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SteelSeries Arctis 1
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.5
Mixed Usage
7.5
Critical Listening
5.9
Commute/Travel
5.7
Sports/Fitness
6.3
Office
5.9
TV
7.1
Gaming
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are decent gaming headphones that have good audio quality and a great sounding microphone. However, they are the entry-level model of the Arctis lineup from SteelSeries, and it shows when it comes to their build quality. The Arctis 1 feel plasticky and fairly fragile, and don't support the SteelSeries Engine for customization options. On the upside, they are very lightweight, and thanks to their 1/8” TRRS connector they offer audio and microphone support on pretty much all gaming platforms. They can be a good option for people who are looking for a straightforward and versatile headset.

Test Results
Design 5.9
Sound 7.7
Isolation 6.3
Microphone 8.7
Active Features 0
Connectivity 5.5
Pros
  • Good audio quality.
  • Great microphone performance.
  • Versatile for all gaming platforms.
Cons
  • Cheap, plasticky build.
  • Lacks software support for customization options.
  • Bass and treble delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.

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Black Arctis 1
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5.9

Design

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are one of the cheapest-feeling gaming headphones in the Arctis lineup. They have a low-end plastic build that doesn’t feel very durable. On the upside, they feel quite comfortable, lightweight, and have a straightforward but useful control scheme for gamers. Overall, the Arctis 1 is an entry-level gaming headset from SteelSeries, which shows in their cheap plasticky build, but they're still a versatile option for casual use thanks to their 1/8" connector that can be used on all gaming platforms and phones. Their mic is also detachable, making them more outdoor-friendly.

Style

The Arctis 1 look similar to the rest of the Arctis lineup, but in a much cheaper look and a slightly different design for the headband. The headset is made of thin plastic that feels fragile. The headband’s design resembles more straightforward headphones and doesn’t have styled joints and yolks like the other Arctis headsets. The padding of the ear cups is made from a mesh-like fabric just like the rest of the lineup. They also have a detachable boom mic that can give them a more outdoor-friendly style.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.8 lbs

The Arctis 1 are fairly comfortable gaming headphones. The padding is quite similar to the other Arctis headsets but feels a bit less cushiony. They feel quite light on the head, but like most gaming headphones, they are rather bulky. Unfortunately, the cups are on the shallow side and your ears might touch the drivers, which can get fatiguing after a while. On the upside, the headband is decent and distributes the weight of the headphones effectively. The cups also have a good range of motion and you should be able to find a good fit quite easily.

6.2 Controls
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : Yes
Channel Mixing
:
No
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A

The control scheme of the Arctis 1 is very simple and effective. On the left cup, you get a volume wheel and a mic-mute switch. The wheel is easy to use and stops scrolling when you reach the minimum or maximum volume, but it doesn’t have notches. The mic-mute switch is quite easy to use, too, but it might be a bit harder to know which setting you're on without taking the headphones off. Other similar Arctis headsets have a mic-mute button, which makes it easier to know if your mic is muted or not. Unfortunately, if you were to use these with your phone, you won’t be able to control your music or take calls directly on the headset.

6.4 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 5.7 C

These headphones aren’t the most breathable and shouldn’t be used during physical activity. You will feel a noticeable difference in temperature, and they will make you sweat more than usual if you wear them while working out. However, the breathable and porous pads help a bit, so this shouldn’t be an issue during casual gaming sessions.

5.3 Portability
L : 8.1 "
W : 8.0 "
H : 3.6 "
Volume : 233 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

Like most gaming headphones, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 are quite bulky and aren’t easy to carry around. They have large cups that don’t fold into a more portable format, but they do rotate to lay flat, which makes them a bit easier to slide inside a bag, but they would have a bigger footprint on a desk. They also don’t come with a traveling case to protect them. On the upside, since they're gaming headphones, you shouldn’t be on the move too often with them, since they’re more likely to stay around your gaming setup most of the time.

0 Case
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

These headphones don’t come with a case.

6.0 Build Quality

The Arctis 1 is the cheapest feeling SteelSeries Arctis headset we’ve reviewed so far. The headset is made from thin plastic that doesn’t feel very sturdy. The padding of the headband isn’t stitched and is already coming out of its slot on our unit, after very minimal use. The hinges are okay but feel hollow and don’t have much range of motion, which could easily break with a bit of physical stress. This Arctis model is the entry-level model and the build quality shows that.

