You know that feeling you get when you touch something of quality? Yeah, SteelSeries have nailed that exact vibe with their Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset for Xbox.
We knew the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset was going to be a bit good. Past history proves that SteelSeries know a thing or two about creating brilliant gaming headsets, proving it in recent times with their Arctis Wireless 1 and Arctis 7X Wireless; two Xbox branded headsets that we adore.
We weren’t totally up for just how good the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset was going to be though. Is it the best wireless Xbox headset currently available on the market? We’ve obviously not tried every single one of the competitors, but from the multitude of those we have, this is the go-to headset of choice. And yes, we’d choose the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless over the Razer Nari Ultimate and even one of our favourites from 2021, the Audeze Penrose X.
That choice does come with a price though, yet perhaps it’s only that which could sway anyone away from what SteelSeries have created. And wait for it, because that price is a biggy – the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset for Xbox comes in at a rather cool £329.99. Yes, the best part of three and a half big ones.
Now, we’ve always been of the opinion that price – and no matter what that price – is something that will either be of huge significance to the buyer, or of absolutely none. We’re also of the opinion that you get what you pay for. If you can afford it, go and spend it. And yes, that means you should go out and buy the latest from SteelSeries. It’s not even up for debate.
We’ll start with how this thing feels, both in the hand and on the head. Honestly, I’ve unboxed and worn many a headset over the years, but from the moment this popped from the packaging, it was obvious it was going to be something of quality. It feels great to hold; well weighted as you tease the suspension-styled headband which sits under the steel exterior. It’s this suspension piece which means the Arctis Nova Pro can sit on a variety of sized-heads, especially as it comes with a few adjustable slots. We’ve found that tightening things up a bit works best, if only as on larger settings the Nova Pro was occasionally slipping from our head. With a simple pop and push adjustment though, things have been near perfect.
This means that it sits on the head brilliantly. The combo of that suspension band and some well padded earcups ensure it is comfortable to wear for hours at a time. And we’ve done just that, utilising this for a number of weeks in sessions that have taken us into the wee hours. The oval cups fit over the ear perfectly, whilst the leatherette covering of them is delivered with a ton of squish. We’ll admit to having sat there, headset in hand just caressing the earcups for longer than we should.
The rest of the headset is pretty understated if we’re honest. The slight sheen of the premium PVD-coated steel headband works well with the removable circular externals of the earcups, whilst the all-black design is one that will never age. Granted, we love a bit of colour in our headsets – and it’s why we fell in love with the EPOS | SENNHEISER GSP 602 with its tan and blue design – but if you’re happy with black, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless will be a delight. And if you’re not, SteelSeries sell some rather tasty Booster Packs, letting you inject some colour into the Arctis Nova Pro. Cherry Red and black, your bag? You got it.
It’s all seriously tight in terms of quality control too. Additional up and down movement increases the headband size should you need it, the earcups swivel a full ninety degrees to be able to sit around your neck when the time calls for it and there’s just enough – but not too much – flex in those cups as they cover your ears. For an all-black design, this SteelSeries headset can happily go totally under the radar should you wish.
Buttons and dials are kept to a minimum too. The right cup is home to a single bluetooth button (yep, bluetooth capabilities in the house so if you must chat with your mates on Discord or listen to some Youtube Music tunes whilst you game, you can), whilst the left runs the power button, a mute button, a volume dial, the retractable mic and a 3.5mm jack port for anytime you need to utilise a cable. There’s very little chance you’ll ever want to do that though. See, SteelSeries are selling the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless as a headset capable of powering you through no less than forty-four hours of pure play, whilst dropping down to ‘only’ thirty-six should you switch on dual connections and the Bluetooth.
We’ve no reason to not believe those figures – and we’re not in this for running constant battery checks – but in reality in order to get near those numbers, you’re going to need to do a battery swap. See, this Wireless headset has what SteelSeries are calling an Infinity Power System; basically a removable battery which is hidden away under the easy to remove right earcup. Popping off the magnetically held cover gives access to the battery, and switching that out for a second one (included in the box) takes a matter of seconds. There is no excuse to not keep gaming and chatting.
Alternatively, unhooking the left cup cover will reveal a USB-C port, providing additional power needs.
Personally, we’ve found the double battery option to be a brilliant idea, even more so when you consider that the second battery can be placed in the Nova Pro’s companion base station control unit to charge, much like a battery of a camera would.
But what’s that? Control unit you say? Why yes – SteelSeries have a ton of tricks up their sleeve here. They are going to show every single one off too.
Included with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for Xbox – and ensuring full compatibility with your Xbox console – is a small, wired, base station. Plugging that into your Xbox console’s USB-A port sees instant tethering actioned and every single time you switch on your headset, it’ll connect. Without fail. And once connected, we’ve not experienced a single drop. This has been rock steady throughout.
