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SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Review: Flexible and functional

Aka God tier.

Not a single day goes by that I don’t get an offer to review yet another gaming headset. I’ll admit, I’ve dabbled… and usually to my own detriment. Some cans don’t fit over my Dumbo-sized ears (thankfully, most do), while most just perform on par with the tried and tested pair I usually leave connected to my PC or controller. I’ve never had a headset fail on me as yet, and I can’t imagine a lot of players are much different. You find a pair that suits your needs — and, more importantly, your budget — and you’re done. There’s no need to keep abreast of goings on within the headset space.

That all said, I’m ready to put each and every unit that’s in my house into the bin (read: or more realistically gift onward, I’m not a wasteful monster) because SteelSeries’ Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is absolute God tier.

My home’s humble little spare room has steadily evolved in the last few years; the coincedental purchase of a decent gaming rig right before the pandemic shuttered us in our homes meant I had a stable place to not only write from after-hours, but write from at all hours. As the months wore on, so did additions to the space; now, I’ve got two 32″ 4K screens connected up to the PC alongside an Xbox 360, an Xbox Series X and a PlayStation 5 and the old 2.1 channel soundbar that used to power our living room TV.

My workspace is admittedly chaos, but it’s organised chaos… I just need to think about what I’m doing and then slightly reconfigure my desk for what I need to get done.

Podcast time? Well, that means the mechanical keyboard needs to be tucked away so I resist the urge to clicky-clackety type; my microphone needs to be placed front and centre, and an old pair of Apple earphones need to be dug out of a nearby cable pile so I can actually hear what co-host Ben Salter is saying. Day job Zoom call? Well, that’s mostly the same configuration as for the podcast, though my keyboard remains and my colleagues eventually complain and ask me to mute myself while I’m not speaking. Oops.

It’s gotten FAR more complicated since I took this picture in December 2021…

Time for a game? Well, that either means grabbing the soundbar remote and toggling between the HDMI and AUX ports that I’ve currently got my consoles and PC plugged into, or grabbing my ol’ trusty Astros and wiring them into the appropriate controller or PC tower if I need to be quiet. There’s a wireless Xbox headset just behind me on a pull-out couch if I can’t be bothered moving one cabled headset to another source, or if I need to have audio from my PC and the Xbox going at the same time.

My cat Quinn loves whenever I have some headphones plugged in at the desk because she not only can sit on my lap and suck up all my warmth, but have a couple cheeky bites at whatever cables happen to fall across her lap. I’m honestly a little surprised that some devices still work as they’re pretty gnawed on.

At this point, you should have an idea of how I work; the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless not only nails all my gaming applications, but my general work and leisure ones too.

The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset is sleek and sexy, devoid of any large, protruding gaming-style aesthetics. Its matte black design is accentuated by an adjustable elastic headband, hidden retractable microphone and polished speaker plates. The left earcup has a power button, mute toggle, volume dial, 3.5mm audio jack and mic; behind its speaker plate, you’ll find a jack to charge on the go. The right earcup sports a Bluetooth button; a removeable battery — one of two that comes with the Pro Wireless — sits behind the right speaker plate.

An accompanying, similarly styled base station sports a simple OLED screen and control wheel; at its back sits line in and line out 3.5mm ports alongside USB-C ports for an Xbox console (I have the specific Xbox model for testing) and your choice of a connection to a PC, Mac, PlayStation or Switch. The base station also has a port for the battery you’re not currently using and will charge it for when it’s needed. The Line Out port supports a simple passthrough to a set of external speakers, or a streaming mode that will allow you to change the mix of game, chat and aux channels for those so inclined (and I am, but more on that in a second).

Set up is insanely easy; I connected one USB cable from my Xbox Series X, and another from my PC, to the base station, also plugging a supplied 3.5mm cable from the unit to my soundbar. I disconnected the cable that used to connect my console monitor to my soundbar and instead linked my monitor to the base station. Doing so removed any need to have an HDMI cable into my soundbar; as an added bonus, I can isolate the aux channel with streaming mode to put audio from my PS5 through my soundbar. While Xbox and PC audio is obviously routed through my headset, the only cable I need now is one 3.5mm cable to plug into the DualSense if I need to be quiet.

The headset is automatically paired with the base station out of the box, so it was merely a matter of using the station’s single dial to switch to the Xbox or PC setting and away I went. The Pro Wireless also sports Bluetooth capabilities, and a couple button presses later, I also had my phone paired with the unit to take calls or listen to podcasts while I was gaming.

