SteelSeries Arena 3: One-minute review
The SteelSeries Arena 3 joins a line of PC audio peripherals that has long-established a legacy of delivering great sound to users who aren't very discerning in terms of audio quality. In many ways, SteelSeries, more specifically its Arctis gaming headset family, has helped elevate not just the gaming headset scene but also the way gamers experience sound in gaming.
That means that the SteelSeries Arena 3 has a lot to live up to and massive shoes to fill especially in a world where even the best PC speakers are no longer as compelling to gamers as PC gaming headsets.
Luckily, SteelSeries is also a master at offering a wide range of options in a way that’s inclusive to all gamers, not just the ones who have the money to splurge. And, alongside the Arena 3, it also rolled out the 2.1 Arena 7 that comes with a subwoofer and the expansive (and impressive) Arena 9 whose surround sound prowess absolutely blew us away.
Those two speaker systems take the pressure off the Arena 3 whose main job is now to meet the needs of PC users and gamers who just want an affordable pair of PC speakers that will get them through their daily listening needs. And, as that, it’s a great option, one that has a cute design, good soundstage, and a lot of volume.
It isn’t going to blow you away like the Arena 9 does, but it’s a great pair of PC speakers in its own right.
SteelSeries Arena 3: Price and availability
- How much does it cost? $149 (£149, AU$289)
- Where is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Frequency range: 50-20,000 Hz
Drivers: 4-inch full range
Supported Connectivity: Bluetooth
Audio Inputs: 3x 3.5mm for PC wired, aux, and wired headset audio
Now available for purchase in the US, UK, and Australia, the SteelSeries Arena 3 will set you back $149 (£149, AU$289), putting it squarely in the mid-range.
If you’re on a budget, there are definitely cheaper options available that will deliver comparable audio quality. There are also some bookshelf speakers that are around the same price that deliver better sound – although those typically have a larger footprint. However, if you do want that nice balance in sound quality, portability, and cost, the SteelSeries Arena 3 is a good choice.
If you want better and more immersive audio with a bit of oomph – and have the space and the budget for it, the SteelSeries Arena 9 is the ticket. Although, it is much more expensive as well.
- Value: 3 / 5
SteelSeries Arena 3: Design
- Egg-shaped design
- Multiple inputs and adjustable stand
- Not very customizable via Sonar
We appreciate SteelSeries’ attempt to come up with an appealing and unique design. Shaped like an egg mounted on a stand, the SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers actually remind us of soft-boiled eggs served in egg cups at breakfast, which we don’t mind as we love eggs, and these speakers are undeniably adorable.
Granted, there are smaller and more portable speakers out there, but these don’t take up a lot of space either. At least not as much as the boxy bookshelf speakers that some people do use as PC speakers. It helps that these have smaller adjustable stands that still keep them stable. These stands also allow you to tilt the speakers for better listening.
Above the four-inch driver on each speaker is a bass port, which is basically a directional empty space designed to amplify certain sounds, usually the bass frequency. Unfortunately, they don’t help that much in terms of sound quality.
The right speaker comes with a volume wheel-slash-multifunctional button that serves as the main speaker control for muting, switching input sources, and more. And, in the back, it has three audio ports – PC wired, aux, and wired headset – to plug in three different audio inputs simultaneously. That’s on top of the Bluetooth connectivity these speakers also come with.
There’s a fair amount of customizability here thanks to Sonar, the new add-on to SteelSeries’ GG software that’s specifically designed for the brand’s audio devices. With Sonar, you can customize the Arena 3 to do things like toggle the ChatMix, adjust the Master Volume, and experiment with the parametric EQ to fine-tune the sound.
The presence of the Parametric EQ in Sonar is a treat. It’s not something gamers see often, as only audiophiles and audio engineers utilize it. So, having it handy is a big deal and allows for A LOT of finetuning.
There’s also a Gain and Smart Volume (compressor), which makes loud bits quieter and quiet bits a little louder – you know, the thing that Christopher Nolan almost always forgets exists when mixing his movies. Finally, Sonar allows you to enable and fine-tune Spatial Audio – although on the Arena 3, it merely expands the soundstage just a touch.
