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In our quest to find the best PS4 headset, we are now taking a look at the SteelSeries Arctis 7. If you’re on the hunt for a headset for your Xbox and PC, you might be more interested in our Razer Carcharias (PC/Xbox) review. As more pieces of the new Arctis series of gaming headsets are released from SteelSeries’ stable, we’re finding out that the company, which used to only be made for gamers, might actually have a shot at impressing the audiophile set too. You may be in the right place if you’re looking for the best wireless microphone headset. But what is it exactly that sets these wireless gaming headphones apart from the hundreds of others on shelves today? If you love these headphones, you may also want to take a look at our Steelseries Siberia v2 headset review and also our review of the best gaming headset.
Read on in my SteelSeries Arctis 7 gaming headset review to find out!
Price: $149.99 on Amazon
Available: October 2016
Model: Arctis 7
Summary: The SteelSeries Arctis 7 are a nice-sounding pair of wireless headphones, that also happen to have a whole mess of gaming features tacked on at a relatively cheap price. Or, if you want the price even lower, check out our Sony Playstation Wireless Stereo headset review.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
Related: See also our Steelseries Arctis 5 Gaming Headset review.
The Arctis 7 has a light design, much like the Arctis Pro, with an aluminum frame and a suspension band, which slightly sets it apart from its wired predecessor. But other than a steel alloy headband and a few more ports on the side of the headset, you’re not going to find a whole lot of differences between the design of the wireless Arctis 7 and its wired brother, the Arctis 5, which we reviewed last month. The cups are identical in design to the Arctis 5, aside from the lack of RGB lighting – so if you want a pair of cans you can use to light up your next LAN party, you might be better off going with the 5 instead.
If you’ll remember, in my review of that top gaming headset, I talked about the myriad problems I had with getting the adjustment of the ski goggle strap to fit in a way that wasn’t so tight that it hurt, but also not so loose that the headphones lost bass when I was talking, eating, or moved my head too quickly.
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The Arctis 7 does several things different than the 5 in this regard:
Overall the upgrades make for a much better fit and longer-lasting comfort throughout lengthy gaming sessions. I found I could easily wear the headset for eight or more hours at a time, only needing short breaks in between to give my matted hair a quick tussle and talk on the phone.
Related: For another option in the Steelseries family, check out our Steelseries Siberia 350 Headset review.
Like the Arctis 5, the Arctis 7 comes with an in-line retractable microphone, onboard volume rockers, the option to connect through USB or a 3.5mm jack, and runs Dolby DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound (Windows-only) in games that support it. However, unlike that model, the Arctis 7 can also go wireless over the 2.4GHz spectrum, if you choose. For another 7.1 option, read our Sennheiser PC 363D review.
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The volume of the headphones can be controlled either through the volume rocker on the left ear cup or by switching between voice/music using the rocker on the right earcup. Other features of note include the hard mic mute button tucked away behind the left earcup and the micro-USB port used to charge the headset’s battery, which claims a 15-hour life during regular usage.
The Arctis 7 uses the 40mm neodymium SteelSeries S1 drivers to power its sound, the same the company claims are available on their top-of-the-line $300 Sibera 800 headphones. To test the performance of the SteelSeries Arctis 5 headset, we burned the drivers in over a period of 30 hours using various types of music played through both FLAC and 320kbps sources, as well as dozens of varied games and movies.
Although tinny and a little too crisp for my tastes when I first put them through their paces, after the drivers had a little time to settle in, the soundstage of the Arctis 7 really started to open up. The whole concept of the Arctis line for SteelSeries is to shake up the notion that gaming headsets can’t have good sound without costing an arm and a leg, and I’d say, for the most part, they’ve achieved that here. Despite the light design of the Arctis 7, it offers both stereo and surround sound. Amazingly, its surround sound embraces the latest technology from DTS, called Headphone:X v2, offering complete immersion for the PC gamer. The bass response on the Arctis 7 was the only space where it was lacking, and it could definitely have used more tuning to lock it in. This is also a common thread among most wireless headsets, though, as a high bass response burns battery more quickly, so designers need to find a middle ground between the two, and I still think the Arctis walks that line well enough.
As for the quality of wireless audio, the Arctis 7 uses a 2.4 GHz wireless connection for low latency. I’m an especially big fan of the choice to go with 2.4GHz transmission over Bluetooth, which means the headphones retain 99% of the sound quality you’d get if you went with the wired mode, and quite a bit more if you were stuck on the Bluetooth aptX standard. I couldn’t tell much of a difference in quality when listening over the 3.5mm jack or the USB, but on the whole, I think the Arctis line lives up to what it’s trying to do in making the solid sound more affordable for the average gamer.
The range of the Arctis 7 is rated up to 40ft of distance, and I was easily able to walk up and downstairs before losing the signal without any problem. The ClearCast mic performed better than last time, perhaps due to some tweaking I did in the SteelSeries software after the fact to remove distortion and get the clearest performance possible.
Last was battery life testing, which lasted a little less than what SteelSeries quotes, but not by much. In the 30 hours we tested the headset, we had to recharge it a little more than twice, which averaged out to about 12 hours of usage per charge (which itself took about two hours from dead to full).
We’ve already written about the SteelSeries 3 Engine in two previous reviews, and most of everything we both liked and disliked about it remains unchanged (aside from the lack of RGB lighting configuration, which the Arctis 7 doesn’t have).
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Here is where you can twiddle with the equalizer and voice settings. Everything was pretty standard fare as far as we were concerned, but then again, it’s hard to innovate on the software of gaming headsets when the basic functionality of the hardware has stayed the same for so many years up until this point.
If you’re a budding audiophile but also an avid gamer (or vice versa), the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is a worthy investment considering all the bonuses you get for the $149.99 price tag.
The Arctis 7 makes up entirely for the sins of its cheaper brother, the Arctis 5, with a headband that actually fits the way you want it to, and doesn’t weigh you down throughout the day. The rated 15-hour battery life may have only really been closer to 12, and the red “mic off” light is still just as annoying as ever in a dark room, but other than that, if you’re looking for a cheap, above-the-grade sounding pair of cans with a moderate bass response and crisp highs, then the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is the choice for you.
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