When looking at headsets, it’s important to understand your personal needs. In our house, we have dogs (two of them) who like to curl up under the computer desks, where all the wires tend to congregate. Sense a ‘cat’ in the yard and these two dogs bolt up and tear out from under the desk, wrapped in the wires and off goes a headset. As such, I started looking into wireless headsets and the first one on the list to take a look at, is the Arctis 7 by SteelSeries.
Audio: The audio frequency range of the Arctis 7 has a response range of 20Hz on the low end to 20kHz on the high end. It matches the exact audible range of the human ear, so you’ll be able to experience deep base at the 20Hz spectrum and high trebles and armor ricochets on the at the 20kHz end. This is also the exact same audio frequency found in the Steelseries lower-end models, so if you’re looking for a headset that goes below the 20Hz level for that deep bass, you won’t find it in the Arctis 7. That said, it does match the exact audio spectrum of the human ear so if you’re wanting this headset for gaming or digital audio, it’s perfect.
Connections: The Arctis 7 is a wireless headset, so there’s no wires dangling down under your computer desk where they can get pulled and broken. Instead, the Arctis 7 uses a Bluetooth wireless dongle that is connected via USB to your PC. The dongle not only allows a pairing connection with the headset, but it has 2 additional audio jacks on the dongle itself, allowing a second audio out unit (not USB, but something using a standard 3.5mm audio plug) to be plugged in and share the audio, as well as an audio out plug (also 3.5mm) where you can direct the output to a secondary source like a mixer board.
Microphone: The microphone on the Arctis 7 uses a retractable microphone attached to a semi-flexible plastic extender. The quality of the microphone is either hot or not, but depends on the use. If you’re using the headset for online gaming, it’ll be fine, however some of my colleagues mentioned that my chat was coming across as being very quiet in-game, so they had to boost my chat. I did some sample recordings with this headset and found it to be over-sensitive on hard-letters like (P)owerful, (C)ombat, (K)ill, (S)hoot. Those hard-letters tend to muffle the microphone and distort the sound quality. For this reason, I would not recommend this headset for audio recordings (YouTube videos, Podcasts, etc.), but for gaming – it’s just fine and to be honest, Steelseries is a “gaming” company, so that’s their target audience, not an audiophile.
Muting the microphone is just like with the Siberia 150 and Arctis 5 – on the left ear cup. When you press the button, the microphone has a red light at the end that lights up to indicate that it’s now been muted.
Cushions: In my review of the Arctis 7, it’s really the cushions which are its downfall. They’re removable (nice feature for cleaning) and made from memory foam with a mesh outer cover, however I found my ears just sweated terribly with these. I’m not certain what the huge difference is in the material between the lower-end Siberia 150’s and the Arctis 7’s, but I did not have this issue with the Siberia ones. Another thing I found is that I felt the inner-workings of the ear cups pressing in on my ears and this likely contributed to the hot, sweaty feeling, but it also tended to make my ears sore after prolonged use.
I did some research on these ear cushions and there are leather replacements available through Steelseries. This seems to be the recommended approach if you plan on wearing this headset for hours at a time.
Headband & Adjuster: The headband on the Arctis 7 is of two parts. The outer headband is made from a brushed aluminum – often found on high-end audiophile headphones. What’s interesting, is the outer headband is not adjustable, so if you have an overly large head, you may find this style of headphone painful to wear. The adjustability of the headband occurs on the inner portion, which uses an elastic fabric, which SteelSeries calls their Ski Goggle Band, can be replaced/changed to various color schemes to match your personality. It’s important to note that the Arctis 7 Ski Goggle Band is not compatible with the Arctis 3 or 5 bands, so when ordering one, make sure it’s the Arctis 7 version. SteelSeries also has a 100% leather headband replacement that you can pick up, that sports an extremely sophistical look.
Unlike previous models by Siberia 150 by SteelSeries, the Arctis line has a completely different connector for the ear cups to the headband. The Siberia 150 uses a flat adjuster that slides into the headband and if you’ve read my previous reviews, this is the ‘weak point’ in the product and where they tend to break if not taken care of.