- Design: 4 / 5
SteelSeries Arena 3: Performance
- A lot of volume
- Mids are the fairly well balanced, not a lot of bass
- Soundstage is good
For a small-ish pair of PC speakers, the SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers have a powerful set of pipes and can fill a medium-sized room when its volume is turned all the way up. That’s without a lot of distortion. Turn that volume up halfway, and it can fill a small room as well.
Sound quality is good, but you’ll definitely miss the absence of a subwoofer, however, especially when playing tunes like Dua Lipa’s ‘Levitating,’ which, being a dance song, usually has a punchy kick, and Tierra Whack’s ‘Unemployed,’ a song with a lot of low end. If you’re expecting a lot of rumble, you might be disappointed. There’s no sub bass here because, well… there’s no subwoofer.
To make up for that missing real low end, the lower mids are pretty prominent and boosted. It’s not a very effective solution, but it works for certain things. Maneskin’s ‘Mammamia’ isn’t as punchy either, but because this is essentially a rock song, you don’t miss the bass as much. Rock is more mid-focused musically, and because these speakers have boosted lower mids, the song sounds fuller.
The rest of the mids are fairly well-balanced. However, the highs are rounded off so there isn’t as much detail here or brightness and treble is rolled off so you’re losing a little bit of presence as well.
Even though you’re not getting that nice rumble when playing Cyberpunk 2077, the environmental elements come through pretty clearly, which is a nice surprise since the high end is rounded off in music. The soundstage is about what you’d expect from bookshelf speakers – there’s obviously no real surround sound here, just your typical stereo soundstage. But, you can hear elements going from left to right, or moving away or towards you.
Turn on the Spatial Audio feature on GG’s Sonar, and the soundstage becomes wider, if only just a little, and the addition of the reverb almost sounds like there are more elements as it gives sound elements space, which in effect gives them more dimension and a little more weight.
- Performance: 3.5 / 5
Should I buy the SteelSeries Arena 3?
Buy it if...
You’re looking for a great pair of PC speakers
The SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers deliver good sound quality with well-balanced mids and a great soundstage.
You want customizable sound
Thanks to SteelSeries’ Sonar, there’s a lot of sound fine-tuning here, including Parametric EQ and a Gain and Smart Volume.
You need something that will fill a small to medium room
The SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers have enough volume to fill a small room at 50% and a medium-sized room at full volume.
Don't buy it if...
You crave a lot of rumble
There’s not a lot of sub-bass so there isn’t a lot of rumble. The SteelSeries Arena 3 only make up for that by boosting the lower mids.
You want surround sound
This is a pair of stereo speakers, although the soundstage is still decently wide and the Spatial Audio feature in Sonar does give the elements more dimension.
Surround sound not a priority? Then, consider the Logitech Z407, a 2.1 system that not only packs a lot of power and low end but sounds great. It also is much, much cheaper and takes up less desk space.
Read our full Logitech Z407 review
SteelSeries Arena 9
The most expensive, expansive, and immersive PC speaker system of the Arena family, the Arena 9 speaker system delivers true, impressive surround sound, great audio quality, and bone-shaking rumble.
Read our full SteelSeries Arena 9 review
Razer Leviathan V2
If you’re limited on desk space, you can still experience a modicum of spatial audio thanks to the Razer Leviathan V2 soundbar. It’s not going to be quite as immersive as the Arena 9 system but its THX Spatial Audio will still transport you into your favorite gaming environments.
Read our full Razer Leviathan V2 review
SteelSeries Arena 3: Report card
|Value||Not too pricey yet not too cheap, the SteelSeries Arena 3 sit right in the mid-range while delivering decent sound quality with a lot of volume and good soundstage.||3 / 5|
|Design||We love their egg-shaped design, three 3.5mm input ports, and plenty of customization options via the Sonar add-on to the GG software.||4 / 5|
|Performance||With plenty of volume and a well-balanced mid-range, these speakers could be a lot better if there was more sub-bass and high-end that isn’t rolled off.||3.5 / 5|
|Total||With a lot of volume, plenty of opportunity to fine-tune the sound, and a good soundstage made better by the Spatial Audio feature on Sonar, the SteelSeries Arena 3 are good PC speakers so long as you don’t need a lot of rumble and surround sound.||3.5 / 5|
- First reviewed September 2022
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