SteelSeries Arctis Prime Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Jul 15, 2021 at 09:39 am
SteelSeries Arctis Prime Picture
7.4
Neutral Sound
5.0
Commute/Travel
5.7
Sports/Fitness
6.2
Office
5.3
Wireless Gaming
7.3
Wired Gaming
7.1
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are wired gaming headphones designed for competitive e-sports and tournaments. They have a comfortable fit and feel well-built. Their boom mic also has an excellent recording quality, and it can separate your voice from moderate ambient noise around you. However, while they have a somewhat neutral sound profile, they lack companion software to help you customize their sound. Our unit's L/R drivers are mismatched, and there's a small difference in level with real-life content. That said, this may be unique to our model.

Our Verdict

7.4 Neutral Sound

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are satisfactory for neutral sound. While they have a fairly neutral sound profile, the high-mid to low-treble is recessed, so vocals and lead instruments sound somewhat weak and veiled. Our unit's L/R drivers are also mismatched, although this issue may be unique to our model. Unfortunately, they lack companion software to help customize their sound. They're very prone to inconsistencies in bass and treble delivery, so you may need to adjust them each time you use them to get a more consistent sound.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
Cons
  • Prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery.
5.0 Commute/Travel

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are disappointing for commute and travel. They struggle to block out background noise like the low rumble of bus or plane engines and have a bulky design, making it difficult to take them with you on the move. They also lack music-related controls like play, pause, or track skipping. On the upside, they have a comfortable fit.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
Cons
  • They struggle to block out ambient noise.
  • Not very portable.
5.7 Sports/Fitness

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are sub-par for sports and fitness. They're not designed for this purpose as they can easily fall off your head with moderate movement and trap in some heat, which may make you sweat. Since they're wired headphones, the cable can also snag on something, pulling them off your head. Although we don't currently test for it, they lack an IP rating for water resistance.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
Cons
  • Can fall off your head with moderate movement.
  • No IP rating for water resistance.
6.2 Office

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are fair for office use. They have a comfortable fit and feel well-built. They also don't leak a lot of audio at high volumes. However, they struggle to block out ambient chatter around you and don't support multi-device pairing.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
Cons
  • They struggle to block out ambient noise.
5.3 Wireless Gaming

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are wired-only headphones and can't be used wirelessly.

7.3 Wired Gaming

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are decent for wired gaming. They have a comfortable fit, and their wired design ensures a virtually latency-free gaming experience. Their boom mic also does an excellent job of recording your voice, even in moderately noisy environments. However, the headphones are prone to inconsistent bass and treble delivery and don't have companion software to help you adjust their sound to your liking.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Excellent recording quality.
Cons
  • No companion software.
  • Prone to inconsistencies in audio delivery.
7.1 Phone Calls

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are decent for phone calls. Their retractable boom mic can capture your voice clearly, even in moderately noisy environments like a busy street. That said, since they don't have active noise cancelling (ANC), they struggle to block out the noise around you, which can make it hard to hear your conversation.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Excellent recording quality.
Cons
  • They struggle to block out ambient noise.
  • Limited call-related controls.
  • 7.4 Neutral Sound
  • 5.0 Commute/Travel
  • 5.7 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.2 Office
  • 5.3 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.3 Wired Gaming
  • 7.1 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jul 15, 2021: Review published.
  2. Updated Jul 12, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime look very similar to other SteelSeries headphones as they have the same unique ski-band headband design. Both ear cups have SteelSeries' logo, and overall, the headphones look very plain and minimalistic. They only come in black.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.76 lbs
Clamping Force
1.2 lbs

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are comfortable headphones. They have good clamping force, but some users may find their ear cups a bit shallow. The ski-band headband design also may not be for everyone.

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 headphones have sub-par controls. There are only two physical buttons: a volume wheel that stops at min and max and a microphone mute button. The buttons are also clicky. However, they lack controls like channel mixing.

6.1
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 6.8 °C

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime have mediocre breathability. They're not designed for use during physical activities and can trap heat, which may make you sweat over time. That said, you shouldn't feel a noticeable difference if you're sitting in front of your console gaming.

5.7
Design
Portability
L 8.3" (21.2 cm)
W 8.3" (21.2 cm)
H 2.0" (5.1 cm)
Volume 139.87 in³ (2,292.00 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime have sub-par portability. They have a bulky design, and while the ear cups can swivel to lay flat, they can't fold into a more compact form. You can see another image of the headphones' default position here. They also don't come with a case to help protect them when you're traveling.

