SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless 7.1 Surround Sound Headset Review

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by Ryan Perry on January 30, 2017 in Audio & Media

Last month we looked at SteelSeries’ fantastic Arctis 5 surround sound headset, but now we’re looking at the top-tier headset in that product family, the Arctis 7. Knowing how well its little brother performed along with how much we liked the last wireless SteelSeries headset that we tested, means the Arctis 7 has some big shoes to fill.

Games, Movies, Music, Plus Final Thoughts

In order to gauge the sound quality during every day use, we fired up Grand Theft Auto V again and tore up Los Santos for a bit while using only stereo audio, which resulted in an enjoyable listening experience.

The multitude of sounds, layered one on top of the other, coming from all different directions remained clearly audible.

With DTS surround sound enabled, we again found the audio to be thin and lack-luster with a ton of echo, which made us quickly switch back and never want to turn on surround sound with this title again. It was nasty.

Grand Theft Auto V

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 however continued to wow us, with and without surround sound enabled. Using stereo sound, we engaged in a few close range firefights on the Heavy Metal map and had a blast as the Arctis 7 provided solid sound reproduction including a ton of bass that made explosions hit extra hard.

When surround sound was kicked on however, the level of immersion was taken to the same level that we experienced with the Arctis 5.

It seemed like all 64 players converged on a single point as the scene became absolute chaos, but missed sniper shots, exploding tank shells, and mortars raining from the sky all remained crystal clear and easily detectable.

At one point it almost became too much as I found myself completely confused about where to go next because there was gunfire, yelling, and explosions coming from all sides. Running for cover seemed like my only option as I tried to calm down. Now that’s what we call immersion!

Battlefield Bad Company 2

We again turned to Deadpool to provide some action and lulz for our movie testing, and we were impressed at how great things sounded in stereo. Music, voices, and sound effects all sounded large and full, but our chimichangas were blown clean off by the rich, broad soundscape once surround sound was enabled.

Deadpool

Moving on to music, we disabled surround sound since neither Fear Factory’s classic Demanufacture, nor Cake’s all around fantastic Showroom of Compassion were recorded to be listened to in such a manner.

Both listening experiences were easily on par with the superb Arctis 5 with the EQ flat as all elements of both albums remained crystal clear. Don’t forget to dial in that EQ though, because that’s when the Arctis 7 really shines! The heavy use of the bass drum by Fear Factory, and the wonderfully funky bass lines from Cake really stood out without drowning out any of the other elements.

Fear Factory - Demanufacture Cake - Showroom Of Compassion

Final Thoughts

In terms of sound reproduction, the Arctis 7 is about as good as it gets when it comes to an affordable, high-performance, wireless gaming headset. Without a hands on review of SteelSeries’ other wireless headset, the Siberia 840, we can’t say if the Arctis 7 makes this higher priced offering obsolete, but it should certainly wow the majority.

The audio truly is lag-free, and the audio quality is fantastic in all situations except for GTA V, which we still can’t explain even after combing through all of the audio options in the game.

Like the Arctis 5, audiophiles probably won’t be impressed, but folks who don’t feel like shelling out the cost of a car payment for a headset should be lining up in droves for one of these. From gaming to movies, to music, the Arctis 7 lived up to the hype, and as an all around headset, is an incredible bargain.

The only aspect where we were left disappointed was with the comfort of the headset during extended use. As the shallow cups are spread further apart, the clamping force on the ears becomes greater meaning those with large heads could experience some discomfort like we did. Again there are some “fixes”, but out of the box those who are “cranially gifted” might end up with some sore ears.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 - Press Shot

If we had to nit pick further, we would say that the changeable battery setup of the H-Wireless is superior to the plug-and-charge configuration of the Arctis 7. Having a second battery ready and waiting means that the H-Wireless remains wireless at all times, whereas forgetting to plug in the Arctis 7 will require you to have a cord dangling from your ear for a few hours.

This wasn’t mentioned in the main part of the review because it’s a personal preference, but the good news is that with at least 19 hours of battery life and a 4 hour charge time, the time spent plugged in should be minimal.

At $149.99, the Arctis 7 is still a steel (see what I did there?), even though it appears that the price has gone up at some of the major online retailers since we reviewed the Arctis 5 last month. Smart shoppers might still be able to find it for about $20 less though.

The only thing keeping us from awarding the Arctis 7 the Editor’s Choice Award is the comfort problems, however it truly is a fantastic headset. Our suggestion is to find one that you can test out, either at a friend’s place or at a retailer that has a demo unit. If it doesn’t hurt after a few minutes, you’re likely good to go and have found a headset that should bring your gaming, music, and movie experiences to a new level.

Pros

  • Fantastic sound reproduction in almost all real world tests
  • Standardized test results improve on the already impressive Arctis 5
  • Wireless audio and voice chat is truly lag free
  • Secondary audio in and out options provide expandability and extra value
  • Outstanding battery life and quick charge time
  • Could be used on the go without looking out-of-place

Cons

  • Aggressive bend in the headband and shallow cups made for some discomfort around the ears
  • A slight step back in microphone quality compared to the Arctis 5
  • Not wireless when used with an Xbox