When it comes to gaming, it’s all about going bigger. The graphics need to look more life-like, the load times need to be shorter and the sound needs to accurately convey every little clash of iron or whizz of a bullet. Harder, better, faster, stronger. That’s the ethos of gaming in clever axiom (or song lyric, depending upon your preference).
That spirit is at the forefront of SteelSeries, the gaming accessories company that makes one of the best gaming headsets, bar none. How do you continue to push and evolve on that ethos? That’s what the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Gaming Headset is out to discover. The brand sent over a unit for us to check out. Read on for my full SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro review to see how it holds up.
Setup: A Painless Process
Upon opening the Nova Pro’s box, you’ll find the headset itself as well as a knob-based control box. The headset is self-explanatory, but the control box might be slightly less so. The control box is actually a high-end version of SteelSeries’ GameDAC receiver, complete with all kinds of different functionality (more on that later). You can connect the GameDAC in a variety of different ways, including through two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm jack.
I plugged the DAC into my gaming PC and the other into my PlayStation 5. Upon booting up my PC, the DAC came alive through its included display. I turned on the actual Nova Pro, and it connected instantly, with no fuss or hassle. I also then paired the Nova Pro to my PC via Bluetooth (again, more on that later) and then got off and running. However, you will need to ensure you have the SteelSeries Sonar software on your computer already (I did), as it will help you take better advantage of the actual audio input.
If you don’t have this enabled already, it may take a few more minutes for you to download and install the software.
Design: Sleek Yet Comfortable
The overall design of the Nova Pro is relatively minimalist but pulls, specifically, from Danish design aesthetics; you’ll notice SteelSeries branding on each of the removable, magnetic plates on either side of the ear cup. The caps are plastic but are gilded with a glossy coating to make them seem as if they’re each metal or, perhaps, steel. The back side of the headset features control functionality, which is not dissimilar from other SteelSeries products in the past. The front side of the headset features a retractable mic that actually lays flush with the rest of the headphones; it’s so stealthy that you may miss it upon an initial glance.
As for the earcups themselves, they’re extremely plush and soft, geared towards long gaming sessions. While not actually leather, the exterior of the cups has a leather-like covering that looks and feels high-end. You can adjust the interior headband so it fits your head shape better in order to provide a more tailor-made feeling.
Features and Performance: Multi-Platform Magnificence
This is where the fun begins; so far, the design of the Nova Pro isn’t a totally radical departure from the previous SteelSeries. However, that changes once we get into the features of the headset and how the GameDAC helps to facilitate some of those features. The two USB-C inputs on the back of the DAC let you toggle between two different gaming inputs, which means you can go from playing Destiny 2 on your PC to playing God of War on your PlayStation 5 without ever having to change headsets. This adds so much value to what is a pretty expensive headset already at $350 (although the wired version is a bit cheaper). Sure, you could have one headset you move between devices, but that takes extra time and effort to constantly move around a dongle from PC to console and back again.
The Bluetooth connectivity also allows you to leverage that connection, which means you can overlay, let’s say, music or videos on top of your game. I found it super handy to have a podcast going while I was grinding away in Destiny 2. The DAC also serves as a way to manage the Nova Pro’s other audio features, including active noise cancelation/transparency, sidetone control, some equalizer modes and the hub where one of the two chargeable batteries rests to recharge.
Battery life on this is really good (I got about 10 hours of full ANC use out of it before needing to swap batteries), especially with the fact the second battery is pretty much on deck, fully charged, and ready to swap whenever.
The audio quality on the Nova Pro is really where the headset shines, though. When paired with Sonar, the spital audio really does improve the situational awareness of a given game; when playing shooters like Fortnite or Destiny 2, I really did have an understanding of where a given enemy was in the space around me.
Music sounded good through the headset as well, although not up to the supreme quality of something you’d find in a higher-end pair of headphones. Sonar allows you to really hone in the audio settings for a particular game, allowing you to even have it as a preset to return back to later on; that customization is really helpful if you’re, say, a streamer who really needs to have a team audio up and game audio down. However, as strong as the sound is, the mic is a little bit lacking; it’s not bad by any stretch, but if you’re a streamer looking for an all-in-one premium audio solution, this doesn’t quite fit the bill.
Everything about the Nova Pro is designed to facilitate a premium experience and minus a hiccup with the microphone, the Nova Pro delivers in spades. Sure, the $350 price is a hefty barrier, but the quality of sound, the ease of use and freedom of accessibility offer a ton of value.
So Should You Buy It?
This might be a bridge too far for casual gamers who just want something to plug and play, but if you’re looking for sound you can not only hear but also feel, you’re in the right place.
- Multi-point connections
- Tons of comfort
- Great sound
- Hot-swappable batteries
- Very expensive
- Mic could be better