5.5 Stability

These gaming headphones aren’t very stable on the head. You shouldn’t use them for running as minimal head movement can make them fall off. This shouldn’t be an issue for casual gaming sessions unless you move a lot when playing games. Also, the cable isn’t detachable, so be careful as it could yank the headphones off if it were to get hooked or stuck on something.

Cable
Detachable : No
Length : 4.2 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRRS

The Arctis 1 have a 4.2-ft long 1/8” TRRS cable. They also come with 5-ft long Y-splitter for PC users, giving you a total cable length of just over 9-ft.

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Headshots 1
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7.7

Sound

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are good sounding over-ear gaming headphones. Their bass is good and offers more thump than the Arctis 3. Their mid-range is good and their treble is mostly even. However, their bass is slightly boomy and the reproduction of vocals might be slightly cluttered. Also, they fail to deliver their audio consistently across users, which means most people won’t hear the same thing with these headphones. Overall, these headphones would be a good option for a wide variety of music and video games.

8.5 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.29 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-0.25 dB
Mid-Bass
:
1.95 dB
High-Bass
:
3.7 dB

The Arctis 1 have a great bass performance. Their low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 10Hz, which is great. Low-bass follows our neutral target curve very well. Overall, their bass is deep and will reproduce an accurate amount of thump and rumble common to bass-heavy genres like EDM and dubstep. Mid range, responsible for the punch of bass guitars and body of kick drums, and high-bass, responsible for warmth, are both slightly overemphasized by about 2 and 4dB respectively. This will result in an excess boominess of the bass.

Also, their bass delivery varies significantly across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. The response here represents the average bass response, and your experience may vary.

7.7 Mid
Std. Err.
:
3.06 dB
Low-Mid
:
2.66 dB
Mid-Mid
:
0.34 dB
High-Mid
:
-3.93 dB

The mid range of the Arctis 1 is also great. The response is decently balanced, but there is a 10dB tilt favoring the lower frequencies. The low-mid is over our target curve by over 2dB, which is the continuation of the high-bass, resulting in thick-sounding vocals and lead instruments. The underemphasis in the high-mid will negatively affect the projection and intensity of vocals/leads.

8.6 Treble
Std. Err.
:
2.8 dB
Low-Treble
:
-2.63 dB
Mid-Treble
:
0.68 dB
High-Treble
:
-1.66 dB

The Arctis 1 treble range performance is very good. The response throughout the range is fairly even, but there is a small underemphasis of about 3dB in low-treble. This will negatively affect the detail and brightness of vocals and leads. On the other hand, there’s a small bump around 9-10kHz, which means that these headphones can make sibilants (S and Ts) a bit piercing, especially on already bright tracks.

Also, their treble delivery varies noticeably across users. The response here represents the average response and your experience may vary.

5.3 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.44 dB

The frequency response of the SteelSeries Arctis 1 is poor. In the bass range, the deviation across our five human subjects is quite wide and deep, reaching more than 10dB at their LFE. This will be easily noticeable. Also, having glasses or lots of hair seems to increase the chance of experiencing a drop in bass. In the treble range, we also measured a maximum variation of more than 10dB under 10kHz, which is very noticeable and show that these headphones' treble delivery is sensitive to fit and positioning.

8.3 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.33
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
1.11
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.96
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
4.04

The stereo imaging is great. Weighted group delay is at 0.33, which is within very good limits. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay is below the audibility threshold, suggesting a tight bass and a transparent treble. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude and phase but had a very small mismatch in frequency that won’t be audible for most. This is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo field. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

6.3 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
4.97 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
6.71 dB
PRTF Distance
:
16.71 dB
Openness
:
4.1
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
3.3
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

Just like other SteelSeries Arctis headphones, the Arctis 1 have a decent soundstage for closed-back headphones. The shape of the PRTF response isn’t accurate but has a lot of activation, suggesting a soundstage that may feel relatively large but a bit unnatural. Although their closed-back enclosure results in a soundstage that may not feel as open as that of open-back headphones, they produce a small dip around 10kHz that could slightly help bring the soundstage out of the listener’s head and to the front.

