Gaming

Review: SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Headset for Xbox One

Review: SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Headset for Xbox One

As much as we loved the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless from last year, we were hoping for the release of a SteelSeries Arctis wireless headset for the Xbox One. Even though the Arctis Pro Wireless was a headset designed for the PS4 and PC, you were still able to have it work with the Xbox One or even the Nintendo Switch, with some additional steps. Using the wireless transmitter in conjunction with the appropriate app on your mobile device, you were able to achieve wireless game and chat audio with an awesome headset on practically any current-gen console. Roundabout? Perhaps. However, it still worked. Now, what if SteelSeries made a 100% wireless Arctis solution for the Xbox One? That is where the new SteelSeries Arctis 9X comes in.

SteelSeries Arctis 9X Specs

Neodymium Drivers 40mm
Headphone Frequency Response 20-22,000 Hz
Headphone Sensitivity 98 dBSPL
Headphone Impedance 32 Ohm
Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion <3%
Microphone Polar Pattern Bidirectional Noise-Canceling
Microphone Frequency Response 100 – 10,000 Hz
Microphone Sensitivity -38 dBV/Pa
Microphone Impedance 2200 Ohm
Wireless Range: 20 ft, 6m
Battery Life 20 hours
Bluetooth Version 4.1
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, HFP, HSP

Build, Features and Comfort

Taking the general design of the Arctis 7, but adding in and enhancing the Bluetooth connectivity seen in the Arctis 3 Bluetooth and Arctis Pro Wireless, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X achieves 100% wireless connectivity with your Xbox One. The “100%” is in reference of the wireless connection between the headset and the Xbox One without the use of USB dongles or transmitters. You simply pair the SteelSeries Arctis 9X with your Xbox One just as you would with any wireless Xbox One controller. The headset is then assigned to a logged-in gamertag and you have yourself wireless game audio transmission as well as inbound and outbound chat capabilities.

The SteelSeries Arctis 9X goes even further by giving you the option to simultaneously pair the headset with your mobile device via Bluetooth. This allows you to handle phone calls, chat via your preferred chat app such as Discord, or even overlay your favorite music, all while still having in-game sounds playing from the Xbox One. Want to take the SteelSeries Arctis 9X out on the go? Simply use the Bluetooth button to play and browse through music tracks playing from your paired mobile device.

On the left ear cup, you have the Discord-certified ClearCast mic and a dial for balancing incoming chat and game sound volumes. The ClearCast mic is noise-canceling, features a retractable and highly flexible arm, and houses a bright red LED that illuminates when the mic is muted.

On the right ear cup, you have the dial for controlling the headset’s master volume, a button for toggling mic-muting on and off, the main power button, a Bluetooth button, a micro USB slot, and a 3.5mm jack for plugging in another headset to share audio. You use the micro USB slot to charge the headset, which can be done even if it is on and in use. Like most headsets like this, this is always great when you’re in a pinch for power.

In terms of access to controls and ease of use, the controls of the SteelSeries Arctis 9X do not take long to get used to at all. The mic mute toggle button is fairly large and easy to reach for when you need to mute yourself quickly. The resulting red LED on the mic is continues to be the best indicator for me of when a mic is muted. It is bright and in-your-face.

The game and chat balancer has a little “snap” to it, helping the user to know when the dial is right at the 50-50 mark between game and chat volumes. The power button also doubles as an EQ toggle, hopping through four preset EQ modes: Flat, Bass Boost, Smiley, and Focus. The Bluetooth button does more than just turn on Bluetooth to pair to devices. It acts just like the singular media control button you see on wired earbuds, where you can play, pause, or move back and forward through tracks depending on how many button taps you do.

The build of the SteelSeries Arctis 9X follows that of the established SteelSeries Arctis DNA, using their suspension ski goggle headband and Airweave fabric ear cushions. The suspension headband is adjustable, giving the SteelSeries Arctis 9X a gentle but secure grasp on your head.