A quick download later, I also had SteelSeries GG installed to my PC and unlocked even more capabilities. I switched my headphones over to my PC feed and began to use the Sonar software’s equaliser to see what it could do. With Spotify blasting the Heartstopper soundtrack, I moved between heavy bass, clear vocals and punchy presets, marvelling at how different each setting made “Knock Me Off My Feet” by SOAK sound.

A Zoom call reminder popped up from my calendar, and I instinctively reached across my desk to grab my podcast mic before I realised I didn’t need to. I instead pulled out the Pro Wireless’ retractable microphone, toggled the mute button (which also, handily, toggles off a handy red OLED light on the tip of the mic so you can tell if you’re broadcasting or not) and began to talk communications plans with my boss and several colleagues. Mid-call, I remembered Sonar functionality that cancels out background noise.

With a little hestitation, I began to furiously type on my keyboard during the meeting, sure my boss would ask me to stop because it was distracting. After five minutes of no one seemingly noticing, I flat out asked: could anyone hear me typing? I admit I was a little shocked that my colleagues couldn’t; I think they were a little shocked they couldn’t either.

Sonar has a variety of other applications as well, including a simple game chat or audio slider to suit multiplayer purposes. Better yet, equaliser presets exists for a number of popular titles, all designed to give you an edge in-game. If you’re struggling to hear enemy footsteps in CoD or bomb defusals in Siege, you can get a little help from the software. I instead opted to try out spatial audio and then proceeded to nearly make a mess in my pants playing Evil Dead as I was startled by a Kandarian demon literally circling around my singled-out survivor.

Done with my home office for the day, I left my Bluetooth connection to the Pros running and headed over to the train station to meet my hubby for date night. I didn’t get a second glance wearing my cans; they don’t look out of place at all when compared to non-gaming brands. I was able to listen to Stevivor’s latest Friendly Fire Show podcast with ease, extremely pleased with the way Ben sounded. I’m the kind of person that hates the sound of his own voice, but there may be hope: I’ve not tested it yet, but Sonar will also let me change the sound of my own voice over the Pro’s mic. It might be worth a try, eh?

When a large contingent of youths (yes, I’m old; I call them youths now) entered the train carriage, I was able to test out active noise cancelling. That feature comes in three flavours: on, off and transparent. The latter allows for a bit of outside noise to come through, perfect when you’re out walking and don’t want to be hit by a tram or a rhino or whatever that set of ads was trying to get across. Transparent mode didn’t suit the train carraige, though; I cranked noise cancelling all the way up and those kids were a worry of the past.

I didn’t get a real chance to test claims of the Pro Wireless’ 22-hour battery life, but I did end up wearing the headphones for close to eight hours straight in my first day of testing. That’s unheard of for me; while my ears fit into most headphones, I usually can make it around 2-3 hours before I start to get a bit of an earache. It simply didn’t happen.

I know I’m banging on about very specific use cases that likely only will apply to myself, but that’s kind of the point: the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset literally does everything I need. It’s my go-to for console play, for my phone and for PC play and work. I use them in my office, and I use them out on the move. I get to ditch a set of cables that clutter my workspace and I might even be able to ditch my fancy podcast mic outright.

Sure, all this convenience and flexbility does come with a hefty price tag — $649 AUD, to be precise — but I’d happily pay that twice over. The Arctis Nova Pro aren’t like every other set of cans you’ve strapped to your ears, they’re proper game-changers that sound damn good tacking anything you can throw at them. I highly, highly recommend them.

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset (Xbox version) was reviewed using a unit provided by the manufacturer. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

Further specifications

  • Speaker Drivers: Hi-Fidelity fully custom speaker drivers with premium dual diaphragm design
  • Spatial Audio: SteelSeries Sonar Audio suite / Tempest 3D for PlayStation / Sonic Spatial for Xbox
  • Battery Life: Infinity Power System with dual battery + charging station (in the base station); Unlimited battery -44h=22h+22h. USB-C charge port if away from base
  • Headband design: ComfortMAX System with elasticated suspension band for comfort
  • Headband frame: Durable Steel Headband
  • Microphone: Fully retractable ClearCast Gen 2 with noise cancelling bidirectional design
  • Multi-system Connect: Dual USB-C ports for PC and Console switching -no cable swapping; (2x USB-C to USB-A Cables included)
  • Control Screen: OLED screen for customization on PC or Console
  • Software: SteelSeries Sonar Audio Software Suite; Pro Grade Parametric EQ, Game/Pro Presets, Independent Mic EQ

Pricing details

*Indicates unit tested.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist nearing twenty (TWENTY!?!) years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.