Best 2022 Gaming Headset? SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Review

Back in 2018, SteelSeries gave us one of the best wireless gaming headsets we have seen to date, the Arctis Pro Wireless. Although pricy, the headset more than made up for it with its high platform compatibility, robust feature set, and impressive sound quality. The headset and wireless transmitter allowed for seemingly endless gameplay, thanks to the transmitter doubling as a back-up battery charger. Despite being designed for the PS4, PC and mobile via Bluetooth, we were able to expand its usage with the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. That is just how versatile this headset is.

When it came to Xbox usage, we had to jerry rig the setup for us to use the headset with the Xbox One and still utilize Xbox party chat. Sure, the scenario worked in our review. However, one could not help but wonder just how awesome it would be for this kind of headset to work natively with the Xbox One family of consoles. Well, just as we are in the age of a new generation of consoles, SteelSeries has come to the forefront once again with a new generation of flagship headsets, the Arctis Nova Pro and Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.

We were fortunate to spend a lot of time with a SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for Xbox. So let’s dive right in this review to see what this latest SteelSeries flagship has to offer.

Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X Base Stats
Neodymium Drivers40 mm
Headphone Frequency Response (Wired)10–40,000 Hz
Headphone Frequency Response (Wireless)10–22,000 Hz
Headphone Sensitivity93 dBSPL
Headphone Impedance38 Ohm
Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion< 1%
Active Noise Cancellation4-mic hybrid design with Transparency Mode
Microphone TypeClearCast Gen 2 – Fully Retractable Boom
Microphone Polar PatternBidirectional Noise-Canceling
Microphone Frequency Response100-6500 Hz
Microphone Sensitivity-38 dBV/Pa
Microphone Impedance2200 Ohm
Taken from product page.

A purchase of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for Xbox comes with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X headset, a Wireless Base Station, two rechargeable lithium ion batteries, two USB-C to USB-A cables, a 3.5mm audio cable, and a microphone pop filter.

Build, Features and Comfort

The Arctis Nova line of headsets are a product of SteelSeries’ collaboration with Danish designer Jakob Wagner.  These headsets feature Premium High Fidelity Drivers backed by 360 degree Spatial Audio and the Sonar software, making up the Nova Pro Acoustic System. With the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, sound is transmitted wirelessly between your console and the headset via a 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 Gaming Wireless connection.

The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for Xbox (aka the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X) continues with the Arctis style of oval-shaped closed-back ear cups. However, there a several new “Nova” design updates here. The headset set is held together with a PVD-coated steel headband connecting the two rotating earcups. The ear cups hang on pivoting hangers and are height adjustable, sliding up and down along the headband. Replacing the Arctis staple ski-goggle headband is the new flexible tension band. This band has several adjustment options under the headband that allow you to control the overall tightness of the Arctis Nova Pro headset. These four points of adjustment make up the Arctis Nova Pro’s ComfortMAX system.

When it comes to controls, there is a lot to cover here with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. On the left ear cup, you have the main power button, the mic mute button, a volume wheel button, the headset’s retractable ClearCast Gen 2 mic, and a 3.5mm jack for using the headset in wired mode. On the right cup have the headset’s multi-purpose Bluetooth button.

The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’s main power button also controls the headset’s Active Noise Cancelation and Transparency features. The headset features a 4-mic hybrid system that drives these two listening modes. A single press of this button toggles ANC on and off. A double press activates the Transparency mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings through the headset.

The Bluetooth button allows you to pair the headset with an Android device. Holding the button toggles Bluetooth on and off. When the headset is paired with your mobile device, you can also use this one button to control your media. Single presses play and pause, double presses initiate “next track” and triple presses triggers “previous track”.

On the outside of each of the ear cups, you have magnetic ear plates displaying the SteelSeries logo. Under the right ear cup plate, you have the slot for one of the headset’s rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Under the left, you have a USB-C port which can be used as a means of recharging the using a USB-C cable.

The Arctis Nova Pro’s Wireless Base Station is the main driver of your experience with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. As we are reviewing the Xbox variant of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, we will focus on the Xbox model of this base station.  

The Wireless Base Station has a multi-purpose USB port and a dedicated Xbox USB port in the back, allowing you to connect it to your Xbox and a secondary console at the same time. While the dedicated Xbox port is self-explanatory, the USB port can connect to your PC, Nintendo Switch, or even your Playstation 4/5.

