SteelSeries recently launched a new line of headsets that come in three different models: The Arctis 3, Arctis 5 and Arctis 7. Today, we’re taking a look at the Arctis 7, which currently retails for $149.99. The Arctis 7 delivers simulated 7.1 surround sound with remarkable, lag-free performance. Its audio, in my personal opinion, closely matches SteelSeries’ best headset to date, the Siberia 840, while simultaneously being far more efficient thanks to its portable Wireless Transmitter. In short, the Arctis line is a slimmer, sportier and more affordable alternative to SteelSeries High-end lineup.
The Siberia 840 (formerly known as the Wireless H) has been my go-to headset for years. But, my audio preferences have shifted over time and the Arctis 7, as an overall package, provides a more practical experience without losing much of Siberia’s excellent sound quality. It’s also better built than any other headset from SteelSeries. In fact, the Arctis 7 may be one of SteelSeries’ best constructed headsets to date.
"In short, the Arctis line is a slimmer, sportier and more affordable alternative to SteelSeries High-end lineup."
A lot of love and care went into the Arctis 7 design. SteelSeries’ engineers made some unique design decisions that have a tremendous impact on comfort when used over long periods of time. Inspired by Ski Goggle Bands, the headset smartly adjusts to various head sizes thanks to the stretchy textile band that’s wrapped around the steel headband. With a more even weight and pressure distribution, the headset feels notably more comfortable during long gaming sessions, especially if you have a tendency to move around while gaming.
I’ve used the Arctis 7 for up to ten hours at a time without ever sensing heat build up or discomfort. If the superb headband design isn’t enough, SteelSeries has also started using a new type of fabric for their cushions. The proclaimed “AirWeave” cushions are inspired by athletic clothing, so your ears are expected to have greater breathability and comfort. This isn’t just a marketing gimmick either as the AirWeave fabric is light-years cozier than the stuffy, leathery cushions used in the pricier Siberia line. Some people may still prefer the stiffness of leathery headphone cushions, but personally, I’ve never been a fan.
"A lot of love and care went into the Arctis 7 design. SteelSeries’ engineers made some unique design decisions that have a tremendous impact on comfort when used over long periods of time."
Unlike the large Siberia 840 transmitter box, the Arctis 7 comes with a portable transmitter that’s designed for gamers on the go. There are no dials or settings, instead it’s meant to serve as a quick, plug-and-play device that’s easy to use between different platforms. The headset arrives paired to the transmitter, so the installation is as easy as plugging the little device into a compatible USB port.
Volume and mic dials can be found on the ear cup frames, but if you want to make further EQ adjustments you’ll have to go through the SteelSeries Engine 3 Software. Here, you can turn the DTS Headphone: X 7.1 on or off, you can choose between three different presents (game, movie, music), you can tweak the various equalizer frequencies and you can even set the dynamic compression from off to high—this moderates frequency spikes for better volume balance, but you should definitely keep this off if you're looking for accuracy. All adjustments made in the Engine 3 app are saved to the transmitter box, so you can easily transfer your personalized settings between platforms.
"The Arctis 7 is a wonderful addition to SteelSeries’ admirable Siberia lineup. It’s a very different beast from other SteelSeries headsets in that it takes a unique design approach, one that may very well shape the future of headset designs."
Spec wise, the Arctis 7 is relatively close to the Siberia 840, hence the excellent performance. They both share the same 40mm neodymium drivers and they both have the same frequency response of 20-20000Hz. The Arctis 7 has greater range (about two extra meters), and the overall sound delivery is crisper with treble and bass being far more balanced compared to the 840. As a result, people who like a deeper sound stage are likely to lean towards the 840, while those seeking better clarity and an overall more balanced performance will probably prefer the Arctis 7.
I’ve spend an entire week playing Overwatch and Titanfall 2 with the Arctis 7, and it’s been a godsend. The surround sound performance is exceptional, and it offers one of the best DTS Headphone: X 7.1 implementations on a gaming headset to date. The extra clarity makes minute details more pronounced, like gun-reload sounds and footsteps, which is expectedly useful when playing competitively. And much like the Siberia 840, the Arctis 7 makes a wonderful music headset too. Even though it’s unfair to compare its hardware to audiophile headphones that cost several times more, I find the Arctis 7 to be a superb piece of tech for all media.
Conclusion: The Arctis 7 is a wonderful addition to SteelSeries’ admirable Siberia lineup. It’s a very different beast from other SteelSeries headsets in that it takes a unique design approach, one that may very well shape the future of headset designs. With audio performance comparable to the wonderful Siberia 840, but a significantly more attractive price tag, the Arctis 7 is a must-buy this holiday season if you’re still searching for the best deal for your buck.