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SteelSeries Arena 7 review

Our Verdict

The Arena 7 delivers a 2.1 speaker setup that straddles the line between form and function, delivering an awesome audio experience paired with tasteful RGB lighting. It’s ideal for PCs and can cater to other devices too thanks to its wide range of connectors, but all these perks come at a high cost and some small annoyances.

Reasons to buy

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Great array of connection options
  • Optional RGB effects are fun
Reasons to avoid

  • Speaker cables are fixed
  • Inconvenient power switch placement
  • Expensive

Listening to the thump and crack of SteelSeries Arena 7 serves as a powerful reminder that a strong set of speakers elevates every gaming setup. It’s clear that the expertise SteelSeries frequently showcases in its headsets is present here too, in terms of sound quality, looks, and features. However, a few frustrating design choices, and a high price, keep the Arena 7 from all-round excellence.

Having used the SteelSeries Arena 7 for the past several months, I’ve found it easily sits among the best computer speakers to have graced my ears and PC gaming setup. So much so, in fact, that I’ve regularly taken to discarding my headset in favor of the Arena 7 where possible. However, my enthusiasm doesn’t come without a few small caveats, which SteelSeries should be able to easily address in a successor.

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SteelSeries Arena 7 review: Satellite speaker design

Arena 7 design

The Arena 7 design looks its best on a gaming desk, but the speakers and subwoofer don’t look out of place in other settings either, such as a living room TV setup. The plastic rounded shell and exposed driver design give the Arena 7 speakers a look that balances form and function, evoking the same aesthetic tendencies as SteelSeries headsets. However, there is no speaker grille available for those who prefer a more muted appearance, or who want another layer of protection.

Each speaker sits on a small, thin cylindrical stalk connected to a circular base with a diameter just shy of the speaker’s width, and the underside of the base has a circular rubber ring that keeps the Arena 7 flat and stable across all types of surfaces. In terms of adjustment, SteelSeries has incorporated a small amount of vertical tilt which proves sufficient for getting the best listening angle. ‘L’ and ‘R’ indicators are also included on the rear of each speaker, as well as their cables, for easy setup.

Speaker cables on the Arena 7 are long and sheathed but are unfortunately also fixed to each speaker, making it impossible for most users to swap out the wires should issues arise in the future. Competitors such as the Razer Nommo Pro and NZXT Relay don’t have this drawback, and it’s unfortunate to see SteelSeries stifle the Arena 7’s repairability. Aside from this flaw, though, the Arena 7’s build quality is of a high standard.

SteelSeries Arena 7 review: Speaker stand base

Naturally, the Arena 7 wouldn’t be complete as a ‘gaming’ speaker without RGB lighting. SteelSeries has fitted a ring of diffused LEDs around each of the speakers’ bases, as well as another diffused array at the top-back of their shells. The lighting is also configurable, and to my eyes provides a welcome bit of flair, particularly in their audio visualizer mode. If you’re not a fan of flashing lights, the RGB lighting can also be quickly disabled at the double-press of the multi-function button, or via SteelSeries GG software, if you wish.

Speaking of which, the multi-function button and volume dial, nestled on the right speaker base, are a welcome but imperfect set of manual controls for the Arena 7. While the multi-function button serves as a convenient way to mute the speakers, toggle RGB lighting, or swap to a Bluetooth connection, it doesn’t turn off the setup outright. Instead, you’ll need to annoyingly reach down to the subwoofer to flick a power switch, or turn it off at the wall. Meanwhile, the volume dial is robust to the touch, but any adjustments made with it come with a small delay, which can catch you off guard.

Finally, the Arena 7’s subwoofer has a standard design as far as its appearance is concerned, being a large black cube that could be easily mistaken for most other subwoofers. More importantly, though, it serves as the receiver for the system, so its placement is key in making sure your setup connects together without issue. As expected, this is an easy job in most scenarios, but I do wish the included 2m USB-C cable for PC connection was longer for setups that are more spread apart, such as my one.

SteelSeries Arena 7 review: Subwoofer controls and connections

Arena 7 specs

Sitting as the middle child in SteelSeries’ Arena speaker series, the Arena 7 specs provide some welcome uplifts over the Arena 3. Furthermore, the Arena 7 serves as a solid compromise to the Arena 9, for those interested in a 2.1 setup rather than a full 5.1 surround system. 

