Fresh technology from Denmark in our test lab: The Arena 3 is the compact and affordable 2.0 sound system from SteelSeries that the manufacturer launched at the end of August 2022. How the smallest and cheapest model performs and whether it can continue the manufacturer’s flight of fancy after the convincing headsets Arctis Nova 3 or Arctis Nova 7 is clarified in our SteelSeries Arena 3 review.
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||210 mm x 140 mm x 110 mm (per speaker)|
|Frequency range||50 – 20,000 Hz|
|Sound pressure level||100 dB|
|Connection:||Bluetooth 4.2; 3.5mm jack|
|Price:||€ 129.99 *|
SteelSeries Arena 3 review: scope of delivery and design
- Simple but compelling design
- Interesting egg shape
- Susceptible to fingerprints
With the 2.0 sound system SteelSeries Arena 3, the manufacturer continues its design line of packaging. In the gray cardboard box with orange details, we are directly received by the two egg-shaped speakers.
They are supported by a power adapter with a separate socket, as well as a 3.5 mm jack cable for connecting to the respective audio source. Of course, there is also a manual, but it is not really necessary because the setup is self-explanatory.
The design is rather simple and unspectacular, as is typical for the manufacturer. Are we once again relying on the inner values? But admittedly: The egg-shaped speakers do look kind of cute. And they’re not even that small.
Each of the two speakers measures 21 centimeters x 14 cm x 11 cm (height x width x depth), the left speaker weighs 1,040 grams, the right one 1,094 grams. They are both made of matte black plastic, which is quite susceptible to fingerprints.
The 4-inch drivers are exposed and feature the manufacturer’s logo on the lower edge. The main unit is the right speaker of the SteelSeries Arena 3, which has an on/off button and a volume control on its base.
On the back are three 3.5 mm AUX ports for headset, AUX and PC, including another jack for the connection to the left sibling. A power port rounds off the selection.
Apart from the susceptibility to fingerprints, there is nothing to complain about in terms of workmanship. The Arena 3 do not reach the level of the Edifier G5000 (our review), but they also only cost around half as much.
Positive: Both speakers can be minimally tilted backwards to optimize the listening angle. You don’t see that every day. The cheapest model in the Arena series consistently does without RGB lighting or other gimmicks – I personally don’t need them. But that also makes the Arena 3 inconspicuous companions in the home office.
Practice and sound test
- Fast and easy connection
- Reliable Bluetooth mode
Setting up the SteelSeries Arena 3 is a quick process. Plug the power plug together, connect the jack cable to the audio source and connect both speakers together as well – that’s it. Definitely not witchcraft.
Like the Edifier G5000 already mentioned, the Arena 3 also supports Bluetooth – here in version 4.2. You simply have to hold down the on/off button for pairing, whereupon the LED changes from green (on) or orange (off) to a blue color. The speakers are then directly displayed on smartphones and the like and can be connected.
I was able to move around 10 meters away from the speakers with my smartphone before the connection broke. Fits. Only high-resolution Bluetooth codecs are unfortunately missing from the sound system.
Another advantage of the SteelSeries speakers is that the bass reflex system is also oriented towards the front. Thus, they can also be positioned very close to a wall without affecting the sound.
Reproduction quality: There’s a lot of power in there
- Impressively high volume
- Clear, fairly neutral sound without distortion
- Lacks low bass due to lack of subwoofer
So how do the SteelSeries Arena 3 sound now? Here I would first like to praise the sound engineers of the manufacturer, who first with their headsets and now also with the speakers impressively prove that they know their craft.
For a 2.0 sound system costing around 150 Euros, the Arena 3 sound simply outstanding. And with a sound pressure level of 100 dB, they have enough power to fill the entire house with sound.
Once again, the sound mix is also very pleasing. Not too bass-heavy and yet with a nicely present and precise woofer. Detailed and clear mids and precise highs are on the plus side, without distortions at maximum volume.
For the price, the sound is quite impressive, and not just for the 4-inch driver size. All frequencies are reproduced quite clearly and in detail by the Arena 3. Always measured against the price, of course. 300 euro speakers with larger drivers offer a bit more.
However, you will quickly notice that there is no dedicated subwoofer. Especially when it comes to powerful sound effects in games and movies or corresponding music. In any case, you won’t find a deep bass.
SteelSeries tries to conceal this circumstance by increasing the lower mids, which also works quite well in many respects. Rock music in particular benefits noticeably from this, but the sound that comes out of the speakers is also pleasing during gaming.
However, 2.0 stereo speakers are very limited and this is also noticeable in the SteelSeries Arena 3. Although the speakers offer a good three-dimensionality in the sound, the sound stage is quite narrow and barely has room to unfold.
How about I tell you that you can do some magic here? At least on the PC.
Really Magic: SteelSeries Sonar
- Significant sound improvement
- Adjustable equalizer
- Spatial audio surround sound
I’ve raved about the benefits of the SteelSeries Sonar software in detail several times now. And it also works its magic in the case of the SteelSeries Arena 3 with its detailed setting options.
It is simply impressive what can be extracted from the sound system in terms of sound. On the one hand, through the equalizer, where the various “Music” presets already work wonders.
But then there’s the virtual Spatial Audio surround sound, which takes stereo speaker sound to a whole new level and noticeably improves spatiality. If the speakers already sound very good in normal stereo mode, they can easily compete with much more expensive speakers thanks to Sonar.
But of course, the software does not replace a real subwoofer or larger driver units, that goes without saying. However, the sound improvements are impressive, even though you can only benefit from them on a PC or Mac.
SteelSeries Arena 3 review: conclusion
With the 2.0 speaker system SteelSeries Arena 3, the Danes once again impressively prove why they have already been a who’s who of the gaming audio segment for years. For the price and compact size, getting louder and better sounding speakers is almost bordering on an impossibility.
100 decibels loud and that without distorting? With a fairly neutral soundstage? Chapeau, SteelSeries. However, the fact that the compact system lacks a subwoofer and the sound stage is kept quite narrow is also clearly noticeable. If you are looking for a subwoofer, this is not the place for you.
However, if you are looking for a compact and lightweight 2.0 speaker system with rich, clear sound, Bluetooth connectivity and one of the best software solutions par excellence, there is no way around the SteelSeries Arena 3. Especially on PC and Mac, the small speakers easily take on larger and more expensive models. However, if you want that little bit more, you’re better off with the larger sibling models.