SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.2
Neutral Listening
6.7
Commute/Travel
6.9
Sports/Fitness
6.7
Office
5.8
Wireless Gaming
7.4
Wired Gaming
7.7
Phone Call
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

Test Results
Design 6.6
Isolation 5.7
Microphone 8.7
Active Features 6.9
Connectivity 6.8
Pros
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Great microphone for online games.
  • Bluetooth-compatible gaming headset.
Cons
  • Bulky and plasticky build.
  • Lacks customization options via software support.
  • Bass and treble delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.
  1. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Check Price

Arctis 3 Bluetooth 2019 Edition
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com
6.6

Design

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.

Style

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.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.65 lbs
Clamping Force
:
1.0 lbs

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.

7.9 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : Yes
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 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.

Note: Only the volume wheel works when the headset is used wired.

6.3 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 6.2 C

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.

5.2 Portability
L : 7.6 "
W : 7.8 "
H : 4.0 "
Volume : 237 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

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.

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.

7.0 Build Quality

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.

7.0 Stability

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.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
Top

Sound

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.

Sound Profile
Neutral
:
8.0
Bass-Heavy
:
3.4
Warm
:
4.0
Bright
:
8.1
7.7 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
1.52 db
Dips
:
1.02 db
5.3 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.88 dB

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.

8.1 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.27
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
1.07
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.29
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
6.09

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.

6.7 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.97 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
8.18 dB
PRTF Distance
:
19.94 dB
Openness
:
4.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
3.5

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.

7.6 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.195
WHD @ 100
:
0.167
5.7

Isolation

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.

5.1 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-13.31 dB
Bass
:
0.57 dB
Mid
:
-8.97 dB
Treble
:
-32.26 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 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.

7.0 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
39.67 dB

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.

8.7

Microphone

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

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. If you're looking for a fully detachable boom microphone with similar performance, take a look at the SteelSeries Arctis 1.

8.6 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
20 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.88 dB
HFE
:
9948.49 Hz
Weighted THD
:
0.17
Gain
:
26.78 dB

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.

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

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.

6.9

Active Features

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.

7.6 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
:
42.3 hrs
Additional Charges
:
0
Total Battery Life
:
42.3 hrs
Charge Time
:
3.8 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
Yes
Charging Port : micro-USB

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.

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

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.

6.8

Connectivity

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.

7.5 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.1
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
No
Line of Sight Range
:
186 ft
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

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.

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.

0 Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Non-BT Latency
:
N/A
9.5 Wired
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.1 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRRS
Wired Latency
:
0 ms

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.

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

These headphones don’t have a dock. For similar headphones with a dock that allows customization and great control options, take a look at the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless or the Arctis Pro GameDAC.

In the box

  • SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth 2019 Edition headphones
  • 8-pin USB to 1/8” TRRS audio cable
  • PC Y-splitter
  • USB to micro-USB charging cable
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

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.

SteelSeries Arctis 1
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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 5 2019 Edition
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

HyperX Cloud Stinger
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Astro A10
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Creative SXFI Air Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

For gaming, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition Wireless are a better option than the Creative SXFI Air. Their microphone sounds better and they have a better overall control scheme for gamers. Their sound is also noticeably better. On the other hand, the SXFI Air can be used over USB. Both headphones can be used Bluetooth as well, but the Arctis offer more battery life, but don’t have an app like the SXFI Air.

+ Show more
6.8 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. These gaming headphones have good audio reproduction and can also be used wirelessly via Bluetooth, which makes them very versatile. Unfortunately, their microphone is not detachable to make them more outdoor-friendly, but it is retractable. They have an amazing battery life that will be suitable for the longest trips, but they don’t have a good noise isolation performance, which won’t make them a good option for commuting. They are also quite bulky and are not designed to be sports headphones. On the upside, they have a great microphone and when used wired, they don’t have any latency issues; this is great for playing games and watching video content.

7.2 Neutral Listening

Good for neutral listening. The SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 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.

6.7 Commute/Travel

Okay for commuting. The SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 have a Bluetooth connection so they can be used wirelessly in your daily commute. They also have amazing battery life and are quite comfortable. However, their fit doesn’t isolate against ambient noise and a lot of it will seep into your audio. They are also quite bulky and a bit hard to carry around.

6.9 Sports/Fitness

Okay for sports and fitness. Even if the ear cup padding is made from a porous material, these headphones are not designed to be used for physical activity. They can get quite hot fairly quickly and they are very bulky. They also sway around with excessive head movement and will fall off your head during most physical activity. On the upside, they can be used wirelessly, and you won’t have to worry about a cable being in your way or getting hooked on something.

6.7 Office

Decent for the office. These headphones are comfortable to wear for a few hours without feeling too much fatigue, they sound good, and they have an amazing battery life that will last you a few work days without a problem. They also have pretty good wireless range, so you’ll be able to move around your desk a bit. Unfortunately, they don’t block out ambient noise very well, but you can easily mask out the sound of an A/C system with these.

5.8 Wireless Gaming

Good for gaming. The SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 have a good sound quality and their microphone have a great recording quality, which is great for online gaming with friends or teammates. They are also quite comfortable to wear during long gaming sessions and you can even stream music from your phone via their Bluetooth connection while gaming wired. Unfortunately, they aren’t compatible with the SteelSeries Engine for customization and control options.

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