SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition Headphones Review

Reviewed May 03, 2019 at 10:54 am
SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition Picture
Usage Ratings - Version 1.3.1
6.3
Mixed Usage
7.4
Neutral Sound
5.8
Commute/Travel
6.0
Sports/Fitness
6.4
Office
6.2
Wireless Gaming
7.8
Wired Gaming
7.2
Phone Call
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition are good wired gaming headphones that have a very good audio reproduction. They have a great microphone for online gaming, and they are also compatible with the SteelSeries Engine software for a good amount of customization and control options. However, these headphones are a bit more plasticky than some other Arctis headsets in the lineup and feel less durable. On the upside, they offer great value, and you get a channel mixing dial on their USB cable, which you need to access the app.

Our Verdict

6.3 Mixed Usage

Okay for mixed usage. They have good sound quality for listening to music and they are good gaming headphones thanks to their microphone and no-latency wired connection. However, they shouldn’t be used for commuting or at the office as they barely isolate any noise. Their design is bulky and not breathable for sports and you don’t have that much range to watch TV from your couch.

7.4 Neutral Sound

Good for neutral listening. They have a deep and powerful bass, a good mid-range, and a well-balanced treble. However, the bass is prone to inconsistencies and is a bit boomy. The treble is slightly uneven too and also prone to inconsistencies, meaning that overall, these headphones will perform differently across different users. They’ll be more suited for bass-heavy music and should satisfy most gamers. You can also customize their sound profile to your liking in their app.

See our Neutral Sound recommendations
5.8 Commute/Travel

Mediocre for commuting. These headphones are not very portable and their fit doesn’t isolate against ambient noise very well. A lot of noise will seep into your audio. On the upside, if you watch video content during your commute, you won't have any latency thanks to their wired connection.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
6.0 Sports/Fitness

Mediocre for sports. While they are tight and fairly stable, these headphones are not designed for this use case. Their tightness blocks airflow and you will sweat more than usual when wearing these headphones. Also, you’ll have a wire in your way during your physical activities, which isn’t ideal.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
6.4 Office

Okay for the office. Unfortunately, they don’t isolate much ambient chatter, but on the upside, you won’t have to manage battery life. Also, they aren’t too leaky so you shouldn’t disturb your colleagues by listening to slightly higher volumes.

See our Office recommendations
6.2 Wireless Gaming

Good for gaming. These headphones have a good sound quality, great microphone, and are very customizable inside their app. They are quite versatile and can be used on pretty much every platform, depending on which connection you’re using. Unfortunately, their dock is a bit lackluster and lacks options and controls other than channel mixing.

See our Wireless Gaming recommendations
7.8 Wired Gaming
7.2 Phone Call
  • 6.3 Mixed Usage
  • 7.4 Neutral Sound
  • 5.8 Commute/Travel
  • 6.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.4 Office
  • 6.2 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.8 Wired Gaming
  • 7.2 Phone Call
Pros
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Great microphone for online games.
  • Great app support and many customization options.
Cons
  • Bulky and plasticky build.
  • Can be a bit tight for some listeners.
  • Bass and treble delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Test Results

Design
Design
Style

The Arctis 5 have a similar design to the Arctis 7 2019 Edition, but the headband is quite different. They still have a ski-band headband, but the frame is fully plastic and quite rigid, which gives it a cheaper look. The cups still have the same design, but there is RGB lighting around the cups’ backplates. The overall build is very simple and isn’t as flashy as other gaming headphones we’ve reviewed so far. You can also retract the microphone inside the left ear cup to give them a more casual look, but they still won’t be very outdoor-friendly. You can get this headset in an all-black or all-white design.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.69 lbs
Clamping Force
1.1 lbs

The Arctis 5 2019 are as comfortable as the rest of the headphones in the Arctis lineup. The cups are well-padded, and the fabric is soft and feels nice on the skin. The headband is an adjustable ski-band like most SteelSeries headsets we’ve reviewed so far and it distributes the weight of the headphones well. However, larger heads might feel the frame as there is a limit to how much you can extend the band itself. They are also a bit tight on some heads, which can become uncomfortable after a while. On the upside, you can also get leather pads on the SteelSeries website, which some may prefer.

