We all love a good headset when we’re gaming. Whether it’s to be used to chat with our friends or to just immerse ourselves fully into the games we’re playing, they’ve become an essential accessory to most gamers. And we’ve been fortunate to get our grubby little mitts on SteelSeries’ Arctis 9 Dual Wireless headset, from their award-winning Arctis range. But is it as good as people say? Let’s find out.
BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN
Stright of the cuff and out of the box, the Arctis 9 looks f’ing beautiful. We’ve tested many headsets over the years, and except for a select few, the majority look similar, with the same cushioned headband and leather/PU leather earcups. However, straight away I noticed the difference, and it is clear that this product is extremely well thought out in terms of design.
Straight away, the first thing I noticed about the Arctis 9 was the headband. A durable solid steel band with a tough rubber underside. No cushion. But then I saw a fabric strap around the outside with the SteelSeries logo on top, threading through the sides of the headband to create what turned out to be the support. Rather than having some cushion pressing down on your head, this headset uses the fabric strap to suspend the headset on your head, and it’s a gamechanger for me. It’s unbelievably comfortable, even after long use.
As for the rest of the Arctis 9, the design is smart and sleek, with a lovely matte black finish. Each earcup has a fabric cover on the inside, again adding to the comfort element as they allow your skin to breathe much better, rather than becoming stuffy and sweaty as with leather earcups. On the outside there are controls for numerous things, including a game/chat audio mixture, volume controls, power buttons and the port for charging the headset itself. Then, on the left earcup a nice retractable microphone.
The Arctis 9 has a decent weight to it as well, and it certainly feels like a quality made product. However, with the way it is suspended on your head, you’d bearly even notice it was there. Everything is built using premium materials, and every feature you could want has been included. Along with the headset inside the box is also a wireless adapter that is for use with PC and PlayStation. But we’ll go into that more during the Functionality section.
There are two sections when it comes to the audio of the headset, what you can hear, and what others can hear from your mic. When it comes to the actual audio you can hear, this picks up everything and transports you to the middle of that battlefield, race track or whatever zombie apocalypse you’re trying to survive.
It manages to get all the high pitched tones, the low rumbling sounds and everything in between. And being wireless, I thought aybe there would be somewhat of a delay but if there was one, I didn’t pick up on it. This is partly due to the quality of the wireless receiver. Just plug it into whatever device you’re using and away you go. Under the wireless receiver itself, there is a single button and a switch. The button is to connect the headset should it ever drop out. The switch itself flicks it between PC and PlayStation modes.
I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference, but, it makes the world of difference. It went from clear audio on my PC to quiet mumbling on my PS4. Until I flipped the switch and all of a sudden, I could hear everyone who was trying to third party my squad on Apex Legends.
When it came to the mic though, which is apparently Discord-certified, there were a couple issues, in that it seemed to be inconsistent. I wouldn’t even adjust the placement of the mic and one day it’d be “loud and boomy” and other days it would be too quiet and I’d have to constantly adjust it to get it right again. When positioned correctly though it was apparently crystal clear, and surprisingly good at eliminating background noise and only picking up my dull tones shouting out “I’m down again!”.
This is probably one of the most functional headsets I’ve had the pleasure to get my hands on. Not only is it dual wireless so that you can use it on PC and PlayStation, but it also has Bluetooth so you can connect up to your phone. And what’s best, you can use both wireless features at the same time, so you can take calls whilst not having to pause your game, or hide behind some boxes so you don’t get your ass kicked in your favourite Battle Royale so you can speak to your gran. And to get the balance right, the rctis 9 has an in-built mixer on the left ear to balance things out.
As mentioned above in the audio section, the mic is actually Discord-certified, meaning it is optimised to work with Discord’s software for voice optimisation. And one of the reasons for this is it uses the same bidirectional design used by aircraft carrier deck crews, and that’s the reason the noise cancellation worked so well. And the fact the mic is retractable, it’s ideal because you can just pop it away when not needed. Or if you’re lazy like me, just tap the button behind your right ear to mute it, where you’ll then see a red light on the mic to tell you it’s off.
When it comes to the wireless feature of the headset, I was a little bewildered. My PlayStation 4 is upstairs in my ‘office’ / the room I’m banished to. And so to test it out, I went for a wander around the house, popped the loo, grabbed a drink and the range on this thing was incredible. Not once did it break up, crackle or drop in quality. However, sitting next to the console, less than a metre away, I’ve had 3 or 4 occurrences where the headset just disconnected. Switching it off and on again fixed it, but it was annoying when it happens mid-game in party chat.
Finally, checking out the battery, it claims to have more than double its rival from Razer, the Nari Ultimate. It states it has a 20h battery life, and whilst I don’t think I got exactly 20 hours out of it off a full charge, it was pretty close to that. And it probably is my fault forgetting to turn it off on occasion as it waits to switch itself off while after n connection. Despite that, I’m still not having to recharge it until every couple of weeks. And, should I need to charge it, I can still do so whilst using it which is pretty handy.
VALUE FOR MONEY
When it comes to Value for Money, it may sound strange saying that a headset costing £180 is worth every penny. But this pretty much is. Even despite the two minor issues with the mic and disconnections. Both are issues easily rectified in seconds. But the positives of this headset far outweigh the negatives.
The Arctis 9 is designed so well and built to a high standard, distinguishing itself from the competition. Packed full of features that other headsets would require external accessories for like the chat mixer, and it will keep you going for an entire day of gaming, as long as you get 4 hours sleep in there along the way, which may well be a struggle for our own Stubat who may as well be called Mr Insomnia as he seems to be awake at all hours, day and night.
So yes, it is expensive, but this is one of thse scenarios where the saying “you get what you pay for” truly is exactly that. It will be a little steep for some, there is no doubt about that. But, if you can hold off until Black Friday or even the Christas sales, you may be able to grab a bargain for a headset that is pretty much worth every single penny you’re handing over.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless overall thoughts
Whilst it may not have been given full marks overall, as there is always room to improve in my book. The Arctis 9 dual wireless gaming headset from SteelSeries is as close to perfection as you’re going to find. Looking the part and feeling like it is built to last, this isn’t some cheap headset you’ll get that breaks after some heavy usage, this is something that feels it will last you for years to come and be an essential part of your gaming set up.
Add to that the number of features included; that it is dual wireless, lasts almost an entire day on a full charge and the quality that it possesses in terms of its output. It is indeed easy to see why the Arctis range is award-winning. If we were offering awards out ourselves, then it’d be safe to say the Arctis 9 would definitely be getting one. I’ve longed for something to match my old Plantronics RIG that died over a year ago now. And I think I’ve finally found my long-term replacement, not only matching my previous favourite but surpassing it too.
You can grab the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless headset now from numerous retailers online and on the high street, well, for those stores allowed to stay open in lockdown. Find out more info about the headset on the official website HERE. You can check out more of our hardware reviews in the meantime by clicking HERE.