Over the years the idea of a gaming headset has changed a lot. Originally it was a fancy chat mic that eventually evolved into headphones with a decent quality or better mic. Right now the big thing for casual gamers isn’t sound or mic performance as much as versatility, the ability to use it wirelessly and a low price. This is asking for a lot but the fine folks at SteelSeries hope to accomplish this with the Arctis 1 Wireless. For $100 you get a pair of wireless headphones, from one of the most respected brands in gaming, that boasts the same drivers as the Arctis 7, making it a compelling choice. However, with so many brands and options out there, is this the headset for budget conscious consumers or are there better choices out there?
Unsurprisingly, the Arctis 1 Wireless does not have the most flashy packaging on the market. The outside is relatively simple, focusing on features and key elements like accolades they’ve received in the past. Inside everything is presented in a relatively straightforward way. It isn’t enough to really stand out but there is enough to feel like you’re getting a quality product.
After removing the headset, it’s lighter than you might think. There is also a general sense of looseness that isn’t problematic but certainly something to keep in mind. While it doesn’t seem the most flexible, it does boast a steel-reinforced headband and I don’t think it’s a product that would break through normal wear and tear. Both earpads feature cloth and are fairly breathable, making it a little easier to wear them for longer periods of time. All things considered, they’re actually fairly comfortable in general and had no issues playing for a couple hours here and there.
Where the Arctis 1 Wireless stands out is the included USB-C dongle. This is your transmitter and can be used on a wide variety of devices, be it an Android phone, Windows, Switch or even the PlayStation 4. For those without USB-C, there is an optional USB-A to USB-C cord that allows it to work with the Switch dock, PlayStation 4 and older computers. What stands out about this dongle is how simple it is to use.
Unlike my Astro A50, LucidSound LS41 and a few other wireless headsets, you don’t need an optical connection. Simply plug it in and within seconds it will work. I had no issue swapping between my Switch, FiiO M11 Pro (it uses Android) and PlayStation 4. This makes it super easy for casual players or less tech savvy consumers to go from device to device without dealing with a complicated set up or a bunch of wires.
In terms of audio performance, it might not be the most impressive headset on the market but it does the job. The sound is a lot more mid-heavy, with very little in terms of bass. This can be improved via the SteelSeries Engine but it still isn’t the best. Despite that, I had no issues performing when I needed to. Whether it was smaller background noises or just minute details, I was able to pick up on them and come out ahead. That being said, I don’t know if I’d trust them for a more hardcore situation. At times I might’ve heard what was coming but it was more the sound of my impending doom than catching a foe with their pants down.
As mentioned above, Arctis 1 Wireless is a lot more mid-heavy, meaning it really isn’t the best for music. If you want something simple to swap between your Switch and phone it’s a great compromise, but otherwise there are better options out there.
Similar to sound, the included mic is good but not great. It will do the job but you can still hear some distortion and was the first time in a long time someone complained about the quality. I believe the last time that happened is when I was using Surge 3D. With this in mind, it’s enough for a casual game of Call of Duty or to call your mom, but I wouldn’t trust it in a more intense situation.
Finally, the Arctis 1 Wireless isn’t the most intuitive headset in terms of inputs. Right off the bat I noticed the volume knob had a hair trigger and with the mic mute toggle above it, I could see accidentally hitting it. Not the biggest deal if you decrease the volume, though it could be a bit much if you increase it. It also charges via micro USB, which is an unfortunate and disappointing choice. Going with USB-C would’ve potentially allowed one cord to charge your phone, computer, Nintendo Switch, Switch Pro controller and other future devices, but instead now it needs its own cord. This could also be used to house the dongle when you’re not using it, but I digress.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless Verdict
Even is the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless falls short in a number of ways, it’s important to remember the main selling point is being a wireless headset for most devices and has 3.5mm for everything else. When you look at that and view similar things in that price category, it’s extremely hard to beat. Especially when you consider how much thought and effort went into the versatility of this headset. So, if you’re looking for something cheap and wireless or just want a good casual headset for home and the go, the Arctis 1 Wireless is certainly worth considering.
[Editor’s Note: SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless was provided to us for review purposes.]