SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro review: Outstanding build and audio quality

The Arctis Nova Pro is feature-packed and worth every penny.

Arctis Nova Pro on box
(Image: © Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

SteelSeries has outdone itself with the Arctis Nova Pro, crafting a premiere device that has just about every feature an audiophile would want. It's hands down the perfect headset for PC gaming, and while cheaper headsets get the job done on consoles just as well, its build and audio quality can't be matched for professionals.

Pros

  • +

    GameDAC Gen 2 provides unparalleled audio quality at your fingertips

  • +

    Comfort is still the best in the business

  • +

    Multi-platform compatibility

  • +

    Simultaneous 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connection

  • +

    Active noise cancelation

  • +

    Swappable batteries

Cons

  • -

    Insanely pricey

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Before I used a SteelSeries headset, I always wondered what the fuss was about. The brand had always come up in recommendations on social media and other media outlets for their comfort and quality, but I never felt that I needed to swap over from my trusty Razer headsets. After trying out the Arctis 7P and 7P Plus, I understood what everyone was talking about. Now that I've been able to use the new SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for a few weeks, I don't think I'll ever trust another brand quite as much. SteelSeries has been all homeruns and no strikeouts yet.

The Nova Pro is the company's high-grade, premium headset that features all of the bells and whistles users could ever want. It has a high price tag to reflect that, potentially turning off some buyers, but this is one headset where you really can't get much better for the cost.

Arctis Nova Pro: Price and availability

Arctis Nova Pro in front of TV

(Image credit: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Its price tag might cause an initial shock at $350 for the wireless version, but SteelSeries also offers a wired model for $250, which removes Bluetooth and 2.4GHz compatibility. Both are certainly pricier than other headsets on the market, though they also have premium features to boot, as they each come with a GameDAC Gen 2. 

You can purchase the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro at most major retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, along with SteelSeries' own online storefront. 

Arctis Nova Pro: What's excellent

Arctis Nova Pro power button closeup

(Image credit: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

From the moment you open up its box, it's apparent that the Arctis Nova Pro is meant to be taken seriously as a premium headset. Everything from its presentation to the overall build and materials used screams "expensive." That's not just for show, either. That translates to the audio experience it delivers, which is by far the most important aspect of any headset. 

Its built-in acoustic system delivers advanced directional and spatial audio that can be granularly adjusted to pick up the exact sounds and feedback you're looking for in a game; whether it's footsteps approaching from behind, or bullets flying past your head. No matter what type of situation you're in, or game you're playing, the Arctis Nova Pro masterfully produces the audio. 

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Category Spec
Driver diameterNeodymium 40mm
Frequency response10-40 kHz (wired), 10-22 kHz (wireless)
Microphone patternBidirectional Noise-Canceling
Active noise cancelation4-mic hybrid design with Transparency Mode
Connection type2.4GHz and Bluetooth
Wireless range40 feet
Battery life44 hours (2.4GHz), 22 hours (Bluetooth)

The Arctis Nova Pro is meant to be taken seriously as a premium headset.

Profiles can also be set up on the app for different games to account for the variety of audio experiences you'd prefer. It's not a one size fits all option — though it can be if you'd rather not fiddle with the EQ settings. I found that once I disabled the mic monitoring sidetone, which was on by default for some reason and caused an echo, I was quite happy with most of the headset's default audio settings. 

Though I've come to prefer the fabric earcups on other Arctis models over the faux-leather of the Nova Pro, it's really just a matter of personal preference. The Arctis Nova Pro is just about as comfortable as its siblings, with an elastic band stretched across the frame to take pressure of of your head. The earcups themselves mold perfectly over the ears for a secure fit without feeling too tight as well, and feature pivoting hangars for added comfort.  

The GameDAC Gen 2 is superb with an easy to read LED display. Its volume dial also serves as a navigation wheel between various menus with a long-button press. Players can adjust audio settings like the equalizer, gain, sidetone, and mic volume along with active noise cancelation options. There's even a menu for system settings where users can adjust the display brightness, its auto-off timer, access tutorials, and more. 

While many of these settings can be tweaked through its companion SteelSeries GG and Sonar app on PC, the GameDAC allows instant control on console like PS5. Though the short USB-C cable limits how far from the console you can be without full access to its suite of features, the volume wheel on the headset itself will be enough for some people. 

What's even cooler about the GameDAC is that it sports a space to charge up the second rechargable battery included with the headset, effectively making it so that you never go without a charge. These batteries can be easily swapped by popping out the magnetic plate on the back of the left earcup and simply replacing it as you would any other battery. 

Arctis Nova Pro: What you won't like

Arctis Nova Pro on TV

(Image credit: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

Though the GameDAC Gen 2 does work with PS5, it's not ideal unless your setup is close by. The included USB-C cable only stretches a few feet, and it's unrealistic to imagine getting up from your couch every time you want to fine-tune the audio experience. While there is a volume wheel on the headset itself, it's not as smooth when rolling it back and forth, causing a slight echo. 

I noticed a few times where if I played music loud enough on PC there would occasionally be static feedback during a section with low bass, almost like a faint popping sound. This didn't occur all the time, or even enough for me to discern a pattern other than that, but it was something I felt worth noting. 

And as is usual with SteelSeries' ClearCast microphones, the sound is just alright. It's on par with what you'd get from other headsets, perfectly suitable for gaming, but not so much for professional audio recording. 

Arctis Nova Pro: The competition

Steelseries Artcis 7p Plus Ps5 Hero

(Image credit: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

When it comes to other premium headsets, the Astro A50 with base station comes in at $300 with a suite of high-end features. We noted in our review that a separate adapter for full PS5 compatibility was less than ideal, but nonetheless it still offers crisp audio delivery. The built-in MixAmp allows for simple game and voice chat balance on PC, and the base station doubles as a charger to make up for the Astro A50's disappointing 15-hour battery life. 

There's also the similarly priced Audeze Penrose, compatible with multiple devices and taking advantage of Audeze HQ app on PC. It offers up crystal-clear audio that impressively distinguishes between nuanced instruments and tones thanks to its 100mm planar magnetic drivers. It doesn't have the most premium feeling build out of the bunch, but it delivers where it counts.

For a much more affordable headset within the SteelSeries brand, there's the Arctis 7P Plus. It stands among the best PS5 headsets out there, and its been my go-to for its wireless connection. Though it has a subpar mic and lacks most of what you'll get with the GameDAC, its solid 30-hour battery life and next-level comfort make it a steal at $170. 

Arctis Nova Pro: Should you buy it?

Arctis Nova Pro on box

(Image credit: Jennifer Locke / Android Central)

You should buy this if:

  • You want a suite of premium features through its PC app
  • You're not turned off by the high price
  • You like the idea of a simultaneous connection to multiple devices
  • You want swappable batteries so you never go without a charge

You shouldn't buy this if:

  • $350 is just too much money for you
  • You game largely from your couch
  • You think a cheaper headset would suit you better on console

Though its price may be too rich for some people's blood, I'd still say it's worth every penny. Its simultaneous 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connection is a game changer, and the GameDac Gen 2 offers an amazing amount of control along with an LED display for easy sound monitoring and adjustments. That amount of granular control might seem overkill to some, but its exactly what a premium headset should offer.

Combined with a solid and comfortable build, active noise cancelation, and swappable batteries, the Arctis Nova Pro nearly offers it all. The value and audio delivery is unparalleled, making it stand above almost every other headset on the market. 

I called the SteelSeries Arctis 7P+ the king of all PS5 headsets, but I feel as if the Arctis Nova Pro has usurped that throne.