We got our hands on a SteelSeries Arctis 9 wireless gaming headset, which has been adapted for PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, as well as PCs. The headset isn't cheap, but its design and sound quality, as well as some unique features, make it worth the price. We will tell you more about it in our review.
The Arctis 9 Wireless gaming headset belongs to Steelseries’ high-end range of gaming headphones that can connect to your PC and PS4. Other wired and wireless models often lose the connection, get stuck, and have to reconnect, which can be quite frustrating. Because such things happen even with some mid-range wireless headsets, Arctis 9 was designed for gamers to enjoy rich gaming sound and play freely without Bluetooth nuisances.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless Gaming Headset Review
1. Overview - not finished
Type: Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Bluetooth: 4.0 | Battery: 30 Hours | Charging: 4 Hours | Drivers: Dynamic | Drivers-Size: 45 mm | Weight: 385g
The headphones are packed in a compact white and orange cardboard box. On the front are a picture of the headset, a list of its features (wireless connectivity, long battery life, steel headband design, etc.), and an eye-catching information panel, which PC Gamer has called “the best wireless headset for gaming.”
On one side of the package is a long list of quotes from well-known international games. On the other side are the device’s technical specifications and, on the back, some promotional information, including support for DTS 2.0 surround sound and the Discord certified microphone.
Inside the box are headphones, a wireless transmitter, and a micro-USB USB charging cable. A user manual in 11 languages is also available.
Looking at the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless design, it’s easy to see that they’re not cheap. The headset looks great for this price, and the effect is only enhanced if you hold it in your hand, without RGB.
The gaming headset weighs about 376g and rests gently on his head thanks to an adjustable velcro strap ( elastic ). The size can be adjusted to fit nearly any head. The earpieces are large. Your ears will surely fit perfectly, and you won’t feel tired even after a few hours of use.
The cups are sturdy, made of soft matte black plastic that feels good in the hand, do not leave fingerprints, and are marked. They are attached to the headband by a curved connection and are adjustable in two swivel axes: the cups can be adjusted and swiveled by 90 degrees to be hung on a tripod or conveniently stored in a backpack, for example.
The metal headband has an elastic band on the inside. It does not touch the head – the carrying function is provided by the elastic strap, which is the abstractly patterned ski mask’s material. The length of the waistband can be adjusted to the head’s size using Velcro straps. The belt is quite heavy – it is heavier than, for example, the Razer BlackShark V2 Pro. It took me a day to get used to the weight of the headset. But you can wear it with goggles – unlike other headsets, the headband doesn’t grip the headset.
The cups (left and right) are marked on the inside of the mounds. On the left ear, there is an indelible microphone on a flexible shaft (fortunately, it can be removed inside the case, but not completely) and a scroll wheel to adjust the “play chat” tone scale. It is located at the back of the cup and fits comfortably in hand, and its imprint makes it easy to remove fingers.
Most of the controls are on the back of your right ear. On the right side of the case are 3.5 mm USB and micro USB ports, a Bluetooth power button, and other controls: a microphone mute button and a volume control knob. Despite the proximity, there is no confusion between the power button and the Bluetooth button, the former being slightly convex and the latter slightly concave. Both are pressed separately.
The large ear cushions are made of memory foam and covered with a breathable fabric to prevent ear perspiration during long play sessions. The speakers are visible through the thin fabric inside the cups. The ClearCast bi-directional microphone slides to the left ear. The flat side is placed close to your face to capture sound, while the other side is equipped with sensors to suppress noise from outside. There is an LED at the top of the microphone that glows red when the microphone is off.
Steelseries Arctis 9 Wireless displays very high quality . Despite the moving parts, you don’t have to worry about the reliability of the design. There is no reason for the headphones to break due to careless movement. Of course, only long-term use will give a final verdict, but these headsets’ design is not a cause for concern.
The built-in transmitter is a small plastic case with a USB plug and a flexible cable that comes out of it to connect to a computer or console. There are two buttons at the bottom: one to pair the headset and switch between the headset and the computer console. There is also a line output to connect to other headsets or speakers.
The headset connects to the device using wireless communication protocols – 2.4 GHz radio channel and Bluetooth. The first protocol is compatible with PC, PS4, and Switch. The second protocol works with any Bluetooth headset.
To pair the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless with the 2.4 GHz transmitter, simply connect it to an available USB port on your computer or mixer and set it to the appropriate mode (the transmitter light will glow white when connected to the computer, and the transmitter light will glow white when connected to the mixer), then press and hold the power button on the headset for 3 seconds. The headphones are already paired with the included transmitter, so no further steps are necessary. On request, you can also pair them with other 2.4 GHz transmitters.
Connecting via Bluetooth is as simple as connecting a headset, pressing the Bluetooth activation button for a few seconds, searching for a wireless device on your computer or smartphone, and pairing it up. Within the application, you can configure the headset to automatically activate Bluetooth when connected.
