The $350 price tag on SteelSeries’ new Arctis Nova Pro Wireless provides the kind of sticker shock that demands an explanation. Fortunately, these headphones have an answer. 

With a wide array of device compatibility—and a version you can use with both your Xbox and PlayStation—impeccable audio quality, and multiple swappable batteries, they’re a luxury powerhouse for those who spend hours in the chair.

Build & Audio Quality

Photograph: SteelSeries

The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless are understated black over-ears with a headband that keeps your head comfortably suspended between the earcups. Magnetic plates on the outside of each headphone look just enough like brushed metal (despite being plastic) to catch the light, while most of the body is covered in unobtrusive matte black plastic.

One of the features SteelSeries seems most proud of on these headphones is the retractable mic. When withheld, the mic is almost perfectly flush with the rest of the earcup. It’s a minor thing, but it’s indicative of the attention to detail found throughout the rest of the design.

The earcups have a plush, faux leather covering that’s soft and doesn’t get too sweaty, even after wearing it for a while. The adjustable headband and cushion help it sit very comfortably on top of my head. It doesn’t squeeze the sides of my head too much, though after a few hours, I can start to feel it.

Audio quality on these headphones is crisp, with booming rich bass that doesn’t muddy the vocals. The company’s PC-only Sonar software adds a ton of customizable EQ tools that can be tailored to specific game modes, or even individual games. You can further balance the sound levels between games and chat apps so you can still hear your team, even if you’ve EQ’d your game to emphasize the biggest explosions.

The spatial audio—once again enabled in the Sonar software, meaning it’s PC-only—is a valuable boost in fast-paced games where situational awareness is key. While I was playing Doom: Eternal, it made it much easier to tell what direction a particularly troublesome demon was coming from. 

The only major downside is the mic quality. It’s not great—even by gaming headset microphone standards. In fact, it’s kind of like the effect in a movie when the director wants to make it sound like someone is talking through a headset. It’s not terrible, and it gets the job done. But for as well-engineered as the rest of the headset is, it’s a bit of a letdown.