You’ve probably noticed the striking design difference between our new Arctis line and all other gaming headsets. While the elegance of Arctis may look simple to achieve, it was an enormous challenge to fight against the momentum of the gaming industry’s consistent lack of refinement. If you Google images of gaming headsets today, your eyes are blasted with pictures of headsets that look more like transformers stuck halfway between space robots and laser pistols than serious gaming gear.
So how do you radically change the gaming community’s perception of headset design, while maintaining the deep-rooted Danish design philosophy of SteelSeries? You start from the ground up, question everything and obsess over every single detail.
A Legacy of Danish Design
Danish design is more than the artful use of simple forms to achieve efficient functionality. It’s the process that takes complex ideas and turns them into something beautiful and necessary. SteelSeries has had this philosophy at the heart of our products for more than fifteen years.
We had the lofty goal of combining the unbridled bravado of hardcore gaming with our legacy of
When creating the Arctis line of headsets, we had the lofty goal of combining the unbridled bravado of hardcore gaming with our legacy of Danish Design and our desire to fulfill the unsatisfied needs of serious gamers.
The Process of Perfection
Before we could begin making the perfect gaming headset, we had to understand and acknowledge the ever-changing gamer. Our product design team immersed themselves in gaming audio for years. We shared countless hours with world’s best esports teams, the most popular Twitch and YouTube streamers, AAA and indie game developers, hardcore PC gamers, console and mobile gamers, and learned one universal truth: gamers are more diverse than ever. Gamers have a variety of needs because they play on more platforms than ever before, and for years there has been a growing desire to have one headset for everything, including non-gaming listening on the go.
With a clear understanding of today’s gamer, we divided our goals into the top gamer needs of comfort, performance, versatility, portability and the x-factor of innovative and unexpected details. None of these needs were truly being satisfied by the gaming audio industry.
A Disruptive Approach
Since the launch of the SteelSeries Siberia headset in 2004, we’ve known that suspension headbands are key to providing comfort that can stand up to the longest gaming sessions. Traditional headband designs create pressure points, especially at the top of your head. Suspension headbands, on the other hand, evenly distribute the weight across your entire head, creating a near-weightless effect. For Arctis, we took this experience and knowledge and revolutionized it.
You can’t start a revolution in a vacuum, so we looked outside of gaming for advances in comfort materials. Athletics apparel and sporting equipment were incredibly inspiring to the design team. Taking design cues from comfortable gear used in extreme conditions, we focused on the ski goggle band, and how it could take the suspension headband to the next level.
A Material Issue
In addition to the soft, durable elastic fabric used in the Arctis ski goggle headband, our designers looked at the materials used in every part of the Arctis headsets.
For the ear cushions, our own experience tells us that leather has a luxurious warm feeling, but isn’t breathable. The velvet material used by competitors is soft to the touch but also retains heat and moisture, even during short play times. Again, inspired by the materials used by athletes, we invented AirWeave fabric to mimic the breathable, moisture-wicking fabric used in running and training clothes. The AirWeave fabric on the Arctis ear cushions stays cool and dry during extended use, is extremely soft and also isolates game audio while blocking outside noise.
Part of our unconventional approach to Danish Design, is to deliver tactile surprises that aren’t immediately visible. For example, the soft rubber material on the outside of the ear cups, gives a premium matte appearance, while the soft touch makes even handling the headset a pleasurable experience.
The diversity of gamers drove us to look at every single detail and measure it against the widest range of gaming scenarios we’ve ever considered. For the Arctis line to be ideal for a PC LAN hero and a commuter that plays mobile games on the train, every facet had to be improved or reinvented.
The diversity of gamers drove us to look at every single detail and measure it against the widest range of gaming scenarios we’ve ever considered
The elegant, Arctis two-axis hinge system looks simple, but was the result of months of comfort and usability testing. The metal-reinforced Arctis hinges allows for a perfect fit on all head sizes, while keeping the profile beautifully slim. The durable hinges also allow the headset to fold flat, whether around your neck or in a bag or carrying case.
With that same range of gaming scenarios in mind, we set out to solve the connectivity and versatility issues that have plagued the gaming community for years. Every gamer knows that most headsets are made for only one system. If you want to play on several platforms, it typically requires different headsets or sacrificing features as you use multiple adapters. The modular cable system of the Arctis line solves all of these problems. The cables are detachable, interchangeable and replaceable. Our design team evaluated and optimized for the most efficient cable lengths, and designed a system where cables can be swapped for new platforms with ease.
The microphone is one of the most visible and vital aspects of a gaming headset, and it’s what divides headsets from generic headphones, yet there’s been a decade-long lack of innovation in the design. Gamers have suffered through losing detachable mics, wearing ridiculous swivel mics, and never having their mic in the right place for the best voice clarity. SteelSeries solved the style issue by introducing the retractable microphone years ago. Combined with the sleek look of the Arctis headset, the retractable mic allows you to listen to music on the go without looking like an air traffic controller. With the mic extended, gamers have a high-performance ClearCast mic, carefully shaped to ensure that it’s always in the right place and facing the right direction.
Combined with the sleek look of the Arctis headset, the retractable mic allows you to listen to music on the go without looking like an air traffic controller
An essential part of any successful design process is recognizing your own mistakes. SteelSeries was as guilty as our competitors still are when it came to forcing gamers to fumble for in-line, on-cable controls. The last thing a gamer wants to do during a firefight is reach for their cable and frantically feel for volume and chat controls. Our designers thoughtfully placed the headphone volume and mic mute on the headset for the easiest and fastest access. Also, while some other USB and wireless gaming headsets allow you to use them with an analog 3.5mm cable, typically the volume and mic mute controls don’t work, because they are purely digital. We thought through this scenario and created analog controls on Arctis so that no matter how you are connecting the headset you always have volume and mic mute available.
The Experts Have Spoken
We put in the work to produce the perfect line of gaming headsets, but it wouldn’t be Danish of us to pat ourselves on the back, so we’ll let the experts do it. We’re thrilled to have won the prestigious Red Dot Award for product Design. SteelSeries has won it before, but winning it for Arctis is especially sweet after the years of research, testing, design and execution that went into creating the perfect headsets. We’ve also won Tom’s Guide “Best Overall Gaming Headset” and Nerd Reactor said Arctis is “the best headset I have ever used for gaming and other media.”
Out of all the accolades, we are most excited to see the 5-star customer reviews piling up online from gamers all over the world. We poured our hearts into the design of the Arctis line and consider it our love letter to gamers everywhere.