SteelSeries Arctis Pro gaming headset review

If you play games on your PC, you pretty much need to have a decent quality gaming headset. Sure, you can have a fantastic setup with speakers and external microphone, but a gaming headset with an integrated microphone does it all. And it does so while taking up minimal space, and without bothering other people in your space—unlike those speakers. But let’s face it. Gaming headsets can be a little overdone sometimes. Many are chunky expanses of plastic with hinges that are prone to failure. The leather or pleather ear cup cushions can be nicely padded but still uncomfortable because they get sweaty during long sessions. Audio is tuned for games, but music can often disappointing. The award-winning SteelSeries Arctis Pro gaming headset tackles many of those woes.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro unboxing: premium construction is immediately apparent

I test a lot of headphones and I can tell pretty quickly whether a manufacturer is selling you a high quality product, or something that’s liable to wear poorly. This was my first hands-on experience with a SteelSeries gaming headset, but the Arctis Pro immediately made an impression in terms of both quality and its Danish-inspired, minimalist design.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro gaming headset review

The headband is flexible metal, the ear cups pivot and tilt slightly, but they don’t move loosely. The hangers are aluminum alloy, so they will last. The ear cups are flat black matte soft-touch plastic, but it’s tastefully done and SteelSeries says they can be replaced. The cloth ear cushions are securely in place. The connecting wire(s) are not molded into an ear cup, they connect to jacks. If a cable frays, the headset survives. They are modern-looking and seem to be built to last.

Wait, how do I adjust these?

I went to put the headset on for the first time and it was immediately obvious that out of the box, they were far too small. I went to pull at the ear cups only to discover they don’t extend. After quickly consulting the instructions, another element of the Arctis Pro’s clever design came into play. 

Instead of the ear cups sliding down on a post to accommodate larger heads, the headband is a “ski goggle” version. That means it’s made of elastic fabric with a Velcro fastener. Tighten the headband for smaller heads, let it out a bit for larger heads. Once I figured that out, the fit was perfect.

This headset is even more comfortable because SteelSeries used Airweave cloth ear cushion covers. The fabric is very soft, and it breathes. Wearing the Arctic Pros for an extended period avoids the unpleasant sweatiness that can occur with leather or pleather covers.  


Arctis Pro key specifications:

  • Wired, over-ear gaming headset
  • Lightweight aluminum alloy and steel construction
  • High-density neodymium magnets and 10-40,000 Hz frequency response @ less than 1% THD
  • Airweave fabric ear cushions
  • Ski goggle headband
  • Bidirectional, noise-cancelling, retractable ClearCast boom mic with mute button and LED indicator
  • Includes USB ChatMix dial, main headset cable, 4-pole 3.5mm adapter, microphone windscreen
  • SteelSeries Engine support
  • Compatible with* PC, Mac, Playstation, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch(DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound functionality available on Windows only)

Note: *Next gen console compatibility varies. SteelSeries says the Arctis Pro is “technically compatible” with Xbox Series X by plugging into the Xbox controller’s 3.5mm jack. The PS5 supports the Arctis Pro via USB connection or a 3.5mm wired connection to the controller.


A very clever microphone

Many gaming headphones offer a plug-in boom microphone. That way you can remove the mic when it’s not being used. Unfortunately, that also makes it easy to lose the microphone. Instead of detachable, SteelSeries went with a retractable design. When not in use, push the mic into its recessed slot and it’s just a small nub extending out.

The headset’s ClearCast microphone performed well in testing. It’s equipped with background noise cancellation. And it has one of my favourite touches: a bright red LED on the mic itself that clearly shows when you have it muted.

It’s worth noting that SteelSeries also includes what it calls a ChatMix Dial. This is a small piece of hardware with a dial that lets you easily adjust the volume balance between your game and your chat audio.

Yes, there is RGB lighting

Speaking of LEDs, yes, there is RGB lighting. This is a gaming headset, after all. Each ear cup has an LED ring running around its outer perimeter capable of 16.8 million colours. It can be programmed as part of the company’s Prism-Sync series peripherals. This includes the Steel Series Apex 7 and Apex Pro mechanical gaming keyboards Marcus Wong recently reviewed.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro gaming headset review

Gaming headphones that sound like audiophile-grade headphones  

Many owners of gaming headphones also use them for listening to music. After all, why would would want to have two separate sets of headphones connected to your PC? Unfortunately, in my experience most gaming headsets aren’t ideal for music. Great for the bombast of exploding ships, not so great for musical nuance.

The premium music playback on Arctis Pro headset is a real standout feature. This headset is equipped with High-density neodymium magnets. While typical headsets cut out at 22,000 Hz, this one can reproduce sound up to 40,000 Hz. The results are unusually balanced audio, but with real depth to the low end. It’s not quite audiophile grade, but music sounds better on this gaming headset than it does on many headphones that cost more.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro gaming headset review

Obviously, they make for a very solid gaming audio experience as well. If your gaming rig runs Windows, you’ll be even happier. With Windows, the headphones can deliver DTS:X surround sound.

So many awards …

I really liked the Arctis Pro, and clearly I’m not the only fan. The box is literally plastered by awards SteelSeries Arctis headsets have won. If you care about the opinions of gaming publications, there’s another reason to give the Arctis Pro a listen.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro gaming headset reviewTime for a new gaming headset?

If you’re in the market for a new PC gaming headset, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro is well worth considering—especially if you own other SteelSeries PC peripherals. It’s also a great choice if you find leather or pleather ear cups to be uncomfortable. And if you like to listen to music on your PC (or any other device with a 3.5mm audio jack), gaming headsets don’t get much better than the Arctis Pro with their near audiophile-level audio. Tired of being burned by forgetting your mic isn’t muted? This gaming headset has you covered on that front too, with a brilliant red LED mute indicator.

The only real downside to the SteelSeries Arctis Pro is the wire. Many gamers don’t care, or prefer wired accessories. But if you have your heart set on Bluetooth wireless, you’ll need to keep looking.

Find the SteelSeries Arctis Pro today at Best Buy.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.

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