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SteelSeries Arctis Pro might be the best gaming headset ever

Move over, Astro A50. Here comes a new challenger.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
3 min read

I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but wireless gaming headsets are starting to kick some serious ass. And perhaps none more than the just-announced SteelSeries Arctis Pro.


The SteelSeries Arctis Pro.

Sean Hollister/CNET

Last January, I tried a headset with a wireless connection so bulletproofI had to hop into a car before it would disconnect. This January, I found one so comfortable, with so much battery life, I could literally use it all day. 

But neither of those are the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, which I've been quietly enjoying for the past few weeks. Utter lack of Xbox support aside -- they're for PS4 and PC -- they might be the best wireless gaming headphones ever made. 

They sounds fantastic, looks great, fit like no pair of headphones you've likely ever worn before, connect to practically anything with their lossless 2.4GHz wireless hub and built-in Bluetooth radio, and -- get this -- come with a second swappable spare battery that's always charged and ready to go.


The second battery slides into the hub, where it slowly charges until you're ready to swap. Steelseries says it was the best-loved feature of its predecessor, the Siberia 840, and I've never seen the feature on another gaming headset.


"Now wait a minute, Sean," you're thinking. "Isn't this just a hybrid of the SteelSeries Arctis 7 and the Siberia 840?" Why yes it is, person who follows a Danish gaming peripheral company way too closely. (You do you.)

But unlike either of those award-winning headsets, the new SteelSeries Arctis Pro and Arctis Pro Wireless -- yes, I just casually admitted there's a wired version too -- actually sound amazing, as well. 

I wasn't a huge fan of the Arctis 7 and Siberia 840's audio quality. They're fine, fairly clear, but they don't sound particularly rich and there's not a lot of bass. The new Arctis Pro Wireless, however, sound better than practically any wireless gaming headset on the market. And I've tried them all. 

"These are by far the most expensive, premium drivers we've ever put into a headset," SteelSeries audio boss Brian Fallon tells me.


The wired Arctis Pro's external DAC.

Sean Hollister/CNET

And that's just the wireless version. The wired Arctis Pro has a version with its own dedicated Hi-Res Audio certified miniature USB amp, which includes a 96KHz/24-bit ESS Sabre 9018 DAC (digital-to-audio converter) chip. If you're not familiar with the ESS Sabre, let's just say audiophiles have been known to seek it out

In my early testing, the amped-up version sounds notably clearer than the wireless version's already-remarkable-for-gaming-headsets sound -- even though the headphone parts are largely identical. 

Plus, unlike most gaming headsets, each of the Arctis Pros' hubs have a built-in OLED screen and large, tactile knob so you can dial in settings to your liking, including the mix between game and audio chat (you get two distinct audio devices on PC) and individual equalizer levels. The wireless version even lets you do all that from across the room. 

What I'm saying here, in a nutshell, is that I wish the Arctis Pro Wireless didn't cost $330, £300 or AU$350, because I'd probably buy one myself -- even though I'm not done running all my tests. I can't say they're the best yet.

You should be able to find the wired Arctis Pro today for a slightly more reasonable $250, £250 or AU$280 with the DAC, or $180, £180 or AU$200 without. I will leave you with the company's handy comparison chart if you want to check them out.

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