SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Headset Lets You Customize Console Gaming Audio On Your Phone


Today, SteelSeries unveiled the next wireless headset in its Arctis Nova family, the Nova 5. Launching at $130, the new Arctis Nova 5 line is meant to bridge the gap between the entry-level Nova 1 and Nova 3 models and the high-end Nova 7 and Nova Pro headsets, offering the same great form factor and design as the rest of the line-up but with a mid-range suite of features.

To clear up any confusion if you’re familiar with the Nova headset line: The Nova 5 is essentially replacing the Nova 4, which debuted last year for $120. SteelSeries no longer sells the Nova 4, and while you can find it at other retailers, the Nova 5 has new and better features, such as Bluetooth and increased battery life, for only $10 more.

One of those features is a new companion app available for iOS and Android, which comes with over 100 EQ presets for popular games like Call of Duty, Destiny, and Minecraft, that you can swap to on the fly right from your phone. While some of the presets are engineered to enhance the audio experience overall, others are tuned to heighten specific elements of the sound mix–like one Call of Duty preset that makes it easier to hear enemy footsteps. The companion app is exclusive to the trio of Nova 5 headsets; it does not work with other headsets in the Nova line.

Usually, you would need to be using a headset on PC with a proprietary desktop app to use audio customization features like this, but since the Arctis Nova 5 supports both 2.4GHz and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, you can connect it to your PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, or PC via the 2.4GHz dongle and your smartphone over Bluetooth, so the mobile app is always available to you. The headset is also equipped with a connection hot-swap button, so you can switch between 2.4GHz and Bluetooth audio sources at will.

Along with the app and multiple connection options, the Nova 5 also has a noise-canceling microphone that fully retracts into the left earcup, and sports up to 60 hours of battery life and has fast charging via the included USB-C cable.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5, 5P, and 5X

The Arctis Nova 5 headset is now available in three different models: the Nova 5, Nova 5P, and Nova 5X. All three models support PC, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and mobile, but only the 5X supports Xbox consoles. They also support spatial audio on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The only other difference is that the Nova 5 features an all-black head strap, while the 5P’s is black and blue, and the 5X’s is black and green. All three versions are available for $130 at Amazon, Best Buy, and directly from SteelSeries.

Our impressions

I’ve been testing the PlayStation version of the headset for the past week, and so far, I’m quite pleased with the headset. I’ve been a fan of the Arctis headsets since the original Arctis Pro launched back in 2018, and the Nova 5 is a great addition to the lineup. While the Nova Pro is packed with high-end features and the Nova 7 is still our favorite gaming headset overall, the Nova 5 maintains the fundamentals that make the entire Arctis Nova line so appealing. Most importantly, the sound quality is excellent. While they sound great out of the box, switching to a preset for the game you’re playing–or at least one with similar audio presentation–in the new mobile companion app does make a marked difference in the listening experience, and is by far the Nova 5’s standout feature.

One of the other reasons the Arctis Nova headset line is so well regarded is comfort. Like its siblings, the Nova 5 uses the ingenious headband strap design, which is the most comfortable form of headphone “padding” I’ve tested over the years. The Nova 5 is also slightly lighter than some of the more expensive Arctis models like the Nova Pro, making them even more comfortable and great for long-term use. That lighter build doesn’t come at the cost of durability, either–the headband is flexible and the earcups feel sturdy.

Arctis Nova 5 companion app

If there’s one minor misgiving I have about the Nova 5 so far, it’s the app–or, more accurately, the concession made to make the app always available. While you technically can connect the Nova 5 to two devices at once–one via 2.4GHz and the other via Bluetooth–the only thing you can do with that simultaneous connection is adjust the app on your phone over Bluetooth while gaming on PC or console via 2.4GHz. You cannot listen to two audio sources at once. To be clear, I think the app is great; it’s easy to navigate, and the streamlined audio presets are well-engineered. It’s just a bummer the headset doesn’t let you listen to a podcast from your phone at the same time you’re playing a game on your PC or console, which is something most other headsets with simultaneous device connectivity support, including the Nova 7 and Nova Pro.

That said, the lack of simultaneous audio playback is by no means a dealbreaker, especially at this price range. If you’ve been eyeing an Arctis Nova headset but the pricing on the Nova 7 is just out of reach, then the Nova 5 is definitely worth checking out.