SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro X gaming headset is a wired wonder (review)


Let’s get this out of the way: the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro X is one of the most feature rich and best sounding gaming headsets we’ve tested to date. If your budget for a wired gaming headset stretches to half a grand, you won’t be disappointed. Of course, the $499 price tag also makes it one of the most expensive wired gaming headsets on the market, but at least it’s a fair bit cheaper than the $679 wireless model, which we don’t expect to sound as good.


The Arctis Nova Pro is the wired version and comes in two flavours: one for the PS5/PS4 and the other for the Xbox Series of consoles. Although SteelSeries doesn’t openly advertise it, the Xbox-specific model works perfectly fine on the PS5 as well, whereas the PlayStation model doesn’t work on Xbox consoles since it lacks the necessary Microsoft security chip. As such, I recommend going for the Xbox model if you want a headset that works across both consoles. All models will work with the Nintendo Switch and PC as well. 

Connectivity is handled via SteelSeries new GameDAC Gen2 and you can connect it to two consoles at the same time (or a console + PC) thanks to the inclusion of two USB-C ports on the DAC.  With the included USB-A to USB-C cables, you simply plug in one end to the console and the other to the GameDAC and then plug in the headset using the included 3.5mm audio cable. Once connected, you can quickly switch audio output between the two connected consoles with the turn of the rotary dial on the GameDAC. 

Of course, you can also use the headset without the GameDAC but it definitely works and sounds better when paired with it. 

The GameDAC2 pumps out hi-res 96kHz/24-bit audio and you can make a custom EQ curve directly from the DAC or through the SteelSeries PC software. The Custom EQ you set will carry over to any connected console as well and you also have the option of selecting between eight built-in EQ presets directly from the GameDAC. 

Connecting the headphones to a PC and using SteelSeries software also opens the door to game-specific optimised EQ profiles (for games such as Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5). The profiles definitely added more punch to the sound when compared to running the headphones in their default flat preset. Hopefully, SteelSeries opens up support for game-specific audio profiles to the community so that we can see more variety in the games it supports. 

The included GameDAC is slim but powerful


The Arctis Nova Pro looks more like a lifestyle pair of headphones than a gaming headset; it has a relatively slim profile, clean design and a subdued black and gunmetal grey colourway. It reminds us a lot of the Sony XM3, right down to the plush faux leather cushions on the earcups that feel incredibly comfortable even while wearing glasses. In other positive news, we didn’t experience any clamping force, which is something that we’ve had issues with on previous SteelSeries headsets. 

There’s no noise cancellation on the wired version so it won’t be able block out the low rumble of a car or plane engine. The earpads do form a nice seal around the ears and do at least a decent job of blocking out lighter ambient sounds such as background chatter or the hum of an AC unit. 

The thick leatherette earpads feel great but based on our experience with the same material on other headsets, they are prone to peeling. Sadly, the earpads aren’t magnetic so you can’t swap them out easily, which is a shame for such a premium headset. As a point of comparison, the Astro A40’s have magnetic earpads while Logitech’s G Pro X come with an extra set of velour earpads in the box. 

The Nova Pros can’t collapse into a case like the Sonys can, but the earcups do at least swivel inwards making it comfortable to wear when not in use and resting on your shoulders. The microphone arm is also completely retractable allowing it to sit completely flush within the earcup, and there’s a pop filter bundled in as well.  

The Nova Pro also has a few personalisation options with a replaceable headband and magnetic speaker plates that you can switch out for different colours (sold separately).  

The Nova Pro is mostly made from plastic, with the exception being the metal headband and the nylon suspension strap that help distribute the weight across your head. The benefit of using mostly plastic is that it makes the Nova Pro incredibly light and it’s easily the most comfortable gaming headset we’ve tested to date. Unlike other gaming headsets that resort to RGB lighting or gaudy colourways, the Arctis Nova Pro goes for a more mature look and the result is a headphone you wouldn’t mind wearing while out and about. 

The Arctis Nova Pro X can easily pass as a regular lifestyle headphones while out and about

Sound and microphone quality 

The first thing we noticed when we plugged the Nova Pros into the PC via the included GameDAC was how clean the signal was. Wired headphones, particularly on PC, usually have some element of static or feedback to deal with but SteelSeries new GameDAC kept them to imperceptible levels. 

The AMP built into the DAC also pushes quite a bit of power, making the Nova Pro incredibly loud without any distortion. We set the Nova Pros a few notches below the max volume across both console and PC, and found this to be the most comfortable for our ears. 

The Arctis Nova Pro offers an incredibly rich sound that makes playing games and watching movies an engaging experience.

The detail and clarity particularly in the highs and upper midrange are really crisp and well defined but, at times, can be overly bright and become a little grating to the ear. 

The screeching of the tires as you zip around corners in Forza Horizon 5 or the sound of Aloy slicing her metal spear into a mechanical monster in Horizon Forbidden West are examples of moments where the Arctis Nova Pro accentuated the highs to the point of sounding too harsh. Thankfully, you can tone things down by setting a custom EQ via SteelSeries PC software, but that does require a bit of fiddling. 

Still, the overall sound is incredibly well defined and unmuddied, regardless of the volume level or how much is going on onscreen. For example, when passing through a towering waterfall in Horizon Forbidden West, we could still hear the crackling of the rolling thunder from overhead and the faint sounds of birds squawking in the distance. 

The emphasis towards the upper midrange and highs makes the Nova Pro a great pairing for playing competitive shooters as well. In one of the many hectic skirmishes we encountered when playing Halo Infinite online, the ability to pinpoint the direction of gunfire, footsteps and explosions helped give us a decent leg up on the competition. 

SteelSeries headsets have been found wanting in the past when it comes to bass and microphone quality but things have improved appreciably on both fronts with the Arctis Nova Pro. The bass doesn’t get as deep or as defined as our Audeze Mobius, which uses superior planar magnetic drivers, but you can at least add more kick using the custom equaliser via SteelSeries PC software. Meanwhile, the microphone quality is the best we’ve heard from a gaming headset to date, with spoken voice sounding remarkably natural and clear while also doing a great job of blocking outside noise. 

SteelSeries Sonar software is extremely powerful and offers custom EQ options as well as game-specific audio presets for select titles

GadgetGuy’s take 

The high asking price aside, SteelSeries had really knocked it out of the park with the Nova Pro X wired gaming headset. You’re really going to have to step up to something like the $700 Audeze Mobius for a better-sounding gaming experience. 

It also happens to be one of the most versatile gaming headsets on the market, with the ability to seamlessly switch between consoles and PC. SteelSeries should also be commended for offering a near-endless array of options to tune the sound and microphone quality to your specific tastes. The game-specific optimised EQ profiles are a nice touch too, providing a meaningful boost to the audio experience for those who prefer not to fiddle around manually with the equaliser. 

Our only real criticism of the Arctis Nova Pro X is that upper midrange and high frequencies can be too harsh at times, so if you’re sensitive to bright sounds this headset may not be a good fit. 

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro X Wired Gaming headset
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro X is one of the most feature rich and best sounding gaming headsets I've tested to date. If your budget for a wired gaming headset can stretch this far, you won't be disappointed.
Value for money
Ease of use
One of the best sounding gaming headset's on the market
Excellent microphone quality
GameDAC 2 makes switching between EQ profiles and consoles a breeze
Powerful software to tweak the audio and mic to your heart's content
Supports Hi-Res Audio
Highs and upper midrange can sound harsh at times
No replacement earpads included in the box
Expensive for a wired gaming headset