You also have a line-in and line-out ports. The line-in port lets you connect yet another inbound audio source. The line-out port allows you to forward all of the sounds coming into your headset to either external speakers or your PC for streaming purposes.

The Wireless Base Station features a detailed LED interface on the front. Users can use the wheel and button controller on the right to browse and change various settings on the fly. You can also finagle through these menus using the volume wheel button on the headset’s left ear cup, if you choose. On the home screen, the Wireless Base Station lets you quickly adjust both the master headset volume and the game and chat balance.

However, the Main Menu gives you a level of control that goes even deeper than that. Here is where you can hop between the USB and Xbox inputs or toggle options for surround sound, EQ’s, gain, sidetone, and mic volume. You can also toggle the audio output settings for the line-out port between speakers and streaming settings.

Lastly, you have the revival of one of my favorite features from the Arctis Pro Wireless in the form of the Infinity Power System. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless comes with two removable batteries. This is because one battery is used to power the headset while the other recharges in the Wireless Base Station. While a single battery can give you up to 44 hours of headset use, you never have to remember to recharge the headset with this system. When the headset’s battery is low, simply swap the batteries between the headset and the Wireless Base Station and get back to playing in mere seconds. The Wireless Base Station’s home screen even shows you the battery levels for both the headset’s battery as well as the recharging one.

Before even diving into audio performance, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’s build and feature set alone do plenty to validate its $349 price point. In terms of comfort, SteelSeries has continued to evolve their suspension headband design when it came to their headsets. Here, ComfortMAX’s four points of adjustment allow the Arctis Nova Pro to be a highly flexible, and thus quite comfortable headset to wear. On some less fortunate weekends, it would take me an entire day to go “Flawless” in Destiny 2’s Trials of Osiris PVP mode. While I wore the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for five to six hours straight, I at times forgot that I was even wearing the headset for that long. SteelSeries always made comfortable headsets. That certainly did not change with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.

All of the controls on both the headset and the Wireless Base Station are straightforward and responsive, allowing for quick on-the-fly changes to your listening and usage experiences. If you decide to not use the included pop filter, as I did, you can make use of the mic’s red LED indicator that hints when your mic is muted. Through the Wireless Base Station, the amount of options you have for customizing your experiences with the headset and your console of choice is impressive to say the least.

Going further, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is a dual wireless headset, transmitting simultaneously with your active console and your mobile device via Bluetooth. Want to listen to a YouTube game tutorial on your phone while still hearing the game playing from your console? Want to handle a phone call with the headset while still hearing in-game sounds? The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has you covered. Take all of these features, as well as the notable convenience of the Infinity Power System, and you are already getting your money’s worth with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.

More Features and Performance
Image taken from SteelSeries PR Press Kit

At its base, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X and its Nova Pro Acoustic System provide a rich and detailed sound presentation from its default “Flat” EQ. Lows are deep without being muddy, allowing for clean and vivid explosion sounds and immersive rumblings from nearby vehicles. Mids are solid as both in-game spoken word and teammate voice chat come through crisp and clear. Most importantly, highs are sharp and easy to pick up. Combine that with your favorite spatial sound provider and gunshots, reloads, and footstep locations are easy to decipher. Considering the myriad of EQ controls this headset provides, from the jump the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X gives you a very solid sound presentation base that you can take right into any game genre.

The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X is compatible with Microsoft Spatial Sound and Tempest 3D audio for PS5. Throughout my month with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X, I stuck with Dolby Atmos for Headphone for my 3D sound driver since I already have a working license. I was not disappointed. Not only was I presented with immersive audio from two of my favorite first person shooters, but enemy audio queues were never missed. In Apex Legends, no one got the jump on me as I racked up win after win.

While the default “Flat” EQ is an impressive and effective baseline for gaming, I also gave the “Focus” EQ a try. When it comes to EQ settings on gaming headsets, the PVP-focused EQ’s tend to follow a trend. What you would get was a sound presentation with a deep focus on the high range sounds which came at the noticeable expense of the other ranges. While that is also the case with Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X, I was impressed with how the “Focus” EQ dealt with the ranges that did not pertain to enemy sound queues. Sure, enemy sound queues were a bit sharper with this EQ, but the other sound ranges were still present at enjoyable levels. For a packaged PVP-focused EQ, it was a much more balanced sound presentation than I expected while still achieving the intended benefits.

