SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless: Mid-Priced Quality
Let me start this by saying that SteelSeries, in my mind, have the best gaming headset in the market right now. That is the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless headset. The only problem is that it comes with quite a hefty price tag. Not everyone can splash just shy of $700 on their sound option. So wisely SteelSeries has released a range of cheaper options. The entry-level Arctis Nova 3 was first and is a great cheaper gaming headset, but now we have the Arctis Nova 7 wireless for those that want a bit more but aren’t ready to stretch to the high price of the Pro series.
As I have been using the Pro series for a while now I was worried that going back to the 7 would make me overly harsh in talking about it, simply by comparison, but I am pleased to say that isn’t the case. In fact, if anything it has made me more complimentary of this great headset. It really is impressive just how close it comes to its more expensive big brother. The first thing I noticed was comfort. This is an incredibly adjustable headset with a band system that allows from the smallest of heads to the biggest of noggins. Being in the latter category myself, I can attest to the headset still having room to adjust, so I can’t imagine anyone, apart from the possible exception of Andre the Giant’s ghost (can ghost’s wear headsets? I guess that is another conversation entirely) struggling to get this to fit. The ear cups are super comfortable and breathable. I wore this headset while walking and commuting and didn’t notice any sort of sweat buildup or discomfort in the heat. Battery life is also great with the box saying 35 hours and my testing puts it at pretty darn close to that.
The Arctis Nova 7 Wireless supports everything pretty much out of the box, though if you want to use it on an Xbox you will want to grab the ‘X’ variant if you don’t want to use a 3.5mm cord. It uses a 2.4mhz USB dongle for lagless sound on PC, Playstation and Switch but it also supports Bluetooth should you want to use it on your phone or simply aren’t too worried about slight lag. Honestly, the Bluetooth was pretty good in my trials. I used it primarily in this way with my Steam Deck and my slow old brain couldn’t notice any lag at all. Of course, milage may vary here, but it seems to be a good option, especially if you don’t want to carry a small, easily losable dongle around with you when you are travelling.
All of this means nothing if the sound quality isn’t up to snuff, but it is no surprise that a SteelSeries headset sounds great. I put the Nova 7 through my usual gamut of situations and it performed admirably in all areas. In the music space it coped with heavy beats, screaming guitars and wailing vocals without any noticeable distortion, even at loud volumes. It lacks a little bit of clarity at the extreme edges of sound but unless you are playing Axl Rose’s scream repeatedly at max volume, you probably aren’t going to notice it. The headset also worked well with movies and tv. I watched the ever-faithful, sound-testing experience of The Empire Strikes Back while wearing them and it performed without fault. John Williams soaring soundtrack, the hiss and snap of lightsabres and the big black asthmatic’s breathing all sounded crystal clear and I don’t feel like I missed a thing or spotted any issues.
But this is a gaming headset so let’s talk about games. In-game audio is, once again fantastic. Spatial sound (using the appropriate method, either Tempst 3D on PS5 or Microsoft Spatial Sound on PC) added some serious immersion to the proceedings. Big bombastic games like Call of Duty and Halo Infinite performed wonderfully in both singleplayer and multiplayer, with both the game itself and the party chat coming though crystal clear. Speaking of party chat there is a dial on the headset which allows users to adjust the balance between game and chat at any time, which in my mind, is a must-have feature for any headset. If you are on the PC, all of this is only enhanced by the SteelSeries Sonar Audio suite, which is like an audio nerd’s dream. I won’t go into it here, but you can read about it in my Arctis Nova Pro review.
The microphone is also a solid performer and is just about as good as a headset mic can be. Clear voice chat isn’t an issue in the slightest. I tested it with fellow P2 editor Paul James while we were slaying hordes of cowboy vampires in Evil West and didn’t have any issues at all with communication on either end. The other cool thing is the mic can be used for audio passthrough so when you are, for example, listening to music while walking, you can still hear what is happening in the world around you and not walk into oncoming traffic. This can be turned off with the press of a button on the headset at which point the headset design does a pretty good job of shutting out other sounds. It isn’t active noise cancelling, but it is the next best thing.
Now we get to the price tag. The RRP is $399 (though I have seen it cheaper on sale recently) so it is still not a cheap headset, but at the same time, it is not in the same ballpark as the Nova Pro. This is probably the Nova 7’s biggest hurdle to overcome, it isn’t a cheapish sub-$200 set and it isn’t the premium product of the line, it is the middle child and it hopes to attract a potentially smaller group of buyers. For those that are looking for a lot of the premium features of a top-end headset and can live without noise cancelling, then the Nova 7 is the perfect fit. Otherwise, you may be better off looking at SteelSeries other headsets as your weapon of choice. Regardless of this, the Arctis 7 Wireless is a fantastic headset that performs wonderfully, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with it in any of its uses and look forward to using it as my Steam Deck headset of choice for a long time to come.
PC – ChatMix (via Sonar)
Mac – ChatMix not supported
PS4 | PS5 – PlayStation does not support ChatMix
Switch – Wireless USB-C or Bluetooth
Mobile – Wireless USB-C or Bluetooth
Oculus Quest 2 – Wireless USB-C or Bluetooth
Xbox – 3.5mm cord (X variant supports wireless Xbox connectivity)
GG + Engine – Windows 8.1 and above, Mac OS 10.13 and above
GG + Sonar Audio Software Suite – Windows 10 and above (required for ChatMix on PC)
Speaker Drivers – Neodymium Drivers 40 mm
Headphone Frequency Response – 20–22,000 Hz
Headphone Sensitivity – 93 dBSPL
Headphone Impedance – 36 Ohm
Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion – < 1%
360° Spatial Audio – Supported
Microphone Type – ClearCast Gen 2 – Fully Retractable Boom
Microphone Polar Pattern – Bidirectional Noise Cancelling
Microphone Frequency Response – 100-6500 Hz
Microphone Sensitivity -38 db
38 Hours – 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 Gaming Wireless (26 Hours – 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 Gaming Wireless + BT)
USB-C Fast Charge – 15 mins for 6 hours of play
Volume dial, ChatMix Dial, Power, Pairing, Bluetooth, Mute