SteelSeries Arctis 9X Review
I recently was lucky enough to spend a few weeks with the SteelSeries Arctis 9X wireless headset designed for Xbox. I have used several wireless headsets over the past couple of years from cheap entry level models to some of the most expensive on the market and each have their individual pros and cons around the design, connectivity, features, comfort and all around value.
Wireless vs wired is always a hot topic with gamers, so I wanted to find out if the SteelSeries Arctis 9X could bridge the divide between the two and deliver in areas that other wireless headsets have fallen short through my experience, particularly around audio latency (lag) and disconnects.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X Xbox Wireless is a sleek, understated design with a subtle Xbox inspired green pattern on the band that contrasts its matte black finish on the light weight steel /plastic frame. The headset doesn’t feature any external RGB lighting effects often seen incorporated into high end gaming accessories; this is not a negative point by any means as it suits the understated design of the headset and offers no advantage other than looks.
SteelSeries has opted to focus on comfort and with this headset, and there is no doubt that they have achieved just that. The ski goggle headband would have to be the most comfortable band I have ever used. The size is easily adjustable via the velcro band to decrease the size if it is too loose, I would imagine a child or adolescent would need to use this feature but for adults the elastic headband flexes enough to just leave it in the standard position.
I have seen feedback from users that its too small for their head and is uncomfortable because of that. I had about an inch between the ski goggle band and the steel like frame so I did not have an issue with sizing at all. The entire headset feels very light but sturdy, and the over the ear cushions are very comfortable.
I had long gaming sessions with the Arctis 9X and at no point did I have any discomfort or feel like I needed to take it off and have a break. I often have pain from the pressure point over the top of my head with other headset bands, but with the light weight ski band on the SteelSeries I did not suffer from this at all. The airweave material of the ear cups did not give me any ear fatigue over long periods and let my ears breath unlike many leather or plastic type materials found on other headsets. The soft woven fabric is designed to contour around the head comfortably and it does just that.
It is also worth noting for anyone who wears glasses for gaming that the ear cups contour around the frames and don’t put pressure on the temples. I don’t wear glasses for gaming but I do when I’m working on the PC, so I tried these out as a work headset for the day and had no discomfort at all.
Overall the quality of the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is apparent straight out of the box. To be honest, the look and feel of the SteelSeries Arctis 9X makes other headsets at this price point in the market look like cheap plastic toys.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X features direct wireless connection to the Xbox console via the same wireless frequency the controllers use. This direct connection allows for a hassle free setup with no cables or dongles required and from my experience with this headset, and others which use the same feature its almost flawless, the connection is always strong and I experienced no drop out or audio latency during gaming sessions.
Despite the Arctis 9X being designed for Xbox consoles, it can also connect with 3 Bluetooth devices simulationously such as your phone, iPad, laptop etc. I love this feature because it allows you to take phone calls whilst still playing, prioritising the voice chat to the phone only, and allowing you to play music from Spotify or watch and listen to YouTube with volume control independent from one another.
SteelSeries claim that the battery life from the Arctis 9X is 20 hours from a full charge, and they are not wrong. This is exactly the duration I got out of them after deliberately not plugging them in few times after each gaming session. The headset media controls are all situated at the rear of the ear cups, while the left ear cup has a chatmix dial to adjust the levels of in game chat and game audio. In games such as Modern Warfare where the game audio is loud and intense, its often hard to hear teammates on the microphone so this feature is fantastic to get to the desired balance between the two just the way you want.
The microphone audio quality is crisp and clear. I had no issues with friends ability to hear me clearly through party or in game chat, and for the times that I didn’t want to talk to them I simply just retracted the microphone back into the headset. The right ear cup has the game volume control dial, mute button, Bluetooth connection button, on/off button, 3.5mm jack (cable not included) and the micro-USB jack for charging & firmware updates. All the buttons are situated on the back of the ear cups and with a little practice are easy to navigate with the headset on, I didn’t find myself accidently hitting buttons on my chair when I put my head back. The button layouts are simple and not over the top which complements the overall simplistic design of the SteelSeries Arctis 9X.
The Arctis audio is designed to produce ultra low distortion so players can hear every detail of the audio they are listening too. The oversize earpads do a great job of locking your ears into an fantastic audio experience. The 3D spatial audio picks up minuet noises such as guns shots in the distance and enemy footsteps in FPS games, or environmental background audio such as animals moving or trees and wind blowing in open world games like Red Dead Redemption and hearing every bone break when landing that combo in Mortal Kombat. The clear crisp audio really emerges you in the game your playing and blocks out any outside noises and I didn’t find there was any audio latency from fast paced action games to slow pace RPG’s and everything in-between.
The headset quotes a range of 6 metres and that would be about right, I was able to get up and go to the fridge for my 8th beer and move around the house with no disruption to chat or game audio. The sound quality of watching Netflix or YouTube on my iPad and listening to Spotify on my mobile phone was outstanding, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X didn’t miss a beat and I never had a disconnection issue with any device.
Overall I found the SteelSeries Arctis 9X for Xbox the best headset I have ever used. The design and quality of the headset is beyond that of any at the same price point in my opinion. In general wireless headsets don’t come cheap, and if they do they are generally well below average and just a waste of money. The SteelSeries Arctis 9X retails for about $299 AUD, which is by no means cheap but in the same price bracket as other high end wireless headsets such as Turtle Beach Stealth 700’s at around $249AUD or the Razer Nari Ultimate at $349AUD.
- PERFORMANCE - 90%90%
- QUALITY - 92%92%
- AUDIO - 93%93%
- DESIGN - 94%94%
- VALUE - 86%86%
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X Xbox Wireless Gaming Headset are comfortable for those long night gaming sessions or for use on the go via Bluetooth connections. I love the fact I can pair the headset with my phone and take phone calls whilst still involved in the onscreen action or play my own music over the game audio when I choose.
The audio is clear and crisp on all connected devices and I didn’t experience any latency or disconnection issues. If your in the market for a high quality wireless headset that does more than just give you the edge in competitive online games or immerse you in your favourite RPG then I would recommend picking up the SteelSeries Arctis 9X for Xbox, you wont be disappointed.
Want to get your own SteelSeries Arctis 9X Xbox Wireless Gaming Headset? You can purchase it from JB Hi-Fi right now!
For more information on SteelSeries, please check out our previous coverage here.