6.8
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Yes
Channel Mixing
Adjustable
Noise Cancelling Control N/A
Talk-Through
N/A
Additional Buttons N/A

These headphones have a very simple control scheme that is useful for games. You have a volume wheel and a mic-mute button which are very easy to use. Also, you can plug-in their dock to get more wired range and also gain access to a channel mixing knob. It has a notch that indicates you when you’re at 50/50 between game and chat audio, which is useful. However, the knob is very sensitive, and it is easy to accidentally turn it.

5.0
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 9.0 C

The Arctis 5 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 difference in temperature over time, which means it might be a good idea to take the headphones off from time to time to let your ears cool off. They won’t be a good option for sports as you will sweat noticeably more than usual.

5.6
Design
Portability
L 9.0 "
W 8.5 "
H 2.0 "
Volume 153 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required N/A

Like most gaming headphones, the Arctis 5 are not very portable. They don’t fold into a more compact format, but the cups do swivel to lay flat, which makes it easier to slide them into a bag. However, you likely won't be on the move too often with your gaming headset, so this shouldn’t be an issue. If you are, they come with a 1/8” adapter to use with your phone, which is nice.

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

They do not come with a case or a pouch.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Arctis 5 feel a bit cheaper than the rest of the lineup. 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
Design
Stability

The Arctis 5 are decently stable due to their tightness on the head but won’t be great for sports. They can sway around with head movements and their design is quite bulky and not intended for sports. This shouldn’t be a problem for casual gaming. Their wired design also means you should be a bit careful, as their cable get can hooked on something and could yank the headphones off your head.

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

  • SteelSeries Arctis 5 headphones
  • 8-pin USB main audio cable
  • USB ChatMix Dial
  • 1/8” TRRS adapter
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
0.43 db
Treble Amount
-1.87 db
5.3
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
1.44 dB

Like most SteelSeries headphones, the Arctis 5 have poor frequency response consistency. In the bass range, the deviation across our five human subjects is quite wide and deep, reaching more than 8dB. 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 measured a maximum variation of more than 10dB under 10kHz, which is very noticeable.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.2
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.59 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
-0.61 dB
Mid-Bass
2.44 dB
High-Bass
4.02 dB

The Arctis 5 have great bass. 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 thumpy 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 2.5 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.

8.3
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.29 dB
Low-Mid
2.34 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.43 dB
High-Mid
-2.46 dB

The mid range 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 leads instruments. The slight underemphasis in the high-mid will negatively affect the projection and intensity of vocals/leads.

8.5
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.92 dB
Low-Treble
-1.67 dB
Mid-Treble
-1.68 dB
High-Treble
-1.18 dB

The treble response of the Arctis 5 is very good. There’s a dip centered around 6kHz, which will have a small negative effect on the detail and articulation of vocals and lead instruments, but this will be negligible. There is also a small peak around 10kHz, which could make sibilants (S and T sounds) sharp and piercing.

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

7.7
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.46 db
Dips
1.14 db
7.7
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.22
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.62
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.67
Weighted Phase Mismatch
7.32

The imaging is great. Weighted group delay is at 0.22, 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.

6.5
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.18 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
11.46 dB
PRTF Distance
22.49 dB
Openness
5.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.8

The Arctis 5 have a decent soundstage for closed-back headphones. The shape of the PRTF response isn’t that 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.

7.8
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.309
WHD @ 100
0.106
Isolation
4.6
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-12.67 dB
Bass
0.71 dB
Mid
-5.9 dB
Treble
-33.15 dB

The isolation performance is poor. 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 6dB of noise, which is negligible. 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.

7.7
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
35.25 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis 5 have a good leakage performance. The significant portion of their leakage is spread between 1kHz and 3kHz, which is a 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 35dB SPL and peaks at 55dB SPL, which is just above the noise floor of most offices.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-line
No
Boom
Yes
Detachable Boom
No

The SteelSeries Arctis 5 have a very good boom microphone. Speech recorded or transmitted with this mic in a quiet environment will sound full and easily comprehensible, but slightly bright and sharp. In noisy environments, the mic can reject ambient noise to a great degree, making it good to use even in very loud places like a gaming event.

