25 - 02 - 2018
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SteelSeries Arctis 3 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset Review

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steelseries arctis 3a

   Just like many others i too first discovered just how useful a good headset (or pair of headphones) can be while on the road (mainly while using public transportation) when i got my first SONY cassette player back in the early 90's. It goes without saying really that when I’m alone at home or at the office i rarely use a headset to listen to music, watch a movie or play a game since i don't really like having zero extra weight on my head, however when I’m not alone again it's pretty much a must. Now the good news especially compared to many years back is that today consumers have a vast selection of quality headsets in the sub USD100 available to them some of which reflect an excellent price/performance ratio. SteelSeries is no stranger among gamers and for the past 16 days we've been using the new Arctis 3 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset to see if it has what it takes to be one of the best in that price segment.

   SteelSeries has fueled the gaming industry by creating innovative new products, designed specifically for eSports and passionate gamers everywhere. Here at SteelSeries, we are obsessed with “firsts”. Dating back to 2001, our company was formed to meet the surface needs of hardcore gamers by introducing the first glass mousepad, the Icemat. Since that original innovation, we created the first mechanical gaming keyboard, the first suspended headband for gaming headsets, the first World of Warcraft mouse and endless other innovations. SteelSeries is dedicated to building products that push professional gaming further than anyone dreamed. Those innovations make gaming more competitive and more fun for gamers everywhere.

   Once again just like with the majority of gaming headsets currently in the market the Arctis 3 makes use of two (stereo) 40mm neodymium drivers that feature a frequency response of 20Hz-22KHz with 98dB sensitivity and 32Ohm impedance. According to SteelSeries the entire Arctis line of headsets uses the same S1 drivers they use with the flagship Arctis 7 model so there's a good chance there won't be much audio deviation between models (some model specific audio enhancements are quite possible however). Although the Arctis 3 features 3.5mm connectivity instead of the usual USB we usually see in order to "produce" 7.1 virtual surround sound SteelSeries implemented multichannel support at the software level through their Engine 3 software (always according to SteelSeries the audio driver receives multichannel audio and applies an algorithm to best represent 7.1 discrete sources of sound). The Arctis 3 also comes ready with a suspension headband (for optimal comfort and easy adjustment), ear cushions made by patented airweave fabric and a retractable noise-cancelling bi-directional microphone (SteelSeries calls it ClearCast) that features a frequency response of 100HZ-10KHz, -48dB sensitivity and 2200Ohm impedance.




















steelseries arctis 3 1t You can see a large product picture at the front of the box surrounded with the main product features, company logo and an award logo from PC Gamer.



Just like most products by SteelSeries the Arctis 3 was developed with the help of several eSports teams.



Two product pictures placed at the rear of the box are used to showcase most of the Arctis 3 features.



Along with the Arctis 3 inside the box you will also find a 3.5mm 4-pole adapter, dual 3.5mm extension cable, 3 meter long 3.5mm cable, product information guide, 7.1 surround sound activation paper and a happy/sad opinion paper.










steelseries arctis 3 5t

Before we start looking at the Arctis 3 I’d like to point out that all 3.5mm jacks are gold plated (we don't see that nearly as much as we'd like so it's worth mentioning).



As you can all see the Arctis 3 arrived in white color and is a medium sized headset.



Typically we used the compact REVO Wireless headset by Jabra to showcase the difference in size.



We also used our black foam head to showcase not only the size of the Arctis 3 (since the head is not really human sized) but also the suspension headband design (you may also have to adjust the headband via its two Velcro ends).



The SteelSeries logo is printed on the exterior of both earcups as seen above.



SteelSeries has been using long retractable flexible microphones for a long time now (they also feature mute LEDs at the front) and the clearcast used in the Arctis 3 is no exception.



At the rear of the left earcup SteelSeries has placed the microphone mute button, volume control knob, USB port and a 3.5mm port.



SteelSeries has once again used large and comfortable earpads (made out of their patented airweave fabric).



Both earcups can rotate 90 degrees to make it easier for you to store and/or transport the headset.



By default the Arctis 3 comes with a white and grey headband but you can get more from SteelSeries as seen above.



We forgot to point out that left and right markings are placed on the interior just over both earcups.










Before you can get to download and use the SteelSeries Engine 3 software you will need to register your Arctis 3 with the bundled product code (registration requires a valid email to complete).


Once you do and run the software chances are it will require downloading an update (not for the headset but for the software itself).



After that you will need to restart the software to access all the available settings.



The Engine 3 software will also ask you to select what your headset is connected with (we recommend leaving it to system default as above).



From within the software you can enable 7.1 virtual surround sound, manually adjust the equalizer or pick one of the 6 available presets, enable bass boost and you can also set the dynamic range compression, noise gate and noise reduction for the microphone.



Of course you can also save your settings into several different configurations.










steelseries arctis 3b
   SteelSeries has once again released one of the most comfortable gaming headsets in the market with the Arctic 3 (and probably the 5 and 7 models as well – reviews soon) so if you happened to like your “older” Siberia model you will not be disappointed (same goes for its build quality). We were expecting a little bit more from the 40mm S1 drivers in terms of mids and highs (since these are used in the 5 and 7 models as well) but they do sound better when compared to many other “affordable” models in the market currently and they do offer quite a bit of bass (especially when bass boost is enabled). Now I can’t say that positioning audio via 7.1 virtual surround was great since it wasn’t but you are getting 3D audio enhancement and for some people that’s a good thing. Of course we didn’t care much about the fact that you need to undergo through several steps to enable 7.1 virtual surround sound on the Arctis 3 so we do hope SteelSeries revises that in a future update. Unfortunately when used with consoles and 3.5mm equipped devices in general the Arctis 3 is not as good since you can’t “toy” around with its Engine 3 settings. The bi-directional clearcast retractable microphone also worked quite well but its noise cancelling properties are far from great since while playing several online games background audio was audible to other people.

   Currently the SteelSeries Arctis 3 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset retails for just USD79.99 inside the USA (Amazon.com) and 79Euros inside the EU (Amazon.co.uk) a price tag which is a bit higher than it should considering that the Arctis 5 model costs only USD20/20Euros more. That being said we think that the Arctis 3 is a good choice for people looking to get their hands on a comfortable quality headset with good audio quality and for that it comes highly recommended by us.



- Good Build Quality
- Design (Also Available In Black & White)
- Very Comfortable
- Good Audio Quality
- Bass Levels
- Engine 3 Software



- Price (Too Close To The Arctis 5)
- Lengthy Procedure To Enable 7.1 Surround Sound
- 3.5mm Connectivity Only
- Positioning Audio Accuracy