The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless are feature-packed wireless gaming headphones. They offer Bluetooth compatibility, a high-quality boom microphone, and companion software with a broad range of configuration options. They're also very well-built and quite comfortable, though their elastic ski-band headband may not suit everyone. They also have a somewhat imbalanced sound profile and struggle to deliver audio consistently. That said, they're a versatile option if you're looking for gaming headphones for your PC, PS4, or PS5.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are passable for neutral sound. They struggle to deliver audio consistently and lack low-bass, so sound effects may be missing a bit of thump and rumble. They also have an uneven treble response that causes some higher notes to sound dull and lispy. Thankfully, their mid-range is well-balanced, so vocals, dialogue, and lead instruments should sound clear and present. Their companion software also features a graphic EQ and audio presets to customize your listening experience.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are alright for commuting and traveling. Since they're Bluetooth-compatible, they don't need their wireless transmitter to function, so you can listen to your music on your phone during your daily commute. Unfortunately, they don't filter out that much noise, so you may hear the rumble of bus engines and the chatter of other commuters.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are decent for sports and fitness, though that isn't what they're designed for. They do a good job of clamping your head and feel stable enough for light jogs, though they're likely to fall off during intense workouts. They're also quite heavy, though their microphone does retract to reduce their bulky profile.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are mediocre for office use. They're comfortable enough to wear for long periods and supply more than 20 hours of playback, so they should last you through the whole day without a problem. However, they don't filter out that much background noise, so you may hear the chatter of coworkers.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are a satisfactory choice for wireless gaming. Their USB transmitter allows for low-latency audio while their simple control scheme lets you quickly adjust chat mixing on-the-fly. They have a companion app with a wide range of features to let you fine-tune your gaming experience as well as a high-quality boom microphone that ensures teammates hear you clearly.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 don't come with an audio cable but are partially compatible with wired connections, since they have a 3.5 mm audio port. If you have a 1/8" TRS or TRRS cable, you can receive audio from PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X systems, but you won't be able to use their mic.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are decent for phone calls. Their boom microphone does a great job of making your voice sound full-bodied, clear, and mostly free of background noise. That said, they don't block out much background noise, so you may have trouble following a conversation if you call from a loud environment.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are very similar in design to other SteelSeries headphones. They feature the brand's distinctive ski goggle-like headband, cloth-lined ear cup padding, and retractable boom microphone.
These headphones are comfortable. While the headphones themselves are somewhat heavy, their elastic headband does a good job of distributing its weight. The ear cups offer a pretty broad range of adjustability, and the cloth-lined padding feels soft. Unfortunately, like other SteelSeries headphones, their elastic headband can feel tight for people with larger heads and can't be expanded very far.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 have a very good control scheme. There are dedicated buttons for power on/off, microphone muting, and Bluetooth playback functions. A single tap of the Bluetooth button answers and ends incoming calls and pauses or plays media. A double and triple tap skips tracks forward and backward, respectively. There are also separate wheels for volume adjustment and chat mixing on either ear cup, though it can be hard to tell which is which as they both feel the same.
Update 03/25/2021: We have tested these headphones for breathability.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless have sub-par breathability. While the material covering the ear cups feel similar to that of the SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless, these headphones seem to trap in a bit more heat, and don't allow for much airflow. If you wear them during sports or physical activity, they can cause you to sweat more. However, it shouldn't be too much of a problem if you're sitting down to game.
These headphones aren't especially portable. The ear cups swivel to fold flat, but their headband doesn't fold inwards to reduce their footprint. Thankfully, since they're Bluetooth-compatible, you won't need to carry their USB transmitter wherever you go. They also have a retractable boom mic, so you shouldn't have to worry about it snagging on something in your bag.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 don't have a case or pouch.