Each speaker packs a dedicated 3-inch woofer for mid-range frequencies, and a 0.75-inch tweeter, for high-end tones, while the 6.5-inch subwoofer naturally takes vare of the lower frequencies. While the Arena 9 features this same setup, the Arena 3 lacks any tweeters, and compensates with a larger 4-inch woofer on its speakers, resulting in a lack of high-end tone reproduction. Altogether, SteelSeries says the Arena 7 is able to cover frequencies from 35-20,00Hz, putting it a touch ahead of all other competing gaming speakers, albeit by just a few extra Hz.

  SteelSeries Arena 7 specs
Dimensions (W x D x H) Speakers: 104.9 x 196.1 x 126.2mm
Subwoofer: 235 x 239 x 325.1mm
Configuration Speakers: 3-inch woofer, 0.75-inch tweeter
Subwoofer: 6.5-inch
Total power output 150W
Frequency range 35 – 20,000Hz
Connections Bluetooth 4.2
3.5mm
Optical input and output
USB-C
Extras Addressable RGB lighting
Headset 3.5mm input on right speaker
Multi-function button (mute, source)
Volume control

The selection of ports and connections on the Arena 7’s subwoofer is also sensibly varied. The speakers connect to the sub via DIN sockets, each with varying pin designs, giving you an immediate way to differentiate between the two speakers during setup.

Connecting to a PC is handled via a single USB-C to USB-A cable, with 3.5mm and optical inputs providing means to connect to other devices, such as a TV or Blu-ray player. Meanwhile, Bluetooth 4.2 makes connecting to your smartphone a breeze. Those with wired headsets also have a 3.5mm combo audio jack at their disposal in the back of the right speaker.

SteelSeries Arena 7 review: RGB lighting ambience

Arena 7 sound quality

As expected from a premium SteelSeries audio offering, the Arena 7 audio quality makes for an excellent listening experience. games, movies, and music are all delivered in detail, with solid imaging (sound separation). The speakers have a generally balanced tone that leans slightly warm, providing a listening experience that sounds exciting rather than analytical.

When listening to typically bass-heavy genres such as hip hop and drum & bass, the Arena 7 doesn’t fall foul of cranking up the lows at the expense of the frequencies. While the likes of Pendulum’s Salt in the Wounds or Kendrick Lamar’s DNA often turn low-quality speakers and headsets into sludge, the Arena 7 keeps bass tones in check, allowing the synths, vocals, and cymbals on each track room to shine.

As such, vital audio cues in games such as Doom Eternal are easy to pick out on the Arena 7, even amid the wall of sound from the swell of your boomstick, squelch of a demon beneath your foot, and Mick Gordon’s deliciously crunchy multi-layered riffs. It’s by no means a replacement for a high-quality headset in competitive games, such as Counter-Strike 2, but immersive single-player games are awesome to experience with these speakers.

SteelSeries Arena 7 review: Subwoofer closeup

Even in quieter moments, the soundstage of the Arena 7 brings the scope of open-world games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 to life in a manner that can be a struggle for some headsets. While this is true of all speakers, to an extent, the qualities I’ve highlighted come together to accommodate gorgeously deep soundscapes. This naturally applies to dense musical compositions too, such as John Williams’ Duel of the Fates, which sounds appropriately epic on the Arena 7.

There’s a decent amount of power here too. You can easily fill a room with the Arena 7’s volume dial turned to a moderate level, but there’s still plenty of headroom available for when you just have to crank up the volume, be it for a party or a particularly hype moment in a game or track. Turning up the Arena 7 to 11 doesn’t result in a distorted listening experience either, as it doesn’t buckle under pressure.

All of the above audio descriptions are reflective of the out-of-box experience, but SteelSeries does also provide ways to tweak the sound of the Arena 7 to your liking. Equalizers are available in the GG software, which I’ll discuss in more detail shortly, but the biggest change to my ears was the bass dial on the subwoofer. Even with this unit turned up to max, you shouldn’t expect room-wobbling bass, but it is certainly loud and present – I found the most comfortable listening experience to be somewhere in the middle in my small office.

SteelSeries Arena 7 review: SteelSeries GG software

Arena 7 software and features

As with other SteelSeries peripherals, SteelSeries GG serves as the software application for its Arena 7 speakers. It’s an entirely optional download, but one that comes recommended for the sake of firmware updates alone, in addition to the configuration options it unlocks.