7.5
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
132.62 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.99 dB
HFE
10388.94 Hz
Weighted THD
38.095
Gain
29.38 dB

The Arctis 5’s boom mic has a good recording quality. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 133Hz, which is good. This means speech recorded/transmitted with this mic will sound deep and full. The HFE of 10kHz is also very good, which ensures detailed and present speech. However, the 10dB bump in treble, centered around 5kHz, makes speech overly bright and could sound sharp. On the upside, speech is very clear and intelligible on this mic.

8.6
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
35.71 dB

The boom microphone is great at noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of about 36dB, which means it can separate speech from ambient noise to a great degree even in very loud and demanding situations like gaming events.

Active Features
N/A
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
N/A
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving Feature
N/A
Audio While Charging
N/A
Passive Playback
N/A
Charging Port N/A

These headphones are wired and don’t have a battery.

8.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name SteelSeries Engine
iOS No
Android No
macOS Yes
Windows Yes
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
No
Mic Control Yes
Room effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Sound DTS 7.1

The SteelSeries Engine is a pretty complete app that offers many options for the Arctis 5. It provides a graphic equalizer with presets, DTS surround sound, a mic live preview, and volume control for the mic. You can also save your configuration under the config tab so you can quickly switch between your different settings. It lacks some of the fancier auto-calibration features (for the surround sound) that some headsets have, but it's efficient, easy-to-use, and all the controls are under a single page, so you don't have to navigate between multiple tabs. Since the Arctis 5 have RGB lighting, you can control this setting inside the app.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
N/A
NFC Pairing
N/A
Line of Sight Range
N/A
Default Latency
N/A
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
N/A

These headphones are not Bluetooth-compatible. If you’re looking for a gaming headset with Bluetooth, take a look at the SteelSeries Arctis 3, the Arctis Pro Wireless or the HyperX Cloud Mix.

Thanks to their wired connection, these headphones don’t have latency when watching video content or gaming, which is great. You should not notice any delay.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.7
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
Yes
Detachable Yes
Length 5.0 ft
Connection 1/8" TRRS
Wired Latency
11 ms

The Arctis 5 have audio and mic support on pretty much every platform, but not via their USB connection. You’ll be able to use the USB cable and the channel mixing dock on PC and PS4, but you won’t be able to do so on Xbox One. To get audio and microphone support, you’ll need to plug them into your controller, using the 1/8” adapter.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PC / PS4 Wired USB
Audio + Microphone
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No
3.4
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
N/A
USB Input
Yes
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
USB

The Arctis 5 come with a small dock that offers channel mixing. You can use the dock on PS4 and PCs for audio and microphone. However, you can’t use it on Xbox One.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

The SteelSeries Arctis 5 are good gaming headphones that set themselves apart by the value they provide. The Arctis 5 have a great microphone, a nice app and good sound quality without being too expensive. Unfortunately, they feel a bit cheaper and more plasticky than similar gaming headphones. See our recommendations for the best gaming headsets under $100, the best PS4 gaming headsets, and the best headphone brands.

HyperX Cloud 2/Cloud II
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition are slightly better wired gaming headphones than the HyperX Cloud II. They have a very nice gaming software that allows lots of customization and control over the headset. Also, their sound quality is better than the HyperX’s, especially in the treble range. On the other hand, the Cloud II are better-built and are one of the most comfortable gaming headphones we’ve reviewed so far. Their microphone recording quality is also superior, which you can also fully detach to use the headphones outdoors.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition and the SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition are similarly designed gaming headphones, but the wireless 7 is a better option. They feel noticeably better-built and their mic also has better recording quality. Their wireless design means you can easily play games from your couch without a wire going to your controller and their dongle offers minimal latency. However, you’ll have to manage a battery life, which is not as easy to a plug-and-play headset like the 5.

SteelSeries Arctis 3 2019 Edition Wireless
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 Pro GameDAC
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition. They are better-built thanks to their metal headband frame, and their out of the box sound quality is slightly better. Also, the GameDAC offers plenty of control options that the Arctis 5 is lacking. However, they might not offer the same value as the Arctis 5 due to the noticeable price difference.

Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2017
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro are better for gaming than the SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition due to their very comfortable and durable build. They also have a better microphone for online games and their dock has tons of controls and input options that the Arctis 5 is lacking. On the other hand, the Arctis 5 have better sound quality and might offer better value than the A40.

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SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition Price

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