The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is a wireless gaming headset with plenty of features and a strong soundstage. It’s comfortable, looks good and sounds good. Although not perfect, with a flaw here and there, the Arctis 7 brings enough to the playing field. An impressive wireless headset for a reasonable price.
Competition is fierce out there in the wireless gaming headset sphere. SteelSeries are of course an established and well-loved brand, but how does their reasonably-priced wireless offering, the Arctis 7, stand up among its rivals?
Available from around $125, the Arctis 7 certainly offers a lot of features with a quality look and the promise of a solid soundstage. But if you’ve decided to spend over $100 for a headset, you want to be sure that it’s going to tick the right boxes. That’s where we come in.
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Headphone: 20-20,000 Hz, Mic:100Hz–10,000Hz
Headphone: 98db, Mic: -38db
Headphone: 32 Ohm, Mic: 2200 Ohm
On ear cup
Bidirectional, Noise Cancelation, Retractable
Wireless, 2.4 GHz lossless
12m / 40ft
Extra Box Content
Wireless transmitter, 4-pole 3.5mm cable, micro USB charging cable
At first glance; the Arctis 7 is instantly recognizable as part of the SteelSeries family with its flattened oval earcups, fabric head strap and matte finish. In keeping with its predecessors, the Arctis 7 offers an understated, sleek design that will stand the test of time.
The level of build quality when it comes to the Arctis 7 is not just evidenced in its look, but also in how it feels. With the earcups clad in a soft, velvety rubber coating and the ear pads covered in super soft fabric, they feel like a high-end item.
As with the Arctis 5, the luxury feel of the Arctis 7 is impacted somewhat by the fabric head strap. It could be argued the strap cheapens the look slightly; but on the positive side it does provide quite a cool juxtaposition of sporty and luxe. Especially with the addition of the aluminum head band.
This wide aluminum band is a design element that sets the Arctis 7 apart from its plastic predecessors. The fabric head strap also winds its way through the band to cover the top of it. With a wide range of replacement straps available to buy, this design feature means you can make your Arctis 7 your own and liven it up in the absence of any flashy RGB lighting – more on that later.
While the headband has good width adjustment, the height adjustment is non-existent. For those with larger heads (guilty over here!), you may notice a bit of contact between the top of your head and the non-padded metal band. This is nothing to be too worried about though, as the grip on your ears and the fabric strap are enough to help support the weight of the headset so it still feels comfortable.
Because of this limited vertical adjustment, depending on your neck size the Arctis 7 can be uncomfortable when worn around the neck. However, the ear cups do swivel round to lay flat, which helps if your neck is small enough to accommodate the headband. The swivel joints are almost too mobile though, and a little loose for our liking.
Look inside the earcups and you’ll find that the plastic housing around the driver does protrude a little, which means some users may find a bit of unwanted contact between their ears and the plastic casing. The cushioning on the pads is so comfortable though with deep padding and soft fabric. This fabric covering also keeps your ears a lot cooler than a leather outer would do.
While we’re talking comfort, it’s worth noting that the Arctis 7 is a wireless headset so there is a battery on board. And what does this mean? Extra weight of course. Indeed, the Arctis 7 weighs in heavier than its wired cousins the Arctis 3 and Arctis 5 but this is counterbalanced somewhat through the use of the lightweight aluminum headband, so although the increase in weight is noticeable, it is not uncomfortable.
Due to the absence of RGB lighting, the Arctis 7 doesn’t ostentatiously cry ‘look at me! I’m a gaming headset’ in the same way that many others do. Of course, if you’re a sucker for a bit of RBG action then this may be disappointing, but with this being a wireless headset there is the all-important battery life to consider, which brings us nicely on to look at the performance and features.
Features and Performance
So, to reiterate – if you’ve come looking for flashy RGB, you’ve come to the wrong place. We’re not mad about the lack of it, as it allows the Arctis 7 to conserve precious battery life. One light-up feature that we’re glad does remain, however, is the red light on the mic that allows you to easily see when it is muted using a button on the earcup.
