Similar to the One Ring from Lord Of The Rings, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro was designed with the idea of being the one headset to rule them all. It comes with premium features that you’d expect from any headphone from this price range, and seemingly exceeds your expectations and heightens your standards for a gaming headphone. Or, does it? Let’s find out in this article.
Now, “Perfect” is a term we rarely use when reviewing any audio equipment in Audio Zone, and unfortunately, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro is far from it. The Arctis Pro Wireless was a go-to headphone for a huge number of people, and for good reason! The thing is, the Nova mimics a lot of those same features like the base station, swappable batteries, the ability to mix multiple audio sources, and so on. And for the most part, the Nova actually, obviously, does a better job than its predecessor where it pumps powerful bass which their predecessor lacked, and gives you a comparatively vibrant audio experience. You also get a pretty decent amount of ANC which should help you out when you’re enjoying your game in a loud environment, and the addition of the Hi-Res Certified GameDAC Gen 2 takes your audio experience to the next level by dynamically increasing the resolution while lowering distortion.
Now, you might be wondering, with all these beautiful and impactful specs, why are we being skeptical? Well, call us out on our high expectations and stamp a “Snob” label all you want, but the Nova disappointed us in some ways, albeit slightly. Let’s start with the microphone. Granted, it’s comparatively one of the clearer, richer microphones we’ve used so far, but when it’s fully retracted…it’s a whole another story altogether. The richness takes in an instant, noticeable dip in quality and makes the whole audio sound muffled and poor, which wasn’t an issue with the original. Yes, we get it, it’s retracted so it’s not supposed to sound as high quality as it should, but hey, you’re paying a hefty sum so such expectations aren’t really negligible.
Then again, it’s not all bad. The entire design has been redesigned from scratch, which means you won’t look like a skier trying to slide down the Hidden Valley anymore, thank God for that. The new leatherette ear cushions, while allegedly feeling comfortable in your ears, as they should, make us wonder if they’ll peel with age. Probably will. But wanna hear something weird? The Nova doesn’t feel as comfortable as they look. Then again, we were disappointed with their predecessor as well in terms of comfort, so probably it’s not a surprise, but given the new design, excuse us for being a bit hopeful.
What’s even worse is SteelSeries, for some weird reason, ditched the incredibly satisfying, clicky, tactile, and rubber-coated dials of the Arctis Pro in favor of the smooth yet unresponsive dial here which made our fingers slip right off. The base station itself doesn’t have as much weight as it should, making the station slide across the table when pushing the buttons.
But, playing good cop bad cop again, one of the ways the Nova shines is in the battery life. With both capped in, the Nova gives more runtime than anything we’ve ever seen from a wireless headphone before. It makes the already impressive 15.5 hours from the Arctis Pro Wireless look bad. And even if that’s not enough, SteelSeries will gladly sell you a two-pack of extra batteries for 19.99$.
And, think about it, you’re paying a significant amount for the wireless Nova variant, but you won’t be getting any Dolby Atmos or DTS surround sound. Yes, granted they do provide 360-degree spatial audio, but the lack of Dolby Atmos is kinda sus. Nice try SteelSeries, but unfortunately, Razer and Logitech still own the market, and they’re not showing any signs of stopping anytime soon.
So, that was a “before you buy” on SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro. Granted, the Nova put a lot of effort into this particular headphone which stands out from their predecessor, but for the price, we really don’t think it’s worth it. But enough about that, we leave it to your thoughts on it.