SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC Review 15

SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC is available online for $250/€280.
  • Amazing sound performance, both for music and serious gaming
  • Excellent microphone quality
  • Feature-packed sound card with a great DAC chip (ESS Sabre 9018Q2C)
  • Fantastically useful ChatMix function
  • Zero-lag microphone monitoring (Sidetone)
  • Full configuration possible on the GameDAC, without any drivers
  • Beautiful design and fantastic build quality
  • Superb comfort levels—ear cushions are extremely soft, the inner elastic headband is comfortable, and the weight distribution is great
  • Additional volume and microphone controls built into the left ear cup
  • Removable ear cushions
  • Customizable headset design (replacement ear cushions, headbands, and ear-cup plates available)
  • Line-out, optical in and AUX in ports on the GameDAC
  • Pretty RGB lighting system
  • Priced for hardcore gamers and enthusiasts
  • GameDAC doesn't support other headsets or headphones (adapter for headphones should be available soon)
  • OLED display cover of the GameDAC gets scratched easily
  • GameDAC could do with a more powerful headphone amplifier and should have a louder line-out
  • Microphone Sidetone should be accessible without going into the GameDAC's settings
It's only March, but I can already confidently say that the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC will be a strong contender for Best Headset of 2018. SteelSeries did almost everything right, and this product has every right to wear the title of their flagship gaming headset. The winning formula? They took everything we liked about the Arctis 3, 5, and 7 and made it all even better.

Let's start with the design and build quality. The Arctis Pro is based on the Arctis 7 (the best headset of 2017, as chosen by TechPowerUp), which already has a great-looking and insanely robust steel headband. They dropped the plastic ear cup hangers and replaced them with aluminum alloy ones, which results in an even more luxurious look, as well as a stronger construction. The customizability is pushed even further too. You can still replace the ear cushions and the headband, but now, the ear cup plates are replaceable as well. The plates affix to the ear cups magnetically, and it's a breeze to swap them out. Comfort-wise, the Arctis Pro remains one of the most comfortable headsets in existence as it gained no weight due to any of the tweaks.

More importantly, the improvement in sound quality is very noticeable as well, as good as it was on the Arctis 3, 5, and 7. Every aspect of the sound presentation is more refined—the bass is deeper and tighter, the mids are even cleaner, the soundstage is wider, and everything sounds more detailed. All of that was done without changing the wonderful balance and naturalness of the sound we liked on the original Arctis lineup. In terms of sound quality, the Arctis Pro is without a doubt one of the best gaming headsets I ever tried.

Then there's the GameDAC, the supplied external sound card equipped with a great DAC chip (ESS Sabre 9018Q2C), an OLED display, and a hefty list of features that let us get the most out of the Arctis Pro headset. I covered them extensively on the previous pages of this review, so here, I'll only mention my favorite ones—lag-free microphone monitoring (called "Sidetone" by SteelSeries), ChatMix, and the system-wide equalizer. The GameDAC and its two-button control system can be used to fully configure every aspect of the Arctis Pro headset and the sound card itself, without any drivers. Thanks to that, all of the features of the Arctis Pro are available to both PC and PS4 gamers.

Rounding things up is the excellent bidirectional, retractable microphone. It sounds good enough to be used for even Twitch and YouTube streaming, let alone simpler tasks, such as chatting on Discord, TeamSpeak, or some other voice app of your choice.

Sure, costing a full $250/€280, the Arctis Pro + GameDAC is an expensive audio system, but at least you can rest assured that your hard-earned money was spent on obtaining one of the best gaming audio solutions currently available on the market. Heck, it will even make your speakers sound better (assuming they have a decent amplifier), as the GameDAC will use its own ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC to feed those with a converted audio signal.
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