The latest form of SteelSeries’ high-end wireless gaming headset – the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – has gotten a major shot in the arm: this new version revises one of our favorite gaming headsets with a sleeker and more adjustable design while also adding active noise-canceling, longer battery life, and improved audio. And even more impressive, it offers a plethora of ways to tweak your game and chat audio on a per-game basis.
On paper the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has it all – but it demands a high $350 price too. Personally, I think it’s worth every dollar. It delivers fantastic spatial gaming audio and high-quality sound for music, and its multi-platform connectivity and simultaneous-device support mean it could be the one and only audio device you need for all your gaming platforms and daily listening.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Images
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – Design and Features
This headset and its wired sibling, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro, features a new design that diverges quite a bit from the existing Arctis line, which until now hadn’t really changed since it debuted in 2017.
The first change you’ll notice is that where the older Arctis line featured a rigid metal headband with an elastic tension band to adjust fit, the headband now also features telescoping arms so it can accommodate larger heads. The older ones were great unless you, like me, have a larger head, in which case the tension band would press down even when set to its largest size. I don’t have to worry about that with the new design – I can even extend the arms fully to make the headset a few sizes larger than my head, which I find makes wearing it even more comfortable.
The elastic headband is also a bit different in that it connects to the metal headband with plastic snaps similar to the ones you find on an adjustable baseball cap. You can adjust the elastic band to rest tighter or looser to your head in three one-centimeter increments – though this means you can’t fine-tune it with quite as much precision as the old velcro design. But on the plus side, because the new model’s elastic band sits beneath the metal headband, it also won’t get dusty as quickly.
The earcups are also noticeably smaller and thinner compared to the large, oblong earcups of the older Arctis headsets. The new design’s stepped profile looks more stylish in my opinion – less like an earmuffs-looking gaming headset and more like a sophisticated pair of wireless headphones from the likes of JBL or Audio-Technica.
Beyond the updated styling, SteelSeries has improved on several of the onboard controls. The Nova Pro Wireless has large pill-shaped buttons that are well-spaced around the stepped design of the earcups, a nice improvement compared to the tiny M&M mini-sized power and Bluetooth buttons I’d have to feel around for on the old design.
Thankfully, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless still features magnetic earcup covers to conceal the removable rechargeable battery on the right side – as well as a charging port, which has been moved to the left side. A minor quirk is that the removable circular covers use only two magnets to attach to the earcups, so it takes a bit more trial-and-error to correctly reattach them. Another quite literally grating thing about these circular covers is they feature a ring-shaped micro-etched finish that’s coarse enough to file your nails if you touch them the wrong way.
One of the old Arctis Pro Wireless’ standout features was its swappable battery system that let you charge one battery while the other is in use so that the headset doesn’t die on you when you need it most. The Nova Pro Wireless improves on that system by making the batteries hot-swappable; the headset packs capacitors large enough to keep it powered on for a short time, long enough for you to toss in the second battery. It’s not enough charge to power the drivers and keep your audio playing without interruption, but it’s nice to not have to turn the headset back on after a quick battery change.
The inside of the earcups has switched from cloth-based air weave cushions to more sound-isolating leatherette. Although the new material isn’t as breathable, I never found my ears getting sweaty, even after wearing them all day. The clamping force of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has also been increased slightly to make a better isolating seal, but it just feels snug instead of uncomfortable. I’ve easily worn this gaming headset for eight to 10 hours straight without discomfort.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – Active Noise-Canceling
On top of the improved sound isolation on the earcups, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless now features active noise-canceling. It uses a four-mic hybrid system (two microphones inside and two outside) that adjusts ANC based on outside noises and what you hear in the earcups.
That said, the Nova Pro Wireless honestly doesn’t provide the strongest ANC I’ve heard. It’s a welcome feature, just not quite on the same level as the Sony WH-1000XM5, which I’d still prefer for my next long-haul flight. The noise-canceling here is instead best at drowning out white noise like an air conditioner or your neighbor mowing grass, as opposed to a TV playing loudly in the same room or the sound of a helicopter flying overhead. It also helps take the edge off of my really loud and clicky Logitech G915 gaming keyboard, but it doesn’t completely silence my keystrokes as the Sony WH-1000XM5 can.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – Setup and Connectivity
The Wireless Transmitter box has been given a bit of a makeover with a rounded design, larger control knob, and digital touch button to navigate the settings. It features a clear OLED screen to display your volume level, the activity of the headset’s left and right drivers, battery levels, and other need-to-know information.
