SteelSeries today unveiled a new line of audio headsets for gamers, though it wants to make crystal clear that this isn't a case of outfitting a product with dubious features, slapping a gaming label on it, and jacking up the price, as peripheral makers are sometimes lazily prone to do. Instead, SteelSeries says its new Arctis series represents a re-imagining of what a gaming headset should be.
"Arctis is not a gaming headset. It is a headset line for gamers," said Ehtisham Rabbani, SteelSeries CEO. "That is how we approached the new audio line-up—with a fresh perspective as to who our customers really are and what they want. Brands have been distracting gamers for far too long with meaningless specification races and options that encourage spending more in order to get gaming-level quality. Arctis changes that."
A great deal of the company's press release is dedicated to convincing readers that these aren't run-of-the-mill headsets and that it "questioned everything when developing the Arctis line." It feels a bit over the top, though we'll give SteelSeries credit, its Siberia 350 sits in second place in our list of best gaming headsets. Essentially, SteelSeries says its tired of companies designing ostentatious products and slapping on a "gaming" designation when all it really means is low cost, low quality.
There are three headsets that comprise the new Arctis line. They include the Arctis 3, Arctis 5, and Arctis 7. SteelSeries didn't say much about the drivers inside each one, though did indicate that they all use the same award-winning speakers that are found in its $300 headsets.
Focusing first on what else all three have in common, the Arctis headsets all sport a ski goggle suspension design with an adjustable and removable headband that stretches to fit noggins of virtually all shapes and sizes. It's also supposed to evenly distribute weight across the top of the head.
All three also sport ear cushions made of AirWeave fabric, which the company says combines the tech of athletic fabrics with the comfort and sound-quality of leather.
"We took inspiration from athletic brands and incorporated elements that performed exceptionally under stressful circumstances," says, Ehtisham Rabbani, CEO of SteelSeries. "Our exclusive AirWeave material combines the breathability and moisture-wicking ability of athletic fabrics with the sound isolating qualities of leather—it’s the best of both worlds."
Finally, all three feature on-ear audio controls, multi-platform support, and a ClearCast microphone that isn't "mediocre" like some of the other gaming microphones out there, SteelSeries says.
So what separates the three? The Arctis 3 is a wired analog headset with SteelSeries 7.1 surround sound and a half-wrap headband. It's priced at $80 (€100) MSRP.
The Arctis 5 is also wired with a half-wrap headband but offers RGB illumination, DTS Headphone: X 7.1 digital surround sound, and has a USB connector cable with a ChatMix Control dial for quick access to in-game volume. It has an MSRP of $100 (€120).
That leaves the Arctis 7. It's a wireless headset with a full-wrap headband. Though it's wireless, SteelSeries claims zero latency, along with a 40ft (12m) wireless range and 15-hour battery life. It also supports DTS Headphone: X 7.1 digital surround sound and has an on-ear ChatMix dial. Pricing for this one is set at $150 (€180).
All three are available today exclusively at Best Buy and we can't wait to put them through Tuan's test system.