N/A
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 Prime have a good build quality. They're mostly plastic, with a metal headband and elastic ski-band headband. The faux leather padding feels good against the skin. However, the hinges and yokes seem to be the weakest point of the build. Although we don't currently test for it, they also lack an IP rating for water resistance. That said, they should be able to withstand most bumps or drops without taking too much damage.

7.0
Design
Stability

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime have decent stability. They're not designed for use during sports and can go flying off your head during moderate head movements. However, they should remain stable while you're gaming at your desk or on your couch.

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

  • SteelSeries Arctis Prime Headset
  • Mini-B 8-pin to 1/8" TRRS audio cable
  • Y-splitter extension cable
  • Boom microphone windscreen
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.88 dB
Treble Amount
-0.98 dB

These headphones have a fairly neutral sound profile. It's balanced enough for most audio content, although vocals and lead instruments are a bit veiled. Unfortunately, they lack companion software support, so you can't customize their sound to your liking.

Note: There's a noticeable mismatch between our unit's left and right drivers. However, the difference is more apparent during our test sweeps. With real-life content, there's a small difference in level between the drivers. However, this issue may be limited to our unit. If you experience similar issues, please let us know in the discussion section below.

5.3
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
1.5 dB

Like most SteelSeries headphones, the SteelSeries Arctis Prime have disappointing frequency response consistency. They're prone to inconsistencies in bass and treble delivery, and you may especially notice a drop in bass if you have thick hair or wear glasses. You may have to adjust their fit on your head each time you wear them to get a more consistent sound.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.3
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.36 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
20.59 Hz
Low-Bass
-3.19 dB
Mid-Bass
-2.31 dB
High-Bass
0.75 dB

The bass accuracy is great. It's fairly flat, although a bit underemphasized in the low to mid-bass. Mixes lack a bit of boom and punch. However, the high-bass is more neutral, resulting in adequate boom. However, note that their bass delivery varies significantly across users and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses or have thick hair. The response here represents the average bass response, and your experience may vary.

8.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.56 dB
Low-Mid
0.54 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.57 dB
High-Mid
-3.7 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime have great mid accuracy. The low and mid-mid are very well-balanced and neutral, so vocals and lead instruments are present and clear. However, a dip in the high-mid weakens these same instruments.

7.3
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.06 dB
Mid-Treble
2.77 dB
Low-Treble
-3.11 dB
High-Treble
-7 dB

The treble accuracy of these headphones is decent. It's underemphasized in the low-treble, so vocals and lead instruments are veiled. However, the mid-treble is overemphasized, making sibilants like cymbals piercing. Note that their treble delivery varies depending on the headphones' fit and seal. The response here represents the average treble response, and your experience may vary.

7.0
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.97 dB
Dips
1.42 dB

The peaks and dips performance of the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is decent. There's significant mismatch between the left and right driver, so while the left driver is overemphasized across the bass range, which adds boom, punch, and thump, the right driver is underemphasized, lacking rumble and warmth. The left driver is overemphasized in the mid-range, so vocals and lead instruments are muddy and a bit forward. Both drivers dip in the high-mid to low-treble, making the upper harmonic of these sounds weak and veiled. Silibants like cymbals are very sharp and piercing.

7.4
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.52
Weighted Phase Mismatch
7.09
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.52
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
3.11

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime have decent imaging. There are some peaks in the group delay response, which suggests a loose bass. Treble reproduction is transparent, though. There are also some peaks in the phase response's bass range, and although the mismatch falls within good levels, the bass seems stronger from the left ear cup. Although the L/R drivers are somewhat well-matched in amplitude, there's some frequency mismatch present as well. This mismatch can indicate holes in the stereo imaging and inaccuracies in the 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.

5.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.98 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
6.5 dB
PRTF Distance
10.62 dB
Openness
4.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.1

The passive soundstage of the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is sub-par. The soundstage is perceived as natural and large. However, sound seems like it's coming from inside your head, rather than coming from speakers placed in the room around you. Since these headphones also have a closed-back design, their soundstage won't seem as spacious or open as open-back headphones.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
7.9
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.285
WHD @ 100
0.093

The weighted harmonic distortion performance of the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is very good. There's a peak in the low-bass range, but it may be hard to hear with real-life content. That said, most of the frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in fairly clean and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
On
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 the SteelSeries Arctis Prime Headset. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
5.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-15.67 dB
Bass
-0.14 dB
Mid
-10.98 dB
Treble
-36.71 dB

The noise isolation performance of the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is disappointing. They can't block out any of the low rumbles from bus or plane engines. While they do a slightly better job of cutting down office chatter, it may not be enough for moderately noisy environments. They can significantly block out the high-pitched hums of an AC unit, though.

