SteelSeries has made some awesome headsets, and this latest effort they just came out with might just be their best yet. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is their new top-of-the-line wireless gaming headset, and it is chocked full of features.
Like the old H Wireless Gaming Headset I reviewed eight years ago, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless features the headset, two rechargeable batteries, and a base station that you would use to connect multiple sources as well as the device that charges the extra battery. The similarities end there though, as the quality of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is leagues above what the previous headset. Things have come a long way in eight years. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Let’s look at the design of the headset. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is similar to their old Arctis headsets, but more refined. Right off the bat, you can tell how much more solid feeling the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is. The frame is a nice steel with a very premium feel to it. The hinges are a very hard plastic - I wish they were also metal. The headset does feel really solid except for a small flex that happens when either pulling away the ear cup from the headband or pushing together. I’ve read complaints that this is a weak point on some of the Steelseries headsets and I can see why people think that. Contrast that to the Master & Dynamic’s MG20 which has the same high design but with it being all metal, there’s no flex in that one, allowing it to feel a lot more durable. At least the hinge allows for the ear cups to sit flat when rotated out, something that’s missing on some of the headsets I reviewed recently.
While past Arctis headsets feature a Velcro band that sits on top of your head, Steelseries decided to go with a fixed length cloth band that has holes on each side which can go into pegs on the frame itself. Which set of holes you use determines how high the band will go inside the frame.
Wearing the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, I found the headset to be light and comfortable with solid but not overtly strong clamping force. The band makes it feel like it is floating on top of your head rather than sitting on it. Even though it’s a different design from their other headsets, it still works well. The leatherette can get a little toasty with long periods of use, but it is needed to help with the sound isolation. I do wish there were some replacement mesh, just as an option for those who want it - even if it would make the ANC less effective. And for those who wear glasses like me, I found no issues with wearing the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
Let’s move to the ear cups. The outer parts of the ear cups house magnetic plates that hide the USB-C charging port on the left and the removable battery on the right. The ones that come on the headset have a metallic look to them with a subtle Steelseries logo in the middle. The circular etching can get a little bit dirty, but scuffs and scratches seem to easily wipe off. Steelseries has replacement covers on sale on their website coming in different colors along with the headband. I bet you can expect more colors and designs in the future, perhaps with partnerships with some game companies.
The left earcup features the most functionality. There’s the power button, microphone mute button, volume wheel, retractable mic, and 3.5mm jack for connecting to wired sources. The power button also doubles as an ANC button, toggling the transparency mode. Holding down the power button will turn the headset on and you’ll hear a beep when it comes on. A small nitpick I have is that I wish it would tell you how much battery life is left when you turn it on. The past few wireless headsets I’ve reviewed had this feature and it’s nice to be told how much juice is left. It’s not that big of a deal here when used in conjunction with the base station since it does show you the amount of battery left, but if you decide to use these on the go with your phone, you'll be left with little way to tell how much longer your headset will last.
Rotation on the volume wheel, I felt, was a little soft. It is ratcheted so you get a nice stepping on each turn. I actually prefer the feel of the wheel on the Arctis 7P+ that I reviewed last December. The dial also can be pushed in to change what you want to adjust, which is shown on the base station. For example, you can push in the wheel to switch to adjusting Chat Mix, allowing you to boost your friend’s voice or the game audio, depending on your preference.
On the right ear cup is just the Bluetooth button that lets you pair to a Bluetooth source such as a phone and lets you control any media playing on said device. It is Bluetooth 5.0, to be exact. Single pressing it will play or pause the music. Double pressing it will skip to the next track, while triple pressing it will go back a track. In my testing, the response on the presses was quick and the headset seemed to be pretty accurate in detecting the difference between a double and triple press. When a phone call comes in, you can use a single press to answer and end calls as well.
If you’re connected to your phone and your PC, the volume dial will only adjust your PC’s volume but on strictly Bluetooth mode only, the volume dial will switch over to controlling your phone’s volume, which is nice. Having all the controls for both your media and your volume through your headset in Bluetooth mode is pretty convenient.
I’ll get more into ANC a little later, but the good news is that it works on the go as well. With the headset connected to my phone, the power button still adjusted the ANC settings and I was able to enjoy some ANC sitting in my chair listening to my phone’s music player.
What I didn’t see was the ability to activate my phone’s voice assistant. Some headsets I’ve reviewed had a button to activate it, but there doesn’t seem to be a way with the Arctis Nova Wireless Pro. Not a big deal, but something I wanted to point out in case you depend on Google Assistant or Siri.
Other headsets turn off both the Bluetooth and your headset when you use the power button, but the Arctis Nova Wireless Pro keeps them separate. That means you can keep Bluetooth on while the rest of the headset functions are turned off. I don’t prefer either method as I can see the benefits of both, but just be aware if you have both Bluetooth on as well as your headset connected to a PC or console, turning off the main power doesn’t turn off the Bluetooth part so you’ll have to remember to turn off both manually if you want the headset to be completely off and disconnected.
