GameDAC is easy to use
SteelSeries has been putting out great gaming headsets for years. The company’s Arctis line is a consistently great group of products, and the SteelSeries Arctis Pro and GameDAC offers more features than you can shake a stick at. A lot of premium gaming headsets do just as much, so how does the Arctis Pro hold up?
Who’s the SteelSeries Arctis Pro and GameDAC for?
- PC and PS4 gamers will find the most use out of the SteelSeries Arctis Pro, especially those who prefer to customize their experience with hardware accessories instead of clunky software.
What’s the SteelSeries Arctis Pro like?
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro has an aluminum frame and a suspension band that’s elastic like a pair of ski goggles. Unlike the many suspension bands that require no adjustment, you can set the tightness of the Arctis Pro using a velcro patch. I adjusted the band once, and never thought about it again. It sat just tight enough to fit snugly on my head, without any uncomfortable pressure. Basically, it’s super comfortable.
The headphones sit on slightly offset hinges and feature the same airweave fabric as SteelSeries’ other Arctis headphones. It’s a little more flexible than leather, and avoids the heat buildup issues. Airweave may not work as well as velour with glasses, but you can replace it pretty easily.
The left ear cup houses the retractable mic, which extends about four inches on a flexible wire and sits almost flush when not in use. The left cup also features a mute button, volume dial, a port for the cord going to the GameDAC, and a 3.5mm jack.
These headphones are wired only, but there’s still a decent number of connection options. You can connect the Game DAC unit to a PC via USB, or to a Playstation 4 using the optical cord (in addition to the USB cord), or even to a phone or other device’s headphone jack with the included 3.5mm dongle.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is undeniably a gaming headset in its aesthetic, but it offers a solid amount of visual customization options. LED lights ring both headphones, and a bright light shines from the mic when it’s muted. You can change their color using the included GameDAC unit. The panels on the headset’s sides are magnetic and SteelSeries sells replacements, as well as straps of different colors.
Unlike most full-featured gaming headsets, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro doesn’t use software for all its options. Instead, it comes with a GameDAC unit, a little device with a small screen, rotating wheel, and a button. The GameDAC serves as an intermediary between the headset and platform you’re using it with; it handles audio settings like EQ profiles, turning on hi-res sound and surround sound, and of course game and chat volume. It also controls the LED color schemes, letting you cycle between different presets.
We don’t usually recommend DAC units for most people, but the Arctis Pro’s GameDAC is an exception. It’s simply laid out and intuitive to use and brings out the best in an already pretty solidly made headset.
Gaming with the SteelSeries Arctis Pro
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro offers surround sound using DTS Headphone:X 2.0 tech, which creates a realistic 3D audio environment in game. While this is hardly going to make you a better gamer, it certainly sounds quite a bit more precise than stereo sound. I never had much trouble picking out footsteps from gunfire and roughly gauging their direction and distance in Overwatch and Fortnite.The quick toggle button on the GameDAC made it pretty easy to tell just how much more information you get using the surround sound compared to stereo mode.
How does the SteelSeries Arctis Pro sound?
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro has little trouble reproducing most sounds accurately. It boosts bass a little bit, and there’s a slight dip in the mids, but it’s minor. I never ran into issues picking quieter sounds out from the din of explosions in games — a common issue with gaming headsets, which are often very bassy. Listening to music, I found it sometimes a little harder to hear some string parts with songs featuring particularly prominent bass lines.
The Arctis Pro manages above average isolation among gaming headsets. It doesn’t compare very well to a pair of rubber tipped earbuds or headphones with ANC, but it’ll keep the distractions of home at bay. You shouldn’t run into any issues with noisy roommates or TV blaring in another room. Outside is another story, but this isn’t a very portable headset, as you’d have to leave the DAC unit behind. To get a comprehensive look at frequency response and isolation charts, head over to the SoundGuys SteelSeries Arctis Pro and GameDAC review.
Does the microphone sound good?
The Steelseries Arctis Pro’s microphone offers decent enough audio output. While generally clear, it de-emphasizes bass significantly, so deeper voices can sound a little tinny. If you’ve got a higher voice, you shouldn’t run into much trouble. The mic is rather sensitive, so turning it down with the DAC might be a good idea. Have a listen for yourself:
Should you buy the SteelSeries Arctis Pro and GameDAC?
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is extremely comfortable and sounds great. It definitely seems like a product built to deliver as many options and features as possible in as convenient a package as possible. By focusing on hardware solutions with the GameDAC, the headset avoids a lot of the annoyances that come with using other gaming headsets with poorly designed apps.
However, this is a pretty expensive gaming headset and that doesn’t necessarily mean it sounds better than headsets of the same or lower price. It really depends on if you want the GameDAC. If all you’re looking for is a great gaming headset, and you don’t need all those frills, something like the HyperX Cloud Alpha arguably sounds better for less than half the price. If you’re on the hunt for something even more premium (somehow), the Audeze Mobius brings more unique features which might be a little more meaningful. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro offers a great mid point between those two extremes, but it’s hardly the only one.