SteelSeries is, without doubt, one of the best gaming headphone manufacturers and we get to try the new SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless gaming headset, aimed towards the PC gaming space.
Gaming headphones are generally designed in such a way the device not only offers good sound quality but also a comfortable fit so gamers will be able to wear them for longer gaming sessions. And with our previous usage of the Arctis 7P Wireless headset, the new Arctis 9 is no so different and comes with a very similar design philosophy.
While the Arctis 7P comes in a white and blue color combo to match the PlayStation 5, the Arctis 9 Wireless is all-black. The headphone features the dual-steel headband construction as seen on the 7P, which is thin and durable.
The headset shares a similar suspension design that resembles a ski goggle and there is also the velcro strap covering the headband portion. The strap is black in color with a gamer-centric line drawn in white. Adjusting the velcro strap for adjustment didn’t take much time and we were able to wear the headset after some trial and error of pulling and sticking back the strap. And as with the Arctis 7P, the Arctis 9 also comes with the SteelSeries insignia on the strap. There is a soft material under the headband, similar to the 7P Wireless
The Arctis 9 weighs 376g and thanks to the suspension, the entire headset feels well-balanced. Adding to the comfort are the two earcup cushions, which feature the athletics-inspired AirWeave fabric-based material that keeps your ears well-fit and strain-free. The comfort-level that we experienced while wearing the Arctis 9 is no different from what we felt with the Arctis 7P. The AirWeave ear cushions covered our ear’s comfortability with a cozy fit and the fabric kept the ears cool when using it for longer gaming sessions. And the noise isolation performance was impressive without the need for the earcups to insert pressure over our ears.There isn’t much to say regarding the color scheme of the Arctis 9 as the entire device is almost in black. While the Arctis 7P and the Arctis 9 are similar design-wise, the button and port placement is quite the opposite.
While the volume dial is seen on the left earcup of the Arctis 7P, the Arctis 9 features its volume dial on the right earcup. Then comes the button to deactivate the mic, along with the power button, a Bluetooth pairing button, a micro USB port, and the 3.5mm audio jack. On the contrary, the Arctis 7P has its audio jack and micro USB port on the left earcup.
Interestingly though, the Arctis 7P never had a dedicated Bluetooth button as seen on the Arctis 9. That said, the Sidetone control dial is located on the left earcup that lets you control the balance between chat audio and the game audio, along with the ClearCast mic that can be easily retracted. The mic has an LED indicator that goes red in color when the mic is turned off.
Specifications and Features
SteelSeries produces headphones that can output good sound quality and interesting features that are fine-tuned for gamers. Inside the SteelSeries Arctis 9 are the 40mm Neodymium drivers for each earcup that are responsible for producing loud and clear audio. The headphones feature a frequency response that covers audio signals between 20Hz to 20,000Hz so you don’t miss all the lows and highs of the audio. And when it comes to sensitivity, the Arctis 9 maxes out to 98dBSPL. The impedance of the Arctis 9 is 32 Ohms, which means the headphone is good for home-based usage and also for hearing music in outdoor situations. SteelSeries mentions that the Total Harmonic Distortion is rated to be less than 3 percent.
We had tried to game with the Arctis 9 on a PC and the sound quality is good. The headphone uses the signature Arctis soundscape that gives an emphasis for both subtle and critical game sounds so you hear every detail of the game audio. Watching movies with the headphone is also a good experience as we could hear most of the details of the audio. And then there is the SteelSeries Engine application that allows you to use a custom equalizer and fine-tune it to your liking. The Arctis 9 features a medium-range impedance that is rated to be 2200 Ohm.The headphone’s Discord certified ClearCast microphone comes with a frequency response that ranges between 100Hz and 6500Hz and can capture your voice in a bidirectional pattern so the recipient hears a clear and natural sound. The microphone comes with sensitivities up to -38 dBV/Pa. We were able to do a proper conversation with teammates while playing multiplayer PC games such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare on the PC.
As for the connectivity, you can either connect via the 3.5mm audio jack or by using the supplied wireless dongle. The wireless option comes in handy if you don’t want to deal with wires. The headphone uses 2.4GHz wireless signal to pair with the transmitter for high-performance and lag-free gaming audio. The transmitter can also be used to connect to PlayStation consoles. The transmitter lets you switch between PC and PlayStation mode.
The headphone also features Bluetooth 4.1 and can also be used to connect to smartphones or other Bluetooth devices. The Bluetooth profiles supported are A2DP, HFP, and HSP. While we can pair with smartphones using Bluetooth, it was not so easy as connecting the Arctis 7P with the USB audio transmitter that syncs with the headphone at an instant without the need for you to go through the connections menu.
Additionally, the SteelSeries Arctis 9 comes with DTS Headphone:X Surround Sound v2.0 technology for providing an accurate surround audio experience when using the headphone with a PC. The headphone is also compatible with Mac systems and can be connected via Bluetooth or the USB wireless transmitter. Users will be able to use the ChatMix feature and SteelSeries Engine 3 application for both PC and Mac systems. However, those features are not available when connecting the headphone to a PlayStation, a smartphone, Nintendo Switch, or a VR headset. That said, once you set the EQ on a PC with the SteelSeries Engine application, the settings remain when connected to a PlayStation.
SteelSeries claims that the Arctis 9 is optimized to offer 20+ hours of non-stop wireless usage so gamers can game all day and night with just a single charge. SteelSeries compares the Arctis 9 to the Razer Nari Ultimate headphone that can only last for eight hours on a single charge. We had gone through some gaming sessions that lasted for 3-4 hours on a daily basis on wireless mode and it lasted for almost a week. Connecting the headphone to a smartphone via Bluetooth and hearing music also lasted for days on a single charge.
When it comes to gaming headsets, you would need to choose the one that offers good audio quality, a comfortable fit, a sensitive mic, a supportive application for customization, and more. The SteelSeries Arctis 9 comes with a ski-goggle design for comfortable wear, along with a velcro strap that lets you easily adjust the headband. The AirWeave ear cushions easily fit your ears and provide a cozy feeling while you game for longer sessions.
The Engine 3 application from SteelSeries lets you tweak the EQ on a PC. While the headphone has Bluetooth connectivity, users can also connect using the wireless transmitter that uses 2.4GHz transmission for a lag-fee audio gaming experience. The wireless transmitter can also be used to connect to a Mac system or a PS4/PS5. The headphone also features DTS Headphone:X Surround Sound technology for an immersive audio experience but only works when using it with a PC. The headphone also offers a long-lasting battery life of up to 20 hours when using wireless connectivity.