This is interesting because the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless allows you to connect to two sources simultaneously via a wireless network and Bluetooth (only when using a PC). For example, you can connect a playback computer while plugging the headset into your smartphone to listen to music or chat with friends. Simultaneously, you can use the left button to adjust the volume balance between the sources. Use the Bluetooth button on your right ear to answer and end calls and listen to and change music tracks.
Important: SteelSeries 3 engine settings are only available when connected via the 2.4 GHz wireless channel.
In the end, you can charge your headset by connecting it to the power source using a micro USB cable. The headset LED flashes rapidly green when the battery charge exceeds 50%, orange when the battery charge is between 20-49%, red when the battery charge is between 10-19%, and red when the battery charge is less than 9%. The battery is designed to last up to 20 hours, and I actively tested the headset in a few days. The battery never ran out.
The manufacturer claims that the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless works up to 12 meters from the transmitter. It passed the test, and it can also be said that walls and doors do not affect signal transmission.
Gaming headsets are limited to 5.1 or 7.1 virtual surround sound, but more expensive devices are inventing more advanced technologies. For example, the high-end Razer headset uses THX surround sound, while SteelSeries gaming headsets use an internal DTS headset with an X v2.0 chip for extremely accurate surround sound positioning.
SteelSeries Engine 3 is dedicated software for the device; unlike the same Razer gaming headset that installs Razer Synapse when connected to a PC, SteelSeries Engine 3 is a do-it-yourself application. You need to find it and download it from the manufacturer’s official website.
The settings specified in the application are stored in the headset’s memory, so you don’t need to add them to Autorun: you can connect them once and configure them the way you want – and then forget them. Of course, you can only use this function on your computer.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless software, SteelSeries Engine 3, includes two tabs, Sound and Settings.
- The first contains everything to do with sound: Here, you can enable surround sound for DTS headphones; select one of the default X v2.0 schemes – games, studio, or cinema; activate bass and dialog enhancement, adjust the sound response via equalizer, and make microphone settings. It’s all straightforward and intuitive.
- The second tab allows you to set the time at which the headset should turn off automatically and automatically activate Bluetooth when the device is switched on.
The microphone is good, and of high quality. It’s the same microphone found in Steelseries Arctis 9X. It sounds fantastic and does a good job of suppressing noise, not many extraneous sounds get through. In short, the recorded sound is clear and communication is uncompromised. As the microphone is decent, it allows you to communicate with your teammates or other people effectively, but it doesn’t have the same voice quality as Razer Blackshark V2 Pro to make it a superior solution.
When it comes to sound, SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless stands out in the game with 7.1 sound, which allows you to define which side your opponent is on and how far away they are from you. The sound is well balanced and dynamic, with clear bass, midrange, and treble. This is usually the case when listening to music or watching movies. As for the microphone, it’s decent. It allows you to communicate with your teammates or other people, but it doesn’t have any particular voice quality.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless has amazed us with impressive results in video games; tested on PC, the accurate source detection provided is fantastic. Whether your enemy is behind, or next to you, it’s easy to find out his position. The rich sound field also improves pin-pointing sound sources. In other situations, like listening to music or watching movies, Arctis 9 also works nearly perfectly. When listening to music: the headphones play high, medium, and low sounds well, without frequencies undercutting each other.
The sound plays a critical role in gaming experience; however, as we mentioned at the beginning, the Arctis 9 Wireless from the SteelSeries takes it to another level, improving the user experience by providing a Bluetooth connectivity with absolutely no delays or disconnections. With other wireless gaming headsets, for example, Corsair Void Pro, Steelseries Arctis 3, or Audeze Mobius with its 300 ms latency, to experience delays when connecting my headphones to the PlayStation 4, whether with a joystick or wirelessly with a dongle. However, that’s over now. It’s gone.
The Arctis 9 SteelSeries Wireless Headset has it all: dual wireless connectivity, dynamic sound for games and music, and great ergonomics. All the pros and cons of a headset justify its price. What’s more, these are wireless headphones, and as you know, they don’t come cheap. All in all, the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless is without a doubt one of the best wireless gaming headsets on the market.
But you’ll soon get used to its convenience and sound quality. It’s also fun to realize that you can receive signals from two sources and control your music simultaneously when you connect via Bluetooth.
If you want a wireless gaming headset for only for gaming that offers high-quality sound and a delayed connection to any device, be it a computer, console, or smartphone, and you have money to spend on the Arctis 9 Wireless SteelSeries, we assure you the purchase is one of the wisest. However, if you’re intrigued by this wireless headset’s qualities but want something even better—an upgrade to the Arctis 9 Wireless—then Artctis 9X Wireless is the headphone you should look at.