January 27, 2023

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Test: Steelseries Arena 9 - Gamer.no

Test: Steelseries Arena 9 – Gamer.no

For many years, sound on a computer was something I didn’t give much thought to. You’ve plugged in your headphones and you’re ready to play. But little by little the interest showed itself, and for me it is very important that the sound is in its place.

A decent set of speakers for my setup is unfortunately missing. Steelseries comes with the new Arena series, where you have three different speaker packages to choose from. I listen to and take a closer look at Arena 9 in this test, which provides a full 5.1 surround system for PC.

design

Arena 9 consists of 6 different sound units. Two front speakers with USB lighting both at the back and at the base. Center, subwoofer and two rear speakers. In addition, you have a small console where you can control the volume and settings.


The two front speakers have a fixed cable that connects to the subwoofer. I got a little sick of the thing about all computers having to have some form of LED lighting, but here you can select the color and strength of the lighting behind and at the base of these two speakers. Fortunately, it can also be turned off in Steelseries software, so no crunch and a small addition in the book from me. Plus, these are probably the units in the group that you struggle to fit more in, because they’re so big. It measures about 18 x 12 x 10 cm and takes up some space on each side of the screen.

But the design itself sits well with the vast majority of gaming enthusiasts, with the usual matte black plastic in keeping with most “normal” PCs. Additionally, manufacturers deserve credit for their wireless rear speakers that only need a wire between them and electricity to function.

The actual setup of Arena 9 was painless to operate. All cables (except for the rear speakers mentioned above) connect to the mid-range subwoofer, and it plugs directly into your computer via USB. All in all, it took about 15 minutes before everything booted up.

It seems

There is good dynamics in the sound, and plenty of punch in the bass. I had a bit of trouble finding a balance at first, as there was probably too much bass that ate up a bit of the other sound, but with the help of the Steelseries Sonar app, I was able to adjust it so that the sonic picture became more balanced.


Music is the worst of what Arena 9 works with. The front and center speakers are fine, but you notice the limitations in size and design better here. It will make a lot of sounds from smaller devices, and for those who mainly use this for music, there will be better alternatives. This does not mean that this is not good. I would say with a lot of certainty that this set is more than good enough for pretty much everyone out there. But for those who are interested and have a bit of an audio obsession, there are better alternatives to Music.

Arena 9’s specialty is cinema and games. The 5.1 surround sound works great with the Disney+ app, and Star Wars and the various superhero movies all sound great. Headphones are great for immersing yourself in sound, but there’s just something special about the feeling of physical vibration that makes the experience that much more noticeable. Transmitting sound into the room, especially as easily and effectively as in Arena 9, becomes something else.

And for gaming, which is what Arena 9 was designed for, it works just fine. Warzone’s gunfire sounds crisp and harsh, explosions ring in the bass and the soundscape takes off in the ambient setting. Out of the box, the speakers are well balanced so they aren’t drowned out by high treble or dominant bass. A little tweaking in terms of room, location, and personal preference is worth spending some time on.

You can adjust the balance between the different speakers yourself, either via the console or in the software from Steelseries. Some games are great with a little extra thump in the bass, while in others it might be more important to hear where the enemies are moving. Even if games like Hellblade get a lot more noticeable with a proper headset, the experience is still impressive with Arena 9. It really takes the sound effects to a new level.


A small plus in the book should also be given on the grounds that Arena 9 also works with PS5 and via Bluetooth. Admittedly, it only works as a 2.1 amp for the PS5, with a virtual mix of up to 5.1 as the only surround option. But it’s only positive that there are alternative uses for the kit and then you get more for your money.

conclusion

Steelseries Arena 9 is a solid product. It offers sound suitable for all possible applications, is easy to set up, and works more or less without major hiccups. The sound picture is clear and beautiful, and it works particularly well for games and movies. The surround with two wireless rear speakers delivers a vibrant sound picture, and the bass has enough punch to annoy the neighbor if you’re not careful.

So the really big question is whether it’s worth the money? Steelseries Arena 9 costs NOK 5,890. It’s a huge amount, and the value of that is up to almost every individual. I haven’t tested a better set of PC speakers, and so far I’m more than satisfied with the Arena 9’s performance. You get a very good pair of headphones for the same price, but it would be wrong to compare them this way.

Steelseries Arena 9 is pricey, but you also get quality and sound for every penny.

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