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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 Review

Our comprehensive review of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1, a budget-friendly gaming headset. We explore its design and comfort, sound quality, and features, helping you decide if it’s the right choice for your gaming needs.
steelseries arctis nova 1 review

Finding the perfect balance between quality and affordability for a gaming headset can often feel like an impossible quest. Enter the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1, a wired gaming headset that promises to deliver on both fronts. This lightweight, budget-friendly device aims to redefine expectations, offering a blend of aesthetic appeal, performance, and functionality that appeals to both casual and serious gamers alike. With a noise-canceling microphone and comfortable design, it stands out as a promising contender in the crowded market of gaming headsets.

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 comes in three variants: the Nova 1, 1P, and 1X. The main difference is the headband color corresponds to the color of each console brand. The only other difference is the Nova 1 comes with an additional cable (dual 3.5mm extension for use with PC) while the 1P and 1X only come with a single 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. Our variant for review is the Nova 1P.


Key Specifications

  • Type: Over-ear, closed-back
  • Driver Type: Dynamic, 40mm
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Impedance: 36 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 93 dB SPL
  • Weight: Approximately 236g
  • Connection: 3.5mm
  • Detachable Cable: Yes
  • Microphone: Yes, integrated

Design & Comfort

In The Box

  • Arctis Nova 1 headphones
  • 3.5mm 5 pole to 4 pole 1.2m cable

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 features a sleek, black (or off-white for the white version) colorway paired with breathable gray earcups and a stretchy support band, distinguishing it visually from its predecessors and competitors. Notably, the entire chassis is crafted from a lightweight plastic, which not only enhances its portability but also ensures comfort during prolonged use. This design choice maintains a low profile while still exuding a premium feel, suitable for both gaming marathons and casual listening. The headset feels very solid and well built despite the plastic materials. The included 3.5mm cable is of good quality, but is a little short in my opinion.

On-device Controls

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 offers a user-friendly interface with intuitive on-device controls. Located on the left earcup, users can easily access the volume wheel and a microphone mute button. These controls are designed for quick adjustments during gameplay or media consumption, ensuring that volume levels and mute options are always within reach without having to navigate through software settings.

Aesthetics and Build Materials

The Arctis Nova 1’s design aligns with SteelSeries’ commitment to stylish, yet functional gaming accessories. The earcups display a subtle rounded accent with the recognizable SteelSeries logo centrally placed, contributing to its sophisticated aesthetic. Moreover, the headset incorporates a ski-band headband design which is a departure from the traditional models, offering a unique look while evenly distributing weight across the head, thus reducing pressure points.

Comfort and Fit

Comfort is paramount with the Arctis Nova 1, thanks to the inclusion of SteelSeries’ ComfortMAX system. This system features AirWeave memory foam ear cushions that are exceptionally soft and breathable, making them ideal for users who wear glasses. The headset also introduces a new height-adjustable feature allowing users to find the perfect fit, and the earcups can rotate and lay flat, enhancing both comfort and ease of storage. The stretchy headband further aids in distributing the headset’s weight, virtually eliminating any fatigue from extended wear, making it one of the most user-friendly designs in its class.

All of these factors make the Nova 1 feel comfortable to wear and fairly breathable. After a couple of hours of use, I had no discomfort and minimal heat buildup. If you have large ears or a large head the earcups may not be large or deep enough, and the headset may not be able to stretch enough to fit comfortably, so I would recommend trying a pair on before buying.

Portability

While the Arctis Nova 1 is not designed with ultra-compact storage in mind, its earcups can swivel to lay flat, making it easier to carry in a backpack or large bag. This feature, combined with its remarkably light weight of just 236 grams, underscores its utility as a portable device. Although it doesn’t fold into a more compact format, its sturdy build and ease of adjustment ensure that it remains a practical choice for gamers and audiophiles who need a reliable headset on the go.


Sound Quality

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 delivers a warm sound profile characterized by a touch of extra high-bass, adding warmth to mixes which can enhance sound effects like footsteps in games such as Call of Duty. However, the headset demonstrates a significant dip in low-treble, which impacts the clarity of vocals and instruments. Despite this, the bass accuracy is good, providing a balanced warmth and boom that can slightly clutter vocals and instruments in music but has minimal negative impact on games.

