The outstanding Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, which we tested in August 2022, was shortly followed by three more models from the Danish peripheral manufacturer. The Nova 1 marks the low-priced entry-level model, but still has a lot to offer for a price of around 70 Euros, as our SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 review reveals.
|Driver||40 mm (Neodymium)|
|Frequency range (headphones)||20 – 22,000 Hz|
|Microphone type||bi-directional, with noise reduction|
|Frequency range (microphone)||100 – 10,000 Hz|
|Compatibility||PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Smartphone, Tablet|
|Special features||360° Spatial Audio|
|Price||€ 54.99 *|
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 review: the scope of delivery
When it comes to the scope of delivery of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1, there is a small, but not really relevant, surprise. Because in addition to the headset itself and the necessary 3.5 mm jack cable with a length of 120 cm and a dual 3.5 mm extension cable (1.5 meters), there is (drum roll) a small sheet with gaming-typical stickers in the scope of delivery. Not really relevant, but quite nice. However, the manual is missing for this – but you don’t need it, because the connection and use is self-explanatory.
Design and finish
- Simple, unexciting design
- Ski goggle headband
- Controls on the left side
In terms of design, the new SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 falls somewhere between the Nova Pro and its indirect predecessors in the form of the Arctis series, such as the Arctis Prime (our review).
SteelSeries relies on plastic for the materials of its entry-level headset, with the design of the ear cups in particular reflecting the new Arctis Nova design language. On the outside of the ear cups, you’ll find a silver contrasting manufacturer logo, while the rest of the headset is presented in plain, matte black.
With the exception of the pattern on the ski goggle headband, which can be easily removed and thus adjusted in terms of size. The ear cups rotate fully inward and are covered in a soft AirWeave Memory Foam fabric.
The controls and the hidden, pull-out microphone boom are found on the left side. Here you’ll find a button inside to mute the microphone, as well as a volume dial. Below that is the 3.5 mm jack input, which is used to connect the Nova 1.
How good is the build quality of the Arctis Nova 1?
- Pure plastic construction, yet quite sturdy
- Cable and ear pads removable and replaceable
- Microphone arm with relatively much play
Although the headset is made entirely of plastic, I feel that the build quality is very good – considering the price. Here nothing wobbles and creaks, the transition between ear cups and headband is reinforced with metal.
The adjustment mechanism is pleasantly (but not too) stiff, although it lacks a click-stop. Fortunately, the black model is also relatively insensitive to fingerprints.
Only the microphone arm has a bit too much play for my taste and turns out a bit too wobbly. Bonus points are then again given for the detachable cable and the removable memory foam ear pads, with which the most fragile components can be dipped out without any problems.
Wearability of the Arctis Nova 1
- Very comfortable to wear thanks to soft padding and low weight
- Comparatively much space inside the ear cups
Already during the first inspection, it is noticeable how light the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 is. The gaming headset from the manufacturer in Denmark weighs just 236 grams. That is quite a bit less than the comparably priced Corsair HS65 (our review).
In practice, the headset thus scores in SteelSeries’ parade discipline and is undoubtedly one of the most comfortable over-ear models. The manufacturer once again does without padding on the headband, but this is not a problem at all thanks to the ski goggle headband. It distributes the weight pleasantly on the head and also ensures a high level of comfort in the long term.
In the ear cups, your eardrums have about 49 mm in width and 58 mm in height at their disposal, which is even a bit more than in the case of the Pro model. Especially since the fabric is pleasantly stretchy to expand the space if necessary. This makes the Nova Pro 1 very suitable for medium to large ears.
Practice and operation
- Quick and easy connection via 3.5mm jack
- Widespread compatibility
There is not too much to say about the practical use of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1. Plug in the jack cable and connect it to the end device – and you’re ready to go. Of course, this allows for use on a wide range of devices. From PCs and Macs to all current consoles and smartphones or tablets.
