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March 14, 2018

SteelSeries serves up the first Hi-Res Audio-certified headset for gamers

by John_A

Despite the boom in technology regarding graphics cards and gaming displays, SteelSeries believes speakers and headphones are severely behind the times. That is where the company’s new Arctis Pro + GameDAC headset comes into play; it supposedly takes gaming audio to an entirely new level thanks to “breakthrough” technology cranking out hi-fidelity sound for a more immersive experience. 

SteelSeries says the new flagship headset is the first in the gaming industry slapped with the Hi-Res Audio label. Hi-Res Audio is a certification platform introduced by the Digital Entertainment Group, The Recording Academy, record labels, and other audio-focused organizations in 2017 to promote devices that deliver sound at CD-level or higher quality.  

“Until now, innovation in gaming graphics and displays have outpaced progress in gaming audio solutions,” SteelSeries CEO Ehtisham Rabbani said in a statement. “The Arctis Pro is designed for gamers who seek high-fidelity audio and who want to hear everything the sound engineers created, the same way they seek high-res, immersive visuals.” 

The new headset relies on the ESS Sabre 9018 Reference DAC chip to produce 96kHz/24-bit audio without the need to downsample. The headset also includes two 40mm drivers with a frequency response of up to 40,000Hz, almost double what you find with standard gaming headsets. Other highlights include 121 decibels of dynamic range and 95 decibels of total harmonic distortion and noise. 

Packed with this Arctis-branded headset is a USB-based digital-to-analog converter and amplifier for gaming. This unit consists of an embedded OLED screen so you can visually balance the game and chat audio, keep track of the volume levels, and tweak the 10-band equalizer bars. The device also includes a dedicated Hi-Res Audio mode for the best audio quality, and onboard controls for PlayStation 4 streaming. 

While the Arctis Pro and GameDAC costs a hefty $250, the vanilla Arctis Pro unit is easier to swallow at a cheaper $180. It’s not a Hi-Res Audio-certified system, as the GameDAC unit isn’t included with this model. But like its more expensive sibling, this model includes the company’s Prism RGB illumination system supporting 16.8 million colors. It also supports ClearCast microphone technology for “studio-quality” chats, Headphone:X v2.0, and includes an in-line dial to balance game and chat audio. 

If wireless is your thing, SteelSeries has a new Arctis Pro model priced at $330. It relies on Bluetooth connectivity and a swappable dual-battery system so you’re not tethered to an outlet to recharge the battery. Instead, one battery resides in the headset while the other is recharged in the included transmitter base station. 

The product page shows that the base station consists of four components: Adjust your volume level, manually adjust the game and chat audio levels, and tweak the sound levels using the built-in equalizer. The fourth component pertains to Bluetooth that will even display incoming call information if the headset is paired with a smartphone.

But as with the vanilla Arctis Pro unit, there is no Hi-Res Audio component or certification. Yet unlike the Arctis Pro, you won’t find RGB illumination on this wireless headset.

All three headsets are available now. 

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