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The New SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Is The Best Premium Gaming Headset

It's one of the rare headsets that works wirelessly with Xbox and PlayStation, but it is extremely pricey.

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SteelSeries consistently makes some of the best gaming headsets for both performance and comfort. The SteelSeries Arctis 7P+ commands the top spot on our best PS5 headsets list, while the Arctis 7+ stands above a crowded field on our best PC headsets list. I regularly use both of them with zero complaints, but they're now retired in favor of a new premium headset: the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro. I've tested dozens of gaming headsets over the years from all of the leading manufacturers, and the Nova Pro is without a doubt the best gaming headset I've ever used in terms of audio quality, comfort, and customization.

Before I dive into what makes the Arctis Nova Pro so great, let's get the pricing out of the way. There's no denying it: The Arctis Nova Pro is a high-end gaming headset with a steep asking price. The wired versions of the Nova Pro (Xbox and PC) retail for $250. If you want to cut the cord, you'll have to shell out $350 for PlayStation, Xbox, or PC versions. That's a lot of cash for a gaming headset, especially when you consider that you can get the Arctis 7P+ for less than half the price of the Nova Pro Wireless.

That said, the Arctis Nova Pro has a couple of notable bonuses going for it. On the gaming side, it's one of the few headsets that works wirelessly with both PS5 and Xbox. If you have both platforms, you'll want to opt for the Xbox version of the headset (functionally the same), as it supports both consoles and PC. The PlayStation edition is for PlayStation and PC only.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro

The other major perk of the Nova Pro is the aforementioned studio-quality audio. The Nova Pro's high-fidelity drivers and wealth of customization options--both out of the box and with the free Sonar app--allow it to rival similarly priced headphones from audio giants such as Sony and Bose. I switched back and forth between the Nova Pro and the new Sony WH-X1000M5, and while the X1000M5 certainly offers richer acoustics, the Nova Pro held its own. It's a viable option for someone looking for a stellar gaming headset that can double, rather impressively, as a pair of everyday headphones.

The Nova Pro looks markedly different from other SteelSeries headsets--and most gaming headsets in general. The earcups eschew the conventional bulky look in favor of a compact form factor that makes them look more like, well, a pair of regular headphones from a company like Sony. The ultra-soft earcups freely rotate and are wrapped in synthetic leather that helps reduce heat when wearing for long sessions. The steel headband is sturdy and lightweight and complemented by a redesigned inner support band that can be adjusted to provide a looser or tighter fit. And unlike the 7P+, the Nova Pro's length can be altered by sliding the earcups down without comprising the sleek look. When it comes to comfort, the Nova Pro is easily the best gaming headset I've ever used.

The emphasis on aesthetics extends to the bidirectional, noise-canceling microphone, which is now stealthily hidden in the side of the left earcup. You can extend it out like a normal headset microphone when playing with friends and then slide it back into its compartment when listening to music or gaming solo.

However, the Nova Pro isn't all form and no function. I was incredibly impressed with the sound quality of the Nova Pro right when I powered it on for the first time. There's a marked difference in audio clarity and acoustics in the Nova Pro versus previous Arctis models, which is pretty wild considering the Arctis line was already top-notch.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless

The left earcup houses the volume dial, microphone mute, and power buttons, while the right earcup only has one button for Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth is a welcome addition here, as it lets you easily sync up the Nova Pro wirelessly with smartphones and other devices such as the Nintendo Switch. You can also use a 3.5mm cable to hardwire the connection on the Nova Pro Wireless. The power button can be tapped to switch between active noise-cancellation and transparency mode, which lets you hear ambient sounds around you if needed.

Both the wireless and wired versions of the headsets come with a handy little receiver with a small OLED display. The Nova Pro Wireless Base Station is where the proverbial magic happens. The base station has multiple ports to connect to a console and PC. You can swap between inputs on the base station when you switch between Xbox and PlayStation, Xbox and PC, or PlayStation and PC. The base station also has a dial to adjust EQ and ChatMix (in-game audio and chat sound levels). The console/PC inputs are USB-C on all versions of the Nova Pro Wireless, but Xbox--unlike PS5 and PC--has a special audio format. So your Xbox must be plugged into the port marked "Xbox" on the base station, whereas PC/PS5 simply plug into a regular USB port. That's why those who have an Xbox or are planning on getting one should choose the Xbox edition.

On the side of the base station is a compartment for a battery. The Nova Pro Wireless comes with two batteries, one in the headset and another that can be slotted into the base station to charge while gaming. As long as you remember to always have one of the batteries in the base station, you'll never run out of charge when gaming. You easily swap batteries by popping off the magnetic earcup cover on the right side of the Nova Pro. A USB-C charging port is located under the left earcup cover--in case you need to charge the headset on the go while away from the base station.

Though I've mostly been talking about the wireless version of the Nova Pro, the wired version is definitely worth considering if you're primarily a PC gamer or you play console games at your desk. Technically speaking, the wired version is superior to the wireless when it comes to audio quality. Though the receiver you hardwire into looks fairly similar to the wireless one, it's actually called the GameDAC Gen2--an upgraded version of the Gen1 GameDAC that came with the Arctis Pro. The GameDAC Gen 2 supports 96KGz/24-bit audio compared to the 48KHz/16-bit in the wireless. In practical terms, you're getting more precise sound with the wired version.

PC players have access to a wealth of customization options via the free Sonar app. Sonar essentially gives you full control over your audio experience, and it's particularly helpful for online multiplayer games. Along with general sliders for microphone, chat, in-game audio, and master audio, you can tinker with the in-game audio mix across bass, mids, and highs. The coolest Sonar features let you create game-specific profiles to help give you an edge. For instance, you can have Sonar hone in on footsteps, the sound of a bomb defusing, a particular gun, and many other sounds in multiplayer games that are helpful to know when planning your next moves. To help you get even more in the zone, you can use Sonar's noise-canceling technology to eliminate specific bothersome noises such as keyboard typing or background chatter from your teammates' homes.

If you're in the market for a new gaming headset and cost isn't a concern, the Nova Pro is truly sublime. Considering the high price tags for both the wired and wireless models, the Nova Pro is probably best suited for competitive players and those who log a lot of gaming hours in general.

The SteelSeries Nova Pro and Nova Pro Wireless gaming headsets are available to purchase now at SteelSeries.

SteelSeries provided early sample units of the Arctis Nova Pro for the purpose of this review.

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