SteelSeries Arena 7 review

Steelseries Arena 7 review: gaming speaker brilliance

Finding a good pair of stereo PC speakers is oddly challenging in 2023. Everything either looks weirdly clinical, is super expensive, or just sounds kinda sucky. SteelSeries, in my opinion, makes the best gaming headsets around, so I was curious to see what the company’s Arena 7 could do for the out-loud listening experience.

Details: SteelSeries Arena 7

Australian websiteSteelSeries
Price (RRP)$599
WarrantyTwo-year warranty
OtherRead more sound reviews on GadgetGuy

First Impressions: SteelSeries Arena 7

The SteelSeries Arena range has three options: Arena 3 (stereo speakers, $289), Arena 7 (stereo with subwoofer, $599), and Arena 9 (5.1 surround sound, $549 USD). The Arena 7 is right in the Goldilocks zone where you don’t have to work out where to put a bunch of rear speakers in a home office (though, I do very much covet that system), but it’s still got the subwoofer so you get a much better soundstage.

The setup was really quick and easy, with them sounding great out of the box, even before I even got around to installing the software. It’s a full, rich sound, far bigger than the tiny speakers would suggest. They also just look really nice. I like the rounded bodies, the light-up disk on the bottom as well as the light-up semi-circle on the back. The functionality of having a physical volume knob on the right speaker is wonderful, too. There should be more physical buttons and knobs on devices.

What can they do (and are they good at it)?

Despite just being 2.1 speakers, they do a shockingly good interpretation of Spatial Audio. When I first saw the mention of Spatial on the press release, I have to admit to rolling my eyes a bit, because many stereo speaker setups have claimed Spatial and then delivered nothing. But, while the effect certainly isn’t as good as you’d get on a system with upward-firing speakers and other accessories, I am extremely impressed with the “centre” and “side” channels. My wife thought they were using the monitor as a third speaker, they’re that good.

Aside from that, there is 4-zone RGB that can tie in with other SteelSeries accessories.

You can connect your phone via Bluetooth to play music while gaming if your computer lacks the oomph to run Spotify in the background. And there’s a 3.5mm jack on the back so you can plug a wired headset in if you have meetings.

Gaming audio

If you’re spending $599 on a pair of gaming speakers, there is a decent chance you’re going to be using them for gaming. I maintain that surround sound is the best for gaming, either through a headset or a proper surround sound system. This is because most of the time it’s really important to know when something is coming from behind you. However, that’s not always viable in every setup. If you can’t have surround, the Arena 7 is the next best thing.

In Fortnite, stuff that was in my periphery sounded like it was exactly where it was, which helped with finding chests and would-be assassins. The only issue came when the steps were coming from behind me and it wasn’t immediately obvious where (whereas on my SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, I always know exactly where everything is).

What was great, is that there are a bunch of presets tuned for different games in the Sonar app, and I found the Fortnite preset made a decent difference. I think the person who tuned the Forza Horizon 5 preset has different audio priorities from me, but it was good to use the template as a base to make my own setting that did make a difference.

Music listening experience

While it’s difficult to replicate exact game scenarios for comparison, it is easy to pick a song and get overly picky, looking for tiny details so you can compare it to your existing speakers. The good news is that the Arena 7 is excellent for music, particularly punk.

“What’s Mine Is Yours” by Sleater-Kinney is an absolute treat. Dave Fridmann went ham on stereo effects on The Woods album, and the disorienting effect is even more pronounced on these spatial speakers. Corin Tucker’s unique vocals ring out clearly while the distorted guitars have their full resonance. These are basically the ideal speakers for this album, and it was a pleasure to listen to an old favourite with new ears.

On to my more usual speaker/headphone testing songs, “Full Heart Fancy” by Lucky Chops sounded a little more grounded than I would prefer on the default EQ, just because these are gaming speakers, so the focus is on bass. However, the trumpet still soars, and that saxophone solo near the end shines. Playing with the EQ a bit, I can get it a bit closer to what I’d like, so it appears to be a setting thing rather than a hardware thing, but I would like it if the higher notes were able to shine a little brighter.

“Chasing Twisters” by Delta Rae is a little more disappointing, with the default EQ not really allowing any particular element to shine. Even the drums sounded a little muted, which is weird. Normally either the floor tom is given centre stage, or the piano, with really high-end stuff allowing both to shine. I also couldn’t hear some of the details I usually listen out for. Putting the EQ on punchy improved the experience a bit, but obviously lost some of the mid-tones the song relies on. So, while the speakers are great for punk and brass instrumentals, angsty dark country is perhaps not the genre for the Arena 7.

For a metal test, “Paralyzed” by Conquer Divide sounds very good. Kiraely Castillo’s vocals ring out clearly and the guitars sound nice and chunky, but I’m missing some of the definition around the drums, which is unexpected.

Truly, these speakers are a wild ride of being extremely impressed, setting your expectations super high, and then occasionally being average on some songs for no apparent reason. But, for the most part, they’re great and still put out way more well-defined sound than I would expect from a stereo pair this small.

Would I buy it?

Yes, absolutely. I now use them as my main PC speakers (though I’m now trying to work out how I could fit Arena 9s in my home office because I want that sweet, sweet surround sound). They look good, they sound good, and they don’t take up too much space. Being able to easily plug a headset into them means I don’t have to crawl under my desk to plug one in whenever I need to do a Zoom meeting. They do everything I want them to do that’s physically possible in this form factor. I just wish it came with a built-in mic (but you can buy a specially designed wireless one separately).

SteelSeries Arena 7
With excellent gaming sound, the SteelSeries Arena 7 speakers are a great option for mid-level stereo PC audio.
Value for money
Ease of use
They have an elevated gaming aesthetic
They sound good
Lots of customisation
Isn’t perfect for replicating all genres of music (and I wouldn’t really expect them to be)