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SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox review: "One of the best wired headsets we've used"

(Image: © Future/Royce Wilson)

Our Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox sets a new standard for wired Xbox gaming headset audio, and offers exceptional audio performance. If you don't mind being attached by wires, then this is one of the leading headset choices on Xbox and PC.

For

  • Outstanding audio quality
  • DAC allows for considerable EQ customisation
  • Comfortable
  • Also works with PC and PlayStation

Against

  • Mic is not retract-to-mute
  • Questionable earphone cup material longevity
  • Expensive compared to other wired sets

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro For Xbox is the latest wired addition from the well-regarded peripherals manufacturer to enter the best gaming headset market. At home on Xbox consoles and PC primarily, this set is aimed squarely at the premium end of the market for gamers who take their audio seriously.

And it does not disappoint: to say I was impressed would be an understatement – read on and I’ll explain why…

Design & features

(Image credit: Future/Royce Wilson)

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox has a minimalist, somewhat gamer-industrial aesthetic with a brushed metal headband complemented by brushed metal detachable side plates, and an adjustable fabric support headband – both of which can be swapped out for other colours if you have them. Overall the headset is generally well made and a good combination of sturdy yet lightweight.

The earcups house 40mm Neodymium drivers with a 38Ohm impedance and the microphone is of a retractable design that lives in the left-hand earcup. It isn’t a "retract to mute" design, however – there’s a button on the rear of the earcup for that, not far from the headset's general volume control knob on the earcup’s underside.

The Digital-To-Analogue Converter (DAC) unit is well made and sized, and comprises of a very large dial with an accompanying offset LED screen. The dial does double duty as a push button (much like on a late 2000s car stereo) to facilitate menu navigation and selection.

(Image credit: Future/Royce Wilson)

Performance

I can confidently say the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox gave an outstanding account of itself during our testing and is easily one of the best Xbox Series X headsets and best Xbox One headsets on the market right now.

The sound quality and depth, both in stereo and surround modes, was just superb, being clear, rich, and detailed on both Xbox and PC. I was impressed with the bass levels too, being deep enough to provide the "oomph" I like from the assorted explosions and gunfire-related events one encounters in the likes of Sniper Elite 5 and Doom Eternal, but not overwhelming the rest of the audio experience either. Other sounds were reproduced extremely clearly and distinctly, including dialogue, in-game audio cues, and ambient sounds such as rainfall in open-world games like Ghost of Tsushima.

While the headset is comfortable to wear, regrettably the leatherette-type material for the earcup cushions feels extremely thin and I am concerned it will eventually split or degrade, especially under heavy use.

(Image credit: Future/Royce Wilson)

The DAC was pretty straightforward to use and I liked the fact that once I set things like the EQ (which can be fine-tuned across a number of frequencies), volume, and chat mix how I liked them, they stayed set, even after the unit was turned off.

I can confirm from the testing we did that the Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro For Xbox is, as advertised, also compatible with PC and PlayStation 5. In fact, I was able to connect an Xbox Series X and a PlayStation 5 simultaneously (there are even two USB cables in the box) to the DAC and switch between inputs – essentially allowing one headset to be used for both consoles without having to plug in or reconnect anything else when switching between them.

The audio quality on the PlayStation 5 was not quite as good as on the Xbox or PC in my testing – it lacked the same depth and richness – but was still more than decent. (There is a dedicated PS5 version of the Nova Pro, so that'll be the one threatening those on our best PS5 headset list.) The PC sound was as good as the Xbox, however, making this especially appealing for anyone running both the Microsoft platforms, or anyone looking for a multi-functional PC headset for gaming.

(Image credit: Future/Royce Wilson)

Should you buy the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox?

Provided your console or PC isn’t more than about 3m away from wherever you like to sit and you don’t mind the wired setup, then the Nova Pro for Xbox gets a hearty and resounding recommendation for us. 

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro For Xbox is easily one of the very best wired headsets we've used on Xbox and PC and offered crystal clear, finely tuned audio experience across the board, paired with a comfortable fit and sturdy build.

Caveats are slight, as, while the sound quality and general offering is excellent, it is very expensive, and the cables can get in the way if you’re having a particularly energetic gaming session.

Ultimately, I believe the audio quality and the cross-compatibility with most other systems (particularly PC and PlayStation) outweigh the relatively minor negatives and make the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox a standard-setter for Xbox wired gaming headset audio.

How we tested the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox

We tested the unit by using it as a primary headset for an Xbox Series X, using the supplied USB and 3.5mm audio cables which came in the box, and tested with several games including Minecraft, Forza Horizon 5, Sniper Elite 5, Strange Brigade and Yakuza: Like A Dragon.

To test the advertised compatibility with PlayStation and PC, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro was connected to a PlayStation 5 both separately and in conjunction with the Xbox Series X (using the second USB output in the DAC), again using the supplied USB and 3.5mm cables, and tested with Ghost of Tsushima and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. 

The supplied USB and 3.5mm cables were also used to connect it to my gaming PC and tested with Doom Eternal and Age of Empires IV as well as general audio listening via Spotify, YouTube, and Netflix. 

You can read more about how we test gaming headsets as well as how we make all our recommendations in the full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy.

If you do want to cut the cords, check out our guides to the best wireless gaming headsets, as well as our top picks for a PS5 wireless headset and Xbox Series X wireless headset.

The Verdict
4.5

4.5 out of 5

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro for Xbox sets a new standard for wired Xbox gaming headset audio, and offers exceptional audio performance. If you don't mind being attached by wires, then this is one of the leading headset choices on Xbox and PC.

More info

Available platformsPC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
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Royce Wilson is an Australian games/tech journalist and historian who enjoys strategy and simulation games. Over the years he has written for several newspapers, websites, and magazines (including The Australian and news.com.au (opens in new tab)) on everything from Serious Journalism™ to gaming, history, cars, and travel. Currently, he is the editor-in-chief at Game On Aus and trying to make a dent in his unread books pile.