The Airweave cushions are plush and cool to the touch, where a fabric mesh comes in contact with your skin. However, there is a leatherette lining on the inside of the ear cups to allow for a proper acoustic seal. Just like with previous Arctis headsets, you have an exceptional level of ear comfort without having to sacrifice too much sound isolation. Using the SteelSeries Arctis 9X for more than 7 hours straight led to fatigue that I could only describe as negligible at best.

The SteelSeries Arctis 9X continues the Arctis lineage of headsets that excel in comfort, continuing to be one of the most comfortable gaming headsets on the market.

More Features and Performance

As with the majority of SteelSeries products, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X can be connected to a PC and customized via the SteelSeries Engine, SteelSeries’ product customization software. There you can make adjustments to outbound chat volume, sidetone levels, and the four EQ presets. The changes you make will then be saved directly on the headset, where they will be in effect whenever you use the headset on the Xbox One or PC. However, in order to use the headset on the PC or with the SteelSeries Engine, you need to own an Xbox One Wireless PC adapter (sold separately).

The SteelSeries Arctis 9X’s settings were pretty straightforward, easy to understand, and easy to tweak via the SteelSeries Engine. I merely adjusted my outbound volume to be louder and moved my sidetone to max, and I was off to the races. This is similar to when I reviewed Astro’s A50 for Xbox One as well as the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, I just loved the ability to make tweaks to the headset, whether it be EQ adjustments or mic behaviors, and have those settings saved directly to the headset. Like with those other two headsets, this allows you to customize the SteelSeries Arctis 9X to perform exactly how you like it. Not many headsets allow for this level of customizability for use on a console. Even less allow you such features on a headset that doesn’t use transmission stations or dongles.

The ClearCast mic, another SteelSeries Arctis staple, continues to deliver top tier outbound chat, where my voice was transmitted loud and clear. Background sounds were effectively blocked from transmitting to my Xbox party members when I was not talking. Even before I made my standard headset tweaks, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X’s default sidetone still played back my voice at a respectable level. Sidetone is a must for me, as I need to be able to hear my own booming voice to keep myself from subconsciously speaking too loud or shouting. My voice already carries plenty as it is. Thanks to the SteelSeries Engine, I was able to adjust my chat to perfection.

Here is a sample of how the mic sounds, courtesy of Thunder E, over at Booredatwork.com

As for the incoming sound, using the same drivers as the original Arctis line, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X continues to perform at a premium level, delivering an enjoyable, solid and balanced sound presentation. Playing mostly with the Flat EQ, I was treated to clear and crisp highs, where gunshots and footsteps were easy to pick up. Mids and vocals from both in-game and party chat came through perfectly as well. Lows and bass were present and warm, without being too overwhelming during explosions and ground rumblings. Even when I toggled to the Bass Boost EQ, bass was indeed more present, but it did not take center stage as much as you would expect. Even this was fine, since as much as I love my bass, I don’t want to be drowned by a muddy or brain-shaking bass presentation. Of course, brain vibrations are your thing, the freedom is still there to push the bass to that point, thanks to customizability with the SteelSeries Engine.

If you are looking for surround sound, you have it with Windows Sonic spatial sound for Windows 10 and Xbox One. While you are free to use Dolby Atmos surround sound with the SteelSeries Arctis 9X, if you bought the license, Windows Sonic is Microsoft’s free surround sound equivalent. I used the SteelSeries Arctis 9X each of these spatial sound options and the headset did not disappoint with either option, delivering immersive 3D audio in both gaming and movies.

If you are looking for your next wireless headset solution for the Xbox One, then the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is the headset to beat in 2019. Here, you have one of the most comfortable gaming headsets out there, using drivers and a mic that have already more than proven themselves in the gaming market. In terms of gaming headsets that you would actually take out of the house, the SteelSeries Arctis line’s natural attractiveness does the SteelSeries Arctis 9X justice. With full Bluetooth control of your mobile device’s media, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X doubles as a sleek traveling companion for enjoying music and videos on the ago.

Do yourself a favor and check out the SteelSeries Arctis 9X wireless headset for $199 on SteelSeries’ website, here. It is a premium product that more than validates its price point.

† SteelSeries Arctis 9X wireless headset for Xbox One review unit provided by SteelSeries PR.