The Arctis 7 utilizes a swivel joint, which allows the ear cups to rotate 180 degrees. While I like this feature as it enables a better fitting ear cup against your head, I question it’s rigidity when it comes to taking the headset on and off one-handed. I never had mine break like on the Siberia 150, but time will tell on this design feature.
Lighting: Unlike previous version in the Arctis line-up, the Arctis 7 does not have RGB lights to customize your headset. Because this is a wireless unit, any kind of lighting or additional features would drain the battery life, so the only customization you can do with the Arctis 7 is with the Ski Goggle Headband.
Color: The Arctis 7 unit itself comes in either a black/grey combination, solid black, a white/black combination, or a solid white. Again, the customizable Ski Goggle is where you can customize the unit to your liking.
When looking at any wireless headset, this is the crucial point. The batter life on the Arctis 7 is approximately 24 hours with the latest firmware upgrades. Previous/early models of the Arctis 7 were lasting only around 12-15 hours, so 24 hours is a huge improvement. The only downfall to the battery life is charging – you cannot use the headset while it’s being charged. To charge the unit, plug the micro-USB cable into left ear cup and the other end plugs into a free USB slot on your PC or wall charger. It takes about 4-5 hours to fully charge the unit from 0%, but when you first get these, let them charge overnight.
The power button on the left ear cup indicates the level of charge the batteries have.
- Green = 50-100%
- Yellow = 20-49%
- Red = 10-19%
- Red (with a rapid blink rate) = 1-9%
Unlike wired headsets, having a wireless unit allows the user to be completely mobile and away from their desk. I have a Jabra wireless headset at work that allows me to move to the printer and back (approximately 10ft), but the Arctis 7’s put that to shame! My home PC is located in the basement in the far end of the house and I can still be connected and chatting perfectly with people while I go all the way upstairs to the exact opposite end of the house and let the dogs out. That’s got to be around 75ft or more! This was very impressive for this headset.
What I Like
Honestly, I never thought I’d be interested in a wireless headset, but I’ve found this feature really useful. I found myself listening to my iTunes library on my PC while I was upstairs in the kitchen doing dishes. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. The range on these was just out of this world, so on days when I work remotely from home, instead of using my cordless phone to carry on work calls, I would just use my Arctis 7’s with Skype and make skype calls.
Not having wires piled up around my desk is a big plus. I have a neat-freak in the house, so this just ticked the box for me, right from the get-go.
The battery life on these wireless units are probably the best in the industry, pushing a full 24 hours before needing a re-charge. The last thing you want is to come home after a hard days’ work and turn on your favourite game, just to find out your headphones battery is dead. This will never happen with these, as the battery life is crazy good and charging time is fairly quick.
What I Don’t Like
I didn’t like the Ski Goggle headband for adjusting the headset. I would have preferred they use a slide adjuster found on higher-end headphones.
The jury is also still out on the swivel connector for the ear cups. My kids tend to one-arm fling their headsets off, so I’m just waiting for this to break. When it does, I’ll update this post.
The number one thing I don’t like is hot, sweaty ears! To me, this is the most uncomfortable thing ever, so this was the largest downfall of the unit for me and I find myself having to take the headset off every hour to let me ears cool off and breathe.
Verdict – Would I Buy It Again?
For solely listening to digital music and gaming, I’d buy this in a heartbeat, BUT (and this is a big caveat), if I plan on using them for an extended duration (anything around 3 hours or more), then I’d want to get a different set of ear cup cushions.
If you have a larger head size or find yourself (like me) with hot ears from headphones and headsets, then you might need/want to keep looking at other makes and models.
Detailed Product Information
Product: SteelSeries Arctis 7 Lag-Free Wireless Gaming Headset with DTS and Dolby 7.1
Cheapest place to buy: Amazon
Warranty: 1 Year
My Rating: 7 out of 10