The SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition are good gaming headphones that are also Bluetooth-compatible, which lets you stream music from your phone while using the headphones wired on your console, for example. They have an excellent microphone that sounds clear and full-bodied, which is great for online gaming. This model is fairly similar to the other Arctis headphones we’ve reviewed so far and are almost identical to the Arctis 5 when it comes to design. Unfortunately, they don’t isolate against ambient noise and feel a bit plasticky, but they are quite versatile and are compatible with pretty much every gaming platform. They also have a pretty impressive 42-hour battery life.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 are very similar to all the other Arctis headsets, but they resemble the Arctis 5 the most, without the RGB lighting. These wired gaming headphones are fairly comfortable but can be tight for some people. Their control scheme is great; you get music management as well, since you can use them with a Bluetooth connection. They are quite bulky headphones, like most gaming headsets, and feel slightly cheaper than some high-end Arctis models due to their plastic headband. On the upside, their 1/8” connection means that they are very versatile and compatible with most gaming platforms.
The Arctis 3 are pretty much identical to the Arctis 5 when it comes to style. They have the same one-piece headband made from plastic that doesn’t look as well-built as higher-end Arctis headsets like the Arctis Pro GameDAC or the Arctis 7 2019 Edition. However, this model still has the signature self-adjusting ski-band headband design from SteelSeries. On the other hand, they don’t have any RGB lighting, like the Arctis 5. The headset is designed the same way as the rest of the Arctis lineup with large cups and a simple design.
These headphones are as comfortable as the other Arctis headsets. The padding on the cups is soft and feels nice on the skin. The cups are wide and deep, meaning most ears should fit inside them. The headband is an adjustable ski-band like most SteelSeries headphones we’ve reviewed so far and it distributes the weight of the headset well. Unfortunately, they can feel a bit tight to some, especially people with larger heads. Some may feel the frame of the headset resting on the top of their head, as there is a limit to how much you can extend the ski-band.
The control scheme of the Arctis 3 is complete and easy to use. You can use the power/pairing button to play/pause your music and take calls, whether you’re using them wired or wirelessly via Bluetooth. You can also double tap it to skip tracks. Unfortunately, you can’t go backward. There’s also a volume wheel and a mic-mute button on the left cup. The buttons are easy to differentiate and easy to use.
Like most SteelSeries headphones, the Arctis 3 aren’t very breathable headphones. They can be tight on some heads and don’t let much airflow through, even if their padding is made out of a porous material. You'll likely notice a small difference in temperature over time, but this shouldn’t be a big issue during gaming sessions. However, they won’t be a good option for sports as you will sweat noticeably more than usual.
Like most gaming headphones, the Arctis 3 Bluetooth aren’t the most portable. They have a bulky design and they don’t fold into a more compact format. On the upside, their cups swivel to lay flat, which makes it easier to slide the headphones in a bag or to wear them around your neck without being bothered by the cups.
The Arctis 3 feel a bit cheaper than the rest of the lineup and are built similarly to the Arctis 5. The headband frame of this model is made from plastic and doesn’t feel as sturdy as the Arctis 7 2019 Edition, Arctis Pro Wireless, or Arctis Pro GameDAC. However, the cups are the same and should survive a few accidental drops without too much damage. Also, the retractable microphone is malleable and feels well-made too.
Since the SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 are fairly tight, they feel stable, but their bulky design won’t be ideal for most intense sports and physical activity. They’ll sway around with head movement and aren’t designed for working out. These headphones are also wired, so you’ll need to be careful not to get their wire hooked on something, which could yank the headphones off your head. You can also use their Bluetooth connection with your phone to get rid of that risk.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth are good sounding over-ear gaming headphones. They have a decent bass, a fairly well-balanced mid-range, and a great treble range. However, they fail to deliver their audio consistently across users, which means most people won’t hear the same thing with these headphones. Their bass is also slightly lacking in low-end thump and rumble and they sound a bit boomy and cluttered. Overall, these headphones will still be a good option for a wide variety of music and for video games.
The bass performance of the Arctis 3 Bluetooth is decent. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 58Hz, which is okay. That and the 5dB underemphasis in low-bass will result in a bass that sounds light on thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music like EDM, dubstep, and rap. The response then goes up to a 3dB bump in high-bass, which adds extra muddiness and boominess to the overall 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.
The Arctis 3’s mid-range is good. The response throughout the range is fairly well-balanced and is decently near to our target curve. However, there’s a small bump in low-mid, which is a continuation of the high-bass, making vocals and lead instruments a bit thick and cluttered. There’s also an 8dB tilt favoring lower frequencies.
The Arctis 3 have a great treble performance. The response is very flat and even, but gets a bit elevated around 9-10kHz. This bump will make some sibilants (S and T sounds) overly sharp and piercing, especially on already bright tracks. Note that not everyone will hear it as intensely.
Also, their treble delivery varies noticeably across users. The response here represents the average response and your experience may vary.
The frequency response of the SteelSeries Arctis 3 is sub-par. 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.
The imaging is great. Weighted group delay is at 0.27, 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. 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.
The Arctis 3 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 pronounced dip around 10kHz that could help bring the soundstage out of the listener’s head and to the front.