As far as codecs go, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless only supports SBC, which is a little disappointing. I wish there was aptX support here and even aptX Low Latency, which would’ve allowed me to connect this to my computer using Bluetooth and not have any visual lag when playing games. There are also a few phones that also have aptX Low Latency so it would’ve been a great headset to use on the go with your mobile device while gaming. That said, SBC will work, but it won’t sound as good as other hybrid headsets which have aptX such as the Master & Dynamic 20’s which feature aptX and aptX Low Latency.
Steelseries has always been top notch in terms of mic design. I love how their headsets feature retractable mics and with the Arctis Nova Pro WIreless, they took it a step further. When fully retracted, the mic now sits flush with the ear cup. Their previous headsets had the mic sitting out a little bit when fully retracted, but with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, it’s nice and clean.
Quality wise, the mic sounds OK by itself. My voice quality was comparable to most of the gaming headsets I’ve reviewed in the past. It certainly works fine with gaming and online meetings. The noise cancellation does help drown out some of the external noises around me and helps isolate just my voice. The sound quality really gets better when you use the Sonar software from the Steelseries GG software so if you don’t mind using that, you can increase the quality of your voice that way.
With the mic fully retracted, my voice was barely audible. Any thought of using it on the go on a phone call without having to extend the boom mic went out the window when everyone started saying they had trouble hearing me. If you are going to use the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless to talk, you’ll have to use the mic.
On the mic is an LED to let you know if you are muted. It’s bright enough to see out of the corner of my eye. You can easily mute it by pressing the mute button on the left ear cup that’s located under the power button. A small beeping will let you know when you pressed the button. Again, here’s another area I wish there was a voice telling me whether I am muting or unmuting. Yes, there’s a light, but for those who position their mic lower on their face, it can be hard to see.
Steelseries does include a pop filter with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, but it’ll fall right off if you decide to put the mic away. If you’re one that keeps the mic out all the time, then you’ll be able to use it without any issues.
Connection to your sources is done with the base station. Steelseries sells two versions, one with Xbox compatibility and one with a generic secondary USB source. The only difference is, as the name implies, one will work with the Xbox and the other won’t. You’ll be able to know as one USB-C input on the back is labeled Xbox. Switching between the sources is as easy as pressing a button and if you have an Xbox and PlayStation in your cabinet, getting the Xbox version makes this a breeze. If you don’t own an Xbox, then I recommend the other version as you won’t have an unusable Xbox port taking up space.
I recently got a Steam Deck and I was able to plug in the base station to the USB-C port of the Steam Deck and have it work without any problems. I wouldn’t recommend using the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless this way because of the portable nature of the device, but it does work.
There’s also a 3.5mm line in and line out. If you want to stream all your sounds coming through your headset at once, plug the line out to your PC or mixer and you can record everything going through the headset easily. The 3.5 mm line in will let you connect to a source that uses the 3.5mm cable for you to listen to with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.
The base station does a lot besides being the transmitter and source selector. There’s a nice big dial that lets you adjust various settings. Holding it down will allow you to switch to other settings such as USB input, equalizer, and system settings. If you don’t have the software installed, you can do some adjustments through the base station that’s equipped with a nice OLED screen. The OLED screen is nice and clear and helps convey the various settings that’s currently active.
There’s a capacitive button to go back in the menus and on my unit, I did find it to be a tad bit sensitive. Sometimes when I would hold down the button to access the menu settings, it would just quickly go back without me getting near the little circle. It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough times for it to be annoying. I don’t think I’ve seen others having this issue, so it could just be my unit.
Wireless communication is down via the 2.4Ghz band and Bluetooth. Since I’ve already touched on Bluetooth, I’ll go a little bit more on the 2.4Ghz wireless. Because of the larger base station the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has as opposed to the dongles that a few of their other headsets use, it’s not as portable. But without the base station, you do lose a lot of the customizations and multi-source support that this headset has.
Range was really good allowing me to go very long distances around my house and up a floor or two before the audio broke up. Steelseries includes a nice long USB-C to USB-C as well as a USB-C to USB-A cord to let you position the base station away from your computer and closer to you.
Battery life is really good; it can last from 18 to 22 hours depending on what combination of ANC and Bluetooth you have enabled with the headset. From my testing, it seems about right, but the beauty of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is that Steelseries includes that secondary battery that you charge in the base station. Once drained on the headset, just pop out the first battery and pop in the full secondary battery. There’s a small capacitor in the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless that will give you a very short amount of time to let you change the battery without having it turn completely off. When I was testing this feature, the headset switched off very briefly as the battery was taken out and switched out. A few seconds after you pop the other battery in, the headset springs back to life without you having to push the power button. Pretty cool, and with the ability to constantly rotate in batteries and just three hours to charge a battery from dead, you’re pretty much guaranteed to always be using these wirelessly when at home.
