Today we’re talking about one of the best gaming headsets I’ve ever used. They are the 2022 SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pros. They include high-res audio support, a noise cancelling mic and the ability to adjust the EQ settings on the go. These are also compatible with the PS5, PC, Mac and the Switch.
Inside the box we get the manual and under that is a SteelSeries pouch containing the headset, which on first impressions look and feel nice. It’s also pretty nice that we get a pouch with them, although once set up we’ll probably never use it.
There is the DAC, or the GameDAC Gen 2 as SteelSeries have called it. This is what powers the headset and gives us the controls we need. And finally inside this little box is a 3.5mm headphone cable, two USB-C to USB-A cables and a microphone pop filter.
And as far as design goes, I like the look of this headset with the all black and grey style. It definitely has a more premium gaming vibe to them.
The frame and material of the headset is a hard plastic, which feels pretty solid yet still has some flex to it. On the inside is the adjustable headband, and this is a fabric almost silky like material. It’s also got a little bit of a pattern going on too, but I’ll talk about comfort and the adjustments in a minute. Now something that did surprise me is how light these feel, but I think that’s mainly down to the fact they don’t have batteries built in, which will keep the weight down.
Looking at the earcups, these are a fake leather, or a leatherette, material. And they are incredibly thick and soft to the touch so they’ll fit over your ears nicely. They are removable too, so if you ever wanted or needed to change them, just give them a pull and they’ll pop right off.
On the side of the earcups we’ve got these magnetic metal plates which includes the SteelSeries branding. Give them a twist or pull and they will come off. For the wireless version this is where you’d swap the battery and charge it via USB, but for the wired version they are just for aesthetics. These ear cups also rotate so if you want to wear them around your neck or lay them flat on a table, you can do that without worrying about breaking the hinges.
Now I’m not sure if this differs on the wireless version, but there are very few buttons on the Nova Pros. The right side has none at all, and on the left ear there are just two. There’s a volume wheel to, you guessed it, control the volume. This stops at the min and max, so it’s not an infinite scroll.
Then there’s a physical mute button for the mic that pops in and out. It’s also got an orange accent so you can see when it’s muted.
And finally we have the retractable microphone which you can pinch and pull it out. This is on a bendy arm so you can adjust it the way you need it.
Now as this is a wired headset you do need to plug the provided 3.5mm headphone jack in to use it.
Fortunately setting this up is literally plug-and-play. Take the USB cable and plug one end into the DAC and the other end into the PS5. And as soon as it’s connected it’s automatically recognised as a new headset.
Then we’ll take the 3.5mm cable and plug one end into the headset and the other into the DAC. Once that’s done it’ll display an onscreen guide and walk you through how to use the menu and controls. All that’s left to do is tidy it away and keep the cables out of sight.
As for the GameDAC itself, this is the brain and the power behind the setup. SteelSeries have called it the GameDAC Gen 2, which puts it above most other gaming focused headsets with both audio quality and the features it’s packing. So this little box not only sends the audio from your PC or console down to the headset, but it also provides some incredible on-screen controls.
Firstly, not only can you control the volume on the headset, but you can control it via a metal wheel on the right. This is such an awesome feature that allows you to lean over and tweak your volume without needing to fiddle with your headset. It does auto dim after a minute or so, but it’ll wake up as soon as you touch it again. It’ll also turn off completely once your PS5 or computer is switched off.
Now if you press the wheel you can access the menu, and from here you’re able to change the USB input, if you had it plugged into two devices. The audio options, including the EQ settings and side tone levels, as well as the system settings. This lets you change the brightness of the screen and the time to wait until it automatically dims.
Around the back it’s got 2 x USB-C ports and line in and line out ports. As there are two USB ports it means you can set this up with two systems at the same time, like a PS5 and a PC. Now the model I have is for PC and PlayStation, if you wanted Xbox connectivity you’d need to buy that one instead although that one does work with all systems.
The line out lets you use this for streaming OR connecting to some external speakers at the same time. Then on the side is a Headphone port, this is how we connect the headset using the 3.5mm cable.
Right, let’s talk about the sound quality. And from my testing over the last couple of weeks, I can say the sound on these are really impressive. Not only do they get quite loud, if you crank up the volume, but the sound detail and depth of the sound is incredible.
I’ve been playing The Last of Us Part 1 over the last week, the new PS5 Remake, and I’ve been blown away by how good they sound. I wish I could demonstrate it to you, but the background sounds and the ambient noise is awesome.
