The SteelSeries Arctis 9 demonstrates that the Danish audio manufacturer still has ambition to spare. While theSteelSeries Arctis 7 has been ourbest gaming headset pick for years, it also came out in an era when smartphones still largely had headphone jacks. Now, Bluetooth is often the only way to get audio from a mobile device without a dongle, and the Arctis 9 is one of the few gaming headsets with Bluetooth connectivity built in.
The Arctis 9 connects effortlessly with PC, PS4, Switch (docked) and mobile platforms, and with a mm audio cable, it also connects with Xbox One, Switch (handheld) and older audio devices of all stripes. In all other respects, it’s very similar to the Arctis 7 — for better and for worse.
Like the Arctis 7, the Arctis 9 features a gorgeous, comfortable design, good in-game audio and a crystal-clear mic. But also like the Arctis 7, the sound quality isn’t quite what you’d expect for the price, particularly since the Arctis 9 costs a hefty $ instead of a more manageable $
You’re essentially paying an extra $50 for Bluetooth functionality, which is handy, but perhaps not worth the premium. It’s also that the Arctis 9 makes you jump through a few connectivity hurdles, considering that another SteelSeries product, theSteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox, has essentially solved the dongle problem once and for all.
I’m not convinced that the Arctis 9 is the absolute best headset you can get for $, but with good performance and a great design, it’s at least in the running. Learn more in our full SteelSeries Arctis 9 review.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 design
Right off the bat, the SteelSeries Arctis 9 earns kudos for doing what so few other gaming headsets do, and separating the overall volume and chat volume dials.
The volume dial is on the right earcup, along with the mic mute button, the Bluetooth button, the charging port and the mm audio jack. On the left earcup, you’ll find a chat mix dial, and nothing else. It makes telling the two dials apart effortless, unlike many other gaming headsets, which inexplicably place the two dials right next to each other.
Beyond that, the Arctis 9 features the classic Arctis design you’ve almost certainly seen before: a plain, lightweight black plastic chassis with an elastic headband on top. There’s a retractable mic in the left earcup, and not much else by way of adornment. You could very easily wear this headset out of the house without a single errant glance. There’s no RGB lighting or inventive design flourishes; it’s just an elegant, comfortable gaming headset.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 comfort
Like other Arctis headsets, the SteelSeries Arctis 9 uses what SteelSeries calls a “ski goggles” design. Instead of adjustable notches, the Arctis 9 has an elastic headband that adjusts to your head automatically each time you wear it. That means there’s no tedious fiddling with notches, even if you share the headset with a spouse or housemate. I always said I wished more gaming companies would embrace this design, but as headsets like theLogitech G prove, the design isn’t as effortless as SteelSeries makes it look.
The bottom line is that between its plush earcups and effortless headband, the Arctis 9 feels comfortable to wear for hours at a time, and almost guarantees a perfect fit from the moment you put it on.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 performance
I tested the SteelSeries Arctis 9 with a variety of games for PC, PS4, Switch and Android, including Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, Ghost of Tsushima, Star Trek Online and Doom Eternal. What I heard was very good across the board. I particularly enjoyed how subtle the directional sound was. This is useful when you’re facing down a horde of flying demons in Doom, but it’s surprisingly just as effective when you can hear your villagers chopping wood on one side and mining gold on another in Age of Empires.
Although the Arctis 9 isn’t advertised for the Nintendo Switch, it does indeed work in docked mode. The Bluetooth functionality works just fine for mobile games, and helped convey the battle cries in Tales of Crestoria and the gorgeous orchestral soundtrack of Monument Valley 2.
My only complaint about the Arctis 9’s game performance is that the sound is not markedly different from the SteelSeries Arctis 7, which itself didn’t have the richest or most nuanced soundscape. The sound is good overall, particularly for video games. But compared to another $ wireless gaming headset, like theLogitech Pro X Wireless, it’s lacking a little depth and subtlety. This is particularly true for music, which has very little bass and a flat, lifeless profile across genres.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 features
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 is a feature-rich headset, with no fewer than four ways to connect to various devices, as well as compatibility with the SteelSeries Engine software. While SteelSeries Engine was not compatible with the Arctis 9 during our review window (it will be shortly), SteelSeries informed us that the functionality is essentially the same as for the Arctis 7. That means you’ll be able to tweak equalizations, set up profiles for individual games and so forth.
