There are a lot of gimmicky gaming headsets these days. You can find headsets with intense surround sound (which admittedly isn’t all that gimmicky anymore), vibrating earpads, customizable LED lights, or an included DAC with separate modes for different devices. Basically, it all boils down to this: if you want a specific feature, something’s got it, and it probably costs too much. A gaming headset that eschews extra features in favor of just nailing the basics is pretty rare. With the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless, the HyperX Cloud Alpha finally has some company in the simple-but-great category.
Who is the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless for?
- Nintendo Switch gamers looking for a decent wireless audio solution, or gamers looking for any good wireless headset that works with most devices.
- At-home workers who want something wireless that sounds good and lasts a long time.
- People looking for wireless headphones that work with USB-C smartphones and don’t rely on Bluetooth.
What is the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless like?
The Arctis 1 Wireless is impressive. It’s the first wireless gaming headset to support USB-C, built on the same framework as great SteelSeries gaming headsets the Arctis 7 and Arctis Pro, with solid sound and a decent mic. It’s also only $100.
The headset has been updated to fit the needs of Nintendo Switch owners, for whom good wireless options were few and far between. Previously, USB headsets only worked when the console was docked; you had to use a 3.5mm solution if you wanted to go mobile. The Arctis 1 Wireless makes it easy to play in both configurations. Just take the small dongle out of the adapter, slap it on the bottom of the Switch, and this bad boy’s ready to go.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is primarily a plastic headset, with the airweave fabric headphone pads typical of SteelSeries products. Think of them as a little firmer than fabric like velour, but without the heat buildup of leather. Overall, this is a very comfortable headset; it sits securely, and creates a great seal too. The ear cups aren’t very deep and might get a little uncomfortable during long gameplay sessions, particularly for people with especially large ears. Remember, when you’re using something for hours on end, even minor quibbles can turn into serious discomfort.
The headset also sports on-ear controls and a detachable 3.5mm mic, which is nice if you decide to connect it to a phone or mobile device with a USB-C port — something that also works well, though it adds bulk.
Gaming with the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
My time gaming with the Arctis 1 was a real treat. The USB-C dongle and USB-A adapter made gaming on the Switch convenient, but it also meant gaming on the Playstation 4 and PC worked just as well (the Xbox One doesn’t support it, unfortunately).
The gaming headset handled the low-key jazzy soundtrack of Untitled Goose Game just as well as the gunfire-and-explosion-heavy profile of Overwatch. Surround sound wasn’t an option, though the PC version of Overwatch’s game-level surround sound worked just fine. Surround sound isn’t necessary in most games, so this really isn’t an issue.
Typical of every SteelSeries gaming headset, the Arctis 1 Wireless is also compatible with the company’s Engine audio software, but all you can do with it is monitor battery life, which is kind of hard to gauge otherwise. In our testing, the battery lasted 25 hours and 22 minutes on a single charge, but you may get a little more than that — our test runs at a higher volume than many people listen to.
Chatting over Discord was similarly great. The Arctis 1 Wireless’ mic is probably its weakest part, but the headset is Discord certified, much like every other SteelSeries headset. It’s not at all clear what a Discord certification really means, but clarity in voice calls was never an issue, and the program recognized the headset notably faster than most gaming headsets I’ve used.
How does the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless sound?
The Arctis 1 Wireless offers more accurate sound than more expensive headsets in SteelSeries’ product line. With the exception of a slight over-emphasis on sounds in the bass range and a dip in the highs, this headset puts out pretty neutral sound across the frequency spectrum. In game, this means explosions and gunfire won’t sound any louder than they should. In music, this means you shouldn’t have much trouble with different instruments drowning each other out when they’re not supposed to. Parts of speech in the high range, like sibilant sounds (F, S, and Sh sounds) also won’t get lost over voice chat as easily.
While the sound is remarkably solid, the Arctis 1 Wireless offers only average isolation for a gaming headset, partly due to the fabric ear pads. You won’t have much issue at home, but this headset won’t help much at a noisy cafe, which is unfortunate given how device-friendly it is.
Is the microphone good for conversation?
Similarly, the headset’s microphone falls pretty well in line with most gaming headset microphones. It de-emphasizes bassy sounds and it’s a little quiet, which means people with deeper voices might sound a little tinny. Regardless, I didn’t run into any notable issues with clarity. Listen for yourself:
Should you buy the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless?
Yes, absolutely. The airweave cushions are very comfortable, despite how shallow they are. A headset like this doesn’t come around very often.The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is affordable, comfortable, and it sounds really good. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better headset — especially if you’re looking for something for Nintendo Switch.
However, If you’re obsessed with Fortnite and really want something with surround sound on PC, something like the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is only a little more expensive. If you’re concerned about the headphones being too shallow, or you game primarily on the Xbox One, the HyperX Cloud Alpha is the same price, plugs into console controllers via the 3.5mm jack, and arguably sounds a little better.
Outside of those situations, you probably won’t find a better option than the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless.