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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Oct 20, 2022 at 01:13 pm
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 Picture
7.3
Neutral Sound
4.6
Commute/Travel
5.7
Sports/Fitness
6.0
Office
5.1
Wireless Gaming
7.2
Wired Gaming
6.9
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Transducer Dynamic
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are wired gaming headphones designed with PCs in mind. They're at the lowest end of the Arctis Nova lineup and are worth checking out if you're looking for something more wallet-friendly. They're a step up from the SteelSeries Arctis 1, with improved build quality and attention to comfort, but offer marginal performance gains overall. They also come in PlayStation and Xbox variants, but the difference between these models is mostly cosmetic, as only the PC variant comes with a Y-splitter.

Our Verdict

7.3 Neutral Sound

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are decent for neutral sound. These headphones have a warm sound profile out of the box that delivers extra boom to mixes. While vocals and lead instruments sound present, a dip in the treble range veils their details. Sibilants like cymbals are also slightly dull and lispy. These headphones are prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery too. If you have thick hair or wear glasses, you may especially notice a drop in bass.

Pros
  • Well-built with comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery.
4.6 Commute/Travel

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 aren't designed for commute and travel. They're gaming headphones, so they're bulky, lack a carrying case, and don't block out any of the low rumble of bus engines. If that's not an issue for you, they have a comfortable fit and are well-built.

Pros
  • Well-built with comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Really struggles to block out background noise.
  • Bulky and not stable enough for high-intensity movements.
5.7 Sports/Fitness

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 aren't suitable for sports and fitness. These bulky over-ears are designed for gaming, and their wired design means that you can accidentally snag them on something, which can pull them off of your head. Moderate physical movement can also cause the headphones to fall off your head. On the upside, they have a comfortable fit and are well-built.

Pros
  • Well-built with comfortable fit.
Cons
  • Bulky and not stable enough for high-intensity movements.
6.0 Office

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are mediocre for office use. They're gaming headphones and have a gamer-centric design, but if that doesn't bother you, they have a comfortable fit suitable for long days at the office. They also have a boom mic, which is great for online meetings as it can capture your voice very well. Unfortunately, they struggle to reduce noise like office chit-chat and lack dedicated call and music-related controls.

Pros
  • Well-built with comfortable fit.
  • Boom mic has great overall performance.
Cons
  • Prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery.
  • Really struggles to block out background noise.
5.1 Wireless Gaming

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are wired-only headphones, and you can't use them wirelessly.

7.2 Wired Gaming

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are decent for wired gaming. These comfortable and well-built headphones have a warm sound profile that delivers extra boom to audio, which can help emphasize sound effects like footsteps. Since they use a 1/8" TRRS cable, you can connect them to any console with this jack. They have a boom mic, which does a great job of capturing your voice clearly, even in moderately noisy environments. Since they have a closed-back design, their soundstage doesn't feel very immersive, and they're prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery, so you may need to readjust their fit each time you use them to get a more consistent sound.

Pros
  • Well-built with comfortable fit.
  • Boom mic has great overall performance.
Cons
  • Prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery.
6.9 Phone Calls

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are alright for phone calls. While they're designed for gaming, you can still make calls with them, thanks to their boom mic. It offers great performance, ensuring you're heard clearly, even in moderately noisy environments. That said, the headphones aren't designed for blocking background noise and struggle to reduce sounds like ambient chatter.

Pros
  • Well-built with comfortable fit.
  • Boom mic has great overall performance.
Cons
  • Really struggles to block out background noise.
  • 7.3 Neutral Sound
  • 4.6 Commute/Travel
  • 5.7 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.0 Office
  • 5.1 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.2 Wired Gaming
  • 6.9 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Oct 20, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Oct 17, 2022: Early access published.

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White Arctis Nova 1
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Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 come in two color variants: 'Black' and 'White'. We tested the 'Black' variant, and you can see our model's label here. Keep in mind that this model is designed primarily for PCs. The Nova 1P are designed for PlayStation, while the Nova 1X are for Xbox. However, the difference between all three models is largely cosmetic, but only the Nova 1 comes with a Y-splitter for PCs. As a result, we expect all variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are the budget-end headphones of the 'Arctis Nova' lineup. They're based upon the SteelSeries Arctis 1, but the manufacturer has significantly improved their design, especially when it comes to build quality and comfort. While their passive soundstage isn't as immersive as that of the Astro A10 Gen 2 or Logitech G433 Gaming Headset, they still offer a well-rounded performance that's worth considering if you're shopping with your eye on your wallet.

