SteelSeries Arctis 3 Gaming Headphones Review

Posted on by HB Duran
RATING

SteelSeries is known for its flagship headphones, the Siberia V2 (and now the 200). Its iconic design sets it apart and screams “SteelSeries,” but the gaming peripheral company has shocked everyone by starting over. The Arctis line of headphones was re-imagined from the ground up—from the look to the audio audio and even what they’re made of.

ugr-gaming-arctis-lifestyle-photo-01

Streamer, UGR Gaming takes the Arctis 3 for a walk.

I had the pleasure of receiving a pair of Arctis 3 gaming headphones from SteelSeries in exchange for my honest review. Let’s see how they rate, shall we?

Here’s the “cliff notes” review: Read on for more insight into each feature!

Get a Free Headset Stand with purchase of select headsets at SteelSeries.com

Style

Would you wear your gaming headphones outside the house? Do they make you look like a space man from a 1950’s sci-fi movie? The first thing people notice about the new Arctis headphones is how they look. Sleek and minimalist in design, I asked Brian Fallon, category manager of audio for SteelSeries and creator of the Arctis about the new aesthetic.

“We wanted to keep it really slim and small; there’s no reason to have a bulky headset,” Fallon told me in an exclusive interview for [a]listdaily. “There’s no acoustic reason or performance reason a headset needs to be really big, it’s just a choice that’s been make by designers over time. We felt like having a slimmer design to the headset [would be] more appealing across a wide variety of people.”

Personally, I like the new design. Although I’m a fan of the 3D look of my Siberia 200’s, they’re quite large and bulky, as Fallon pointed out. I would have no qualms about taking my Arctis 3’s into the world for all to see. The Arctis 5 and 7 models feature illumination, too, which stays true to SteelSeries’ love for customization, particularly if you want to show off your team’s colors or coordinate with other peripherals. You can also swap out the headbands, ear pads and get your headphones in either black or white.

Comfort

Holy cow, these are light weight! To test the Arctis 3, I wore them all day while working, playing and recording video on the computer. They fit nicely over my GUNNAR glasses and the ski goggle suspension band proved to be super comfortable. I was able to adjust them just a smidge with the Velcro for a perfect fit—without snagging my hair, lol. The air wave ear cushions are soft and breathable so my ears never got overheated like they sometimes do with leather. I love that the ear cups swivel so they conform to the shape of your face when in use and rest flat on your shoulders when not in use. You can also just rest them around your neck without getting choked, which is a huge beef I have with many headset models.

Sound

7.1 surround in every model. Hellz yeah. I tested the Arctis 3 audio on a variety of mediums from music to video and of course, gaming. I’ve listened to all these albums for years and with the Arctis 3 headphones, I heard things I never have before! The vibration of guitar strings, reverb of cymbals, ambient noises and subtle harmonies…I was totally blown away by the sound quality of these headphones.

ARCTIS 3 SPECS:

40mm Neodymium Drivers
20 Hz – 22000 Hz Headphone frequency response
98db Headphone sensitivity
32 Ohm Headphone impedance
<3% total harmonic distortion
100 Hz – 10000 Hz microphone frequency response
Bidirectional microphone pattern
-48 db microphone sensitivity
2200 Ohm microphone impedance
Microphone noise cancellation
Connector types: Duel 3.5mm, 3-pole plug or single 3.5mm, 4-pole plug via included adapter
Cable length – 3m, 10 ft
Rubber cables

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Arctis users can customize settings over multiple games and listening options using the free SteelSeries Engine.

Music Tested:

  • Silent Hill Soundtracks (all)
  • Company of Heroes Soundtrack
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Soundtrack
  • Darksiders Soundtracks 1 & 2
  • Halo: Spartan Assault Soundtrack
  • Gears of War: Judgment Soundtrack
  • Dark Souls Soundtrack
  • Metro: Last Light Soundtrack
  • Lost Planet 3 Soundtrack
  • Tron: Legacy Soundtrack
  • Pacific Rim Soundtrack
  • Cutthroat Island Soundtrack
  • Lindsey Sterling (Self-titled album)
  • Queens of the Stone Age (Era Vulgaris)
  • The Walking Dead Soundtrack Volume 1
  • …and a ton more, I pretty much have soundtracks on a loop all day!

Surround sound is available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, mobile and VR (activate with the SteelSeries engine), although it sounds great on other devices, too.

Games Tested:

  • Paragon Open Beta (PC)
  • Stacking (PC)
  • Silent Hill 3 (PC)
  • Minecraft (PS4)
  • Resident Evil HD REmake (PS4)
  • DOOM (PS4)
  • Candy Crush: Soda Saga (Mobile)
  • Disney Emoji Blitz (Mobile)
  • Halloween Legend (Mobile)
  • Super Mario Brothers 3 (3DS XL)
  • Pokémon Sun & Moon demo (3DS XL)
  • Muramasa Rebirth (PS Vita)
  • Hotline Miami (PS Vita)
  • Resident Evil (PS Vita)

I don’t have an Xbox One at the moment, nor do I have any VR but if the above games and music are any indication, I have no concerns about how the Arctis would perform. While the air wave ear cushions rest nicely on my tiny ears without squeezing them, I still notice a considerable amount of noise reduction. If you prefer, leather Arctis cushions can be purchased for $14.99.

Microphone

arctis-micThe SteelSeries Arctis features a bi-directional microphone that picks up your voice within a very narrow field, essentially ignoring background noise. This is perfect for eSports, LAN parties or livestreaming so you don’t have to worry about bleed over from your team mates, your phone ringing, the dog barking, etc. I’ve used the Arctis 3 to record my video review and on a podcast appearance this past week—during both sessions, people complimented me on the sound and asked about my microphone!

Value

The Arctis is available in three models—3, 5 and 7. The Arctis 3 is $79.99, the 5 is $99.99 and the 7 is $149.99. Considering the fact that all three models come with 7.1 surround sound and a killer mic, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value for the same level of performance. All three models are multi-platform, making them especially versatile for gaming, music, film, recording and more.

Overall

I am SO pleased with the Arctis 3 headphones. They are by far the best gaming headphones I’ve ever used! You don’t have to sacrifice audio quality for price, so gamers can just choose a model based on the features they want. You can throw your suspension band and ear cushions right in the washer, too – no kidding! SteelSeries even packaged the headphones so nice that I’m keeping the box. I look forward to using these for years to come!

The new Arctis headphones from SteelSeries are available from the official website, Amazon or Best Buy. What do YOU find important in a headset? Let us know in the comments!

HB Duran

VGNS Founder, HB Duran is a gamer, artist, musician and occasional game dev. From early forays into all-night NES sessions, her career has blossomed into working as a game industry journalist, artist, QA tester and consultant. “HB” plays a variety of game genres and platforms, but is best known for her love of Silent Hill.

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