8.3 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
0.735
Weighted THD @ 100
:
0.742

The harmonic distortion of these headphones is very good. The THD in the bass-range isn’t too elevated and within good limits, while the THD in mid and treble ranges are fairly low too. The graph shows there are a few small spikes, but this shouldn’t be audible.

6.3

Isolation

Like other Arctis headsets, the Arctis 1 doesn’t isolate much noise due to the porous pads of their earcups. They let a lot of ambient noise seep into your audio and won’t be the best option to use when commuting or traveling. For gaming events, you won’t be able to block out the noise of the subwoofers and ambient noise well. On the upside, they don’t leak too much so you might be able to block out more noise by raising your listening volume without disturbing people surrounding you in a quiet environment.

5.8 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.71 dB
Bass
:
-0.14 dB
Mid
:
-8.82 dB
Treble
:
-32.78 dB
Self-Noise
:
0 dB

Their isolation performance is sub-par. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits, they don't achieve any isolation, which means they won’t be a good option for commuting and traveling. In the mid-range, important for blocking ambient speech, they block about 9dB of noise, which is sub-par. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts and A/C noise, they achieved about 33dB of isolation, which is good.

7.2 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
38.89 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 have a decent leakage performance. The significant portion of their leakage is spread between 300Hz and 4kHz, which is a fairly narrow range focused in the mid-range. The overall level of leakage is also too loud. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 39dB SPL and peaks at 56dB SPL, which is just over the noise floor of most offices.

8.7

Microphone

Integrated
:
No
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
Yes
Detachable Boom
:
Yes

The Arctis 1 have an excellent boom microphone that performs almost exactly like the Arctis 3 2019 Edition mic. In a quiet environment, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic sounds full-bodied, clear, and easily comprehensible, but slightly bright. In noisy environments, the mic rejects a very high amount of ambient noise, making these headphones good to use in very loud places like a gaming event.

8.7 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
20 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.88 dB
HFE
:
8863.09 Hz
Weighted THD
:
0.15
Gain
:
29.97 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis 1’s microphone has great recording quality. The low-frequency extension (LFE) is extended down to 20dB, which is excellent, and means speech recorded or transmitted with this headset will sound full-bodied. The HFE of 8.8kHz is also very good, which ensures a detailed and present speech. However, the 10dB bump after 2kHz makes the sound of this microphone noticeably bright, which, although it won't sound neutral, could help with cutting through the game audio.

8.7 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
39.46 dB

The microphone of the SteelSeries Arctis 1 has excellent noise handling. It achieves a speech-to-noise ratio of 39dB, which is very good, indicating that it can separate speech from noise even in the most demanding environments, like a noisy gaming event.

0

Active Features

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are wired and passive gaming headphones that don’t need a battery. They also aren’t compatible with the SteelSeries Engine for customization options.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A

The Arctis 1 don’t have active features and don’t require a battery.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

These headphones are not compatible with the SteelSeries Engine software. For a budget SteelSeries headset with compatibility with the software, check out the Arctis 5.

5.5

Connectivity

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are straightforward gaming headphones that support audio and voice chat thanks to their 1/8” TRRS connector. They will work with every gaming platform that has the appropriate jack. Being wired, they won’t have latency issues, but your range will be limited to their cable’s length.

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A

These headphones aren't Bluetooth compatible.

9.1 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone
PC Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone

The Arctis 1 has a 1/8” TRRS connector that can be used on all gaming platforms that have the appropriate jack. You can also use them wired with your phone, if yours has a headphone jack. For PC users, you might have to use the included Y-splitter to use the mic and headphone ports.

0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

These headphones don’t have a dock.

0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A

The Arctis 1 aren’t wireless and therefore won’t have a wireless range. You will be limited by their 4.2-ft long cable, but can also add their 5-ft long Y-splitter to get just over 9-ft of cable range.

10 Latency
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

Thanks to their wired connection, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 don’t have any latency issues. This will be great for watching video content or playing games without hearing any delay between the audio and image on your screen.

In the box

  • SteelSeries Arctis 1 headphones
  • Detachable microphone
  • PC Y-splitter

Compared to other Headphones

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are entry-level gaming headphones from the Arctis lineup. They have very good audio and microphone quality like the rest of the lineup, but their build quality feels a bit cheaper. They also don’t have access to a companion app for customization options. See our recommendations for the best gaming headphones, the best PC gaming headsets, the best Xbox One headsets, and the best PS4 headsets.