Check out our recommendations for the best gaming headsets, the best headsets for PS5, and the best SteelSeries headsets.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3 are the next step up from the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1. While both headphones are wired and have the same build quality and comfort, the Nova 3 have customizable RGB lighting on the ear cups, which some users may prefer. They can also access features like Spatial Audio, a parametric EQ and presets, and even an adjustable mic level via their companion software. They also support a wired USB connection.

SteelSeries Arctis 1

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 offers a marginal improvement over the SteelSeries Arctis 1. The Arctis Nova 1 are more comfortable and better built. However, both headphones offer a fairly similar overall performance.

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless are more versatile gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1. The Arctis 1 are wireless gaming headphones with low wireless latency, and can you can even use them wired, thanks to their included analog cable. They're also more customizable as they support SteelSeries Engine. The Arctis Nova 1 are more comfortable and better built. Their microphone also offers better overall performance.

Astro A10 Gen 2

The Astro A10 Gen 2 and the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are budget-friendly wired gaming headphones with slight differences in performance. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the Astro headphones have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and their passive soundstage feels larger and more immersive. However, the SteelSeries headphones' mic has a better overall performance.

Logitech G433 Gaming Headset

The Logitech G433 Gaming Headset are better headphones for gaming, especially on PCs, than the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1. While both headphones are comfortable, the Logitech have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, a better soundstage to help immerse you in your audio, and better overall microphone performance. They also have companion software, which offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you customize their sound to your liking, and you can use them analog or wired USB. However, the SteelSeries are better built. 

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Transducer Dynamic

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 have a very similar design to other headphones in the 'Arctis Nova' lineup, like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro. Unlike the SteelSeries Arctis 1, they have the manufacturer's ski-band headband design. This model comes in two colors: 'Black' and 'White'. However, if you pick up the Nova 1P, it'll have a black headband strap with blue accents, while the Nova 1X has a black headband strap with green accents.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.52 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 have a comfortable fit. They feel lightweight, and the ear cups don't clamp too tightly on your head. Their ski-band headband is also adjustable and can distribute the weight of the headphones well on your head. However, the ski-band design may not be for everyone as they have a limited range of extension, so if you have a large head, you may have a hard time getting a good seal.

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

These over-ears have sub-par controls. There are only two controls: a volume wheel with min and max stops and a clicky microphone mute button. On the upside, the controls are pretty easy to learn.

5.9
Design
Portability
L 9.3" (23.5 cm)
W 8.0" (20.4 cm)
H 1.7" (4.2 cm)
Volume 122.87 in³ (2,013.50 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

These headphones aren't designed with portability in mind. In their default position, they're bulky. Even though the ear cups can swivel to lay flat, they can't fold into a more compact shape. However, it won't be a problem if you're planning to leave them at your desk or table.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A
7.5
Design
Build Quality

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 have good build quality. Like other SteelSeries headphones, they're mostly made of plastic with cloth padding. The mic is also retractable. The ski-band headband is adjustable, although the first setting on the top of the band can detach easily.

7.0
Design
Stability

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are decently stable. If you're wearing them while gaming on the couch or at your desk, they don't move around too much. However, if you like to bop your head or move more vigorously, the headphones can fall off.

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

  • SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 headset
  • 1/8" TRRS cable
  • Y-splitter extension cable
  • Stickers

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
0.5 dB
Treble Amount
-3.34 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 have a warm sound profile. They have a touch of extra high-bass to add warmth to mixes, which can help emphasize sound effects like footsteps when you're playing games like Fortnite. However, they have a large dip in their low-treble, which hurts the detail of vocals and instruments.

5.4
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
1.25 dB

Like most SteelSeries headphones with the ski-band design, they're very prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery and are sensitive to fit, positioning, and seal. If you have thick hair or wear glasses, you may especially notice a drop in bass. As a result, you'll likely have to adjust the headphones on your head each time you use them to ensure a more consistent sound.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.5
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.16 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
22.13 Hz
Low-Bass
-1.27 dB
Mid-Bass
0.37 dB
High-Bass
3.52 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1's bass accuracy is excellent. They lack a little bit of thump and rumble, but they have extra high-bass to help balance out their bass. As a result, gameplay has extra warmth and boom without muddying dialogue and instruments.

