SteelSeries Arctis 3 Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Marvey, Jun 10, 2021.

  1. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    This is part of a series of reviews of gaming headsets. This is the third of eight (or seven or nine) in the series. After I am done, we will score the headset various subjective attributes and tabulate the results.

    Prior reviews in the series are here:
    1. https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...nnheiser-pc37x-review-and-measurements.11072/
    2. https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...gaming-headset-measurements-and-review.11028/
    This is the SteelSeries Arctis 3. It's got a number of features for comfort: suspension headband adjustable via velcro straps, clothlike earpads with soft foam, and a swivel mechanism. However, I found the depth inside the earpads a bit shallow. Those with larger ears that stick out could have an issue. The baffle of the headphone is angled. A nice touch is the retractable microphone stalk which can be twisted to conform to almost any orientation.

    DSC01686.JPG
    The Arctis 3 has a severe midrange suckout. It's signature is classic V-shaped, but for some reason I don't hear it as elevated bass and highs because the missing midrange is just so annoying and makes all sounds unnatural. In addition, there is a lot of internal cup reverb, sort of a cheap plastic shell effect.

    SteelSeries Arctis 3
    Frequency Response
    miniDSP EARs compensated
    upload_2021-6-10_20-53-23.png

    SteelSeries Arctis 3
    Frequency Response
    Flat Plate Coupler (no pinna - compensated)
    upload_2021-6-10_21-25-10.png

     
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    Last edited: Jun 28, 2021
  2. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    Here are the CSDs. The highs are hot relative to the mids. Usually stuff like this in the highs is more bothersome to me, but somehow it wasn't. It could be that I wasn't in the mood to really crank them up. There are ridges at 8kHz and 10kHz, however the ringing textend much past the 1ms mark. Again, I couldn't get my head around that massive gap in the midrange.

    FPC Arctis 3 L.jpg
    FPC Arctis 3 R.jpg
     
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  3. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    As for the internal cup reverb effect, the CSD top view extended out to 5ms confirms this.

    upload_2021-6-10_21-43-14.png

    upload_2021-6-10_21-42-29.png
     
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    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
  4. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    I don't like to spoon feed people, but this is bad. Third order is on the high side. Normally high distortion can be seen in the lows when we push up the volume. However in the case, the high third order extends to the lower mids. Overall second order is high, including a high plateau from 3kHz to 5kHz in the upper mids. Subjectively, there was an overall soft muffled quality to the sound rendering. This could be why the slightly peaky highs as measured didn't bother me as much.

    SteelSeries Arctis 3
    Harmonic Distortions vs Frequency at Various SPLs
    upload_2021-6-10_22-7-33.png
     
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  5. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    The headstage is diffuse and has rather poor sound localization. Combined with the reverb effect and severe midrange recession, the Arctis 3 did not make a good FPS gaming type headphone. The overall sound presentation seemed better than the Turtle Beach Recon 40. However, there were more warts with the Arctis 3. Sort of one large step forward, but two small steps back. The Arcis 3 did make a better headphone for immersive type experiences than the Recon 40. The slightly angled driver and recessed mids did bring some depth to the headstage.

    DSC01687 (Medium).JPG

    The Drop x Sennheiser PC37X spanks this in every way. So far, the PC37X seems to be the one to beat so far.
     
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    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
  6. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

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    Just wanted to chime in about comfort: I had the Arctis 7, which I sold off mainly because I found the ear cups shallow, like you did with the Arctis 3.
    Since both models look about the same design-wise, buyers really need to beware the whole über comfort myth surrounding these headphones.
     
  7. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    I had no idea these were known for "comfort". I'd say this statement would be true if you are a child or have small ears. The pads are super squishy and deform easily. This makes the internal cavity even shallower in effect.

    The microphone response is pretty good though

    SteelSeries Arctis 3
    Microphone Frequency Response
    upload_2021-6-15_20-56-54.png
     

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