The mic is retractable and nicely flexible, but not so bendy that it doesn’t stay put in your chosen position. SteelSeries do make the bold claim that the Arctis 7 boasts the best mic in gaming, however although the mic sound is clear and pretty rich, it still has a slight nasal quality and there are stronger performers on the scene such as the Sennheiser Game One, which is also available for a similar price to the Arctis 7.
Let’s move on to look at the main feature of the Arctis 7 – full wireless. However, on first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise as the headset comes with a surprising amount of cables for a wireless model! You’ll find a wireless receiver dongle, 3.5mm jack cable and a micro USB charging cable included.
Looking more closely at the wireless receiver dongle, it is nice and compact and plays a vital role in the usability of the Arctis 7. Its white LED stays solid when the connection is good, and blinks to tell us the headset is sleeping or disconnected. A nice visual cue in line with the style of the light-up mic.
You’ll also find line in and line out connections at the back of this receiver hub, so you can connect up your speakers and the receiver will automatically switch audio output to them when the headset is off, then back to the headset when you switch it on again. The hub also sports a sync button – press this once to connect a new device, and the hub will then remember the device next time it’s used. Nice.
With this feature in mind, it is a little disappointing that the Arctis 7 doesn’t power up automatically when your PC is switched on – you need to manually turn the headset on, which takes away from the slickness offered by the wireless receiver hub. That said, it does power down automatically when not in use, which helps with battery longevity.
What about the all-important wireless signal and range? And what impact does all this wireless fun have on the battery life? The signal actually reaches pretty far – up to around 6 metres so depending on the size of your home the Arctis 7 would work for listening to music while on the move around the house.
When it comes to battery life, SteelSeries promises 24 hours of battery life in the Artis 7. However, this all depends so much on how you use the headset, and user tests have shown between around 16-20 hours of battery life. Still pretty impressive for a wireless headset that performs at the level of the Arctis 7.
But what about that performance? This is a headset after all, so of course we want to know how it sounds. When using stereo mode, the sound is bright and detailed with clear audio cues making it great for competitive gaming. As is all-too-common though, this clarity and depth in the soundstage is muffled and diluted when using the surround sound feature.
Sure, surround sound offers a wider soundstage and a greater feeling of immersion, but by gaining this you lose all-important sound precision and quality. What we will say though about the sound quality of the Arctis 7 is that for once the quality doesn’t dip dramatically when using it with a console.
As with the whole Arctis range, the Arctis 7 uses SteelSeries Engine software. Here you can take ultimate control of your Arctis 7 and set it to suit your specific preferences. As usual you’ll find some preloaded sound presets but you can also customize your own too audio settings too.
A nice little feature here is the small question mark found next to each setting – hover over this and find an explanation as to what that particular setting will do, making the feature usable not only for audiophiles but also for beginners. Unless you are a diehard audiophile, the dynamic range compression feature in the software is slight overkill, and you’ll find similar results in much less time by just using the volume wheel.
Away from sound, there’s lots you can do with the mic settings, too. Use the sidetone settings to adjust how much you can hear your own voice, or use the ‘live mic preview’ button, to hear how your voice sounds to other players.
One thing we would appreciate in the software is a percentage battery life display as opposed to the bar that is shown, but this can be overlooked when weighing up against all the positive attributes of the Arctis 7.
As with any software for a gaming headset, there are lots of customization options that many users will never get around to using. But they are nice to have and are to be expected in a headset of this price.
The Arctis 7 certainly brings more pros than cons to the playing field. Sure, it’s not perfection – the dials and swivel joints could be tighter, the headband could be a little taller, the surround sound could be better.
But, weigh all this up against the slick design, strong audio performance in stereo mode, wireless capabilities and the array of features packed into the Arctis 7, you come away with a solid headset that packs a lot of punch for its price.
- Good sound
- Strong wireless connection
- Good battery life
- Surround sound could be better
- Some overly complicated sound settings