8.7
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.74 dB
Low-Mid
-0.12 dB
Mid-Mid
-1.53 dB
High-Mid
-0.12 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 have excellent mid accuracy. The response is fairly even, although a dip in the mid-mid nudges dialogue and instruments to the back of the mix. However, these sounds still seem present and clear in mixes.

4.6
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
7.56 dB
Low-Treble
-6.65 dB
Mid-Treble
-0.71 dB
High-Treble
-11.15 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 have poor treble accuracy. A large dip in the low-treble hurts the clarity of dialogue and instruments. That said, the response isn't so bad for the mid-treble, and sibilants like cymbals lose a touch of brightness.

6.2
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.41 dB
Dips
2.58 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1's peaks and dips performance is mediocre. A peak in the high-bass adds extra warmth and boom to mixes, while a dip between the low to mid-mid thins out and nudges vocals and instruments to the back of the mix. Another peak across the high-mid makes vocals and instruments sound harsh, but a dip in the low-treble hurts their details. A steep peak in the mid-treble makes sibilants like hi-hats piercing and painful.

8.1
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.2
Weighted Phase Mismatch
5.47
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.57
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.07

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1's imaging performance is great. SteelSeries' more affordable gaming headphones, like the SteelSeries Arctis Prime and SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless, tend to have small issues in driver mismatch, which is unfortunately normal at this price point. However, imaging varies between units and can indicate quality control and ergonomics. Overall, our unit's L/R drivers are well-matched, which is important for the accurate localization of objects like footsteps in the stereo image.

5.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
5.05 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
5.09 dB
PRTF Distance
9.48 dB
Openness
6.2
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.0

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1's passive soundstage performance is sub-par. They're closed-back headphones, so their soundstage doesn't seem very spacious or open. Although it's wide, the soundstage also struggles to feel out-of-head and natural.

2.0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
On/Off
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
Windows Sonic Spatial Audio

These headphones are fully compatible with Microsoft Spatial Sound on PCs as well as Tempest 3D Audio on PS5s. You can also use them with Dolby Atmos, but you'll need to purchase a license separately.

7.4
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.405
WHD @ 100
0.159

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1's weighted harmonic distortion performance is decent. There's a peak in the low-treble at both moderate and high listening levels. It can be hard to hear with real-life content, though, and most other frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in fairly clean and pure audio reproduction.

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

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when used in this configuration.

Isolation
3.8
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-11.47 dB
Noise Cancelling No
Bass
0.74 dB
Mid
-5.8 dB
Treble
-29.73 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 have a poor noise isolation performance. Although they're closed-back headphones, they won't block out sounds like car engines from an open window or ambient chatter. They can significantly cut down the hum of computer fans, though.

7.4
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
37.01 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1's leakage performance is decent. Leakage is mostly concentrated in the mid to treble range and sounds somewhat thin. However, if you like to game at high volumes, it's unlikely that you'll bother others around you.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
Yes
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
8.7
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
20 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
1.99 dB
HFE
8,487.33 Hz
Weighted THD
0.086
Gain
22.86 dB

The mic's recording quality is excellent. Your voice sounds natural, bright, and clear. You won't have any trouble being heard clearly by your teammates and enemies alike.

There's white noise present in our recording. It's the noise made from our testing rig's mouth speaker, which is picked up by this headphones' mic. The recording quality score isn't affected by this noise, though.

7.2
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
34.12 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.0
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
7.5
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The mic's noise handling performance is decent. The mic can separate your voice from moderate ambient noise well, so you're heard clearly, even in moderate environments.

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
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
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
0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.13 ft (1.26 m)
Connection
1/8" TRRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with a 1/8" TRRS cable as well as a Y-splitter so you can connect them to PCs.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio + Microphone
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 are fully compatible with PCs when using their analog connection.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No

You can connect the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 to your PlayStation console by plugging in their 1/8" TRRS cable directly into your controller's AUX port. This connection ensures full audio and mic compatibility.

Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No

These headphones are fully compatible with Xbox consoles via their 1/8" TRRS cable.

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

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