desk.

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Audio Quality and Performance

For testing I have actually been using the Arctis 7’s off and on over the last month and a half or more. This gave me a lot more time with them than normal to really get a good idea of how the perform. I knew I liked the Arctis 5’s but with wireless headphones there are sacrifices that have to be made as far as audio quality is concerned, not to mention wireless headphones normally weigh more.

So I started off with comfort testing, if I can’t keep a headset on for a long period of time or if it doesn’t fit well, nothing else matters right? So comfort wise they are a lot like the Arctis 5’s that I loved. The microfiber finish on the earcups is very comfortable and the padding is thick and fits around my ears without pushing on them at all. The new headband design did feel a little weird when compared to the 5’s. Early on I messed around and swapped to one of the replacement bands but I never fully got it back to the way it shipped and it felt a little looser. I would still consider the headband design very comfortable and the elastic was a good replacement for a lot of padding, it never pushed on my head when testing. Even in long sessions. The Arctis 7’s are most definitely heavier than the 5’s but the headband and good earpad design helped prevent that from pushing on any areas causing discomfort. To confirm they weren’t just good with large heads I also had my wife try them on and it gave me a chance to get a few photos of the headset in action as well. She found them comfortable noting that she likes the aluminum headband on the 7 more and she did notice the weight. She uses the Arctic 5’s daily but was really happy with the 7’s as well. The pullout microphone is out of the way when not in use and had good flexibility when pulled out to get it wherever you need it.

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For audio performance, they were a noticeable improvement over the H Wireless that in the past I have used as my main headset but they were just a touch behind the Arctic 5’s and with that behind all of the other high end wired headsets. They were comparable to the G533’s if not better. Games sounded good with good directionality and music and movies had clear audio and good bass. I really can’t complain at all about the audio performance for a wireless headset. The microphone, on the other hand, was noticeably worse than the Arctic 5’s but still better than older headsets like the H Wireless. This is where they seemed to have to make up the difference. With the 5’s on coms people actually pointing out how good my mic sounded where the Arctic 7’s blended in with the other good enough but not amazing microphones. Given the same microphone is on both headsets I assume it was a compression thing and when looking at the specifications later there is a big difference.

As for the wireless aspects. I had good range when running the wireless adapter on my desk. Having it near my PC and the wire rack that my PC sits on didn’t do much for the range but getting away from that Faraday cage helped reach the bathroom and kitchen in our house, not very far but no other wireless headphones reach farther. I love that they included the game/coms mixer on the 7 still and the volume control was easy to use. As for battery life, SteelSeries mentions 24 hours of use and I honestly lost track, only having to charge them up every great once in a while. Now I still miss the hot swappable batterys of the H Wireless but good battery life is an okay replacement for it. I do wish they had a battery that was at least easy to replace though. Just looking later in life, it would make things easier.

I took a look at the software as well. The Arctis 7’s use the SteelSeries Engine 3 just like most of their other devices. So if you have more than one device you can control it all in one place. When you first open it up you can see all installed and previously installed devices and pick from them. Any that need a firmware update will warn you with a red stripe as well. The actual software page was simple with a photo of the headset on the left. Then on the right, you can get into a few software level adjustments of the sound card. You can turn on DTS for a simulated 7.1 experience, personally, I didn’t like it though. There is a small EQ with presets. Then there are a few microphone settings to turn on side tone to hear your surroundings, preview your microphone, and a mic volume control.

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Overall and Final Verdict

So at the end of the day or well end of the month and a half of testing, how does the SteelSeries Arctis 7 compare to the competition? Well if you follow the website much, you may have noticed that I have been looking for a new wireless headset for a few years now. In that time I have tested everything from cheap to extremely high end but I’ve really struggled to find the perfect headset for my needs. The truth is, when not testing a headset I use my higher end speakers for in game and entertainment audio most of the time and just use my headset for Comms. The fact that the H Wireless wasn’t the best with audio quality, it was the swappable batteries that really kept me coming back. The Arctis improved on the audio performance significantly and while I would argue that the microphone performance still ahs room to grow even it was an improvement over the H Wireless. It was only when compared the microphone to the Arctis 5 that I was disappointed really. The comfort was right up there with the Arctis 5 and above the G533 and the battery life was impressive. Frankly, when you put it all together the Arctis 7 seems to be the best all-around performer with the expensive Crossfade Wireless having better audio but the price and microphone were downsides and the G533 from Logitech came close but the sandpaper like material on the earcups made it unwearable for me.

I would still recommend the SteelSeries Arctis 5 or the Sennheiser GSP 300 over the Arctis 7 for anyone who doesn’t mind being attached by a cable. The wireless is much improved and almost not noticeable but there are a few sacrifices on top of the additional cost.

What I’m really liking with the Arctis line, in general, is the customization. You can pick from a few ear pads including velour, something that you only normally find on very high-end headphones. There is a page full of crazy replacement strap designs available and right now you even get one free. I really hope they bring out the designbyhumans strap designs that they put a vote out on, they would be a big improvement over the current designs that all seem to fit one style of person and none really fit me. If nothing else new options with just solid colors would be nice, keeping things simple and letting people match to their setup or style.

The $149.99 MSRP for the Arctis 7 is up at the higher end range of gaming headsets but it is in line with the G933 and G533 and a few other wireless options. Not to mention this is a great headset! If you want wireless I think this is going to get you the best overall performance without completely breaking the bank. Once I pick up another set of ear cushions I have a feeling the Arctis 7’s are going to stay in the office for a while. I already packed up the H Wireless and a few other wireless headsets.

fv5recommendededitorschoice

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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