The bigger deal this time around is that the Arctis 9 supports Bluetooth, which is a first in a wireless SteelSeries headset. Functionally, this means that you can pair the Arctis 9 wirelessly with mobile devices. You can also use Bluetooth for PC connectivity and keep the Arctis 9’s dongle hooked up to a PS4, which is a little less tedious than constantly plugging and unplugging the USB connector.
I’m of two minds about Bluetooth connectivity. On the one hand, it’s great for the Arctis 9 to offer wireless connectivity with mobile devices. On the other hand, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless arguably solved this problem in a more elegant way: with a USB-C dongle. Without getting into a comprehensive comparison, the USB-C dongle is both smaller and more versatile than the USB-A dongle that comes with the Arctis 9, particularly since the Arctis 9 dongle requires you to flip a switch between PC and PS4 connectivity.
The mic is also worth discussing here. The voice quality is crystal clear, and the mic itself is easy to retract, easy to extend and impossible to lose. I wish more gaming headset mics were as simply and intelligently designed.
SteelSeries Arctis 9 verdict
In our SteelSeries Arctis 9 review, we discussed the device’s great fit, good sound quality and impressive Bluetooth connectivity. Still, at $, it’s one of the more expensive mainstream gaming headsets on the market, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that it should sound just a little bit better, especially for music.
Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed using the Arctis 9 for both gaming and productivity, particularly since it’s so effortless to wear. In the same price range, I would consider (and perhaps even opt for) the Logitech G Pro X Wireless, but it depends on whether you prefer comfort (Arctis 9) or sound quality (Pro X Wireless). You can’t go wrong with either option.
Marshall Honorof is an editor for Tom's Guide, covering gaming hardware, security and streaming video. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.
Arctis 9 Wireless Wireless Gaming Headset for PC
- Wireless via USB
- DTS Headphone:X Surround
- SteelSeries Engine 3 support
- Wireless via USB
- SteelSeries Engine 3 support
- Wireless via USB in docked mode
- Bluetooth (when available)
Headphone Frequency Response
Headphone Total Harmonic Distortion
Headphone Volume Control
On Ear Cup
Headphone Chat Mix
On Ear Cup
Microphone Frequency Response
A2DP, HFP, HSP
|Features||Arctis 1 Wireless||Arctis 7||Arctis 9 Wireless||Arctis Pro Wireless|
|Wireless GHz Lossless|
|Hi-Res Audio Drivers|
|Connections||USB Dongle, Analog||USB, Analog||USB, Analog, Bluetooth||Optical, USB, Analog, Bluetooth|
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Arctis 9 a Bluetooth headset?
What is “Dual Wireless”?
Does the headset have EQ customization or surround sound on PlayStation?
How does ChatMix work?
How do I use the Arctis 9 with my PlayStation or Nintendo Switch?
For PS5 connection questions, please refer to our
PS5 Arctis headset connection guide.
What is sidetone and does this headphone have it?
SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless vs SteelSeries Arctis 9X
27 facts in comparison
SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless
SteelSeries Arctis 9X
Why is SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless better than SteelSeries Arctis 9X?
- Compatible with PlayStation?
- 6m greater wireless connectivity range?
- newer Bluetooth version?
Why is SteelSeries Arctis 9X better than SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless?
- Hz higher microphone frequency?
- Compatible with Xbox?
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Devices with stereo speakers deliver sound from independent channels on both left and right sides, creating a richer sound and a better experience.
Comfortable full-size form with earcups that fully enclose your ears. This model is loved for its increased sound isolation and the fact that it won't leak sound to your neighbors. It offers potential for maximum bass and loudness levels.
With a detachable cable you can use alternative cables, and if the cable is pulled it will pop out instead of breaking.
The device sits tightly in place, creating an acoustic seal which reduces background noise and prevents your music from leaking out.