The harmonic distortion performance of the Arctis 3 is great. The amount of THD throughout the range is within good limits, but our unit seemed to show a few spikes around 250Hz and around 1-2kHz on the right driver. This shouldn’t be audible for most as the THD is still fairly low.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 have the same porous pads as the Arctis 5 2019 Edition, which lets noise seep into your audio. This, unfortunately, means they won't be the best headphones to use outdoors in public transit or at loud gaming events since your audio will be somewhat drowned out by the ambient noise. On the upside, they do not leak too much at moderate volumes, so they won't be distracting to those around you. This also means you can turn your volume a bit higher to mask some of the noise in loud environments, but it might be a bit disturbing for others in very quiet rooms.
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 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.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 have a decent leakage performance. The significant portion of their leakage is spread between 400Hz and 4kHz, which is a fairly narrow range. The overall level of leakage is also too loud. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 40dB SPL and peaks at 54dB SPL, which is just about the noise floor of most offices.
The Arctis 3 have an excellent boom microphone. 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.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3’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 10kHz 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.
The microphone of the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth has excellent noise handling. It achieves a speech-to-noise ratio of nearly 39dB, which is very good, indicating that it can separate speech from noise even in the most demanding environments, like a noisy gaming event.
The Arctis 3 have a tremendous amount of continuous playback time. While they advertise about 28 hours of battery life, we measured over 40 hours. We've retested this to be sure this wasn't an error and got consistent results. They obviously won’t need daily charging, which is great, especially that they take about 4 hours to fully charge. Even if you manage to completely drain them, you can still use them passively with an included audio cable. Unfortunately, these headphones are not compatible with the SteelSeries Engine software, but they still support Surround Sound on Windows 10.
With over 40 hours of continuous playback, the Arctis 3 are among the headphones that offer the longest playback time without the need for physical AA or AAA batteries that we've tested so far. With such a long battery life, it's expected that they might take a bit longer to charge than most Bluetooth headphones. Unfortunately, they don’t automatically turn off if they are idle for a bit. You can use them passively with an audio cable, though, even if their battery is dead, which is convenient.
The Arctis 3 Bluetooth are not compatible with the SteelSeries Engine gaming software for customization options. However, they still have surround sound, which you can enable in your sound settings on Windows 10 under “spatial sound”; choose Windows Sonic for Headphones.
Like the HyperX Cloud Mix, these gaming headphones have a wired connection, useful for gaming, but can also be used with a Bluetooth connection to stream music as well. When used wired, they have a 1/8” TRRS connection, meaning they’ll support audio and microphone support on all platforms. You also won’t have any latency, which is great for playing games without any delay. When used wirelessly, they have excellent wireless range and their latency is still pretty low for Bluetooth headphones.
These headphones are Bluetooth-compatible like the HyperX Cloud Mix. You can connect them via Bluetooth to your phone while gaming on a console with the headset being wired to your controller. However, you won’t be able to connect them wirelessly to multiple devices simultaneously.
Thanks to their 1/8” TRRS connection, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 support audio and microphone on pretty much every platform that has the appropriate jack. When using them on PC, you’ll have to use the PC Y-splitter to use the mic and headphone jacks.
When used with their Bluetooth connection, these headphones have excellent wireless range. They have a pretty good line of sight range and their 52ft of range when the source is obstructed will allow you to move to the next room over without having too many audio cuts. However, wireless range is dependent on many factors, including your source’s signal strength, so your results may vary.
When used wired, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 don’t have any latency, which is great for watching video content and playing games without delay. We measured about 134ms of delay when using the Bluetooth connection. This is lower than the average Bluetooth headphones, which usually average 200-220ms of delay. This means some people might not even notice the delay between audio and video content even when using the headphones wirelessly, which is great, but still might be a bit too high for gaming.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth are good gaming headphones that set themselves apart thanks to their great sounding microphone and the fact that they can also be used to stream audio content from a Bluetooth source. This makes them very versatile, as they can be used with pretty much every gaming console, as well as with phones. See our recommendations for the best gaming headsets, the best PS4 headsets, and the best gaming headsets for PC.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition are similar gaming headphones to the HyperX Cloud Stinger, but they are more versatile since they are also Bluetooth-compatible. Their control scheme is also more complete and is noticeably easier to use. If you’re looking for gaming-only headphones, then the cheaper Cloud Stinger might be worth it, but the value the Bluetooth compatibility offers on the Arctis 3 might be worth it for some.
The SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition since they are compatible with the SteelSeries Engine software, which offers plenty of customization options and controls. The Arctis 3 are more versatile since they are Bluetooth-compatible, making them more outdoor-friendly. The Arctis 5 also have channel mixing, but they don’t have the excellent microphone of the Arctis 3.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition. They have very low latency when used wirelessly and the headphones feel better built. Both headphones sound similarly out of the box, but the Arctis 7 are compatible with the SteelSeries Engine software which offers good customization options. While their battery life is a bit shorter than the Arctis 3’s, they have a power saving feature and they can also be used while charging. The Arctis 3's microphone is also surprisingly better. On the other hand, thanks to their USB dock, the Arctis 7 can be used wirelessly on consoles, but won’t support the mic on Xbox One.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition are better headphones than the Astro A10. They are more comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions, have a better control scheme, and have a slightly better sounding audio quality. The Arctis 3 are also Bluetooth-compatible, which means you can stream music from your phone while playing on consoles. On the other hand, the Astro A10 feel slightly better made and less plasticky than the Arctis 3, but that’s about it.