These headphones have impressive build quality. They feel better built than the SteelSeries Arctis Prime and are mostly made of dense, high-grade plastic. They also have cloth-lined ear cup padding as well as an elasticized headband. Overall, they feel like they should survive a couple of minor impacts without serious damage, though their yokes and hinges do feel a little fragile.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are quite stable. Their ski-band headband and relatively tight fit help keep them on your ears during low-intensity head movements, but they're very likely to fall off if you plan on using them for intense workouts. Their wireless design eliminates the risk of having an audio cable snag on something and pulling them from your head.
Update 03/25/2021: We have clarified the results of the mismatch between the L/R driver. While we experienced a difference in frequency response between both drivers, it could be due to a quality issue unique to our model.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 have a somewhat imbalanced sound profile out-of-the-box. They're missing a bit of low bass, so some sound effects and bass-heavy music genres may lack thump and rumble. While their mids are mostly flat and neutral, they have an uneven treble response that results in a lack of detail and clarity. This isn't helped by the mismatch between the L/R drivers of our unit, which is most noticeable in the low-bass, high-mid, and low-treble ranges. We could also hear the difference in bass between ears. However, this may be an issue with our unit and if you have experienced this issue, please let us know in the discussion section below. If you prefer to tweak their sound to your liking, it can be customized in-depth via a graphic EQ or presets in their companion app.
The frequency response consistency of the SteelSeries Arctis 9 is poor. Their audio delivery is heavily dependent on their fit, seal, and positioning, so you may have trouble achieving a consistent listening experience, especially if you have long hair or wear glasses.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 have alright bass accuracy. The low-bass range is slightly underemphasized to different degrees in the left and right drivers, resulting in an overall lack of thump and rumble, but this mismatch could be unique to our test unit. Conversely, they have an overemphasized high-bass response that adds a bit of muddiness to some tracks. That said, since their audio delivery is heavily dependent on their fit and positioning, your experience may vary.
The mid accuracy of these headphones is great. While there is some mismatch between both drivers, the range itself is mostly flat, resulting in full-bodied and present dialogue, vocals, and lead instruments. A slight dip in the high-mid range does make them sound a little distant.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9's treble accuracy is disappointing. There's significant mismatch between the L/R drivers in this range, so vocals and lead instruments may sound alternatively dull and lispy, though this may only be an issue for our test unit. Since their audio reproduction is heavily dependent on their fit and positioning, your experience may vary in the real world.
The peaks and dips performance of the SteelSeries Arctis 9 is satisfactory. The left driver has an underemphasized low-bass response, resulting in a lack of thump and rumble, followed by a bump in the high-bass range that muddies some mixes. The overemphasized mid-mids and high-mids generates some harshness while the sharp dip and following peak in the treble range makes some notes alternatively dull and piercing. The right driver has a slightly recessed mid through high-mid range as well as a slightly harsh low-treble range.
The stereo imaging performance of the SteelSeries Arctis 9 is mediocre. Their weighted group delay falls beneath the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble. While the L/R drivers are well-matched in regards to phase response, some amplitude and frequency mismatch is present. This has an impact on the headphones' ability to accurately place objects in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.
These headphones have a passable passive soundstage. It may be perceived as quite spacious, but also somewhat unnatural. Their soundstage won't feel quite as open as that of open-back alternatives like the Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 have support for DTS virtual surround and a simple speaker modeling feature.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 have a satisfactory weighted harmonic distortion performance. Some distortion is present throughout the mid-range and low-treble range, but the rest of the frequency spectrum falls within good limits. This results in mostly clean and pure audio reproduction.
These are the settings used to test the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. Our results are only valid when they're used in this configuration.
These headphones have bad noise isolation capability. They filter out almost no ambient noise throughout the bass range and do a poor job of dealing with mid-range background noise, so you may hear sounds like the rumble of bus engines or the chatter of people nearby quite easily. Thankfully, they're quite effective at cutting down higher-pitched sound, like the hum of a nearby AC unit.
The leakage performance of these headphones is decent. If you listen to your music at a high volume in a normal office environment, it may be audible to nearby coworkers.
