With High-Res Audio certification and a dedicated DAC, SteelSeries sets a new standard for gaming headsets.
The Arctis Pro line, which borrows a lot from cans like the SteelSeries Siberia 800 I’ve been using since early 2016, is a set of three products with significant differences. This is also a good time to say they’re made for PC and PS4. All three headsets feature a new headband design that’s lightweight and comfortable but not the most comfortable I’ve ever worn, and ear cups that are more breathable than most of the competition.
Let’s start with the $180 Arctis Pro that I didn’t test. The Pro is a USB or 3.5mm PC-targetted headset with a chat mix dial on the side, 40,000 Hz output, DTS Headphone: X v2.0, and RGB.
Jumping to the top of the line we have the $330 Arctis Pro Wireless, with lossless 2.4G and Bluetooth as well as wired options. The Pro Wireless uses a transmitter station with an OLED screen very similar to previous SteelSeries products, and includes one of my favorites features in any gaming product, a charging dock for the included second battery pack inside the transmitter station. The Pro Wireless is an impressive evolution of what was already probably the best wireless gaming headset, complete with 40,000 Hz output. Notably, there’s no RGB on the wireless model.
The most exciting product in the range is actually in the middle of the price spectrum- the $250 Arctis Pro + GameDAC. The Pro + GameDAC is the first “full gaming audio system” to get a High-Res Audio certification, and as the name suggests, includes:
...the legendary ESS Sabre 9018 Reference DAC, revered for its unsurpassed audio quality with 121 dB of dynamic range and -115 dB THD+N. This makes bass sound tighter, individual sound effects more distinct, and positional cues pin-point accurate.
Setting up the Pro + GameDAC is trivial, but it’s worth noting that the non-braided and prone-to-tangle wire from DAC to headphones is non-standard USB and comes out from the left, so it’s pretty much going to dictate the arrangement of your desk.
All the gaming comforts you’d expect are included, everything on the DAC is highly customizable and adjustable, the Arctis ClearCast microphone is best-in-class, and yes, everything sounds pretty damn great. If you’re the kind of person willing to be tethered by wires as a tradeoff for better sound, this is 100% the gaming headset for you. It’s the best-sounding gaming headset I’ve ever worn.
SteelSeries is far out in front of the gaming headset pack, leading in audio quality, build quality, and small, smart quality of life features. You can certainly find cheaper, but it’ll be a while before you can find better.