SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless Headset Review

By Pointus Blankus on 18th December 2020

My favourite gaming headset on PS4 was the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. Feature-wise, it was second to none but it also comprised of fantastic sound that allowed you to hear your surroundings with pinpoint accuracy. I remember being able to shoot enemies through ceilings and floors on Rainbow Six Siege just by hearing their footsteps. There was no better compliment than to be called a cheat! With that in mind, when SteelSeries became the first company (outside of Sony) to announce that it had released a true, PS5 compatible wireless gaming headset, I knew that Christmas came early.

As things stand, there aren’t many headsets to choose from for the PS5. In theory, you can use most standard USB headsets. However, only Sony’s own offering and the SteelSeries Arctis 7P currently take advantage of Sony’s new 3D tempest audio engine. At £159, the Arctis 7P is almost double the price of Sony’s 3D Pulse headset, however it provides a bunch of features that far exceed the capabilities of Sony’s headset. In fact, considering that it looks like SteelSeries won’t be competing with any other third-party headset manufacturers in the eSports space until 2021, the company could have gotten away with charging more for the headset. At £159, the Arctis 7P is a fantastic investment for those who want the best eSports headset for their newly-purchased PS5 console.

Unboxing Experience

The unboxing experience is typical of what you’d expect from a SteelSeries product. The outer cardboard shell will contain all of the product branding and information. Removing this reveals a blue inner-box with the words ‘For Glory’ stamped right in the middle. The headset, dongle and all underlying cables are housed within this box.

There is nothing overly unique about the unboxing of the headset. The moment you open up the blue box, the headset sits very snugly within a plastic mould. There are separate grooves for the cables and the dongle.

In addition to the headset, there are three key cables that come with it. You get a 3.5mm cable in case you want to connect the headset to a standard audio jack. You also get a micro-USB cable, which is used to actually charge the headset. Finally, you get a USB-C to USB-A converter cable. This is perhaps the most surprising and most welcome cable.

The headset comes with a USB-C dongle, which will please many gamers. It is widely accepted that USB-C is the best standard for input and considering the headset’s compatibility with other devices outside of the PS5, knowing that you can connect the headset wirelessly via a USB-C port makes it a very versatile product.

Design, Comfort & Build Quality

The Arctis 7P looks like a headset designed specifically for the PS5. Whilst this may not be true, I cannot stress how beautiful this headset looks sitting on top of my PS5. The white finish perfectly compliments the finish of the PS5 console and the Dualsense controller. It’s worth noting that you can buy this in black, but this is exclusive to SteelSeries members.

As for as the design goes, this is one of the Arctis 7P’s strongest attributes. SteelSeries is known for making highly comfortable headsets and the Arctis 7P is no exception. The earcups are particularly comfortable due to the thick padding. In addition, the earcups sport a very large oval shape, which ensures that your ears will sit inside the cups. Although I haven’t tested Sony’s offering, I believe that Sony’s headset will sit on top of your ears, whereas the 7P sits around it. This massively reduces the pressure on your ears and ensures that you can continue playing for longer hours without feeling fatigue.

The headband is not the most adjustable. You can change the height by pulling a strap that attaches to the side of the headset via strong velcro, however SteelSeries opted for an elastic headband that goes across the top of your head instead of thick padding. The headband essentially mirrors how ski goggles sit on your head. People will need to get used to this style of fitting, but it was perfect for me. I was able to play a five hour gaming session of FIFA 21 and it didn’t give me any fatigue.

Overall, the Arctis 7P feels like a solid product that won’t break as long as you take good care of it. There is no risk of the headset snapping in half as the steel headband feels very strong (unless you purposefully try to break it).

Features & Functionality

Perhaps my favourite aspect of the Arctis 7P is the large plethora of features that you get with the headset. Firstly, it isn’t just compatible with the PS5. Although you might buy it to use with the PS5, it also works perfectly well with the PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch and Android phones. This is primarily due to the dongle working using USB-C. I tried the headset with my laptop and Nintendo Switch. It worked instantly and seamlessly. The moment I plugged in the dongle to my laptop, my laptop recognized a new audio device, installed the drivers automatically and within seconds, I was wirelessly using my Arctis 7P on my laptop.

However, if you want to use it with USB-A ports, there is a converter cable that SteelSeries provides to you. This will allow you to plug your USB-C dongle into a USB-A port, hence why this also works with PS4. In fact, if you’re using all of your ports for the PS5, you’ll need to go down this route. My biggest issue with the Arctis 7P is that the USB-C dongle does not seem to be designed with the PS5 in mind. When you plug it into the only USB-C port that the console has, it actually covers the front-facing USB-A port. I don’t need the USB-A port in the front so I don’t mind that, but some people may need that port for an external drive or another charging cable. If you need the USB-C port for something else, you will need the converter cable and use an available USB-A port.

The battery life is exceptional. The Arctis 7P can run for close to 24 hours on a single charge, using the lossless 2.4 GHz wireless audio signal, which ensures little to no latency – this is considerably better than Bluetooth. Unlike the Arctis Pro Wireless, the Arctis 7P doesn’t have an interchangeable battery. If it dies, you either have to recharge it or you need to plug it in and use it as a wired headset. Honestly though, nobody games for 24 hours without stopping, so the battery life is perfect.

The Arctis 7P also features sidetone. This is a feature that most headsets do not have that I have grown to love. Sidetone allows your own microphone input to play back into your own headset. Essentially, sidetone will let you hear your own voice, so you get a perfect idea of what others can hear when you speak. On the right earcup, there is a dial that lets you control the amount of sidetone. If you want, you can turn it off.

