A successor to the Arctis Pro Wireless has finally landed, and don't worry, this is still the best console headset on the market - ever.
After all, the need changes a bit when a headset is primarily used on either a PC or the console in the living room. It's not exactly that the two usage scenarios are fundamentally different, in both instances there's a game to be played, voice chat to be handled efficiently and battery life that should be acceptable, and the same little bonuses, such as RGB lighting, still apply in principle.
But while there is a convergence, of course, the concept of dexterity takes a more pronounced lead when the headset moves from the desktop to the living room. You're potentially a little further from a USB port for charging, you don't necessarily have a fancy drawer for a detachable mic, and the headset should be able to be used smoothly without the need for troubleshooting.
For many, many years, SteelSeries has been the crowned king of the living room with the Arctis Pro Wireless, a headset we've hailed not just a few times, but many times as the most dexterous gaming headset for consoles on the market. You can still go back and read our review, but these are 2018 models. Yes, it was going to end up taking SteelSeries a whole four years to update the Arctis Pro range, but here we are at last.
Meet the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, a direct successor to the Arctis Pro Wireless, and which we can already reveal will be the console headset we'll be recommending for the next four years.
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So why that, really? Well, most importantly, it's because the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is really just continuing in the same style as its predecessor, and while that on its own is enough, SteelSeries is also adding a number of features too.
Let's start with what we know. First of all, the headset has the same "ComfortMAX" system, which is marketing speak for having a stretched, suspended elastic band that lays uniformly over your head when you're wearing the headset. It's tight, but immensely comfortable, and since your head never comes into contact with the actual headband, there's never the pain you usually associate with competing models.
Yes, you get a little command centre with it again, which is completely redesigned and looks a lot nicer this time around. It connects via USB to your console, and from there you can access a variety of settings. Most importantly, this is also where your spare battery is kept charged, and when you run out, after 22 hours of use, you'll always have a fully charged battery ready and waiting in the side of the little box.
It's frankly shocking that no one else has tried to replicate this approach, because even if you get a fancy Astro stand, or a long USB-C SpeedFlex cable, you're still screwed if you're playing with a group of pals and using a completely discharged headset.
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Like last time, the new ClearCast Gen 2 microphone is brilliant. It's bi-directional, which means it easily picks up a clear signal and can isolate outside noise quite effectively. But crucially, it can be retracted all the way into the cup itself. Yes, SteelSeries didn't opt for a detachable microphone, or one you're consistently forced to keep in place - thanks for that.
Convenience in the battery setup, in the microphone, in the comfort. It's all here. Not only that, but there's dual-connectivity between the console and, say, your smartphone, so you can run a phone call through automatically. There's a responsive volume wheel and removable sides on the cups. It's even quite tastefully designed.
And then there's the sound. SteelSeries offers active noise cancellation this time, which may not be on par with, say, Sony's WH1000-XM4, or Apple's AirPods Max, but still manages to cancel out minor distractions. There's also 360-degree Spatial Audio, which is a slightly more elegant but also more passive feature that actively enhances awareness of the actual positioning of various audio sources in the mix. But again; the final effect is a bit "light", and has been seen more prominently implemented elsewhere - it has ended up being a blessing of sorts, though, as really harsh Spatial Audio can end up contributing to a sort of pressing effect on the ears, and that's not in every game where positioning is equally important.
SteelSeries describes the innards as "Fidelity fully custom", and that's fine, but the point is that their drivers provide a pretty wide soundscape, and you don't have to be that competitive to appreciate the technology behind here. Sure, via Parametic EQ among other things, an option to raise and lower specific audio frequencies, you have 100% control over your sound mix, but the truth is just that Arctis Nova Pro Wireless sounds great, and can effectively create immersion whether it's Halo Infinite's multiplayer or A Plague Tale: Innocence.
There are little things that annoy, and SteelSeries does not completely let go. The on/off button should be a slider, so you can directly feel whether it's on or off, and there's no voice informing you whether it's just on or off, or how much battery is left, for that matter.
But other than that? Well. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has an innovative battery system, a nice command box, great comfort, excellent sound, effective ANC and solid Spatial Audio. Is it expensive as a result? Yes, of course, but it is without a doubt, again, the headset that offers the most effective blend of the dexterity that console owners require and the audio experience that gamers need.