Steelseries released the Arctis 5 and Arctis 7 models in the fall of 2016, with consumer availability early in 2017. Although the Arctis 7 is a wireless model, and one would think the Arctis 5 is just the wired version, there are distinct differences with these two headsets. It’s safe to say, the Arctis 5 is its own model and not the wired version of the 7.
Audio: The audio frequency range of the Arctis 5 is where we first start to see the differences between the Arctis 5 and the Arctis 7. The range of the Arctis 5 goes from a low of 20 Hz to a high of 22,000 Hz, exceeding the high-end range of the Arctis 7. That said, one of the biggest differences between the Arctis 5 and its competitors are the speaker driver magnets. Within the Arctis are a rare-earth neodymium magnet, which are known to produce some of the richest bass sounds compared to other driver magnets. This can actually confuse listeners who think lower-end headsets are producing a deeper bass sound beyond the 20 Hz range, but in reality, this is caused from speaker distortion. By utilizing a neodymium magnet, the Arctis line produces the clearest sounding bass around, with no distortion.
The Arctis 5 comes with 3 cables attachments – The main headset connector cable, a micro USB to 3.55mm Adapter cable, and the main USB cable. The cable plugs directly into the left ear cup, thereby giving added safety and security of the unit by allowing the cable to come out of the jack if you reach the end of the cable (or if you’re dogs tangle themselves in your cables like mine tend to do).
It’s important to note, that this is the first headset I’ve reviewed that actually ships with a 3.55mm adapter cable, thereby enabling the device to be used with smartphones and every gaming system on the market.
When connected, the Arctis 5 gives you a range of 10ft of cable. The only thing that I found myself wanting, was if this rubber cable was a braided cable for added durability.
Microphone: The microphone on the Arctis 5 is a noise canceling mic, where it filters out background noises. This is a great feature if you find yourself in a noisy environment, but it tends to limit the microphone’s capability and clarity. The end result is you tend to come across as “quiet” online and I did have some users having to adjust my character in-game, so that the sound from my microphone was boosted. For more information and understanding on how the noise canceling feature works, check out my post titled Noise Reduction Headphones – How They Work.
Steelseries indicates the microphone is a bidirectional microphone. What this really means is that it picks up sounds from all around, so that noise cancellation feature is a good idea.
What I like about the microphone on the Arctis line, is it’s retractable into the left ear cup so it can stay out of the way. When muted, the microphone illuminates red, just like with the Arctis 7.
Cushions: The Arctis 5 uses a memory foam construction covered with an air weave cloth, which is designed to allow for better airflow to the ears. For me, I didn’t find myself with hot ears after a few hours of wearing them, but did start to notice that my ears were getting warm after the 3-hour mark, just like I did with the Arctis 7’s. I’m not a big fan of fabric covering over memory foam and would prefer if Steelseries had offered these with leather or leatherette like their main competitor the Razer Kraken. Steelseries does offer replacement cushions for $20 US, or you could head over to Amazon and pick up an aftermarket set of leather cushions that work with these.
Headband & Adjuster: The headband on the Arctis 5 is the same found on the Arctis 7 and is made of two distinct parts. The outer headband is made from a fixed width aluminum frame and then utilizes their elastic (and customizable) Ski Goggle Band which allows for an even distribution of force across your head, as opposed to fixed band headsets which tend to leave you with hard and uncomfortable pressure points. The following is a great behind the scenes video from Steelseries which explains and showcases their suspension headband and how it works and differs from the Arctis 7.
Lighting: The biggest difference between the Arctis 5 and the Arctis 7 is the lighting. Because the Arctis 7 is wireless, anything that is going to cause a drain on the battery (lighting) needed to be excluded from the model. As the Arctis 5 is wired, it features fully customizable RGB lighting. You can even customize the lighting to change colors, as well as change based on the application (I had mine set to change every second when iTunes was loaded and when I was in gaming mode, I had them change every 60 seconds. I then created a Movie mode and set it not to change whatsoever.
Color: The Arctis 5 and 7 only come in either a black or white shell, however the customizable Ski Goggle is where you can customize the unit to your liking. It should be noted that the variety of Ski Goggle straps on the market today, the majority are designed for the Arctis 5, with only a handful designed for the Arctis 7.
What I Like
What I really like about these and all the headsets in the Arctis line-up of headsets, is that Steelseries didn’t compromise on quality. They use the same neodymium magnets that are found in their higher-end headsets. I really respect a company that does this, as they could have chosen the easy road and produced a less-quality product, but Steelseries didn’t do this.
I also like that they include a 3.5mm adapter in the box. A simple little thing like this, allows me to take these with me anywhere I go and on any device. It’s the small things in life that can make a difference and again, Steelseries stepped up and stood behind their product line and gave more options to the consumer.
Lastly, I appreciate how they’re pushing the high-end of the audio spectrum with audio drivers that reach 22,000 Hz.
It’s also almost too obvious to mention, but I think all headsets should plug in to the ear cups, otherwise you risk ripping the wires out of the internal connectors and ruining your headset. So, I LOVE that Steelseries has this.
What I Don’t Like
Perhaps it’s my age, but I’m not really into customizing my headset with fancy bands or colors. That said, I did find the Ski Band EXTREMELY comfortable. Time will tell if I prefer this feature over a molded memory foam.
Verdict – Would I Buy It Again?
I can honestly say, that when I reviewed these, I sold my son on them. He tried them out and LOVES them over his existing (and broken) headset. They’re so incredibly comfortable, that they’re now the main headset that I use. He’s even asked that if I’m not around on my computer, if he can “borrow” them.
Detailed Product Information
Product: SteelSeries Arctis 5 RGB Illuminated Gaming Headset with DTS & 7.1 Dolby Surround
Cheapest place to buy: Amazon
Warranty: 1 Year
My Rating: 8 out of 10
SteelSeries Arctis 5 RGB Illuminated Gaming Headset with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround