I have for some time been trying to find the best gaming headset and I think I have found it, from my other favorites the Razer Man O’War and the Lucidsound LS40, both wireless, both great design, great sound and ok microphones. Now I have, finally from SteelSeries direct, there new Arctis 7, with a shed load of claims from many of the big press companies, including PC GAMER, claiming it to be ‘BEST GAMING HEADSET’.
Now it is my turn, a true PC Gamer, that has more headsets than you can shake a stick at. So let’s do this, on the shelf in your local store, the headset shines proudly on the front with the name of the headset, the use of the term LAG-FREE WIRELESS GAMING HEADSET and PC GAMER Quote. SteelSeries choose to use a few to showcase of the front which includes 2.4GHZ Wireless, Best Mic in Gaming, Gamechat Balance, Patented Airweave Fabric and DTS. If you are on the lookout for more affordable gaming headsets take a look at ReviewsCon, which hosts an impressive list of gaming headsets for all types of budgets.
Nothing on the sides, so let’s move to the back, they showcase the headset from a side view and front view, also shown is the wireless dongle. There are also some more features
- Bidirectional Microphone, The best mic in gaming
- On-ear Chatmix Dial, Balance your game and chat audio
- Airweave Ear Cushions: Exclusive Athletics-inspired, Breathable Fabric
- Full Wray Ski Google Suspension Band, Comfortably Fits any Head
- Zero Latency Wireless
- Rechargeable Battery with 15Hrs of Continuous Use
- DTS Headphone: X7.1 Surround Sound
Now comes the unboxing, hope this is good as it looks on the outside, please, please be good, getting a sharp pair of scissors to not ruin the box and ripping through the stickers that hold the lid down and slowly moving the lid off to reveal this;
A headset sitting proudly, between plastic and plastic on top, the headset has no way of moving, so it’s secured very well for delivery or the ruff and tumble of the back of the car boot. Pulling the headset out requires little to no energy, its just slides out of its pedestal.
Removing the black plastic, that holds the headset reveals a small box that contains everything else you will need to use this headset
So overall this is everything you get;
WAIT RIGHT THERE, NO Instruction Manual? Why yes, there is, it is rather in-depth and in many languages, a must read as well, to find out how to set up and what everything does or should I say used for.
Setting up was easy, you will first need to download SteelSeries Engine, current version when writing this article was 3.11.4 and you can download it by going here.
One install, plug in the SteelSeries Wireless Receiver into a spare USB slot, once that is done turn on your headset and Taadaa, you are all ready to go, well maybe, you might need to do a firmware update, I had to, there was an update for the receiver and the headset, only took a min, so nothing major. (just follow the onscreen instructions)
These headphones look amazing, they are certainly heavier than their wired counterpart the Arctis 5 and they are missing the RGB lighting on the earcups, this might of been a design choice from SteelSeries to save on battery life. But damn do they look nice, the Full Wray Ski Google Suspension Band is super comfortable on my head, differently better than the Razer ManO’War pitiful amount of padding and more comfortable than LucidSounds headband.
But the best thing about these have to be the Airweave Ear Cushions, damn these are super comfy, WOW *repeat over and over. They cling to your head like two soft pillows, they are just as good as the Plantronics RIG500E Cloth earcups and I loved those.
The construction of these headphones is mostly hardened plastic, apart from the top of the headband, which the ski band rests upon and the most likely the mechanism that allows the headphone to twist to an angle that allows them to rest on your shoulders.There is also slight orientation that allows the headphones to fit more comfortably on your head.. see video below to see what I am on about.
As these are wireless headphones everything should be available on the headset for you to control your experience right? Happy days, it’s all here volume control, chatmix. a power button, microphone mute, extendable microphone. Mobile connection and a 3.5 audio connection for someone else to plug in their headphones and listen.
Now comes to Microphone and the what SteelSeries claims to be ‘the Best Mic in Gaming’ let play something, video down below with a microphone test, what do you think, I think it is not too bad for a headset microphone.
