SteelSeries Arctis headsets make gamers' voices heard

Peripheral designer SteelSeries is known for the sleek, stylish designs of its gaming gear. Today the company announced its new Arctis line of headsets, continuing that design legacy but without the price tag we're used to seeing on premium headsets. Despite the name, the Arctis 3, 5, and 7 are all 7.1-surround-sound headsets. All three pack the same pair of 40-mm neodymium drivers that the company uses in its more expensive headsets. SteelSeries claims these drivers "deliver a detailed, balanced soundscape with ultra low distortion." On top of that, the Arctis 5 and 7 offer DTS Headphone:X audio via USB.

The Arctis line has a pretty robust set of features in general. The ear cushions and headband are both built from a breathable material meant to be removed and washed, and the headband can be customized with additional designs. SteelSeries says the headband construction is based on the same bands used on ski goggles.

All three headsets use SteelSeries' new retractable ClearCast microphone, which is a bidirectional mic instead of the usual unidirectional mics used on most headsets. SteelSeries says this should offer a cleaner audio experience that filters out more of the background noise around you. The company filmed a video of two employees using the headsets outside in downtown Chicago, and if that video is any indication, the bidirectional mic might be a useful new addition.

Both the Arctis 5 and 7 include a a dial to balance game and chat audio volumes. While the Arctis 3 is the lone analog-only headset of the bunch, all three have a 3.5-mm jack to allow connection to to consoles and mobile devices. The USB-powered Arctis 5 includes customizable RGB LED lighting, while the Arctis 7 skips the lights in favor of a wireless connection. The lack of lighting should help extend the battery life closer to the 15 hours SteelSeries promises, and the 2.4GHz wireless signal should introduce less lag than Bluetooth is known for.

The Arctis 3 is the most affordable model at $80. The Arctis 5 follows close by $100, and the Arctis 7 tops out the range at $150. The Arctis 3 and 5 are available right away, and the 7 is coming soon.

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