Corsair HS50

The Corsair HS50 and the SteelSeries Arctis 1 are two decent gaming headphones that have different strengths. The Corsair HS50 are slightly better sounding, are noticeably better-built, and feel more durable. Some may also prefer their large cups and find the padding to be more comfortable. On the other hand, the microphone of the Arctis 1 is noticeably better and sounds clearer. If you play single player games and don’t need a boom microphone, get the Corsair HS50.

SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition Wireless are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 1. While their sound and microphone quality is practically the same, the Arctis 3 2019 are better built and feels slightly more comfortable. Additionally, they are also Bluetooth compatible for you to use with your phone, which is useful. On the other, the Arctis 1 have a fully detachable microphone, which is more convenient than the retractable one on the Arctis 3. Overall, the Arctis 3 will offer more features and better value than the Arctis 1.

HyperX Cloud Stinger

The HyperX Cloud Stinger are marginally better than the SteelSeries Arctis 1. They are ever so slightly more comfortable, and are better-built than the Arctis 1 as materials don’t feel as cheap. They perform quite similarly across our tests and most people won’t notice a big difference in sound. However, the Arctis 1 have a detachable mic, which gives them a more outdoor-friendly look if you want to use them with your phone.

Logitech G433 Gaming Headset

The Logitech G433 Gaming Headset are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 1. They are more comfortable, thanks to their larger cups, and the materials used feel more durable. You also get an additional pair of pads with the G433. They are also one of the best-sounding gaming headphones we’ve reviewed so far. Additionally, thanks to their USB dongle, you get access to G Hub for customization options, which the Arctis 1 lack. On the other hand, the noise isolation of the Arctis 1 is slightly better, but is still pretty sub-par.

Conclusion

6.5 Mixed Usage
Okay for mixed usage. The Arctis 1 are designed as gaming headphones, but they have good audio quality that could also be used for listening to music with good fidelity. However, their fit and porous pads don’t make them a good option for commuting or to use at the office as they don’t do well against noisy environments. They are also quite bulky and unstable, making them a poor choice for sports. They are an overall decent choice for gaming if you don’t mind their cheap plastic feel.
7.5 Critical Listening
Good for critical listening. They have an extended and powerful bass, a good mid-range, and an even treble range. However, their bass can be slightly boomy, which clutters the vocals and lead instruments a bit. Also, they fail to perform consistently across various people, meaning not everyone will hear the same thing depending on their seal, fit, and positioning.
5.9 Commute/Travel
Sub-par for commuting. These headphones have porous cloth pads that let a lot of ambient noise seep into your audio. They don’t do much against the rumbling of engines, so they won’t be a good option for public transit. On the upside, they are fairly comfortable and don’t leak too much, so you might be able to mask some ambient noise by raising your listening volume.
5.7 Sports/Fitness
Sub-par for sports. These headphones shouldn’t be used for sports as they aren’t stable on the head. They easily sway around and can fall off with head movement. The over-ear design is also quite bulky and won’t be ideal for working out. They are also wired-only and won’t offer the freedom of wireless headphones.
6.3 Office
Mediocre for the office. They don’t do much against ambient noise and won’t be as useful to focus as noise cancelling headphones. They are fairly comfortable, but since the cups are shallow, they will get uncomfortable if your ears touch the drivers. On the upside, they don’t leak too much, which means you’ll be able to raise your listening volume without disturbing surrounding colleagues. Unfortunately, they don’t have any controls for music, so you’ll need to use your desktop to play/pause or change tracks.
5.9 TV
Sub-par for watching TV. These headphones are decently comfortable, and their wired connection won’t have any latency issues. However, they won’t be a good idea if you’re looking for headphones to block out your household noise, as they don’t have a good noise isolation performance. You’ll also probably need an extension cord, as their cable won’t be long enough for you to comfortably watch from the couch.
7.1 Gaming
Decent for gaming. The Arctis 1 have good audio quality and a great sounding microphone for online games. They’ll be comfortable for long gaming sessions if your ears don’t touch the drivers, and their wired connection means you won’t have to deal with latency issues. However, they aren’t compatible with the SteelSeries Engine software for customization options and feel cheaply built when compared to the rest of the lineup.

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