SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC Review - A Fitting Experience
My search for the perfect gaming headset has been long and exhausting. I’ve made stops at a few of the better-known hotspots, like Astro and Sennheiser, but something was always missing. With Astro, the mic always fell a bit short. With Sennheiser, the ear cups were leather and uncomfortable, and I couldn’t easily connect the headset to my PS4 and PC at the same time. Then I tried the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC, which came so close to being perfect, but unfortunately fell short of my needs in a substantial way.
Check the Specs
I can’t recall where I first heard of the Arctis Pro + GameDAC, but I knew I wanted to try it right away. I’m by no means a headset aficionado, but the initial press release had me intrigued with claims that it was gaming’s first certified hi-resolution audio system. More than that, though, the GameDAC meant that I could connect it to my PS4 and PC at the same time. See, my group of gaming friends tend to play a variety of titles on several different platforms, but we always prefer to chat via Discord. With the Arctis Pro + GameDAC, I could get sound from my PS4 through the optical cable and connect the headset to my PC via USB. Add to that my trust in SteelSeries to create durable hardware, and I was all in to give it a shot.
|Arctis Pro||Arctis Pro + GameDAC||Arctis Pro Wireless|
|Electronics||USB ChatMix Dial||GameDAC||Transmitter Base Station|
|Speaker Drivers||Hi-Res, 40,000 Hz output||Hi-Res, 40,000 Hz output||Hi-Res, 40,000 Hz output|
|Hi-Res Audio Certified||No||Yes||No|
|Surround Sound||DTS Headphone: X v2.0||DTS Headphone: X v2.0||DTS Headphone: X v2.0|
|Wireless||No||No||Lossless 2.4G & Bluetooth|
|Connections||USB, 3.5mm||USB, Optical, 3.5mm||USB, Optical, 3.5mm|
|Compatibilities||PC||PC & PS4||PC & PS4|
Up to the Test
My initial impressions unboxing the Arctis Pro + GameDAC were great. It came in sleek packaging where no space was wasted, and I was impressed with how sturdy the headset felt as I removed it from the box. I was able to quickly set it up and connect it to my PS4 and PC as I’d hoped, and for seemingly the first time in my life I found the suggested software useful. It allowed me to change settings and configure my headset down to the smallest detail, including the LED lights on the ear cups and testing my input with a live mic preview.
When I finally jumped into a game I chose The Long Dark, my go-to survival experience. With over 400 hours logged, I’m familiar with almost every inch of Great Bear Lake, but with the Arctis Pro + GameDAC I was able to pick up details that I’d never noticed before. Not only could I hear the wind, but it was almost as if the wind had layers that were unfolding in my ears. SteelSeries’ claim that this was the gaming’s first certified hi-resolution audio system wasn’t just a marketing maneuver, I was hearing the proof.
My friends were hearing the difference as well, but for them it was with the quality of my voice. I’ve long used the Audio-Technica AT2020, which is a quality microphone, but it doesn’t work well with my office. With my PC on my desk along with two monitors, my voice sounds hollow, which has prevented me from hopping on podcasts recently. The Arctis Pro + GameDAC includes the Arctis ClearCast microphone, and immediately my friends began commenting on how good I sounded. I’ve lost count of how many people have noticed the improvement and I immediately had the confidence to begin putting my voice back into videos, podcasts, and live streams. When I wasn’t using the mic, however, it conveniently retracted into the left ear cup out of my way.
Just Shy of Perfection
There is no question that the Arctis Pro + GameDAC is the best quality headset that I’ve ever tried in terms of input and output. However, it falls short in a way that prevents me from using it going forward. Unfortunately, there is no way to extend the headset. Out of the box, the aluminum alloy and steel construction is as large as it can be. There’s a fabric suspension headband that allows users to adjust it to fit them if they Arctis Pro + GameDAC is too big, but buyers beware if they have a big head like I do and the default size is too small.
It was heartbreaking to slowly realize that the Arctis Pro + GameDAC wasn’t going to fit. I could force it into place over the crown of my head, but quickly developed a headache from the pressure. I moved it so the steel band was over the top of my head, but the pressure was still too great and extended use has quite literally resulted in a small bald spot. No matter what I do, this headset just won’t fit me.
Now, it’s important to note that I do have a big head, so my assumption would be that most people are going to find that the Arctis Pro + GameDAC fits them perfectly. At the same time, never in my life have I been in a position where a headset wouldn’t fit me. Sure, I need to fully extend some of them, but this is the first time a headset has been unusable because of size. While I applaud SteelSeries in the durable design of this product, headaches and bald spots from use are a big problem.
If the Headset Fits
My final recommendation is that anyone thinking about purchasing the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC should do their homework on whether it will fit them. If all seems well, this very well could be the best headset you’ve owned to date. The sound quality is second to none, the microphone input rivals what most live streamers use, and the construction is impeccable, other than the fact it can’t be adjusted for larger craniums. It’s well worth the price for the average-sized heads of the world.