If you’re looking for a pair of high-quality headphones that offers you expansive sound for gaming while also doubling as your tool for zoom meetings and is below the $200 mark, you might want to check out the Steelseries 1, 3, and 5 from Arctis.
In summary, these three offer a diverse range in features, design, and price. The Arctis 5 is the most expensive of them all and the only one which comes with RGB lighting and a removable L-shaped plug for its cable. The Arctis 1, on the other hand, is the only one that offers an on-ear form. The Arctis 3 is the most economical of the three. While all three have identical frequency ranges, Arctis 3 and 5 offer passive noise reduction, which Arctis 1 doesn’t.
Let’s go have a closer look.
At first glance, all three headphones are quite obvious in their Scandinavian, minimal aesthetic, which, to be frank, is a bit of a luxury in the gaming headphone market, one that tends to be on the clunky and geekier side. This is a result of what the company calls ‘’the lofty goal of combining the unbridled bravado of hardcore gaming with our legacy of Danish Design.’
But it’s not just aesthetics. On a utilitarian level, the attention to detail is pleasantly apparent, like the AirWeave fabric (usually used on athletic apparel) on the ear cushions instead of velvet or leather substitutes on most headphones. And suspension bands that distribute the weight of the headphones across the listener’s head, creating a much more relaxed, weightless feeling. And finally, there’s the soft rubber used outside on the ear cups, which gives you a premium, matte appearance—a welcome alternative to a lot of other headphones that range between sweaty fabric or tacky plastics.
Last but definitely not least is the sleek microphone this series comes with. These are retractable. So you can switch from gaming/meeting mode seamlessly into regular cans to use for casual music-listening on a commute without looking like what the company website cheekily describes as an ‘air traffic controller’!
(Taking note of these factors, it is easy to understand why the Arctis series is the winner of the famous Red Dot product design award, amidst quite a few others).
The cables on the Arctis 3 and Arctis 5 are 3m long and are detachable. The one on the Arctis 1 is shorter (1.3 m) and not detachable.
- Arctis Steelseries 1: 272g
- Arctis Steelseries 3: 294g
- Arctis Steelseries 5: 277g
If the details above weren't already as attractive in the design department, the Arctis SteelSeries now come in multiple patterns and colors. These include a series of 3 colors (Glacier, Solar, and Winter Night) along with 3 design patterns (Crushed Snow, Crushed Dawn, and Crushed Dusk). Buyers can choose their preferred version.
As mentioned earlier, the Arctis is the only one with on-ear cups. The Arctis 1 and 3 come with straight plugs, and the Arctis 5 has an L-shaped one. While a tiny detail, it might be relevant to some, depending on the range of devices they intend to use these on.
Here is the product manual of Steelseries Arctis 1.
But high-end design or not, what it really boils down to with headphones is the sound, right?
These headphones don’t fail to deliver on this front either. All three have an identical frequency range (20Hz - 2000Hz) and impedance (32Ohms). The size of the sound driver units is similar as well (40mm).
The primary difference probably lies in the sound pressure level (devices with a higher sound pressure level are generally louder when supplied with any given audio source).
These are as follows:
- Arctis Steelseries 1: 100dB/mW
- Arctis Steelseries 3: 98dB/mW
- Arctis Steelseries 5: 98dB/mW
One major difference is that the latter two come with passive noise reduction, which the Arctis 1 does not offer.
Overall, the sound is balanced and clear. While not aimed at high-end audiophiles, they offer a premium listening experience for gaming and multi-media. The basses are compact, and the mids and highs sharp, albeit with a somewhat ‘hi-fi’ timbre which is to be expected, considering the sector they are aimed at.
The prime USP of these headphones is the virtual surround mode they offer when connected to a device directly via USB after installing the software provided. The jury seems to be out on this. Some aren’t convinced (after all, true surround needs more than two outputs), while others are quite pleased with the additional spatial experience this seems to offer.
Take a look at the Steelseries Arctis 3 for the information guide.
All three headsets can be connected to your device via the 3.5mm cables provided. No wireless connections are possible. They are compatible with most major gaming platforms like Playstations and Xbox.
Check this for a more comprehensive look at Steelseries Arctis 5.
This is how the Arctis Steelseries 1, 3, and 5 stacks up against each other:
- Design: Tie. But Arctis 1 is the lightest, and only the Arctis 5 has an L-shaped cable connector.
- Sound: Tie between Arctis 3 & 5. The Arctis 1 has no noise-canceling system.
- Connectivity: Tie.
- Price: The Steelseries 3 is the least expensive.
In conclusion, all three headphones offer innovative design and high sound quality. The primary points of difference are the noise-canceling, cable length, and volume (the Arctis 1 is the loudest).