When I travel, I like to spend the bulk of my time with my headphones on, doing pretty much nothing. The three-hour train trip to Seattle is lovely as a silent movie, accompanied by my own personal music. I stare out the window, occasionally play something on my Nintendo Switch, read something, or—if the Wi-Fi works— grind through my weekly bounties in Destiny 2. I’m in my own little world, and I love it.
In the past, this has meant using wired headphones with a headphone-jack-to-USB-C dongle so they connect to my Google Pixel 2. It’s a long series of plug in, unplug, plug in, unplug, plug in—all while wrestling with the wire to find a comfy place for it to lay without getting in my way. I’ve tried my luck with Bluetooth earbuds, but they don’t work with the Switch, and the constant pairing is way less convenient than my plug-unplug dance.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless offers a clever way to solve all of these problems. It’s a wireless gaming headset that doubles as a pair of great headphones, but it doesn’t connect via Bluetooth. Instead, it has a tiny, itty bitty wireless USB C dongle that connects to my phone and Switch with a 2.4 GHz wireless signal.
Yes, I said it uses a dongle, and historically dongles are not fun and tend to get lost, but hear me out: It’s a really good dongle. It’s wirelessly compatible with Android phones, the iPad Pro, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, PS4, and Mac. On top of that, it works with Xbox if you plug in the 3.5mm cord that comes with it.
It isn’t compatible with the iPhone’s Lightning port (which is also on most iPads), but the Arctis 1 is a near-universal gaming headset—a damn good one.
Into the Arctis-verse
It’s the 21st century. You’d think making a pair of headphones that feel comfy and sound stellar would be a solved problem, but it isn’t. Everyone’s ears and head are different, and we all listen to different kinds of audio in different situations. It’s still tricky to find the right pair, but the Arctis 1 threads that audio needle.
The USB-C dongle is a little black rectangle, wider than it is long, so doesn’t protrude too much from whichever device you plug it into. Just plug it in, press the power button on the headphones, and you’re done. That’s the whole setup. Want to switch from your phone to your Switch? Just unplug the dongle and plug it into the new device. It works just like a 3.5mm headphone jack.
It can be a pain to keep track of the little dongle, since there’s nowhere to store it on the headset itself. You may want to keep it on you, though. The Arctis 1 is a great set of wireless headphones too.
Whether you’re chasing down the worm god Zol for the thousandth time, or just relaxing and listening to music, the soundstage is broad and expansive—just lean back and close your eyes. It’s like listening to your favorite artist giving you a private concert at an outdoor amphitheater.
When the rain starts cascading across the Hylian Plains in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you feel it. It creeps up just like a real rainstorm, a pitter patter becoming a deluge that seems to pass over you. The Arctis 1 adds that dimension to a lot of games, and sounds fairly close to the SteelSeries Arctis Pro, though its included DAC does add clarity.
The microphone provides clear sound for online communications, without noticeable lag. The built-in noise canceling also does a great job of isolating your voice from background noise.
There’s been a move toward less gaudy designs for gaming headsets in the last couple years, and I am here for it. I hate having a different pair of headphones for everything, I like being able to just rely on one pair. Which is why it’s frustrating when going outside wearing a gaming headset makes you look like an air traffic controller who got lost on the way to work.
The Arctis 1 doesn’t suffer from this problem. The whole headset is matte black plastic with a small SteelSeries logo on the side, and the mic is detachable. Simple, straightforward, and according to SteelSeries itself, the Arctis `1 was designed to with commuters in mind. That explains the killer battery life.
These headphones got me through the PAX West conference on a single charge. I charged them before I left, used them on the three-hour train ride up, and carried them around to use while I was waiting in line for panels and demos. They died on the train ride back to Portland, but not until I was outside waiting for my Uber. In terms of raw numbers, I got about 19 hours of battery life out of that single charge.
If you do happen to run out of battery, you can use it in corded mode even if the battery is fully dead. The only downside is that there’s no clear way to tell how much battery life you have left, so you might be caught off guard if you haven’t charged up in a while.
Sauron Would be Proud
The Arctis 1 Wireless is a stellar gaming headset, a great pair of headphones, and easily one of the best options out there for any kind of gamer—especially those on the Switch. At $100, they’re reasonably priced too, cheaper than the top-end Arctis Pro Wireless by about $200. And to be honest, I prefer the Arctis 1 over its more expensive siblings. They offer free experience that you just don’t get from tethered-to-a-DAC headsets like the corded Arctis Pro. If you don’t mind cords, the standard Arctis 1 are only $50.
The Arctis 1 isn’t just my favorite SteelSeries headset, it’s become my go-to pair of headphones (better than the Pro X). I can use them with anything anywhere. They fit into a niche I never knew I needed.
This article was syndicated from wired.com