These headphones have a retractable boom microphone.
The microphone's recording quality is great. Your voice should sound clear, natural, and mostly free of distortion.
The microphone's noise handling performance is impressive. People that you're speaking to should be able to understand you clearly, even if you're in a loud environment.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9's battery performance is great. They supply over 20 hours of continuous playback time and have an auto-off timer to help conserve charge, which can be adjusted in their companion app. However, they take over five and a half hours to recharge, which is longer than alternatives like the SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition.
These headphones are compatible with the SteelSeries Engine companion software. It's easy to use and offers support for functions like a graphic EQ, audio presets, mic volume adjustment, changing the length of their auto-off timer, and enabling surround sound.
Update 09/22/2021: We've changed Multi-Device Pairing from 'No' to 'Bluetooth + Console/Non-BT Wireless' as these headphones can connect to a PS4 console and a Bluetooth device at the same time. You first connect the headphones' dongle to your PS4. Next, you press the headphones' 'Bluetooth' button to pair them with a phone. Once paired to both devices, you can hear audio from both devices simultaneously. As a result, we have updated our review, and the scoring of this box has changed.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9's Bluetooth connectivity is great. They don't offer multi-device pairing solely via Bluetooth, but you can connect to your PC with their USB dongle and stream media via Bluetooth from your phone at the same time, unlike non-Bluetooth-compatible alternatives like the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air Wireless. Their latency on iOS and Android mobile devices is low enough to make them suitable for watching videos without significant audio delay. Since apps and devices compensate differently for latency, your real-world experience may vary.
These headphones deliver good non-Bluetooth wireless connectivity. When using their USB transmitter, their latency is low enough to use them for gaming without experiencing significant audio delay.
Update 03/25/2021: We originally listed the Analog Audio as 'No', which caused some confusion. Although these headphones have a 3.5 mm jack, they don't come with a 1/8" TRS or TRRS cable, so you need to purchase this accessory separately. Due to user feedback, we have changed the result of this test to 'Yes (Not Included)'. The scoring of this box has changed.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless don't come with an audio cable, but they do have a 3.5 mm jack that should allow you to use them with a 1/8" TRS or TRRS audio cable for passive audio playback or sharing audio with another pair of headphones. That said, if you're looking for a wireless gaming headset that also comes with a 1/8" TRRS cable, consider the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless.
Update 03/25/2021: We have tested these headphones' Xbox Series X compatibility. Due to user feedback, we have also clarified the Xbox One Analog test results.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 are only partially compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X consoles when using a 1/8" TRS or TRRS cable and plugging them into your Xbox's controller. However, this cable isn't included in-the-box and can only receive audio, so you won't be able to use their mic.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless come in only one color scheme: 'Black'. You can see the label for the model we tested here.
If someone comes across a differently-equipped variant, let us know in the discussions below so that we can update our review.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless are premium wireless gaming headphones that are essentially the PC/PS4 version of the SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless. They offer impressive build quality, a 20-hour battery life, and Bluetooth compatibility, so you can stream music from your phone while gaming. Unfortunately, they do a poor job of blocking out background noise and are quite bulky. For alternatives, take a look at our list of recommendations of the best wireless gaming headsets, the best PS4 gaming headsets, and the best gaming headsets.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless are slightly better for wireless gaming than the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. The 7 2019 Edition come with a 1/8" TRRS cable that allows for passive audio playback and microphone usage. They also deliver audio more consistently and have a better-balanced default sound profile. Their continuous battery life is longer too. Meanwhile, the 9 are Bluetooth-compatible, so you can use them to listen to music from your phone as you game. They also have an easier-to-use control scheme.