In Destiny 2, I was particularly impressed. With invisible and crouched Hunter gameplay being so prevalent now days in PVP, I need to be extra alert with my obnoxiously shiny Titan. As I used the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X in Trials of Osiris run week after week, hearing enemies trigger abilities and/or going invisible never felt easier. Going Flawless each and every week with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X was definitely a breath of fresh air.

As it was with the Arctis Pro Wireless, one of the biggest strengths of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X is its high level of customizability. When connected to the PC, the free SteelSeries GG software gives you all of the controls you have from the Wireless Base Station and more. The SteelSeries GG Engine mirrors the settings you can control from the Wireless Base Station directly.

However, the SteelSeries GG Sonar Software goes much further in how you can control the headset’s sound, both inbound and outbound. Sonar gives you detailed controls of your EQ’s, your 3D sound presentation, and your mic and chat presentation to others. With this software, you can fine-tune the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X to meet your exact tastes.

While that is all fine and good for PC users, we cannot forget that this is an Xbox headset. Nevertheless, Xbox-only gamers get to enjoy high levels of customizability as well. Using the Wireless Base Station, not only can you toggle through any of the headset’s packaged EQ’s, but you can also fine tune your very own right on the fly. Just use the Wireless Base Station’s controls to choose the bands you want to tweak and have at it.

The ClearCast Gen 2 mic shines, delivering my voice to my teammates with clarity. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X solidifies this further with a nice level of user control of mic volume levels. I find it shocking that in this day and age, there are so few console-directed headsets that give you any control of your mic’s gain or volume. This is rarely an issue on PC with any headset since so many chat clients give you a reasonable level of control via their software. Here, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X gives that level of control to the console gamer. With as close as my desk is to the living room TV, this is a very welcome feature, indeed. The mic not only gets top marks in clarity but also in its ability to let you control how much of your side your teammates can hear.

Speaking of that distance between my desk and the living room TV, I have a gaming scenario that begs for the use of Active Noise Cancelation.

My setup is on the left…

Before I even turned on the headset’s ANC, I should say that the acoustic seal of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’ ear cups is quite effective. Using passive sound isolation alone, I have no trouble at all focusing on my games. Therefore, while the ear cups excel in comfort, they are also a great front line of defense against ambient sounds. However, when ANC is on the in-game immersion is truly complete.

Whether ANC was on or off, I did not notice any changes or take-aways from the sound presentation. At an at-home or indoors setting, the ANC was more than enough to drown out any sounds from both inside the home or the streets. Yet, being a fully equipped Bluetooth headset, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X practically dared me to try out that ANC outdoors.

Therefore, to check out exactly how good the ANC was, I brought the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless X to a local bar and booted up the Xbox Game Pass app. When media is playing, the headset’s ANC does an impressive job at suppressing much of the local banter and music playing around me. The occasional yelling or laughing did seep through from time to time. However, with the vast bulk of the ambient sounds being suppressed, I was able to remain immersed in my gameplay throughout my entire streaming session of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. In the end, the ANC on this headset was pretty good and got the job done without distorting sound presentation.

Final Thoughts

Even at a price point as high as $349, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the wireless gaming headset to beat of 2022. If you were to look at this as only a wireless Xbox gaming headset with Bluetooth capabilities, you would still not be disappointed. The Nova Pro Acoustic System delivers an impressive sound presentation while the ClearCast Gen 2 delivers your voice with clarity and focus. Solid ANC functionality allows you to stay focused whether you are at home or on the go. Combine that with the Bluetooth functionality, you have yourself a headset designed for the complete Xbox experience. Whether you are Xbox gaming at home or via the cloud on your mobile device through Xbox Game Pass, this headset will more than satisfy you for all things Xbox.

Now take into consideration that it is more than just an Xbox headset. It is a universal one. This one wireless headset, through its Base Station, can be used with the PC, Nintendo Switch and Playstation. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’s Base Station gives you full control of your headset experience, from complete control of the headset’s EQs to management of your mic. Not only can you tweak this headset to match your tastes, it can easily be the one wireless solution to all of your gaming platform needs. You can even add a little more flair to an already attractive headset by checking out SteelSeriesArctis Nova Booster packs here.

If you have money saved up and you are looking for a one and done wireless solution for all of your gaming and media consumption needs, the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is the headset you should check out. You can check out the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for Xbox for yourself by clicking here. You can also check the rest of the new SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro line by clicking here.

† As usual, there are no affiliate links contained within this post. We were provided a SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless for review purposes and were not compensated for this review.