7.2
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
38.16 dB

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime have a decent leakage performance. Most of the leakage falls below the noise floor of an average office, so you can listen to audio at high volumes without disturbing others around you.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
Yes
Detachable Boom
No
8.6
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
20 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.94 dB
HFE
9,805.86 Hz
Weighted THD
0.101
Gain
26.25 dB

The mic's recording quality is excellent. Your voice sounds clear, full-bodied, and natural.

7.2
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
37.14 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. It can separate your voice from moderate ambient noise around you, so whoever's on the other end of the line can still hear you.

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 4.17 ft (1.27 m)
Connection
Mini B 8-Pin
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with a mini-B 8-pin to 1/8" TRRS audio cable. They also have a Y-splitter extension cable that you can use to connect them to your PC.

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

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime have full audio and mic compatibility when you use their mini-B 8-pin to 1/8" TRRS cable on PCs.

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

These headphones have full audio and mic compatibility with PlayStation consoles via their analog cable.

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 when you plug their analog cable into your controller.

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

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime Headset comes in one color variant: Black; you can see our model's label here. If you come across another variant, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are wired gaming headphones designed for competitive gaming. Their retractable boom mic does an excellent job of recording your voice, even in moderately noisy settings. That said, unlike most SteelSeries headphones, they aren't compatible with SteelSeries Engine software, and they don't have a graphic EQ or presets to help adjust their sound. They also lack more robust controls like channel mixing, which some users may find disappointing.

Check out our recommendations for the best gaming headsets, the best headsets for PS5, and the best headsets for Xbox Series S|X.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are better overall gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis Prime. You can use the Arctis Pro wired or wirelessly. They feel better built, are compatible with companion software so that you can customize their sound to your liking using the graphic EQ and presets, and their boom mic offers better overall performance. They also support Bluetooth, so you can listen to audio from your phone while you're connected to your console.

SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis Prime. While both headphones are comfortable, the Arctis Pro GameDAC are better-built, have more robust controls, and are compatible with SteelSeries Engine software, allowing you to customize their sound with a graphic EQ or presets. Their mic also does a better job of separating your voice from ambient noise around you. However, the Arctis Prime's boom mic delivers a better recording quality.

SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition

The SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition are slightly better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis Prime. While both headphones are similarly comfortable, the 5 are compatible with SteelSeries Engine software, which allows you to customize their sound profile using the graphic EQ and presets. They also come with a dock that has a channel mixing knob. However, the Prime are better built, and their mic has a better recording quality.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless are better overall gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis Prime. While both headphones are comfortable, the 7 can be used wired or wirelessly. They're better-built, compatible with SteelSeries Engine software, so you're able to customize their sound to your liking using the graphic EQ or presets, and their mic has a better noise handling performance. However, the Arctis Prime's mic has a better recording quality.

Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset

The Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset are somewhat better wired gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis Prime. The Logitech are more comfortable, better-built, and have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer. They also have a virtual soundstage feature, although we don't currently test its performance. They're also compatible with Logitech G HUB software, which offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. However, the SteelSeries' boom mic delivers a significantly better recording quality.

SteelSeries Arctis 7X Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 7X Wireless are better gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Artcis Prime. While both headphones are comfortable, the 7X are better-built and can be used wirelessly with very low latency, which some users may prefer. However, the Prime's mic has a better recording quality.

HyperX Cloud Alpha

The HyperX Cloud Alpha are somewhat better wired gaming headphones than the SteelSeries Arctis Prime. The HyperX are more comfortable and better-built. Their boom mic also offers a better noise handling performance. However, the SteelSeries' mic has a better recording quality.

SteelSeries Arctis 9 Wireless

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. 

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime are better for wired gaming while the Beats Solo Pro Wireless are more suitable for casual use. The SteelSeries are over-ears that are more comfortable, have a more immersive passive soundstage, and can connect to consoles via analog with full audio and mic compatibility. Their boom mic also offers better overall performance. However, the Beats are on-ears with a wireless design, which some users may prefer. They're better-built, have a great noise isolation performance thanks to their ANC, and have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with your Apple devices.

ROCCAT Syn Pro Air Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis Prime and the ROCCAT Syn Pro Air Wireless have different strengths, and you may prefer either. The ROCCAT are wireless headphones. Their boom mic has a much better noise handling performance, and they have an app with a graphic EQ. On the other hand, the SteelSeries have a wired design and a more stable fit. Their boom mic also has a much better recording quality. While both headphones are compatible with PCs, PS4, and PS5, only the SteelSeries work with Xbox consoles. However, the ROCCAT are compatible with Android devices with a USB-C input, unlike the SteelSeries.

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