SteelSeries has been a leader in competitive gaming peripherals for a very long time and the quality of their hardware has improved with every new item they produce. They have worked tirelessly with many of the top Esports teams around the world to find out what a true gaming professional might need to be the best.
They have truly defined what gaming hardware should strive to be from keyboards, to mouse, to mouse pads. Steelseries does it all. And their headsets are not to be taken lightly either. Steelseries offer some affordable headsets that are very competitive.
This is why I am very eager to get the SteelSeries Arctis 3 out the box and on to my head! Lets jump in.
With the arrival of this Steelseries headset I was really excited. I have never tried any Steelseries headset before and when I got the opportunity I certainly jumped at it.
The packaging is very sleek and straight to the point. Inside the box is the headset, obviously, and two sets of cables. One set has a micro USB on the one side, that plugs into the headset itself. There are 2 attachment cables that plug into this cable. One has a single 3 pole 3.5mm headphone jack, for use on Consoles and mobile devices. The other has a double 3.5mm jack for speaker and mic separately for use on your PC. This configuration lends itself to universal use which is great! Except if you buy this headset to use on V1 Xbox One controllers which do not have headphone jack connection without an adapter. Steelseries can definitely state this situation more clearly on their packaging as I couldn’t find any of this info outside the box. Looking past that little hiccup, it took me a few seconds to figure out the cable connection options but once I got it I was impressed with the versatility.
The Arctis range are the more entry level range to the Siberia range which is the Premium Steelseries headset but with a lower price tag you would expect some functionality cuts. Some how SteelSeries delivers a top notch headset at a budget price.
Looks and aesthetic appeal
From the moment you pick up the Arctis 3 you can feel the quality is good, build is strong yet light, finishes feel good in hand and makes you feel like you are handling a quality product. The matte black finish and small chrome finish gives it a very minimalist finish compared to any of the Astro or Turtle Beach headsets which feature some outlandish colour schemes or designs. The overhead strap mixes up the plain black finish with a mono tone headband makes this headset perfect for everyday use and if you don’t want to attract some attention with your headset. If you want to spice things up you can customize your Arctis 3 with the 5 options of headset colours and the 8 headband options ranging from plain to funky which caters for all the characters out there.
The microphone on the Arctis 3 which is neatly retracts into the left earcup and is hidden nicely when not in use can be positioned perfectly and the quality is spectacular as SteelSeries is known to have. There is no other way to say it, the microphone on the Arctis 3 is absurdly good!
During my first stint with the Arctis 3 I found the headset to sit comfortably over the top of my head due to the very clever headband which causes the headset to feel light on your head which is great for long sessions of gaming or listening to music. I do find the earcups slightly shallow with my ears touching the inside of the earcup if it is not perfectly positioned. It is good to note that I have normal sized ears so smaller ears will have no problem. I also found that the earcups, although very comfy with the soft foam sometimes sounded like they don’t seal nicely against the side of my head causing some of the outside world noises creeping in around the edges. This is not a deal breaker by any means.
After a couple of hours of use I did notice a few more little quirks of the Arctis 3. The earcups have a way of “sucking” against the side of your head creating a rather closed off sound which is great for immersion and blocking out external factors but it also amplifies it when the seal is broken and you get that intrusive outside noise. That seal also causes your ears to get hot and sweaty and I found myself taking them off after a hour long session just for my ears to take a “breathe”
Upon even more hours of use I have yet to find that “sweetspot” when it comes to sitting perfectly. I find myself constantly adjusting positions to find the correct one. In single player games where I do not need to speak to my team meaning my jaw isn’t moving the Arctis 3 sits beautifully.
I still would like a little more breathing space for my actual ear lobes but this is all personal preference.
My first experience of the Arctis 3 was using it on PC while starting this review. I was listening to a wide variety of music which ranged from metal, classical, dubstep and while the audio quality was good it only really came to life after downloading the SteelSeries Engine 3. With this software I could play with my equalizer settings as well as activate virtual 7.1 surround and play with noise cancellation settings for the microphone. I am a sucker for customization and this program really impressed me.
Next up is using it for some gaming, my choice of games to test a headset always includes Rainbow Six Siege for the simple reason that the game requires you to be extremely aware of your spatial surroundings and pick up on the slightest creak of a floor above you or a crack of glass under a boot in a room next to you, which is a perfect test of the audio fidelity of the Arctis 3.
In my experience thus far I find the party chat to be extremely clear, I have yet to hear such a clear party chat, and with the exceptional mic the Arctis 3 has your mates will never miss a word you say, unless your ISP lets you down. The settings allowing you to control your mic pickup sensitivity eliminates those pesky players who breathe into the microphone.
When it comes to in game audio I am a little on the fence. Audio quality is good don’t get me wrong. Maybe I just had higher hopes for it. Not having a equalizer button on hand to change up to suite each game is a little disappointing. I would have liked to see an adapter with a equalizer or 2 as presets. But the Audio is still crisp and very clear! Voices are astonishingly good while other mid range tones seem sharp and at the correct height. Highs are high enough but get drowned out by mids when the action starts to get big. The lows are where the Arctis 3 dissapointed me the most. Once again when there is not too much happening the lows are deep enough to match what is happening on screen but once the action picks up the lows are lost and make a slight appearance every now and again. Even playing with the equalizer on the PC software fixes it slightly but having to actually disconnect and change it is a disappointing factor.
All-Round the Arctis 3 is a very worthy headset and can be extremely versatile, but as a hardcore gamer headset I would say it is very competitive in its price range .
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 is an extremely capable headset and can do pretty much everything! Perfect 1-headset-for-all! Audio quality is very good and even though it currently, at time of reviewing, is going for under R1000 this would be a no brainer for anyone looking for a wired headset even in the R1500 market. If was in the market for a headset under the R 1000 mark I would buy this for myself!
With great Audio for all-round use and sleek and clean looks will allow you to wear the Arctis 3 in public without getting any strange looks by people passing you.
Only personal niggles I experienced is the lack of a chat adapter for older gen Xbox controllers and the fact that they do not sit as comfortable as the Astro’s do but that could just be my head being weird.
I would like to thank Megarom Interactive for being so kind as to supply me with this review item. Check them out at the link.