Those in the market for a premium gaming headset understand the need for quality without compromise. The feature set has to be worth the hike in price after all. Premium headsets pose an excellent value for the money spent in today’s market. Users can expect superior build quality, stellar audio, and quality-of-life features. This makes the extra expenditure very much worth the cost of admission.
Quality gaming peripherals have been SteelSeries‘s specialty for a number of years. When considering headsets, their Arctis line of headsets is very well-reviewed. The premium Arctis 9X Wireless is one of their flagship products. Laden with premium features, the Arctis 9X Wireless is worth a look if you’re in the market for a new headset.
SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless: Best Deals Today
- SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Gaming Headset – $193.50 – Amazon
- SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Gaming Headset – $199.99 – Best Buy
- SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Gaming Headset – $169.98 – NewEgg
SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Overview
Release Date and Price
The Arctis 9X Wireless debuted on June 23, 2019, at $199.99. It is a separate model from the Arctis 9, although they do function in a similar fashion.
The Arctis 9X is intended for usage with Xbox and Windows devices. An alternative model, the Arctis 9 Wireless, is available and is compatible with PC, PS5, Switch, and mobile devices. The 9X uses specialized wireless protocols to fully take advantage of the Xbox and Windows features to deliver wireless transmission and configure sound playback.
The Arctis 9 uses universal Bluetooth protocols to more effectively connect with the PS4, PS5, Switch, and other wireless-capable devices.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X is a premium headset with excellent battery life. This particular wireless headset is intended solely for Xbox consoles and Windows PCs. 20 hours of battery life means users can expect stellar audio quality without worrying about the headset dying prematurely.
All relevant controls for manipulating the audio are present on the headset itself. The controls themselves allow for selecting EQ profiles, raising or lowering headset volume, and raising or lowering microphone volume. SteelSeries opted for an elegant design and extreme comfort, so you’ll likely find yourself using these for listening to your mobile device’s music as well.
|20 hours on a full charge
|20Hz to 20kHz
|Bidirectional and retractable
|Cloth grills over heavily padded foam
|20 feet or 6 meters
SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Review
SteelSeries has seen stellar feedback on its Arctis headsets, and the 9X is no different. The cushy earcups make for a comfortable listening experience. The design of the headset itself is in-line with SteelSeries’s minimalist designs. Very little is there to be garish or stand out, but rather everything is understated. A splash of green across the headband denotes its Xbox compatibility, but you’d be remiss in thinking it was just a stylistic choice.
It is an impressive headset, and the audio quality is very much in line with the steeper price tag.
Balanced is the word one could use to describe the Arctis 9X’s frequency response. There is certainly bass and treble, but there isn’t quite as much punch on the lows. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but if you’re looking for deep resonant gunfire from something like Modern Warfare 2, it might be a bit lacking. The directional audio leverages Microsoft’s Windows Sonic. Positionally, it gives some good indications of where things could be and seems to function much better than your typical virtual surround sound emulations. Typically with virtual surround sound, you might find dialogue or bass lacking, and that isn’t much of a consideration here.
Music listening is likewise an equally pleasing experience. The balanced sound profile means you won’t likely notice heavy bass or drums quite as much. It doesn’t make music a fatiguing affair, however, and listeners will likely notice a degree of clarity in some of their favorite songs.
The positional audio doesn’t shine nearly as much when consuming video, but it still does quite well. PC users might notice some differences in film audio, thanks to Windows Sonic.
The final thing of note to point out about the audio quality is the EQ presets. These are pre-defined profiles meant to accentuate certain elements of the listening experience. In practice they’re rather lacking, however, making only minor audible moves towards bass or treble biasing.
SteelSeries very much has a philosophy when it comes to headset design. They are a stellar combination of form and function, and neither of those has been compromised. The form itself is sleekly designed, with an easily retractable microphone hiding away. No garish embellishments are present, merely sleek lines and curves.
Controls are likewise easily understood. The Arctis 9X positions the controls on the right earcup, with the bidirectional microphone extending out of the leftmost earcup. Comfort is also high on the list of SteelSeries’s considerations for the Arctis 9X. Thickly padded earcups securely go over the ear with the fabric covers keeping the heat down. The headband is likewise a comfortably designed implementation, with minimal tension exerted on the top of the head.
The Arctis 9X’s intended method of connection is through Bluetooth. It uses specialized protocols which natively allow it to connect to the Xbox One and take advantage of its unique audio features. An additional 3.5mm audio jack resides on the right earcup and allows for using it as a wired headset. This still does require some charge on the batteries themselves. Also of note is that the wired connection doesn’t allow for the use of the microphone, acting solely as a pair of headphones. Not an absolute dealbreaker, but worth considering if wired connectivity is important to you.
The Arctis 9X is intended to be used by the Xbox, but there doesn’t seem to be much preventing it from being used on PlayStation consoles and mobile phones. During testing, it paired just fine with an iPhone and functioned how you’d expect. The positional audio features are however not present on the other consoles or on mobile devices. Since that uses proprietary Microsoft technology, it makes sense that it wouldn’t be present on these other devices.
Charging is done through a micro-USB connection. This connection also allows users to connect to the SteelSeries software on their PC and adjust any settings like EQ profiles or finer EQ settings.
SteelSeries Arctis 9X: Pros and Cons
- Great build quality
- Comfortable headband and earcups
- Great battery life
- Wired connectivity is a wonderful addition
- No positional functionality with other consoles
- Weaker bass response
- EQ presets don’t seem to do much
SteelSeries Arctis 9X: is it a Buy?
There is a multitude of wireless headsets on the market currently, but very few provide the same degree of functionality as the Arctis 9X. Making a decision on a potential purchase can also be a rather daunting task since there are so many wonderful choices on the market.
Buy it if…
The Arctis 9X is worth a heavy look if you are an Xbox or PC gamer.
While it isn’t implementing virtual surround sound for positional audio, the use of Windows Sonic for Headphones allows for a good facsimile of those functions. The fit and finish are great for the price range, and there is a plethora of replaceable parts available in the event that the headband or earcups wear out. They are definitely on the pricier side for headsets, but the clear and balanced sound quality and fit are worth the purchase.
Don’t Buy it if…
The Arctis 9X leverages a lot of proprietary Windows and Xbox tech stacks. If you’re a PlayStation gamer or you’re just looking for a headset to use with your phone, it might be lacking and rather expensive for a wireless headset. It still functions absolutely fine for stereo output, but you lack the ability to use the positional audio.
If you’re after a more bass-responsive headset, these aren’t for you. The sound profile very much leans towards a more neutral or mid-range heavy sound, and as such you won’t get the deep resonant bass of in-game audio or dance music to really shine.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Sushiman.