SteelSeries has been making gaming headsets for a while now, but today, it’s introducing its first pair designed to handle high-res audio: the Arctis Pro.
There will actually be two models of the Arctis Pro, one wired and one wireless. Only the wired pair is capable of supporting 96kHz/24-bit audio — far higher than CD-quality — which is what SteelSeries is hyping up here. The wireless pair can’t because the audio needs to be compressed for transmission.
Even then, the Arctis Pro can’t support high-fidelity sound on its own. It also requires SteelSeries’ new GameDAC (a digital-to-analog converter) to improve the audio signal. But if you buy both the Arctis Pro and the GameDAC, SteelSeries is promising the ability to get some very impressive sound out of PC and PS4 games. Both models also support virtual surround sound.
How they actually sound matters more than what they’re theoretically capable of
That said, it’s not entirely clear if this is all necessary. The specs go well beyond the realm where most people can hear the difference, and it’s not clear that most games even deliver the high-resolution audio that SteelSeries wants to enable people to hear. Ultimately, when it comes to headphones, driver specs aren’t a direct reflection of how they’ll actually sound and perform. Whether they’re accurate, fun, or easy to listen to in typical use matters far more than what they can theoretically reproduce given the perfect audio chain.
Because they’re meant for gaming, both models of the Arctis Pro include a pull-out microphone and LED accents that can light up in different colors. The Arctis Pro wired model will sell on its own for $180 (with the GameDAC it’ll go for $250), and the wireless model will sell for $330.
That puts SteelSeries’ new headphones well above the prices of comparable models from HyperX, which is one of the more popular companies making gaming headsets right now. In fact, HyperX’s Cloud Revolver also includes a separate audio controller and is supposed to offer “studio-grade sound,” but it’s available for only $150.