Word has spread that gamers expect other things from a headset than music lovers. Gaming headsets should sit comfortably even after hours, they should enable the location of sounds in virtual space and they should offer latency-free and clear sound wherever possible.
The headset “Arctis 1” from SteelSeries must live up to this claim if it is not to be torn apart by the target group. We wanted to find out whether and to what extent this would succeed and therefore subjected it to a strict test.
Design and Workmanship
Once unpacked, the headset presents itself surprisingly simple. At first, it has little in common with the average gaming headphones expected in the package. It looks downright dainty and is by no means daringly designed. SteelSeries relies on black and doesn’t give the headphones any conspicuous or even futuristic elements. This design may disappoint one or the other user. However, it can, if you like, be placed in the context of a larger trend. If you believe the philosopher Byung-Chul Han, today we live in a society in which the smooth is aestheticized and elevated to the norm. As a result, angular elements, futuristic-looking wing parts or even colour breaks that would disturb the optical and haptic smoothness are more or less consistently omitted. Of course, unlike the new iPhone, the Arctis 1 is by no means a prototype of the smooth. Looking at the development of gaming headsets in recent years, however, it can be said that a trend towards greater smoothness can also be observed here – even though extreme implementations have so far failed to materialise.
If we turn again more to the concrete, we notice that the headset in its strong design reduction reminds of a classic music headphone of the past three decades. This retro orientation is broken by the striking delicacy of the device. The headphones have a very stable design and are quite robust in terms of choice of materials and workmanship, but at first they look almost filigree. Nevertheless, the Arctis 1 is much lighter and has a lower quality than the other headsets of the Arctis series.
The impression of smoothness is broken by the non-rounded edges of the adjustable headband. This can be seen as a rebellion against the aesthetic claim of smoothness. However, following the interpretation of the Arctis 1 as the trend towards more smoothness, this does not contradict it – after all, the gaming headset has always been a product outside the prevailing aesthetic ideas of society as a whole, so that smaller deviations are more likely to be expected than surprising. Alternatively, such a design could also be understood as a purely practical, low-cost production measure – this ultimately remains a matter of individual interpretation. In any case, these unrounded edges are not protruding, but they are satisfactorily finished.
From a purely practical point of view, the adjustability of the ear cups, which can be turned forwards – for example for better storage – is particularly noteworthy. We also found the positioning of the microphone button and the volume control on the left headphones to be wise.