SteelSeries has dispensed with wireless use or a USB connection for this analog gaming headset. The operation is also very easy and self-explanatory. It is done directly on the headset and does not really need any further words.
However, the headset is especially interesting on the PC thanks to the Sonar companion software, which we already presented to you in detail for the wireless Pro model. Here you can expect a fully customizable equalizer, as well as extensive customization options for the microphone.
Sound and playback quality
- Saturated stereo sound with detailed highs
- 360° spatial audio and Sony Tempest 3D support
From a technical standpoint, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 relies on 40mm neodymium drivers that cover a frequency band from 20Hz to 22,000Hz, giving it minimally more treble than most other gaming headsets. Also offered is an impedance of 36 ohms, as well as a sensitivity of 93 dB SPL.
I used the full range of compatibility for the test and connected the headset to the PC, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. The stereo sound, which scores with clear trebles and pleasant mids, is the first positive aspect. The bass is also pleasantly powerful and precise without pushing itself into the foreground. In fact, they are even somewhat in the background, which I like very much.
Thus, the gaming headset is also well suited for listening to music, although the headset has slight weaknesses in separating details. You can hear that especially in complex mixes – but probably only if you are used to much more expensive headphones or headsets. Considering the price, the sound quality is very good for listening to music.
Especially in gaming mode, however, the Arctis Nova 1 sounds really very good. Especially when you use the 360° Spatial Audio sound with the help of the Sonar software or the Tempest 3D audio engine of the PlayStation 5. Here, the drivers conjure up a rich, powerful and at the same time well-separated sound for the ears. However, I also liked the headset’s sound in purely analog operation without software or similar.
Microphone quality of the Arctis Nova 1
- Surprisingly good microphone quality
- AI-assisted noise cancellation works reliably
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 features a ClearCast Gen 2 bidirectional microphone that has built-in noise cancellation. It covers a frequency band from 100 Hz to 10,000 Hz and relies on a sensitivity of -38 dBV/Pa.
Sound-wise, the microphone could also completely convince me and definitely competes with the Corsair HS65 in the price segment below 100 euros, as it transmits one’s own voice dynamically and loudly. The isolation of background noise could be stronger, though.
Here, too, the Sonar software reveals further strengths, as you can select different presets that have an enormous impact on the microphone quality. You can also activate an AI-supported noise suppression, which does an impeccable job despite its Early Access status.
Software connectivity: SteelSeries GG / Sonar
- Also usable without software
- Extremely precise and extensive customization with Sonar
- Different EQ presets for playback and recording
The analog headset works flawlessly without any accompanying software at all. On PC or Mac, you make use of many additional features thanks to SteelSeries GG and Sonar respectively. In the normal engine, where peripherals from the manufacturer can be set, the Arctis Nova 1 is not listed.
Here, you select Sonar from the menu on the left and get such extensive customization options that no other manufacturer offers. From a 10-band equalizer that can be adjusted down to the decimal place, to different presets for different titles or genres, to Spatial Audio or a sound amplification, you can fine-tune the sound for playback.
The settings for the chat and the microphone are similarly detailed. Here you can also add Noisegate, which cuts off the sound as soon as the volume falls below a certain threshold (good for example when your breathing can be heard). Using Smart Voice, it’s also possible to keep the volume at the same level at all times, ensuring that you’re never too loud or too soft to hear.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 Review: Conclusion
For the surprisingly low price, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 has quite a lot to offer. The good sound in analog mode, which is even very good with the help of the Sonar Engine or on the PlayStation 5, and that even includes Spatial Audio, should be emphasized positively.
The build and design are also on a very good level, but I particularly liked the wearing comfort. The microphone quality is also on a very high level, considering the price. However, it hurts a bit that wireless connectivity is omitted. On the other hand, the Nova 1 is compatible with a variety of platforms, consoles or mobile devices thanks to the 3.5 mm jack.
All in all, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 thus secures a place in the list of the best gaming headsets below the 100-euro mark and is absolutely recommendable, especially for PC and PS5 gamers.