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Practice: SteelSeries Arctis 9 Gaming Headset Brings Dual Wireless to PC and PS4

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Most controls such as power and Bluetooth, mute, volume, etc. are in the right earcup. Adjust the chat and game audio volume mix with the scroll wheel on the left cup.

Lori Grunin / CNET

SteelSeries has removed the “X” from the Arctis 9X Wireless Gaming Headset for Xbox and calls the PC and PlayStation compatible model Arctis 9. Like the 9X, the 9 supports simultaneous Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connections. On another device, like talking on the phone while playing games on your computer. You can also use it by connecting it with a cable via USB. The pack-like dongle has an analog 3.5mm input for game audio and a line output to the headset. That’s $ 200 and translates into about 160 or AU $ 280.

Same in all other respects, but with suspension and steel-reinforced headband, Discord certified noise canceller retractable mic, DTS Headphone: X v2.0 and Windows Spatial audio support. SteelSeries also claims that this new model has the same 20 hours of battery life (which is good because it looks like it’s charging slowly).

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There was no problem with the quality of the Arctis 9X audio or microphone. When I tested 9, the noise canceling feature worked well and blocked the hum of old air conditioners and desktop PC fans without much degradation of the sound. But there is a small problem with the design.

Many people find the Arctis headset comfortable and well designed. Highly cushioned, the Airweave fabric is breathable enough to prevent sweating in your ears. But the Arctis 9 is a little too tight. The elastic headband can be easily adjusted to fit its vertical length, but (like many headsets) there is no way to loosen it.

Lori Grunin / CNET

That’s because gaming headsets are often designed with larger heads in mind. The assumption is that the ear cups will be stretched further. This means less tension on the headband. Still my ears seem too high. Also, it is uncomfortable to hang the ear cup around your neck with it folded. It’s also on the heavy side, adding to my discomfort.

Retractable mics are a great feature and are less likely to be lost than removable mics, but the stem bends so much that it’s not easy to store the Arctis 9 with one hand.

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The advantage is that the power button and the Bluetooth button are easy to distinguish for ease of use, and the headset looks well-structured. The large mute button is easy to find and press, and when muted it turns on a bright red light.

I wish I could have more control over my microphone with SteelSeries Engine software. There are several equalizer presets, a volume slider, and a selection of off, low, medium, and high sidetone levels to hear your voice. I want at least something between “off” and “low”, and more equalizer presets. To save power, you can set the waiting time before disconnecting and choose whether to connect Bluetooth automatically when you turn it on.

With the right size head, the Arctis 9 is a great combination of features, quality and design, even if it’s expensive. Sadly, my head isn’t the right size.

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