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SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC is a premium gaming headset, a continuation of the legendary Arctis series. During development, the Danish company SteelSeries has taken a win-win path: took the device, which was in great demand among gamers, and improved it while correcting all the minor flaws. That's why Arctis Pro headset became even more perfect. Moreover, it is equipped with a powerful sound card. The GameDAC digital-to-analog converter DAC ESS Sabre 9018 is the main novelty here, and according to the manufacturer, one of the best representatives of its class.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC 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
SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC comes in a beautiful cardboard box that protects the device from damage. It should be said that the box has not only an attractive design but also informative. It allows you to get acquainted with its appearance, characteristics, and main features.
The headset is PC and PS4 compatible and uses two cables (one for the headset and one for the sound card). For smartphones, there is a separate analog adapter.
Inside the box, the user will find a rich enough kit: the headset itself; the GameDAC audio device (digital-to-analog converter and amplifier); a cable to connect the sound card to your computer; the cable for connecting the headset to the audio device; an adapter for connecting the headset to mobile devices with a 3.5 mm jack type jack; optical cable, and documentation: warranty card, user manual, etc.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro’s design differs from most gaming headsets, as the gadget has no complex fancy shapes, bright colors, and any deliberate aggressiveness. It is devoid of any classic solutions in the usual sense – there are no sliding cups and no stretchable headband.
The base of the frame is an elastic metal plate that serves as a headband. It must be said that it is strong and always returns its shape. Even if you level it and let go, it will immediately bend into an arch without losing its physical qualities. The bottom and top of the headboard are covered with a ski goggle band.
The rubber band performs a decorative function, serves as a soft headband, and is responsible for adjusting the headband depth. To change the depth, you need to lengthen or shorten the rubber connected at each end on Velcro. The large and soft ear cushions inside the headphones are not covered with leatherette as usual but with a breathable fabric. As a result, more pleasant tactile. At the same time, the sound insulation is not damaged.
All controls and connectors are located at the end of the left cup. There is a microphone power button, volume wheel, MicroUSB connector for the audio cable, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It allows you to connect a second pair of headphones to the headset and transmit an audio signal. It is an interesting and useful option to play or watch a movie with two headphones. The headset does not have a wireless connection, but you can connect the headset in several ways, including a complete sound card or directly to any device.
Along the contour of cups is a LED ring, which supports just under 17 million colors. The matte finish is pleasant to the touch and sets the SteelSeries Arctis Pro apart from its opponents, while the customizable RGB cup backlight accentuates the shape of the case.
Fabric interchangeable ear cushions and good soundproofing are a pleasant touch, and the official SteelSeries store will always come in handy in case of customization and renewal of interchangeable elements. There is also a retractable microphone at the end of the earcup. Only part of the head is visible when it is pushed in, so you can use the headset even on the street. If you pull the microphone head, the boom is pulled out.
The assembly and materials are of very high quality, very light, and comfortable. The ski goggle band doesn’t press on your head at all. The headband is perfectly balanced in the sense that it does not exert excessive pressure on the head, but at the same time, it provides a reliable fixation of the headphones. All this allows you to use the headset for a long time and do not feel uncomfortable and want to take it off as quickly as possible.
The design of Arctis Pro + GameDAC is almost an exact copy of the Arctis 7 game headset. And this is great because Arctis 7 looks fantastic, feels luxurious, and is one of the most comfortable gaming headsets. Simply put, Arctis Pro is one of the best gaming headsets I have ever had to use in terms of ergonomics and comfort. And since it is a closed headset, you do not have to worry about sound leakage either.
Arctis Pro + GameDAC offers support for DTS Headphone: X 2.0 Surround Sound, a significant step forward from the first-generation technology. The quality of Surround Sound will largely depend on the sound quality of the game you play.
The simulated surround sound effect is not fused in huge reverbs and a complete absence of bass and accuracy. On the contrary, the sound remains relatively cohesive. This will not help you become the best player in most first-person shooters, but it can add a certain level of excitement in other genres. Sound quality further improves when you switch to Hi-Res mode, where you can listen to 24-bit/96 kHz FLAC files and get the most out of your hi-fi streaming services like Tidal and Deezer.
Even though Arctis 3, 5, and 7 were natural and very much liked, Arctis Pro sounds even better. Their sound performance definitely shares the same concept: SteelSeries again focused on creating an exceptionally balanced sound signature without a single part of the frequency spectrum that would be aggressive.
As always, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC headset is supported by the proprietary SteelSeries Engine 3 software with a pleasant and intuitive interface. The tool offers three tabs to adjust the GameDAC converter’s parameters, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro headset’s backlight and the DAC display brightness modes.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro + Game DAC has an excellent microphone. The clarity, depth, and naturalness of the voice are good enough to use this microphone for the most demanding tasks. The microphone can be adjusted to make the sound louder.
Over the headset’s technical component worked just fine: 40 mm speakers support a frequency range from 10 to 40 000 Hz, impedance – 32 ohms, and 340 grams. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro headset can accept, process, and play Hi-Res formats (96kHz and 24-bit audio files).
Arctis Pro can produce high-resolution sound, and the resulting sound is nothing short of great. It reveals clarity and precision not found on competing headsets. In fact, it’s relatively easy for me to say that these are the best sounding gaming headsets I’ve ever experienced. The sound stage is good, if not super wide.
A well-balanced sound always leads to good spatial positioning. This aspect of Arctis Pro is not just good; it is exceptional. Playing games, the sound is clear and understandable, and the explosions have the right volume and accuracy. The clarity and details of Arctis become second nature after a while. In Fortnite and PUBG, you can hear where the shots come from and the cars moving, which other players in the game hardly heard. In Call of Duty Warzone, I was completely surrounded by the chaos and brutality of war again with a full understanding of my surroundings.
The same natural and neutral sound signature in games is transferred to music. I found Arctis Pro exceptionally versatile in musical genres, equally pleasing to rock, metal, rap, and almost everything I listened to on it. It successfully copes with fast drums, powerful and multi-layered guitar, and vocals of different ranges. The music sounds rich, pure, and detailed without the slightest hint of veiling or tiredness from long listening.
The GameDAC’s digital to analog converter combines many features, and the number of options and parameters is not quantifiable at all. In addition to classic volume control, the model acts like ChatMix, allowing you to change the balance of sound level between chat and game, EQ, set the Hi-Res mode, and other audio settings. Sound quality is not as good if it is connected directly to a PC or phone, hinting that GameDAC is doing a good job. Of course, the sound without DAC is not unpleasant, but you notice a slight lack of detail from a high-quality source.
It became clear that SteelSeries knows how to make an attractively comfortable gaming headset from the very beginning. The price is understated, and they do not look cheap. Audio enthusiasts will know everything about DAC; many cost hundreds of pounds, so what to expect? The goal of DAC is to provide the best, clearest signal from a digital source to an analog receiver. Think of it as a high-quality connection between hi-fi splitters – you don’t improve the source code, but you let it sound as good as possible, eliminating interference and noise. SteelSeries contains the 32-bit Sabre 9018 ESS DAC, which is considered premium in the hi-fi world, although it has since replaced the 9028 Pro.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro with GameDAC’s complete digital-to-analog converter is of interest to gamers and connoisseurs of quality sound thanks to its mixer capabilities. The novelty retains the SteelSeries Arctis Pro headset’s advantages and features, which are complemented by new features.
SteelSeries strikes many positive notes with the package Arctis Pro + GameDAC. All-day comfort, elegant design, a high-quality microphone, and excellent sound reproduction, in general, are the obvious advantages. Backed by a decent DAC, the duo combines best-in-class audio for games and songs.