In addition to the sidetone control, the headset has a variety of different controls on the left and right earcup. There is a volume control, mute button, power button and finally the ports for charging, connecting via 3.5mm etc. There is a mobile cable jack too, but I’m not sure what the use case is for this. It certainly isn’t needed for console gaming. It took me approximately 5 minutes to learn the layout of the buttons and control them whilst wearing the headset. Perhaps this was easier for me since I’m so used to other SteelSeries products, and they have similar layouts.

The Arctis 7P also features a retractable microphone. I am a huge fan of headsets that let you hide the microphone when not in use. Sometimes I’m playing weekend league on FIFA and I don’t need the microphone. You can’t disconnect it completely, but instead it just retracts into the headset and therefore completely obscured from vision when gaming. The microphone also has a red light to let you know when you’re on mute. When charging the headset, the same light will pulsate to let you know that it is in charge mode.

Installation

This section of the review will be short, and that’s because there is very little to talk about. The Arctis 7P is the best headset I’ve owned from a setup perspective. In fact, it took me longer to unbox than it did to get it working with the PS5. That’s because the only unit I needed to connect was the tiny USB-C dongle. The moment I plugged that into the front of the PS5 and I turned on the headset, everything just worked. The PS5 interface even provided a popup to tell me that the headset was connected. With other wireless headsets I’ve tested (not on PS5), you have a separate wireless transmitter unit. You need to plug in a power cable, an optical audio cable and sometimes even an HDMI pass through. None of that exists for the Arctis 7P. There isn’t even a large transmitter unit. All of the magic happens within the tiny USB-C dongle and you don’t need to do anything else.

Of course, you can play around with the menu settings to improve the audio (also using the SteelSeries app on your computer is a must), but the initial setup just to get it working cannot be any easier. 

Microphone & Audio Quality

The sound quality is ultimately what matters most in an eSports gaming headset. As a competitive gamer, comfort comes third. Firstly, will the headset help me pinpoint exactly where any sounds are coming from? Secondly, can my party hear me well when I communicate instructions? In the case of the Arctis 7P, it does both brilliantly. The Arctis 7P is currently the only third-party headset that utilizes Sony’s Tempest 3D audio engine, and does so with its 40mm drivers. This technology lets you hear the most subtle of sounds and will also give you excellent spatial awareness. I tested this thoroughly on Call of Duty Warzone and the difference between the Arctis 7P and my old headset (which wasn’t from a major brand) was significant. I also played Assassins Creed Valhalla and Astros Playroom – two games that have been upgraded for the PS5. I don’t think we’ve even touched the surface with the 3D audio engine yet, so it’s difficult to discuss the real power of the PS5’s audio capabilities when used in conjunction with the Arctis 7P. We’ll need games exclusively developed for the PS5 to get a better idea.

As far as microphone quality goes, rest assured that the Arctis 7P nails this. In fact, the microphone is a Discord-certified ClearCast bidirectional microphone. This is the same technology used by aircraft crews to communicate with each other. It all translates to excellent voice quality and even better noise cancellation.

Unfortunately, the Arctis 7P does lack bass. I tried a lot to play around with the EQ settings via the official SteelSeries app, but I couldn’t get the punch that I am used to with some other headsets. In shooting games, you probably don’t want the bass since treble is what will help you hear footsteps much better. For this reason, the Arctis 7P is an incredible headset for FPS games. However, if you’re playing a single player game like Spider-Man Miles Morales or Cyberpunk, you’ll want a more immersive experience that requires bass. The Arctis 7P is lacking in this department.

In addition, I would highly recommend that you download the official SteelSeries engine software to change the default EQ settings. By default, it is set to ‘Custom’ which is the same as ‘Flat’. You should change this to ‘Performance’ in order to get the most out of FPS games. As a heads up, the only way you can connect the headset to the laptop for the software to recognize the headset is via the USB-C dongle. Do not use the micro-USB or 3.5mm cables.

Apart from the lack of bass, I am extremely pleased with the sound quality of the headset. I just need to accept that for single player games, I need to perhaps use my surround sound speakers. Considering most of the console gaming eSports community play games like Rainbow Six Siege, Warzone and other FPS, the Arctis 7P is perfect.

Areas for Improvement

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P is a fantastic headset. However, there are areas for improvement that I hope the company takes on board. As mentioned before, the USB-C dongle needs to be smaller, or at the very least shaped in such a way that it doesn’t block the front USB-A port. I also feel that the headset needs better low-ends since it’s only very strong in the mid-high ranges.

Packaging the headset with a carry case would also be a welcome addition. Considering a key selling point is that it can be used with your Nintendo Switch, PC/laptop and even Android phones, I’d expect many gamers to be taking the headset around with them. Therefore, providing a pouch or case would go a long way towards the longevity of the headset.

Final Thoughts

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P is a phenomenal headset. Considering it released at essentially the same time as the PS5, SteelSeries is the only third-party company that managed to release a high-quality wireless headset that takes full advantage of Sony’s 3D Tempest audio engine, and this is a critical feature when purchasing any headset for the console. If you’re looking for a headset primarily to play single-player games, the Arctis 7P may not be the right option. However, we at EGL are hardcore competitive gamers and we need hardware that will maximize our performances primarily in FPS games. If you’re in this boat, the SteelSeries Arctis 7P is the best option for you.

If you’re one of the many unfortunate gamers who weren’t able to secure a PS5 for launch but are planning on getting one, don’t forget that the Arctis 7P also works perfectly with the PS4. When you upgrade to next-gen, you can rest assured knowing that your headset is not only compatible with the PS5, but has features that are specifically designed to work with the PS5.

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