These Nova Pros also support 360 degree Spatial Audio using the Sonar Audio Software on PC. Now if you’re using a PS5 like me, these are fully compatible with Tempest 3D audio and Microsoft Spatial Sound. They are packing 40mm drivers and include hi-res certified audio. This essentially means the audio resolution is even clearer, giving purer sound than other headsets are able to deliver.
Typically I only use headphones for online multiplayer games, so games like Call of Duty and Warzone. As this is where I’ll chat with my mates as well as needing to hear exactly where the enemies are. Now I’ve had about 4 or 5 headsets over the last few years, and these, without doubt, are the best headset I’ve used for Call of Duty. It’s not just the sound quality, and the volume, it’s the directional pin-pointing of the sound that’s amazed me.
I was running around in WarZone, and I was able to hear footsteps from further away than I think I’ve ever heard. And what’s great is, if I wanted to change the EQ settings for the game or mode I’m playing, I can change them on the fly straight on the Station. Which is insane. In Warzone you’d want the mids and highs to be slighter higher than the lows, so starting with the FOCUS preset is a good option.
Then if I swapped over to a game like Saints Row for example, the FLAT preset is probably more suitable out of the box before tweaking. I’ve found this headset to be quite bassy and punchy out of the box, so you’ll want to reduce the bass first and using the bass boost option is actually too much for me.
There’s no chat mix on the headset. If you’re on PC you can control this on the wheel by tapping it and swapping between chat and game volume, but on the PS5 you’ll need to use the PS5 sound settings instead.
Oh, and even though you’ll want to use the GameDAC to get the most out of the headset. You can plug the 3.5mm cable straight into the source. So I’ve tested this by plugging the headset into the DualSense controller, although you’ll get no control over it this way.
I mentioned you can change the EQ settings on the Station, which is such an awesome feature. So all you need to do is tap the menu button, go to Audio settings and either swap between the presets there, or create your own custom one. Just scroll through each frequency range and adjust it how you need it.
This always beats having to plug it into a PC every time you want to adjust something.
Now if you have access to a PC or Mac you can make even more customisations via the SteelSeries GG app. This not only lets you edit the EQ, but it’ll save your settings straight onto the DAC to take back to your console.
Then there’s the Sonar app designed for PC gaming on Windows. Now I don’t have a gaming PC, so I’m not able to test this, but this will be the best way to play around with your sound and microphone settings.
So the microphone on this is retractable, which means it can be hidden away inside the headset when not in use. It’s pretty flexible too so when it is extended you can move it around to get it how you need it.
The mic supports AI-powered ClearCast Gen 2 noise cancelling, which is designed to silence background noise for that ultimate mic quality. Now when you’re using it you can of course mute the mic from the headset, but for me it’s just too fiddly when you’re gaming to try and find it.
Fortunately you can mute the mic from the station, so by tapping the circular button it will mute the mic. And if you’re on the PS5, you can mute the mic using the controller itself. This is actually a massively underrated feature as even PlayStation’s own headset can’t do this.
When it comes to comfort and wearing this headset, it feels great. They are really light, which for a headset is ideal as you don’t want to feel like you’re wearing one. The way the headset is designed is to pretty much float on your head using the inner headband. There’s loads of flex here and it is really comfy.
Adjusting the height or fit of the headset is easy as we’ve got two small adjustments to make.
First you can unclip the inner headband and choose between the different holes to change the tension of the band. And then on the side you simply slide the headset up or down to change the height. These don’t click or stop, they just firmly slide up and down.
Now although these do come in a fully blacked out design, you can buy different coloured plates and headbands for it.
There are currently 4 different colours to choose from on the SteelSeries website which includes Cherry Red, Lilac, Mint Green and Rose Quartz. Now I like the all black, but I’ll tell you what, these look awesome.
So my final thoughts on the Arctis Nova Pros. I’ve been really impressed with how good they sound, I’ve said it before but these are the best sounding gaming headphones I’ve used so far. But at this price point they should be.
Cost wise, the Arctis Nova Pros come in at £250 or $250 so these are not cheap, but they are comparable to the competition right now. And for the features you’re getting with the on-screen controls, EQ settings, audio quality, comfort and even the design, it’s not bad.
So the big question is, do I recommend them and are they a good buy? Yep, they really are. If you’re after a decent wired gaming headset that is plug and plug and has customisation at your fingertips, these are great. I don’t usually like wired headsets as it means trying to hide the wires out of sight, but for these I’m willing to make a compromise. Now if you were after a wireless version, they do sell those too. Some of the features are slightly different, so I’m hoping to try those out next month.