It’s this base station which is the brains. A huge dial on the front allows you to adjust volume, work variables between party and game audio, USB input type, various audio options, 2.4g or Bluetooth wireless opportunities, system settings and more. It’s a hugely detailed little unit with a lovely, yet small, display on the front, ensuring that you can keep up with all the settings you’ll ever need.
Working the dial – and combining that with the pressable dial on the headset if you like – will see you moving through the various options with ease, and whilst we’ve found that settling on certain aspects in the first few hours will see you rarely need to amend too much after that, it’s all very nice indeed. In fact, should you wish to go into the minutest details, play around with equaliser settings (Smiley FTW!), or with active-noise cancellation and audio transparency, you can. Hell, it’ll even let you change up the amount of detail you see on the base station’s OLED screen whilst you are playing – believe us, you want to see the different left and right channels pound away.
There is pretty much nowt to complain about with how SteelSeries have got the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset set-up and running. Yes, learning the ins and outs, button presses and holds of the base station dial takes a little while to understand, yet before long you’ll be flying through the options it gives.
But, then we get to how the Arctis Nova Pro actually sounds. Surely every headset that hits the gaming world has some kind of letdown? Well, you’d think so wouldn’t you, but it’s not going to be the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
As mentioned in our opening remarks, we’re not totally sure this beats what Audeze delivered in terms of pure, raw sound with their Penrose X (we still think that headset sounds glorious). Yet if this can’t beat it, the Arctis Nova Pro is certainly up there on a level par.
It’s loud for one – at least it is if us Brits override the legislative EU sound level regulation that is built into the setup of the base station – it’s our ears, let us use them. But when you do get past that little foible, turn things to max in the game/party chat settings and switch this right up to 12, it’s one of the fullest sounding, richest headsets that we’ve had the pleasure of using. No word of a lie, we’re sitting here typing out this review with the F1 22 opening sequence running and we can pick out every single note, every single hit, which that brings. There is not a hint of any distortion or crackle – and it’s been that way through the weeks we’ve spent with the headset. Admittedly, we need to get playing the game very shortly, but being able to type and race is something we’ve not yet learnt.
Mess around with the equaliser on the base (or should that be ‘bass’) station and it gets better still. We’re big fans of ‘Smiley’ and ‘Bass Boost’ – why wouldn’t we!? – but there’s certainly a place in our gaming lives for ‘Focus’, ‘Flat’ and, just occasionally, the ‘Custom’ amends too. Perhaps we don’t think of ourselves as big enough audiophiles to warrant a real play with the custom settings, but it’s there should you know what’s what.
Anyways, that sound from the 40mm Neodymium drivers is superb no matter what you are playing. Ditching the F1 splash screen and hitting Silverstone ensures that cars sound stunning, whilst the broadcast-styled set-ups that Codemasters have integrated into that game play brilliantly. Away from racing and shooters allow you to feel every pop, whilst an old favourite, AVICII Invector, is just perfect for what we are looking for. It’s similar with something like Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield too – heavy bass pounding through our skulls. In fact, it doesn’t really matter what you’re playing or listening to, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headst for Xbox is going to cover your back.
Should you play with mates, you’re equally well sorted. Whip out the perfectly retractable main boom mic (with bright red led on the end for muting purposes) and you’ll be able to communicate like the finest of commanders. We’ve long passed the moment when top end headsets haven’t been able to deliver crystal clear comms to party members, and so it’s no surprise that communication is something that this excels at once more. What is a surprise is just how well that mic fits with the rest of the headset – push it away and you’ll barely even know that it exists, so much does it find a home inside that left cup. Again, it’s a glorious piece of engineering.
There’s no getting away from it, you may have to pay a lot for the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset for Xbox. But you can be sure you’re going to get much in return. With a stupidly high amount of battery life hours in the bag, a superb build and sound quality that are second to none, perfect connection to the base station and as much customisation as you could ever ask for, we’re not sure there is currently a better Xbox headset on the market. Better still is that whilst we say Xbox, switching to other formats and moving from Xbox to USB (or even utilising the second USB input), or making the most of those Bluetooth capabilities with your phone, easily opens up further possibilities.
If you have the cash to burn, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset for Xbox is the headset to buy – it is a real stunner. In fact, we don’t even know if SteelSeries know how to make a bad headset.
Huge thanks go out to SteelSeries for providing us with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headset for Xbox for review. You can grab a unit for yourself by hitting SteelSeries up direct. You might want to start preparing the wallet, but you can be sure your gaming sessions will thank you in the long run.