So sound, any good? was it worth SteelSeries paying for the Dolby Licence, which possibly increased the cost of the headphones? Well, DTS is amazing and does give a great Surround Sound Experience, and you also have three presets available which includes GAME, MOVIE and MUSIC, each of them gives you a different soundscape.
Even if this offers you a great surround sound experience, can you get it elsewhere and possibly reduce the price of the headphones? With Windows 8 there is not much apart from Razers Free Software, but obviously SteelSeries will not promote that, but with Windows 10 you do have free software called spacial sound though with sound setting in windows, it’s called windows sonic for headphones, or if you want a Dolby Sound experience you can grab Dolby Atmos for headphones from the windows store.
So out of all the Surround Sound options available which one did I choose to run with? Dolby Atmos, its a much wider soundscape that DTS just can not offer, but if you do not have the money, or cannot be bothered then the DTS that comes with these headphones are good enough and go a great job.
Bass, Treble and everything in between, these headphones can produce, though bass is a little on the low side compared to the Fnatic Duel TMA-2 headphones kick out so much bass your ears start shaking, but some people may think that is a little too much. Overall though these headphones produce a good soundstage from all levels, you can also use the SteelSeries Engine UI to create your own profiles and set your perfect EQ settings, this something that is not available on the Fnatic Duel or the Lusidsound LS40.
Keeping with SteelSeries Engine lets see what else the program offers apart from its EQ and DTS
Well, a quick update regarding Equalizer, you also have presets that you can use which include the following;
Other features available include Dynamic Range Compression which moderates variations in headphone volume so that all your audio is delivered at the same decidable level. Live mic Preview allows you to hear your microphone, mic sidetone which enables you to hear your own voice in your headset. Many people prefer a low level of sidetone to let them know the mic is working. One final feature Mic Volume, increase or decrease the volume level of microphones output. If you need any support or something does not seem right head on over to their support page.
Now comes the games, as you can see from the video of the mic test I have been playing Battle Chasers: Nightwar, which is an amazing game and I would highly recommend to anyone, other games I have been playing include Project Cars 2, WRC 7, Ark: Survival Evolved and Divinity: Original Sin 2. Using either DTS which comes with the headset via the software or Dolby Atmos for Headphones, each of the games provided a superb surround sound experience, though I have to say Project Cars 2 is amazing, even though, currently I suck at the game.
These headphones are AMAZING yes I have capitalized that word because they are, the microphone is fantastic and very clear for a gaming headset microphone. They fit securely to your head with little to no pressure, the Airweave Ear Cushions keep your ears cool, during those long gaming sessions, the soundscape is not up to the standard you would get from a music grade headset, but what do you expect these are for gaming. I tested the transmission length of these headphones and the signal went through 3 partition walls, and one 2 foot concrete wall which is approx 8 metres/ 26ft feet in total, I reckon if you take away the walls, the signal would go a lot further.
You can also choose to chuck your speakers through the dongle and have quick access to your headphones, what I am trying to say here is, if you have your dongle and speakers setup separately, you will need to head to your sound setting everytime you want to use your headset as it does not automatically switch to it when you turn it on. However, if you connect your speakers through the dongle instead of your system, the transition from speaker to the headset is instant and no need to mess around with system settings every time you want to use them.
To see what I mean here is a short video from SteelSeries
This review is now over yet, almost over, since the Arctis 7 uses Ski Goggle Headband’s you can change them and mix it up, don’t like the Airweave Ear Cushions, you can purchase Leather or valour earcups instead, and if you are like me and carry around your headset, you might want to purchase there carry bag, everything can be found on this page or from any good retail outlet.
Owning the wireless version does come at a price around £150.00 depending on where you buy them from, just look around you are bound to find the cheaper. If you simply can not afford them, I would recommend grabbing the Arctis 5 instead, RBG lighting and Wired, but come with all the same features, just not wireless.
These headphones are top notch, and the best headphones I have reviewed for 2017, and right now they are my No1 choice for a headset to quote;