Review: ARCTIS 1 (steelseries) Xbox Wired Gaming Headset

ARCTIS 1 Headset

ARCTIS 1 steelseries Wired Xbox Headset 

Price Paid: $49.99 @ GameStop
Devices Tested On: Xbox Series S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, MacBook Pro. 

Overall Score: 5/10

The Good

*Sound Clarity is Good 
*Noise Separation Is Good

The Bad

*Cheap & Ugly Build Quality
*Volume Is Too Low
*Passive Soundstage depth is nearly disorienting 
*Treble range is below average
*Priced higher than headsets that are better 

-Price Weighted Heavily-

According to Wired, the ARCTIS 1 "feels and sounds more expensive than it is..." which just gives me another reason in a long list of reasons to not pay any attention to their reviews. For the price,  these are well below average. They'll get the job done but not well in some areas. I've used $10 and $20 headsets that are better.   The majority of reviews I've seen on this headset grade them at above average or better and that somewhat disappoints me because this headset is definitely well below average $ for $ value-wise. That's often the world of reviews though... low review scores = companies cut that reviewer off from free test products and advertising in the future. 

After This Review (Next Up)

I'll be reviewing the ARCTIS 3 headset next which I purchased for $39.99 ($10 less than the lower end ARCTIS 1 new on sale. That review should be up in about 10 days or so one I'm able to get some extensive use behind it. 

ARCTIS 3 Headset

Design & Comfort *F for Failure

The design is a bit strange when it comes to comfort. They are pretty long and wide at the top but manage to pinch in hard at the ears. 
The headband is extremely cheap plastic with some thin padding.  The edge of the plastic is almost sharp. It might make a good weapon. 

The hinges feel pretty cheap and the headband doesn't have a lot of give to it. I'm going to assume these will likely not last for years even well taken care of. It wouldn't take much pressure at all to snap the hinges off. 

The ear cups are also pretty cheap. The whole headset is bulky yet extremely lightweight (and not in a good way).  The cushions are passable but stiff and cheap feeling.  Basically they are not really comfortable or well designed in most ways.

 The ear cups and headband  do slightly pivot in most directions making the headset slightly tolerable. Had they used even slightly better (softer) cushions on the ear cups, it might be a much better experience.  The headset as a whole is not breathable at all. The drivers are just covered with cheap hard plastic with thin cloth over top to make them look a little nicer. The cheap materials used seem to really attract lint too. 

The biggest problem with this headset is they are not very stable on the head which means you'll have to adjust them from time to time while playing. To hear adequately with them, they have to be positioned near perfect. It doesn't really matter what size head someone has for these. Fit will be problematic for any size. 

Cheap Quality
Thin Cheap Plastic

Microphone *C

The microphone actually isn't too bad. It transmits clear audio even when there's background noise. The problem with the microphone is that while you can bend it to adjust, it basically just flops back. I don't know what what kind of metal wire they put in it for bending but it has to be low end. 

Overall Build Quality *D

Comfort is a failure with this one and overall build quality is not much better. Between the cheap plastic, stiffness, strange fit and generic everything,  there's not a lot to like here. For the price,  they probably should have had a USB connection option as well. 

Overall Sound *C

These headphones are shockingly quiet even with the sound dial moved to the max. There's no software or firmware to tweak this. The sound on the Xbox One S was definitely the worst out of all the devices I tried this headset on and ironically this headset is branded as an Xbox Series S|X device. On other devices,  the sound was a bit lower but about the same quality. The only real controls you have on this headset is a volume wheel and mute/unmute mic. The sound is somewhat smooth and almost boomy but really depends on what game you are playing. There are times it sounds great and times you can't hear well. Fortunately you can hear other players well enough though.  This headset would NOT be good for listening to music or other purposes due to the awful frequency response. They are passable for games. This headset does not block out external noise at all so I would not suggest these in a noisy environment.  

Bass *C

Bass delivery was actually not bad and possibly better than a lot of entry level headsets but it wasn't great. The lows are pretty awful and quiet but I found the mid and high range Bass to be acceptable for gaming. The mid range might be a little better than the average headset. The highs are muddy and sometimes muffled sounding. All in all its close to an average gaming headset. 

Treble *D

When it comes to treble, its a mixed bag but messy. Treble seems to be lost at times and overpowered by the Bass. This lack of balance makes it a mixed experience where vocals in game can easily get muffled out by in game environment sounds. Fortunately this can be cleaned up in system and game menus some. 

Mid-Range Sound *C 

Mid-range sound is "ok" with this headset although the lower range of mid is far more emphasized than the higher range. That completely evened out when I used a headphone amp with it but the amp disabled microphone use. 

Sound Clarity *B

Overall Sound clarity other than being effected by too low of a volume on the Xbox platform isn't too bad. You get a fairly clean sound from these without a lot of distortion.  

Soundstage Quality *F

The Soundstage quality on the headset is on par with the cheapest of headsets.  I'd almost describe it as bizarre and almost disorienting if you have them on too long. The Soundstage is very wide by almost as if it's right in your face so it has a very unnerving depth to it.  

There's no virtual Soundstage options with this headset... only passive. I feel like they didn't bother calibrating or tuning much in the design of this headset. 

Sound Isolation *D

The sound isolation for a $50 headset is pretty bad. There's often better isolation out of much cheaper headsets. You'll hear nearly all environmental noise where you're at using these. I don't expect good sound isolation at this price but I expect better. The ill fitting design likely contributes a lot to this area.  

Noise Separation *B 

Surprisingly the noise separation with this headset is pretty decent which makes it good for in game chat. The boom microphone picks up anything you say and broadcasts it clearly without picking up background noises. You can also hear other players clearly. 

Sound Leak *?

The headset doesn't leak a lot of sound at all but that's also partly due to there not being a whole lot of sound to begin with. That's why I'm leaving this graded as a "?".  

Other Functions/Uses

This is a very basic headset that doesn't have extra functions. Its nice that it ce with a cable splitter for PC gaming and works on a variety of devices though. 

This headset is really only good for indoor gaming in quiet environments and definitely would not be great for listening to music (without an amp), not good for any outdoor use and certainly not good for travel due to how fragile they are. They are "ok" for phone calls (without any phone controls) if your phone has a headphone input. 

Look *F

Looks aren't everything but they do matter. These headphones are not visually appealing in any way. They look bulky and cheap to me and that would be more acceptable if the performance was better. 

How To Make Them Sound Better 

There's not a whole lot you can do to make them sound better for free. None of the settings or Audio options on the Xbox Series S made them sound much better. In Halo Infinite, it did help quite a bit to lower the volume of music to make voices more clear. The only big success I had was using a headphone amp with this headset which drastically improved the audio experience in all ranges but the amp disabled microphone use. The mic still works while using the amp on PC however using the splitter. 

In The End 

I wouldn't recommend the ARCTIS 1 headset to anyone unless you get them for free or on a big sale. They simply aren't worth $49.99. Under heavy use,  I'd be shocked if they lasted 6 months to a year before getting broken due to the extremely poor design and build quality. I find it hard to believe many people would be satisfied buying them. This is a very cheap and basic headset where you will get "ok" stereo sound out of and average communication. 


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