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SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless Gaming Headset Review
Review By @ 03:36pm 28/01/20

Product: SteelSeries Arctis 1
Type: Gaming Headset (Wireless)
Price: $199.00 RRP
Availability: Out Now

Versatility matters when it comes to portable audio products. In the realm of gaming headsets, versatility either gets overlooked (as seen in dedicated headsets for PC and those specifically vying for PS4 or Xbox consoles) or it becomes a notable feature. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 falls into the latter category as a wireless headset with a plug-and-play USB-C dongle that can seamlessly and easily switch between PC, PS4, Android Device, or Nintendo Switch. The detachable microphone, which is always a plus, allows the Arctis 1 to double as a pair of music headphones too.

In our own testing and game-plying, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 impressed the most as a plug-and-play no-fuss wireless gaming headset for Nintendo’s console-handheld hybrid – the ol’ Switch. Thanks to its lightweight build the Arctis 1 is easy to transport and carry around alongside the console. Best of all, despite the numerical branding and lower price-point the SteelSeries Arctis 1 features the same speaker drivers found in the popular SteelSeries Arctis 7. The result? Excellent sound quality with clarity and punch to spare.

Tech Talk

  • Type: Closed
  • Frequency response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
  • Wireless/Range: 2.4 GHz / 9 metres
  • Weight: 252 grams

  • Microphone Pickup pattern: Noise Cancelling Bidirectional
  • Frequency response: 100 to 10,000Hz

The quality, tuning, and balancing of speaker drivers often play a bigger role in the sound-story versus raw numbers and frequency capabilities. On the numbers front the Arctis 1 specs are as expected for the price-range, but by implementing the excellent drivers seen across the range of Arctis offerings - the result, as hinted at in the intro, is an immediately crisp and detailed stereo sound. One that has depth and colour to spare. Meaty and chunky bass when it’s called for, sweeping mid-range detail for bombastic orchestral scores, and a defined high-end that never sounds too sharp or harsh – something that can offer better detection in FPS titles, but also degrade the overall sound.

“The SteelSeries Arctis 1 impressed the most as a plug-and-play no-fuss wireless gaming headset for Nintendo’s console-handheld hybrid – the ol’ Switch."

The versatility of the Arctis 1 extends to the excellent sound, where features like the detachable microphone allow the USB-C headset to double as a pair of on-the-go music headphones. An area where the Arctis 1 one performs great across a wide-range of genres. On the chat front the Discord-certified ClearCast microphone is great too, and when connected to a PC the SteelSeries Engine software allows for full customisation that lets you optimise things for different applications or competitive titles that demand a shift in EQ or chat focus. Sound balancing out the box though is great, so when connected to a PC we played around with settings to add a bit more warmth to music and some sharpness to games like Overwatch and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Design and Comfort

So far so good. But we come to the one area where SteelSeries has changed things up from its more premium offerings to present what is an affordable and versatile wireless gaming headset. That area being overall build quality. Even though the Arctis 1 is durable and the headband is reinforced by steel, it’s still mostly a plastic affair with a lot of it feeling a little cheap. Or, not at the same level as the audio. The headband in the review unit we were sent was not uniform in its construction – meaning there were sharp to the touch overlaps. Also, the headband cushion and ear-cups, comfortable at first, are a tad thin. Which led to some fatigue when using the Arctis 1 for an extended period. That is, when we took a sizable chunk out of the 20-hour or so battery-life in one sitting playing Blizzard’s Diablo III on the Switch.

It’s a shame because the lightweight build gives the immediate impression of comfort, which only really begins to lose its edge after prolonged sessions. The Arctis 1 is not uncomfortable by any means, but it also doesn’t sit in the upper echelon of wireless gaming headsets we’ve tested when it comes to this very important feature.

Sounds Like

We’ve established that the Arctis 1 drivers are great, but where the headset also impresses is in its capacity for outright volume – meaning that even in a busy setting like public transport or walking down a bustling street you won’t be distracted by outside noises or find yourself concentrating to try and hear audio cues or listen to dialogue. Also, you won’t be maxing the volume and draining the battery of two devices. In pairing the SteelSeries Arctis 1 with a Nintendo Switch and classic games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, and Diablo III the results were outstanding thanks to the balance and depth of the sound and the overall volume too. Loud without distortion or a loss in quality.

“The headset also impresses is in its capacity for outright volume – meaning that even in a busy setting like public transport or walking down a bustling street you won’t be distracted by outside noises"

Connected to a PC is where the Arctis 1 offers the most nuance thanks to dedicated software, but it’s also where the build quality makes you want to pay an extra 10 or 20 or 30 dollars to get a better headband and maybe chunkier earcups. Setup, as mentioned before, is plug-and-play. And the on-ear controls make the Arctis 1 the sort of wireless headset you can get working in seconds without the need to look up a quick installation guide or even install software or check compatibility.

In the end, outside of the slightly disappointing build quality, the SteelSeries Arctis 1’s versatility across a range of devices make it something to seriously consider. Paired with a Nintendo Switch or a gaming laptop you get wonderfully detailed sound in seconds.
What we liked
Great sound quality thanks to SteelSeries Arctis drivers
Versatile and great for smart devices and the Nintendo Switch
Plug and play makes setup a breeze
Great battery life at around 20-hours
What we didn't like
Plastic build quality not on par with the sound quality
We gave it:
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