STEELSERIES ARCTIS 9 WIRELESS REVIEW FOR PC, PS4, AND PS5. The main unique selling point of the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless is the dual wireless functionality it provides, while retaining a competitive price tag. Featuring both 2.4 GHz wireless and a simultaneous Bluetooth connection, the Arctis 9 Wireless enjoy enhanced flexibility that can be a game-changer. Read on for the full Game Revolution review.
What’s in the box?
Inside the Arctis 9 box there’s the headset itself, the wireless transmitter, a USB charging cable, and instructions. All in all, it’s fair standard stuff, and SteelSeries retains the ability to squeeze a lot of headset into a fairly slim box.
The only knock against the first impression is the presence of a Micro-USB port instead of a USB-C. A minor point, perhaps, but it would help it better match the upcoming PS5 and its USB-C DualSense controller for single-cable charging. With that said, if the Micro-USB helped keep the headset under $200, then I can understand the compromise.
The Arctis 9 design is mostly subtle, with the microphone tucked neatly into the left earcup. It can be extended when required. The headband provides the only bit of contrasting color, decorated with white lines. This can be swapped out for other headbands, if desired, and I’d love to see SteelSeries expand on that with more options.
That Arctis comfort and sound
When you put the Arctis 9 headset on, you’re immediately met with an excellent fit. Comfort with the flexible “Ski Goggle” headband and relatively lightweight construction is top-tier. Again, it’s as you would expect from the more premium SteelSeries products. There’s no clamping force yet the soft earcups trap noise well. Game and voice audio stays in, while external noises are dampened. It feels solidly built without being too heavy, despite the battery hidden away inside.
Power the headset on and it’s time to play with the settings. While you can use the SteelSeries Engine app to further customize the audio and check for firmware updates, I ended up leaving the sound completely at default.
The Arctis 9’s sound quality for games, music, and movies is stellar. I immediately jumped into my favorite competitive titles, Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and was welcomed with a nice clean sound. Bass is still there, but it isn’t overwhelming. Apex Legends has much better sound design than Modern Warfare, and it was easy to pinpoint enemy gunfire and footsteps. Modern Warfare is trickier, but I eventually tweaked the in-game settings to “Boost,” which paired nicely with the Arctis 9.
As for upcoming games, I also made sure to test the Arctis 9 headset with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. I feel like developer Treyarch really aimed to deliver good footsteps audio in this game, and it really shows. Even those using Ninja still made a slight sound, which I was able to detect using this new SteelSeries headset. This was at a moderate volume, too, so you don’t need to crank it right up and risk deafening yourself!
Though I don’t personally use virtual surround sound in my video games, SteelSeries has checked that box for those who do.
Wireless done right
As with all wireless peripherals, battery life can be a concern. Growing anxious about your headset running out of charge during a game is never fun. Thankfully, the Arctis 9 battery lasts up to 20 hours on a single charge. With volume at around 70%, I managed Mon-Fri of nighttime gameplay, so I’d say that the rating is accurate. Though the battery isn’t removable, which is a big plus of the Arctis Wireless Pro, it at least has a lengthy life.
The headset’s microphone is solid for game chat, Discord, or phone calls, utilizing some impressive noise cancellation that should minimize distractions for your listeners. With that said, I wouldn’t lean on it for high-quality streams or YouTube videos. It’s not broadcast quality, but it gets the job done in most cases.
The Arctis 9 has a lot of buttons on the earcups. There’s a dial for the chat mix, an overall volume wheel, a microphone mute button, a Bluetooth button, and a power button. While they can be distinguished by their unique shapes and textures, it’s still going to take a bit of time to work out where each function is, especially during the heat of a firefight or the shouts of an especially loud teammate. Obviously, SteelSeries is pretty limited when it comes to room for button placement, but it’s worth noting for any potential buyers.
The big surprise comes in just how useful that dual wireless feature can be. As someone who uses Discord to talk with friends while we play games, it’s great to be able to connect directly to the PlayStation over 2.4 GHz wireless while connecting to my phone’s Discord app using Bluetooth. This is a huge improvement over my previous solution of using a splitter, or resorting to the shoddy built-in PS4 game chat.
Another big win is being able to answer phone calls right on the headset itself. Taking a call while you’re closing out that battle royale victory can all be done inside of the SteelSeries Arctis 9.
You can also send in other audio from your phone like Spotify music or YouTube videos. Maybe you want to listen to a podcast while you grind missions in Destiny 2? That’s perfectly possible with the Arctis 9.
The wireless transmitter is simple enough, with a toggle for PC and PS4 use on the base, along with a Connect button. It’s a simple solution when compared to the Arctis Wireless Pro, but it works perfectly well. I especially like the ability to plug PC speakers into the Line Out and have the audio automatically switch to them when the headset is powered off. It doesn’t require fumbling around the sound settings in Windows.
Ready for PS5
If you’re hesitant about picking up a new headset due to worries about next-gen compatibility, or perhaps you’re specifically in the market for a PS5 headset, then you’ll be happy to hear that SteelSeries has confirmed which Arctis products will work on next-gen systems.
Simply put, all SteelSeries Arctis PS4 headsets will work with PS5 headsets. Some will require a firmware update to add a PS5 input mode, however. One of my fellow editors has been using the Arctis Pro Wireless for over two years now and loves them, so he was happy to know of the seamless transition.
SteelSeries has done well to reassure folks putting down the dollars that their Arctis headset will work well into the next generation of consoles.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless Review | The Final Verdict
SteelSeries has an arsenal of headsets available at different price points. The Arctis 9 at $199.99 fits between the Arctis 7 and Arctis Pro Wireless. The 9’s dual wireless has come in clutch for me during both work, while livestreaming and gameplay capture; and play, with friends on Discord. I would say it’s worth the extra cost, especially as it’s confirmed to work with the upcoming PS5. For those wanting more, however, the Arctis Pro Wireless is still the flagship for a reason.
I’ve loved using the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. It has both premium comfort and satisfying audio for gaming, while also boasting the dual wireless function for additional flexibility between PC, PS4, PS5, and Bluetooth devices. Thanks to SteelSeries, gamers now have a wireless headset that’s built for PS5 gaming marathons.
Nimbus+ review unit was provided by SteelSeries.