Gaming Performance

As previously stated, the extra bass helps bring out sounds such as gunshots and footsteps. Pair this with the very solid imaging of the Nova 1 and you have a great headset for competitive gaming, such as Call of Duty and Fortnite. I was able to accurately pinpoint enemy positions with the sound cues of footsteps, gunfire, and weapon reload sounds. The soundstage of the Nova 1 is fairly intimate, which helps with these types of games. Despite the small soundstage, games such as Skyrim, Starfield, and Witcher 3 that feature expansive environments don’t feel claustrophobic. You still get a sense of how large the environments are, which leads to good immersion.

Audio Quality Across Different Media

Testing across different media reveals that the Arctis Nova 1 manages to deliver a robust audio performance. For instance, rock and electronic music is handled well, showcasing the Nova 1’s capability to balance the low end without overshadowing the mids. However, some genres like house music expose the headset’s limitation in sub-bass output.

Sound Isolation

The noise isolation performance of the Arctis Nova 1 is modest. As closed-back headphones, they do not effectively block out more intrusive noises such as car engines or ambient chatter but do manage to reduce the hum of computer fans and keyboard clicks. This makes them suitable for quieter environments but less ideal for noisier settings.

Overall, the sound performance of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1, while not without its flaws, presents a balanced and warm audio experience that can enhance both gaming and general media consumption, especially considering its budget-friendly price point. Excellent for gaming, enjoying music, and watching movies, but not recommended for critical listening.


Features

Microphone Performance

The Arctis Nova 1 is equipped with a fully retractable ClearCast Gen 2 noise-canceling microphone, which utilizes advanced AI algorithms from Sonar Software to deliver clear communication. This microphone is capable of reducing background noises such as keyboard clacking and other ambient sounds, ensuring that your voice is heard clearly and without interruption. The microphone’s bidirectional design and sensitivity allow for natural-sounding audio capture that is bright and clear, making it ideal for both gaming sessions and conference calls. Using the Nova 1 for Discord audio and Teams video calls, others had no issues with my mic quality and noted that my voice was clear with little ambient noise.

Compatibility and Connectivity

This headset is designed for versatility and broad compatibility across multiple platforms. The 3.5mm jack ensures that the Arctis Nova 1 can connect seamlessly to a wide range of devices including PCs, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Mac, and mobile devices. This feature is particularly beneficial for gamers who play across different systems or for those who wish to use the headset on the go. The simplicity of the analog connection allows for easy plug-and-play functionality, making it a convenient choice for everyday use.


Conclusion

True to its purpose, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 emerges as a balanced blend of style and functionality, offering users a budget-friendly choice that does not compromise on performance standards set by pricier contenders in the gaming headset market.

Reflecting on the final thoughts mentioned in this review, it’s clear the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 manages to carve out a distinctive place for itself among the gaming community and even for budget audiophiles. Its appeal is amplified by its compatibility across various platforms and the inclusive design that caters to a wide audience, including gamers, audiophiles, and even typical consumers seeking a reliable audio device. As we conclude, the significance of a well-rounded headset that combines aesthetic allure with acoustic competence and user comfort cannot be overstated, marking the Arctis Nova 1 as a commendable choice for those venturing into the realm of high-quality gaming audio on a budget.


We are not always able to cover all the details of a product, both hardware and software, in our reviews. If you have any specific questions you’d like answered about this product please feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly.

HiFi Oasis Verdict

HiFi Oasis Verdict
7 10 0 1
7/10
Total Score
  • Design & Comfort
    7/10 Good
  • Sound
    7/10 Good
  • Features
    7/10 Good

Pros

  • Good overall comfort and design
  • Sound profile excellent for gaming
  • Built-in, quality microphone
  • Great value for the performance

Cons

  • Included cable is a little short
  • Limited feature set
  • Earcup size and headband might not fit larger ears and heads
Total
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