The highest frequency at which device produces audio. The higher the high-frequency response, the clearer and crispier the treble.
The lowest frequency at which the device produces audio. The lower the low-frequency response, the stronger and juicier the bass.
Devices with neodymium magnets are lighter and more powerful than those which use ferrite magnets. They also have more bass and clear high notes.
The driver unit is the component that produces sound in the device. Bigger drivers are more powerful and can produce better bass.
Impedance is the device’s electrical resistance to the current being pushed through it. The lower the impedance, the easier it is to get higher volume and requires less power.
This type of device allows you to listen at lower volume levels, causing less ear fatigue as you don't have to crank up the volume to overcome background noise. Ideal for plane rides and morning commutes.
These microphones are designed to filter out background noise from the desired sound. Especially useful in noisy environments.
It's the 'loudness' of the sound that the microphone can pick up.
More microphones result in better sound quality and enable the device to filter out background noise.
The device's battery life (when in use) as given by the manufacturer. With a longer battery life you have to charge the device less often.
A standard mm male connector is suitable for use with all MP3 players and computer sound cards.
Wireless devices allow users more freedom of movement.
The headset can be used for playing games on PlayStation video game consoles.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard that allows data transfers between devices placed in close proximity, using short-wavelength, ultra-high frequency radio waves. Newer versions provide faster data transfers.
You can use your headset for in-game voice chat, private chat, audio for video chat, and in-game voice recognition using Xbox services.
The device has an option to mute/unmute a conversation directly from the device.
A headset is one headphone or pair with a built-in microphone. Headsets can be used for apps that require communication i.e. Skype, games with voice chat, mobile phones, etc.
There is a control panel on the device body, so you can easily access the volume control or remote without having to interact with a cable or another device it's connected to.
Which are the best PC and gaming headsets?
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Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless
Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE
If you're on the hunt for a good PC gaming headset on sale cheap today, Amazon has you covered with an excellent deal on the SteelSeries Arctis 1 wireless gaming headset. Taking over $25 off ,this solid budget-friendly wireless PC gaming headset is an absolute steal for the price.
On sale for $, Amazon's deal on this PC gaming headset is perfect for those who want to grab a basic no-frills headset that comes with some pretty nifty features. While the sound quality won't blow away any high-end gaming headsets anytime soon, for the price this deal is well worth a look for the budget-conscience buyer.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless Gaming Headset
Now: $ | Was: $ | Savings: $ (26%)
A great headset at this price, the Arctis 1 offers a great balance of affordability, features and sound quality at a cheaper price than premium level headsets. Excellent as a basic PC gaming headset or backup PS5/Xbox gaming headset.View Deal
The Arctis 1 goes on sale alongside the SteelSeries Arctis 7 one of the best gaming headsets to date. While the Arctis 1 offer delivers more savings, the Arctis 7 is getting a modest $14 discount. On sale for $, the Arctis 7 offers a much more premium-feeling headset that includes better sound quality, comfort and enhanced features.
That isn't to say the Arctis 1 isn't a good PC gaming headset, and for the price it's now at is well worth the money. SteelSeries' budget-friendly Arctis 1 delivers a great balance of comfort with premium-quality sound, but for the price it may be better suited as a backup headset or as a main PS5 gaming headset.
For $35 more, grabbing the Arctis 7 wireless gaming headset can be a significant upgrade if you've got the cash. That said there are plenty of deals going on right now on SteelSeries gaming headsets, and with Black Friday sales kicking off soon it's possible we'll see even better deals on gaming headsets soon.
Be sure to also check out T3's Black Friday deals hub as well! We'll be following the biggest sale event of the year closely, with updates on start times, best deals, what to expect, and more!
You can also take a look at our best Cyber Monday deals guide to get an early start on the biggest online shopping day of the year! Learn where to look for the best deals, what to watch out for, and more!
Lastly, if you're hoping to find some holiday gift shopping inspiration head on over to our best Christmas gifts guide today! We'll be covering the hottest products and trends picking up this holiday season.
Amazon arctis 9 wireless
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