The mic is also located on the left earcup and is fully retractable into the cup (it curves along the inside). The wire is bendable so you can position the mic at your preferred distance from your face. Though I generally prefer microphones that have a rigid arm that swings up and down, no major complaints about this retractable one aside from having to adjust it whenever I use it due to how the wire naturally bends when fully retracted. After doing that, though, it won’t move around from the position I’ve set it to while in use. The microphone itself is bidirectional, with the intent to reduce background sound as much as possible. The quality of the mic is very clear for voice chat, but it still seemed to pick up a fair amount of background sound. When snapping a good arms-length away from the headset, the microphone still caught it.
The biggest issue I had with the Actis 3, however, didn’t have anything to do with the physical hardware; it was an issue I had with the software. In order to access the full audio features on PC (such as surround sound and sound mixer) you have to make a Steelseries account, download the Steelseries Engine, and link your specific unit to your account with a key that comes in the box. Maybe I’m behind on the times, but I’ve never had to input a key for a gaming peripheral in order to fully utilize the settings on the device. This also isn’t just a factor of inconvenience; if there’s some kind of issue with the attached device being recognized by the Steelseries Engine (a problem I had), then these features end up being locked until the problem gets resolved. Not to mention the whole affair makes it a little awkward to give the headset to a friend or family member sometime down the road.
As a complete package, the Arctis 3 is sleek and as stylish as a headset will ever be. It’s extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and the microphone provides clear voice communication, if not providing as much background sound elimination as I hoped. The gated sound features (and all the problems that can occur with an account-bound physical product) as well as other previously mentioned minor complaints (e.g. adjustable mic, potential for accidental adjustment of volume) prevent me from giving this headset a perfect rating; however, even with these flaws, the Arctis 3 is an extremely strong contender in the headset market. It’s certainly the most comfortable headset I’ve owned and it will get a lot of future use.
An Arctis 3 headset was provided to us by Steelseries for review.