Long pressing the control knob lets you dive into basic headset settings like changing your audio source, adjusting your mic gain, and other system settings. But really tweaking the headset will come later in the software.
The standard Arctis Nova Pro Wireless can connect to up to two separate consoles, PCs, or other devices over USB. For the most part, the transmitter box is intelligent enough to switch between its two USB connections when you start playing audio from one of them.
There’s a PlayStation and an Xbox version of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, but functionally they’re nearly identical. The only difference is that the Xbox version has a Microsoft security chip, which is necessary to work with the Xbox Series X and S, while the PlayStation version isn’t compatible with Microsoft’s consoles.
On the Xbox version, one of the two USB ports on the transmitter base is clearly labeled as Xbox-specific, and only works with Microsoft consoles and PC. The other port, however, still works just fine for PS5, PC, Nintendo Switch, or any other non-Xbox device. Meanwhile, the PlayStation base station has two of the latter (non-Xbox) ports, making it compatible with everything except for Xbox.
In other words, the Xbox version is compatible with both Xbox and PS5, while the PlayStation version doesn’t work with Xbox (both versions work with Switch, PC, and other USB devices).
That said, despite having wider compatibility than its counterpart, the Xbox version doesn’t come at an additional cost. As such, even if PlayStation is your primary console, I recommend getting the Xbox version if you have or ever plan to get an Xbox console.
In my testing, the 2.4GHz wireless signal between the headset and the transmitter box was lag-free and rock solid. I didn’t hear a single signal drop even if I went to a different room or even a different floor of my house. If you go any further away (like two floors or leave your house) from the transmitter box or your connected Bluetooth devices, then you’ll start to hear the signal drop out.
The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless also has Bluetooth to connect to a phone, tablet, or other devices. Better yet, you can play audio from your Bluetooth source and a single 2.4GHz wireless source simultaneously, so you can listen to music and podcasts – or take a call – while driving around Mexico in Forza Horizon 5.
One unfortunate change is that unlike the previous model, you can’t adjust the volume of your Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless audio separately from the headset or the control box. The volume dial just uniformly changes how loud your headset is overall, so you have to go through the pain of individually adjusting the source volume of whatever you’ve connected over Bluetooth or your connected console/PC/device.
Another annoyance is that turning the headset off via the power button doesn’t turn off Bluetooth as well – it has to be turned off separately. To do this you have to hold down the Bluetooth button to switch it off in addition to using the power button to power down the headset as a whole. It seems odd that the dedicated power button doesn’t deactivate everything, but it makes more sense if you think of the Bluetooth and 2.4Ghz modes as two separate devices you can use independently, or at the same time. You could, for example, turn only Bluetooth on if you’re taking the headset out of the house and don’t need the 2.4Ghz connection.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – Battery Life
SteelSeries specs the battery life (with ANC on) at 22 hours with only 2.4Ghz wireless and 18 hours when using 2.4GHz and Bluetooth at the same time (which is another reason it’s nice to be able to control them independently). That’s an amazing amount of gaming and playback time considering the physical size of these batteries is smaller than Ghirardelli mini chocolates. I strung up to four days of use out of a single battery and I feel like I could stretch it out to 30 hours across five days with ANC turned off, too.
Add in the fact that these batteries take just three hours to fully recharge inside the base – and you can hot-swap between the two included batteries without turning the headset off – and you can basically keep playing with this gaming headset forever. This is easily the most unique feature of this gaming headset, especially considering most wireless options have built-in batteries and need to be plugged in to charge. There’s basically nothing else on the market that offers this type of functionality.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Software
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – Software
Most gaming headsets come with software that lets you adjust some basic settings and download firmware updates, but the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless takes things to the next level. SteelSeries completely blew out its software options with the new Sonar portion of its GG application on Windows.
At its most basic level, you can tweak the volume of your game audio and chat independently instead of just tweaking the mix of audio between the two sources. This is an extremely rare feature found basically only on this gaming headset (and its predecessors), but it’s super helpful if you game with a regular set of friends and already have the chat volume dialed in for them. These are all settings you can easily access in the transmitter base too, so they’re accessible to console users, too.