The stock Flat equalizer preset will sound great to most ears, but SteelSeries does offer a few alternatives, such as Bass Boost, as well as a custom preset that you can tune via a ten-band EQ in the Engine tab. The Arena 7 is also compatible with SteelSeries Sonar, the company’s virtual mixer, which has powerful capabilities for routing application audio, but it’s mainly aimed at streamers.

The RGB lighting is also controlled through SteelSeries GG, with five modes from which to choose: Off, Single Color, Breathe, Color Shift, and Audio Visualizer. The majority of my testing was spent using the Arena 7’s Audio Visualizer preset, which attempts to sync up its LEDs with your audio in real time. The results were mostly positive, but this is by no means a replacement for a full lighting ambience system, such as Philips Hue.

Less exciting games and music made for a poor pairing with this effect, though, with the lighting ending up being distracting. Turn to a bombastic tune, though, and it’s hard not to get behind the slightly gimmicky light show. The LEDs around the rings will primarily trigger for high tones, whereas the ones on the back of each speaker swell when mid-range and bass frequencies rise, making for some fun dramatic moments.

SteelSeries Arena 7 review: Satellite speaker RGB lighting

Arena 7 price

At $299.99, the Arena 7 price is not a low-cost impulse purchase, and this price places it in direct competition with the Razer Nommo V2, which also commands the same cost. However, this is the kind of cash you can expect to pay for a decent 2.1 speaker configuration, as the inclusion of a subwoofer inflates the price dramatically compared to a standard 2.0 stereo setup.

Stepping back down to the $129.99 Arena 3 highlights just how much more you’re paying for the Arena 7, with its RGB lighting, subwoofer, and two-way speaker system creating a huge $170 price difference. I have no doubt that both systems will sound great, particularly for their price, but it’s important to note what your extra dollars are buying as you move up through the Arena series.

Returning to speaker setups with subwoofers, though, the Arena 7 also faces some stiff competition from the Logitech G560 ($200) and Razer Leviathan V2 ($250). At a price that’s $100 cheaper, the G560 offers many of the Arena 7’s features, albeit with fewer connection options and a narrower frequency range. Meanwhile, for $50 less, the Leviathan V2 makes for a worthy competitor and is decidedly more compact in its soundbar form factor.

The Arena 7’s value versus the NZXT Relay is much stronger, though, given the total cost for a 2.1 Relay setup is a staggering $399.98. That said, the Relay’s speakers and subwoofer can be purchased separately, unlike the Arena 7’s ones. Taking all the competition into consideration, the Arena 7 struggles to differentiate itself on price. It’s a fantastic 2.1 speaker setup that largely justifies its cost, but it’s not a bargain.

SteelSeries Arena 7 review: Satellite speaker woofer closeup

Arena 7 conclusion

Speakers are a niche part of PC setups these days, but the Arena 7 serves as a strong argument that everyone should make room for a decent set of speakers if their budget and space allow it. 

Though this set is expensive, any anxieties about cash spent on the Arena 7 quickly disappear once it’s plugged in and filling a room with its crisp and punchy sound. Meanwhile, its RGB lighting makes games and music an engrossing audiovisual experience in most circumstances.

The Arena 7 comes recommended to those in search of a subwoofer and speakers, but those unable to afford its high price would do well to consider many of the cheaper 2.0 stereo configurations on the market as well.

Arena 7 alternatives

Razer Leviathan V2

In place of two individual speakers, the Leviathan V2 packs all of its audio into the compact form factor of a soundbar that can nestle underneath most monitors with ease. It’s cheaper than the Arena 7 and packs a subwoofer, but it has a slightly narrower frequency range, features fewer wired connections, and its RGB lighting isn’t as strong.

Logitech G560

Despite being much older than the Arena 7, the G560’s speakers still give the SteelSeries Arena 7 units a run for their money. It’s considerably cheaper, but its drivers are much smaller and its high-frequency cut-off is much lower (17kHz vs. the Arena 7’s 20kHz), plus it lacks the Arena 7’s many connection opinions. If you don’t have lots of money to spend, though, the Logitech G560 remains a solid 2.1 speaker set for the price.

Read our full Logitech G560 review for more information.

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