The Corsair VIRTUOSO RGB Wireless XT are more versatile gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. You can use the Corsair wired or wirelessly. They have better battery and Bluetooth connectivity performances, and their boom mic delivers a better recording quality. However, the SteelSeries are more comfortable, and their boom mic does a better job of noise handling.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are more versatile than the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. The Pro have a better-balanced sound profile out-of-the-box, block out more ambient noise, have a better-performing boom microphone, and last longer off of a single charge. They also come with a 1/8" TRRS cable that allows for full audio and microphone compatibility via analog connections and their non-Bluetooth latency is lower too. The 9 have a broader range of microphone volume adjustment in their companion software.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless are slightly more versatile for day-to-day use than the Logitech G PRO X WIRELESS LIGHTSPEED Gaming Headset. The SteelSeries are Bluetooth-compatible, offer on-the-fly channel mixing, and block out a little more background noise. However, the Logitech have more features in their companion software, last longer off of a single charge, have lower non-Bluetooth audio latency, and have a better-balanced default sound profile.
Depending on your preferences, you may want to check out either the SteelSeries Arctis 7+ Wireless or the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. The Arctis 7+ are more customizable headphones as they're compatible with Sonar, which is beta software that offers even more features than standard SteelSeries GG companion software. It offers a parametric EQ and presets as well as adjustable levels for microphone and chat control. These headphones are also compatible with PlayStation 5's Tempest 3D AudioTech, which can help create a more immersive audio experience. However, the Arctis 9 support Bluetooth, which is good if you want to stay connected to your console and smartphone at the same time. They have slightly less non-Bluetooth wireless latency and better microphone performance.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless and SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless perform similarly overall but suit different audiences. The 9X are Xbox One-compatible and use essentially the same connection as Xbox One controllers to seamlessly connect to Xbox One consoles and PCs that have Xbox One Wireless Technology without the need for a dongle. The 9 use a USB dongle that allows them to wirelessly connect to PC, PS4, and PS5 systems, but not Xbox One consoles.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless and the SteelSeries Arctis 7P+ Wireless have slightly different strengths. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the Arctis 9's boom mic has better overall performance, and they support Bluetooth, which is handy if you want to connect to your console and smartphone at the same time. However, although they support an analog connection, this cable isn't included in the box, and you can only receive audio when connected this way. Conversely, the Arctis 7P+ have a significantly better battery performance. They also come with a 1/8" TRRS cable that offers full audio and mic compatibility when plugged into your PlayStation or Xbox console's controller.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7X Wireless are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable and have great overall mic performances, the Arctis 7X have longer continuous battery life and lower non-Bluetooth wireless latency. You can also use them wired or wirelessly with Xbox consoles in addition to PC and PlayStation consoles. However, some users may prefer the Arctis 9 for their Bluetooth compatibility.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless. While both headphones are similarly comfortable and well-built, the Arctis 7P have a better-balanced sound profile and their battery lasts longer. They also support passive playback and have less latency via non-Bluetooth wireless. However, the Arctis 9 support Bluetooth and have surround support via their companion software.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless are better overall headphones than the Sony PULSE 3D Wireless. The SteelSeries are more comfortable, better-built, and have a better microphone, not to mention longer battery life and a feature-rich companion app. However, unlike the Sony, they can't be used on a wired connection. The Sony also exhibit lower non-Bluetooth audio latency and deliver audio more consistently.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless and the SteelSeries Arctis Prime have different strengths. While both headphones are comfortable, the Arctis 9 are better-built; you can also use them wirelessly, which some users may prefer. They're also compatible with SteelSeries Engine software, which allows you to adjust their sound to your liking using the graphic EQ or presets. However, the Prime are wired-only headphones, and this connection ensures a virtually latency-free gaming experience. Their L/R drivers are also better matched, and their sound profile is more neutral, which some users may prefer.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless are more versatile than the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air Wireless. The SteelSeries have lower non-Bluetooth wireless latency, are Bluetooth-compatible, allowing you to stream music off your phone as you game or chat with friends. They're also comfier, better-built, leak less audio, and have longer battery life. Their boom mic also has superior recording quality and noise handling capability. However, the ROCCAT take less time to charge.