The next level of customization is, of course, tweaking the equalizer, which is done via the SteelSeries GG app on Windows. Adjusting EQ is nothing new, but SteelSeries lays everything out by not only giving you a 4Hz to 40KHz frequency range to tweak, but also an easy-to-follow guide that explains what parts of the range translate to lows, mids, highs, and everything in between.
The equalizer tab also has a drop-down option that lets you create a custom EQ starting from a game preset, which also shows what part of the range translates to, say, footsteps in Halo Infinite or revives in Call of Duty: Warzone. The app comes with several pre-made EQ configurations for popular games like Apex Legends, GTA V, and League of Legends, to name a few.
SteelSeries also tells me it has plans to work with developers to master the way games sound on its headsets. Additionally, there are plans to introduce community-shared mixes, so I expect the list of EQ presets will only grow larger with more games in the future.
Tweaking the equalizer really does help elevate the sound and show how flexible the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is. After switching on the preset for Halo Infinite, the soundtrack had noticeably more bass and gunfire echoed a bit further. Forza Horizon 5 also had louder engine grumbles and screechier tire squeals after turning on the premade EQ preset for it.
The one caveat to these EQ adjustments is that they currently only apply if you’re playing on PC, but SteelSeries says it's looking for a way to port Sonar EQ adjustments to the headset so that they work on console as well. A mobile app is also under consideration.
Beyond changing the way games sound, you can also change the way you and your friends sound over chat. Sonar gives you a slightly less intensive equalizer than the game audio EQ to play with that spans across a narrower 31Hz (sub-bass) to the 16kHz (highs) range. Once again, you get presets to tweak the way you and chat sound for more clarity or more broadcast-quality audio.
There are also a few fun options that make you sound deeper or like you’re talking from a walkie-talkie. These options are a bit more gimmicky and not always effective, though, and I was told my voice didn’t seem any deeper or I sounded like I was talking from space when I tried them out with my friends.
Without any modulation, though, the mic quality captures your voice in excellent quality and with a warm and balanced tone. That said, the unidirectional microphone is a bit sensitive out of the box and it easily picks up unwanted background (like birds chirping and or cars driving by), so you’ll want to reduce the gain on it.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – Performance and Gaming
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless sounds as good as it looks. It features 40mm high-fidelity drivers and 360-degree spatial audio, which means it supports Dolby Atmos, Windows Sonic, and the PlayStation 5’s Tempest 3D Audio. This headset delivers fantastic spatial audio, especially in Battlefield 2042 where I could distinctly hear everything from an Osprey flying overhead to enemies moving around on the floor beneath me. While playing Returnal, it delivered a satisfying crackle for every laser bolt fired, and it was amazing to hear the enemies’ projectiles whiz all around me as I dodged in and out of bullet hell.
This headset isn’t cheap by any means, but it punches above its weight compared to even more expensive headsets. I was able to hear new nuances of Soy Yo while drifting around Forza Horizon 5 that I never heard while using Master & Dynamic’s $449 MG20 gaming headset. Meanwhile, it almost delivers an almost as good spatial sound as the $899 Audeze LCD-GX, which sports much larger 106mm planar magnetic drivers and utilizes Embody’s specialized spatial audio engine.
And all of that is just playing with the headset primarily in its default equalizer settings. As I previously mentioned, the sound only gets better when you start making tweaks in the frequency curve and make per-game profiles.
The Nova Pro Wireless also offers a fantastic range for listening to music. It’s not quite good enough to replace audiophile-grade headphones, as this headset runs into its limits when playing highs. But for most of your everyday listening, whether it's streaming music from any of your mobile devices to playing atmospheric games on any platform, this is a fantastic package that can do it all.
SteelSeries’ Pro Wireless headsets have always been a bit of a unicorn in the gaming headset world thanks to their outstanding sound quality, uniquely removable batteries, simultaneous connection support, and other rare features. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless truly elevates this line of gaming headsets to another level: spatial sound and audio quality are fantastic, batteries can be hot-swapped for uninterrupted use, and you can make your gaming audio experience even more nuanced thanks to very noticeable changes in the equalizer and Sonar settings. The revised design accommodates all heads – large and small – comfortably, even for extended sessions. And to top things off, the more premium design and hybrid active noise canceling make the headset even more usable as a daily pair of wireless headphones.