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SteelSeries Arctis 1 Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Aug 01, 2019 at 10:55 am
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Picture
5.4
Mixed Usage
6.8
Neutral Sound
4.8
Commute/Travel
5.1
Sports/Fitness
5.3
Office
5.2
Wireless Gaming
7.2
Wired Gaming
7.4
Phone Calls
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.

Our Verdict

5.4 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.

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.
6.8 Neutral Sound

Good for neutral 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.

4.8 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.

5.1 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.

5.3 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.

5.2 Wireless 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.

7.2 Wired Gaming
7.4 Phone Calls
  • 5.4 Mixed Usage
  • 6.8 Neutral Sound
  • 4.8 Commute/Travel
  • 5.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.3 Office
  • 5.2 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.2 Wired Gaming
  • 7.4 Phone Calls
  1. Update 3/24/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  3. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Test Results

Design
Design
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
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

The Arctis 1 are fairly comfortable gaming headphones. Their padding is similar to that of other headsets in the Arctis line-up, but feels a bit less cushiony. They feel quite light on the head, but their ear cups aren't as deep or well-padded as the Corsair HS35, which are more comfortable gaming headphones. On the upside, their headband still distributes the weight of the headphones effectively. The cups also have a good range of motion, so you should be able to find a good fit quite easily.

5.7
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No

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.

6.5
Design
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
Design
Portability
L 8.1 "
W 8.0 "
H 3.6 "
Volume 233 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

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
Design
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
Design
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. If you want a pair of wired gaming headphones that look and feel significantly more durable, check out the Corsair HS60 PRO SURROUND.

5.5
Design
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.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

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

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
1.09 db
Treble Amount
-2.32 db
5.3
Sound
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, but not quite as extreme as that of the RUNMUS RGB K1 Gaming Headset. 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.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.4
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.25 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
-3.4 dB
Mid-Bass
-0.05 dB
High-Bass
2.53 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.

7.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.88 dB
Low-Mid
0.58 dB
Mid-Mid
-1.88 dB
High-Mid
-5.94 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.

6.5
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.61 dB
Low-Treble
-5.11 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.11 dB
High-Treble
-8.17 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.

7.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.58 db
Dips
1.35 db
8.3
Sound
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.

5.8
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
4.97 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
6.71 dB
PRTF Distance
16.71 dB
Openness
4.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.3

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.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
7.7
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.240
WHD @ 100
0.131
Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Boom
Isolation
5.1
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-13.71 dB
Bass
-0.14 dB
Mid
-8.82 dB
Treble
-32.78 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.

7.1
Isolation
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.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
Yes
Detachable Boom
Yes
8.6
Microphone
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. If you're looking for a microphone with a more neutral sound and a slightly better overall performance, check out the Cooler Master MH630.

8.8
Microphone
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.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None

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

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

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.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A

These headphones aren't Bluetooth compatible.

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.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones can't be used wirelessly. If you want a similar option that can, check out the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless.

9.0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length 4.2 ft
Connection 1/8" TRRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

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.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

These headphones don’t have a dock.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

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.

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.

Razer Kraken X

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are slightly better wired gaming headphones than the Razer Kraken X. The Arctis have a much better-balanced sound profile and leak less audio. On the other hand, the Razer feel slightly better-built and more durable, and feel much more stable on the head.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless 2017

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless 2017 and the SteelSeries Arctis 1 each have their advantages. The Arctis 7 are more versatile gaming headphones since you can use them wirelessly or with a wired connection. The Arctis 1 only support wired use, but their microphone recording quality is significantly better. You also don't have to worry about battery life or latency issues with a wired headset. However, they aren't compatible with the SteelSeries Engine software, and they don't have a channel mixing feature or adjustable mic control. The Arctis 7 are much more customizable, have a great battery life, and their USB dongle keeps latency to a minimum, so they provide better value if you like wireless gaming.

Corsair HS35

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 and the Corsair HS35 are both wired gaming headsets with their own pros and cons. The SteelSeries feels even more cheaply made than the Corsair but has a better microphone performance. The Corsair sounds muddier, and its mic isn't as good, but it's more comfortable for long gaming sessions.

Corsair HS50

The Corsair HS50 and the SteelSeries Arctis 1 are two decent gaming headphones that have different strengths. The Corsair 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 SteelSeries is noticeably better and sounds clearer. If you play single player games and don’t need a boom microphone, get the Corsair.

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.

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless are very similar in design to the wired SteelSeries Arctis 1. However, the wireless model is compatible with the Engine software, which allows for more customization options. Also, the wireless model has slightly better audio accuracy, but the wired model's microphone sounds a lot better.

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.

Cooler Master MH630

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 and the Cooler Master MH630 are very similar wired gaming headphones. They're fairly well-matched in build quality and comfort. They also have limited controls and no companion software. However, the SteelSeries have a better-balanced sound and they leak less sound whereas the Cooler Master's microphone has a better recording quality.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 Wireless 2019 Edition are better overall gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 1. They're more versatile since you can use them wirelessly or wired, unlike the Arctis 1 which are for wired use only. The Arctis 7 are also customizable with the SteelSeries Engine software and have adjustable channel mixing and microphone level control features. However, the Arctis 1's microphone performs better overall. You also don't have to worry about battery life or latency issues with a wired headset. That said, the Arctis 7 have a remarkable battery performance and low wireless latency, so they're a better choice if you prefer having the option to game wirelessly when you'd like.

Turtle Beach Battle Buds

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 and the Turtle Beach Battle Buds are similarly performing wired gaming headphones. While the Arctis have a more comfortable over-ear design, the Battle Buds are in-ears that are more portable and breathe better during longer gaming sessions. The microphone of the Arctis 1 performs a lot better, and their sound profile is much more accurate and better-balanced.

Corsair HS60 PRO SURROUND

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 are slightly better wired gaming headphones than the Corsair HS60 PRO SURROUND. The SteelSeries have a better-balanced sound profile, a much better-performing microphone, and leak less audio. On the other hand, the Corsair look and feel significantly more durable, and are much more comfortable and stable. Also, unlike the SteelSeries, the Corsair have companion software that gives you access to a graphic EQ as well as presets.

RUNMUS RGB K1 Gaming Headset

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 is a much better wired gaming headset than the RUNMUS RGB K1 Gaming Headset. The SteelSeries has a more comfortable design with easier-to-use controls. Though their microphones perform similarly in quiet environments, the Arctis 1's mic has better noise handling too.

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SteelSeries Arctis 1 Price

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