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March 10, 2018

Arctis 3 Bluetooth review: Did these headphones change the game on gaming?

by John_A

Gaming headsets are pretty standardized in 2018. Generally speaking, they are comfy, lightweight headsets made for the long sessions of smashing your friends and enemies, trying to win that chicken dinner.

One brand we’ve reviewed in that space, SteelSeries, also happens to work well with smartphones, too. Personally, I’ve been a fan of the company for years and appreciate the build quality; its products work as advertised. I recently had a chance to try out the newest models, the Arctis 3 Bluetooth, so I jumped at it.

As I expected, the latest in the Arctis line is no different from its predecessor. Right away I found the ear cups to be super comfortable. In testing, I played multiple hours with them, finding the Arctis 3 Bluetooth just as nice as my normal headset.

The headphones have an adjustable “ski goggle” suspension band for comfort and security. Finding the right fit shouldn’t be a problem, regardless of head size and shape. The ear cups feature AirWeave Performance Fabric for keeping your ears dry and cool. You’ll want this for those endless nights of raiding or base defending.

The Clearcast microphone is good, offering broadcast quality with acoustic noise cancelling to ensure your team never misses an order. In my review time I noticed it’s a little bright for my taste but my teammates never seemed to mind.

Having the ability to retract the microphone when not in use is great in theory, but I found that then I wanted it out, had a hard time keeping positions. The flexible mic wanted to keep to the form of the curve that it has when retracted into the ear cup. Also, and this is minor, when retracted, it looked weird having a mic cover stick out even though I was wirelessly connected to my phone.

The variety of connections for the Arctis 3 Bluetooth make them a no-brainer for daily use. When I think about all the places and ways I game, the idea of having one headset for all needs is nice. I’d love to be able to throw one headset in the backpack and know that no matter if I’m gaming on my phone, my home console, mobile with my Nintendo Switch, or my PC, I’m covered. The fact that the headphones are Bluetooth-enabled in addition to all the hardwired adapters gives me confidence this headset is up to the task.

SteelSeries advised that these headphones would work with the Nintendo Switch, something I was anxious to check. Does it? Yes, and it’s awesome. The voice chat on the Switch works through Nintendo’s Switch Chat App over Bluetooth while the in-game sound is delivered over the wired adapter. That might be my favorite part.

Some of the most popular games right now work with multiple people accessing the same game from different devices. Meaning, I can be on my PC while my friends can be on their PS4’s. Until now I would have to jump on a party chat on my PS4 while my in-game audio would come from speakers on my computer.

With the ability to use multiple streams into the Arctis 3 Bluetooth I can have my chat through Discord on my phone (connected via Bluetooth) and wired directly to my PC. Now my in-game audio is in-ear and I don’t have to fight noise bleed from speakers. This is a true game changer if you’ve ever had to deal with audio from multiple sources involving voice chat.

 

I have been very pleased with the Arctis 3 Bluetooth and think they are almost perfect. While the Clearcast microphone sounds good enough, I’d like the ability to detach it from the headset. Also, it would be nice to have a small case to hold all the wired connections for on-the-go purposes.

At $129.99 they are definitely worth the investment for me. The sound quality is good and the ease of connection with any device I can throw at it makes it so I don’t have to think about how connect. I can just hop in and game! For those who do not want, or need, the Bluetooth option, SteelSeries offers a variant for only $79.99. Each is available in a variety of colors.

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