SteelSeries pretty much dominates the gaming headset market. Other companies, like HyperX, truly offer some awesome products, but with SteelSeries’ lineup as comprehensive across all price ranges as it is, it’s hard to imagine buying a non-SteelSeries headset for all but a few niche situations. Now, the company is back with another offering — the SteelSeries Arctis 9x, which nicely fills one of those niches.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9x is being billed specifically as a gaming headset for the Xbox, but it has uses beyond that too, thanks to the fact that it can connect through Bluetooth.
Still, at $200 the SteelSeries Arctis 9x does have some competition. Is it worth buying? We put the SteelSeries Arctis 9x to the test.
If you’ve used or seen any other SteelSeries Arctis headset over the past few years, you’ll immediately recognize the overall design of the SteelSeries Arctis 9x. It has the same retractable microphone, same adjustable headband, and the same matte plastic build as previous headsets — all things that we love.
The headset can really be used on any head size, thanks to the adjustable headband. The headband attaches to itself using velcro, and if the headset feels too small or too large, can be easily adjusted. Not only that, but once it is adjusted, you won’t need to adjust it again unless someone else uses it.
On the left ear cup, you’ll get the retractable microphone, along with a volume wheel to control the mix between the game chat and audio streams. On the right ear cup, there’s a volume wheel, a microphone mute button, a power button, a Bluetooth pairing button, an aux port, and a MicroUSB port. We would have liked to see a USB-C port instead of MicroUSB — it’s 2019, and a new $200 headset should not feature an outdated standard.
Generally, however, the SteelSeries Arctis 9x is a well-designed headset with a premium feel — like all of SteelSeries’ recent gaming headsets.
SteelSeries headsets have become known for their high level of comfort, and the SteelSeries Arctis 9x is no exception to that rule. There’s plenty of padding in the ear cups, and the stretchy headband makes for a nicely adjustable and comfortable experience.
The headset isn’t overly heavy either, which is always handy in ensuring that it’s generally a comfortable fit. We were able to use the headset for hours on end without the headset getting overly uncomfortable.
As is usually the case when it comes to SteelSeries products, the headset sounded great — for both gaming and music performance.
On the low end, the headset offers decent bass response, which is helpful for explosions and crashes in games, and kick drums and bass guitars when listening to music. The headset doesn’t go over the top with the bass — if you’re a serious bass fan, you may find yourself wanting more, but for most users the headset is capable in the bass department.
The mid range on the headset is pretty well-tuned, with what seems like a slight high mid bump for in-game chat and other spoken word. That said, the bump isn’t too pronounced — which is good news for those that plan on using the headset to listen to music.
The high end is pretty clear and detailed, making for a natural-sounding listening experience. Highs are often overlooked across headphones, but SteelSeries has managed to avoid that problem entirely.
The quality of the microphone is good, though your mileage will vary depending on how you plan on using the headset. If you’re using the headset wirelessly on the Xbox, you may fid the microphone quality to be lacking, but if you use it with an Xbox Wireless Adapter, you’ll find that the microphone sounds good.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9x can connect to your Xbox, and they can be paired just like you would pair a controller. It’s an easy setup process, and should make for a generally lag-free setup. The headset can also be connected to any other device through Bluetooth 4.1, and we found that they retained a pretty good connection during listening — most of the time. We had some trouble keeping the headset connected on a Mac, and the issue persisted over two review units. On a mobile device, however, the connection was fine, and on a PC we had no issues.
The headset also offers 20 hours of battery life, which is pretty good — though not incredible. The HyperX Cloud Flight headset hits 30 hours, while the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth hits 28 hours. Still, the Arctis 9x’s 20 hours will be fine for most that are good at keeping their devices charged up.
SteelSeries has once again delivered a great product with the SteelSeries Arctis 9X. The headset looks great, is ultra-comfortable, and sounds pretty great too. If you’re an Xbox gamer and want something that you can use with your phone every now and then too, then the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is absolutely the way to go.
Because of its high-quality and good value, we’re awarding the SteelSeries Arctis 9X the Headphone Review Silver Medal.