If you are on the go and don’t have access to the base station or secondary battery, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless does have that USB-C charging port under the left plate. I’m curious as to why Steelseries decided to hide that port under the plate rather than put it say near the 3.5mm port so that it wouldn’t look really awkward charging. That said, if you are out of power, a 15 minute charge will net you another 3 hours of use, which is pretty quick.
Of course you can use the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless wired with the included 3.5mm cable as long as your source has an audio jack. Here’s where I wish Steelseries would have put a data/charging USB-C port on the bottom. My phone doesn’t have an audio jack, just a USB-C connector and it would've been nice to be able to connect my phone to the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless this way to get better audio quality. Yes, I could use a dongle for my phone to add an audio jack, but a few headsets I recently reviewed allowed me to just connect it via USB-C and it was nice not having to pull out a dongle. For giggles, I did try to connect the USB-C connector on the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless to my phone, but all it did was charge the headset.
To carry your headset around, Steelseries has included a cloth pouch to put your headset in when not in use. It’s not the nice hardcase that some other headsets in this price range provide and it lacks multiple pockets like other pouches I’ve come across, but it’s good enough to keep your wires and headsets together.
We’ve seen a few gaming headsets recently include active noise canceling and the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless includes that as well. As with the others I’ve reviewed, I wasn’t expecting the ANC to be on the levels of high-end Sony or Bose headsets. With ANC on, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless did a good job at canceling low level noises, like those coming from the fan next to me or the air conditioner when it kicks on. I was still able to hear things like voices coming from the TV near me or conversations in the room, but I was more than satisfied with the silencing of certain sounds.
There is a mic on the top of each ear cup that helps facilitate the ANC. There’s also a mic in each ear cup, which you can see when you pull off the ear covers. The mics also work with transparency mode where it passes voices through to you with ANC, but I didn’t find the feature as helpful as I thought it would be. It maybe made the voices a little better versus not having transparency mode on, but it wasn’t a feature that I used much after some testing.
ANC was something I did keep constantly on though when using the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. Just to drown out the fan and air conditioning was sufficient for me and when playing games, the audio proceeded to mask out any other sound that wasn’t canceled by ANC. I think it worked a little better than the EPOS H3Pro Hybrid that I recently reviewed.
The Steelseries GG software has a great EQ and you can adjust the settings as well as upgrade the firmware with it. I did find using the Sonar software improved the audio and voice quality of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. So much so that it became my go to when using the headset. My voice was clearer and the sound had more life to it. You don’t have to use the Sonar software and there are little annoyances like the Sonar losing settings on which outputs to use when my computer comes out of sleep, but it will enhance your audio experience really well and should be used as much as possible with the Arctis Nova Wireless Pro.
Ok, so there’s a ton of features this headset has and it’s very versatile, but how does it sound? In a word, awesome. With 40mm drivers and 360 degree spatial audio combined with the EQ enhancements, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless delivers big time . The highs and mids were clear and not tinny when in the louder range. The bass was good but not overpowering. Hearing footsteps and zombie groans clearly in games like 7 Days to Die made me more hyper aware of my surroundings and enabled me to not be as easily ambushed. Playing NBA 2K22, it felt like I was in the middle of the stadium with the spatial audio activated, crowd cheering, announcers pumping through the stadium, and the sounds of the game happening on the court. You can make per game profiles with Sonar so you can fine tune how each game sounds even more, which makes an already great sounding headset even better.
The Arctis Nova Pro WIreless not only sounds good in games, but is great for movies and music too. As with games, Sonar provides profiles that can emphasize certain aspects of the media that you are interested in. Since the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless doubles as a Bluetooth headset for your mobile device, having it sound well with media makes it a headset that has multiple uses and not just good for gaming even though that’s what they are designed for.
Directional audio was also fantastic. I pulled up No Man’s Sky and walked around my ship, facing various directions. I was easily able to discern where the sound of the engines was coming from no matter where I was. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless positional audio quality is solid and really enhances the gameplay by allowing you to know where things are coming from.
At $350, it’s one of the more expensive gaming headsets out there. But man if it doesn’t have almost every feature under the sun. The audio quality is pretty much one of the best out there in this class of gaming audio headsets, and it has a nice premium feel in most areas. The multi connection option will let you use these with a combination of products and the Bluetooth option will keep you connected to your phone at home and on the go. If it weren’t for a few things like the placement of the USB-C charging port and the uncertainty of the hinges in the long term, these might have been the perfect gaming headset. Steelseries has really outdone themselves with the Nova Arctis Pro Wireless and while it will set you back a lot, the versatile nature and high quality sound makes this set all the more worth the price tag.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. As one of the original writers, I was tapped to do action games and hardware. Nowadays, I work with a great group of folks on here to bring to you news and reviews on all things PC and consoles.
As for what I enjoy, I love action and survival games. I'm more of a PC gamer now than I used to be, but still enjoy the occasional console fair. Lately, I've been really playing a ton of retro games after building an arcade cabinet for myself and the kids. There's some old games I love to revisit and the cabinet really does a great job at bringing back that nostalgic feeling of going to the arcade.View Profile