SteelSeries have become a very known and trusted name in the large world of gaming accessories. From computer mice to high-end headsets, they make great additions to your gaming set up, PC or console. SteelSeries received much acclaim with their Arctis Pro and Arctis 7. Although, the price tag on these two sets were far from affordable for a lot of gamers (the former nearing $200). The SteelSeries Arctis 3 bundles the great sound quality and ease of use that previous SteelSeries headsets have been praised for. All that without breaking the bank.
SteelSeries claims, right on the box, that the Arctis 3 is a “High Performance” headset, which is a large proclamation for a headset priced around $70 (whereas most other high-performance headsets are going to be closer to the $150 mark). Does the Arctis 3 have the quality, performance, and comfortability to earn this claim? I’d say it’s exceedingly qualified, in most areas.
Let’s first talk about just how good this headset sounds. Its sound quality is incredible. The audio has a depth that is uncommon for headsets in this price range. Its low tones are deep and higher tones are bright. I have been playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider while testing the Arctis 3, and the headset really adds to the immersion of the game. What has impressed me the most while using the headset is just how well it relays directional sounds. If an enemy is talking to your left, the Arctis 3 balances the audio in both speakers so that you can tell the person is off to the left. During gunfights this has saved me so many times from being flanked or approached from behind. To test this further I played an HD remaster of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, a song known for fantastic audio panning and overall balancing. On top of that, it has a wide range of sounds and so properly incorporates moments of silence (during which there is no buzzing or distortion) that it makes for a good test when you can’t otherwise try it when gaming. I was so stricken by how great it sounded that I would recommend this as an almost definitive test of the headset’s audio quality alone.
It’s worth noting however that there are no EQ customization options. The Arctis 3 only has one default setting, and while it sounds incredible, I would still ask for more audio customization capabilities from a headset that calls itself high performance. With it lacking this option it does significantly improve the ease of use, making it as easy to set up on a console as plugging in the 3.5mm audio jack into your controller. This can be especially helpful for someone looking for their first headset who might not want or understand all the frills that usually come with high end headsets. You get the very basics, a volume control knob and a toggle switch to mute and unmute the microphone. What else do you need really?
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 sports a wonderfully clear microphone. Communicating with teammates is clear thanks to its active noise-cancelling and crisp audio. Its malleable design also makes it easy to position in front of your mouth, or completely move out of the way. It’s also a welcome perk that the microphone is attached to the Arctis 3 and designed to retract itself when not in use. This way you never risk losing the microphone when putting away the headset. It is easy to find the mute switch on the back of the left earpiece so you’ll never be shambling to find it when you need to quickly quiet your audio for a sudden sneeze or when responding to someone it the same room. When the microphone is muted, this button pops out of the earpiece far enough that it’s very easy to tell when it’s in the on or off position.
The headset itself is comfortable to wear, for the most part. The ear pieces are plush and comfortable, and they twist to easily put on or wear over just one ear. The Arctis 3 comes with the signature SteelSeries headband that you can adjust to raise the ear phones higher or lower, depending on your preference. It’s easily adjusted, but never stayed comfortable for me for more than 30 minutes. I found myself taking the headphones off and fiddling with this strap several times during longer play sessions. This brings up my largest critique of the headset, which is that it is not comfortable to wear over a long period of time. I hate to admit that when playing games online that require all of my focus (such as Anthem on higher difficulties) I was struggling to contribute to my team because I frequently found myself readjusting the headset to find a more comfortable position. A couple of times I even switched the Arctis 3 for a different headset in my collection. To add to that, the headset is plain not comfortable to wear with glass in the same way that a headset such as the Turtle Beach Stealth 300 is designed to be. It’s too bad that the comfort of the headset could use so much improvement because it is otherwise firing on all cylinders.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 is a great headset that lacks only in a few areas. Unfortunately, those areas can be very big deal-breakers for some gamers who prioritize comfort in their headset. Let me not understate, however, the superb microphone and sound quality of the Arctis 3. The sound produced by it adds so much to the experience of the game and you’ll likely find yourself getting pulled deeper into the game because of it. If you’re looking for an excellent headset to add to your gaming arsenal, this one is definitely worth considering.