One of the most respected brands in gaming headsets has tried their hand at a set of desktop speakers for gaming and nailed it. The Arena 7 speakers offer quality audio with a few bonus bells and whistles too.
the good bits
Excellent Sound Quality
Strong RGB Lighting
Range of Connectivity Options
the not so good bits
Quite pricey for 2.1
Steelseries Arena 7 2.1 Gaming Speakers
Meet the SteelSeries Arena 7, the Danish brand’s first entry into the PC speaker game. Building on a strong reputation for producing some of the best gaming headsets we’ve tested, the Arena range should have all the right DNA to be a market leader here too.
Debuting three models with a view to suiting every setup and budget, the Arena 3, Arena 7 and Arena 9 look ready to shake up an area that’s not seen a new player in some time. Starting at $129.99 for the modest Arena 3 right up to the $549.99 for the 5.1 Surround Sound Arena 9, SteelSeries haven’t held back in an attempt to impress in their first outing.
I’ve taken a look at the middle option in the range, the $299.99 SteelSeries Arena 7 to see if it’s got what it takes to compete.
SteelSeries have landed on a really pleasant balance of subtle but styled with the Arena 7. Everywhere you look you’ll find an elegant curve on the speakers both across the drivers on the front and the housing itself. Every angle seems to nicely relate to everything else and there’s a certain sci-fi spaceship vibe to them overall but in a way that doesn’t feel cheap or toylike. Despite being pretty chunky, they’re a compact unit with a rocksolid stand under each that’s perfectly balanced. No matter how hard I wobbled, banged or shook my desk – the Arena 7 speakers never flinched.
At around 20cm high and just over 10cm wide and deep they’re big enough to deliver punchy sound but small enough to fit into most desktop setups. The stand is fixed but does allow around 30 degrees of tilt up to help zone in on the perfect listening spot.
If the speakers take their cues from baroque, the subwoofer is definitely brutalist. It’s a black box that’s going to live on the floor under your desk, there’s not much more we need to dwell on really. The connections on the back are nicely laid out though and with USB-C, Aux, Optical and Bluetooth connectivity there’s just about every option you could need. SteelSeries have been generous with the cable length from each speaker to the subwoofer too, so you’ll have no issues with cable management and tucking it away out of sight in your setup.
After you’ve plugged in the SteelSeries Arena 7 they transform from a very understated, all black affair to an all singing, all dancing disco. It wouldn’t be a modern gaming peripheral without RGB right? Thankfully the colourful execution here is both subtle, controllable and excellent. Each speaker features independent lighting zones both around the rim of the base and via a panel on the back. If I had one criticism it’s that for an otherwise beautifully designed unit, the RGB window on the back feels a little like an afterthought, it doesn’t blend into the design like everything else and just feels a little tacked on. It’s on the back though and once you’ve placed your speakers for the first time you’ll never see it again so it’s a minor grumble.
Each speaker manages to throw an impressive amount of coloured light and did a great job of making the wall behind my monitors radiate. The base rim has minimal throw but is impactful enough to be a worthwhile addition. If you’re not a fan of RGB, a double tap of the multi-function button on the right speaker will shut them off entirely – that’s a nice touch, SteelSeries.
SteelSeries headsets have been a go-to for gamers for some time now and I’m pleased to say that audio experience has well and truly made its way into the Arena 7 speakers. They sound great, really impressively great. My previous speakers were a $30 set of Logitech Z200s and before plugging the Arena 7 speakers in I wasn’t expecting to hear a huge difference. They’re both stereo, two speaker systems so how much better could they realistically sound? Turns out the answer is much better.
I connected to my PC using the included USB Type C cable and even without dialing in my audio using SteelSeries’ GG and Sonar software the Arena 7s delivered an excellent, full sound. Compared to previous, cheap PC speakers I’ve used there’s a distinct improvement in the richness of sound, particularly when listening to music and the subwoofer can take a lot of the credit here. Even when dialed down to avoid upsetting the neighbours (which it would certainly have the ability to do if you ramp it all the way up) it helped beef up the entire soundscape.
Testing with a few hours in GTA V, the Arena 7s did a great job of presenting the wide range of sounds thrown at you at once. In-game music was pleasant and balanced, vehicles had a deep rumble without overpowering dialogue and each gunshot had a proper punch to it when backed up by the subwoofer.
It was a similar story with watching Netflix, the SteelSeries Arena 7 speakers were clear throughout and offered a surprisingly absorbing wall of sound for just a 2.1 set. To push my luck I even pulled up a few spatial audio tests on YouTube and when closing my eyes was genuinely impressed at how well the Arena 7’s two speakers managed to convey a sense of direction. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they mimic surround sound, but they certainly sound like more than just two sources.
SteelSeries’ GG software throws up full EQ control to tweak the sound to your liking. I left the fine tuning to the experts and stuck with one of the bundled profiles but there’s a comprehensive feature set on offer if you want to get stuck in. GG is also where you’ll control your RGB features with a modest selection of different modes covering the usual rainbow displays.If you’re already deep in the SteelSeries ecosystem these will be familiar and there’s PrismSync integration available too.
One RGB theme did jump out though, hidden in the Engine menu is ‘Reflect’ which attempts to extend your screen beyond its frame by mimicking what’s on show with RGB. While the Arena 7 speakers did a pretty admirable job of this and do throw enough light to be effective, I found the split second delay before the lighting would update to match the screen more of a distraction than anything else, particularly while gaming.
At $299.99 the Arena 7 aren’t exactly a cheap option but SteelSeries have again delivered a product worthy of their strong reputation. There’s little to complain about here and all but the most committed audiophiles will likely be impressed with the sound they produce.
Excellent audio quality coupled with pleasing design and build quality, plus an RGB party trick to boot, the SteelSeries Arena 7 are a great choice for those looking to upgrade their desktop audio.