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SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers review

Beautifully balanced sound comes at the cost of none-too-cheap single-purpose PC speakers.

SteelSeries Arena 3 Speakers
SteelSeries Arena 3
2.8 out of 5 stars
2.75
Audio configuration
2.0 PC speakers
Audio drivers
Dual 4-inch
Connectivity
3.5mm jack, Bluetooth
Nathan Lawrence
May 11, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read
Quick verdict: SteelSeries Arena 3

The SteelSeries Arena 3 PC speakers are designed as plug-and-play audio that offer well-tuned audio out of the box. Well, mostly. The volume is certainly there to complement the balanced mids and highs, but the lows are missing noticeable bass. That’s expected given the 2.0 instead of a 2.1 configuration, which is further held back by a pricey RRP and limited connectivity options.

pro
Pros
pro Well-balanced audio (mids and highs)
pro Great volume
pro 3.5mm and Bluetooth
con
Cons
con Minimal connectivity
con No straightforward EQ changes
con Bass is mostly meh
SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I used to cheap out on my PC audio by investing in great headphones for gaming and then using tinny monitor speakers for everyday playback. Then multiple generations of Logitech speakers changed everything. Between those, Klipsch blew my mind (or should that be “ears”?) with their incredible quality before one of the speakers died.

More recently, I’ve been appreciating the practical slot-under-the-monitor space saving of soundbars, first with the solid Razer Leviathan V2 and then the even more impressive Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2. I’ve been spoiled for choice with more expensive higher-end speakers, so I was curious to see what the SteelSeries Arena 3’s more entry-level design could bring to the conversation.


SteelSeries Arena 3 value for money

Premium price for entry-level features ($289 RRP).

For what they don’t offer in terms of versatility, the SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers aren’t cheap. The $289 RRP pushes pretty deep into 2.1 speaker pricing territory, with multiple cheaper options available from Logitech. If you can nab the SteelSeries Arena 3 for closer to $200, the value proposition becomes a lot better, but for PC speakers designed to primarily connect via 3.5mm jack, that price feels too steep.


SteelSeries Arena 3 design and ease of use

Good lookin’ but chunky desktop speakers.

I fancy PC speakers that you can fit under a monitor or, at the very least, have the option to sit sideways beneath a screen. That’s not essential for every desktop configuration, but when you have three 27-inch monitors on your desk like I do, space is at a premium.

The SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers feature an attractive rounded design with their selling-point four-inch drivers front and centre. As they should be. The individual speaker stands make for easy desktop placement on flat surfaces, which means they’re clearly not made to lie down. Lift that main monitor or place these bad boys in flanking positions.

There’s a single 3.5mm port in the left speaker, which connects to the back of the right one. Behind the right speaker is also 3.5mm ports marked Headset, AUX and PC, with a DC power connector beside that. The power adaptor follows a similarly chonky design motif as the speakers, so you may have to shuffle adaptors on the power board if they’re close together.

It’s a nice touch that you can have PC sound and an attached headset for audio (Headset) and mic communications (AUX). But that’s also assuming you have a budget headset that uses 3.5mm connectors and not, say, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro very-much-wireless headset instead. While there is a (discrete) power button and volume dial on the right speaker, a remote would be nice (even if it’s in smartphone app form).

Info Box
Who is SteelSeries?
SteelSeries has bragging rights to being the original esports-focused peripherals brand, which started in Denmark in 2001. Despite being a popular provider of esports peripherals, SteelSeries makes a range of keyboards, mice and headsets for everyday gamers, too.

SteelSeries Arena 3 soundscape testing

Well-balanced audio albeit without the big bass.
SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers

The SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers have mostly great tuning out of the box. That’s pretty important given the limited connectivity options. After all, those after high-quality audio aren’t typically reaching for speakers with a 3.5mm jack. That means there are no USB, optical or HDMI ARC ports.

Despite being ‘restricted’ to 16-bit sound, there’s still a richness to the overall soundscape. Whether listening to full orchestral soundtracks or rock anthems, the highs and mids are impressively detailed. It’s the lows that really suffer. While I was able to find certain tracks that made the lows stand out more prominently, they were mostly unimpressive in a way that had me itching to return to speakers with a subwoofer.

Volume-wise, you won’t have any issues getting the SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers to an uncomfortably loud place. That said, once you start pushing beyond 80% volume, distortion starts to creep in: only a bit at first, but the louder you go, the more noticeable it becomes.


SteelSeries Arena 3 software and equaliser settings

A missed opportunity for Bluetooth tweaking.
SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers

If you don’t want to use the 3.5mm jack, the SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers also support Bluetooth connectivity. That’s a necessary win on the connectivity-versatility front, but it’s also a missed opportunity for a SteelSeries companion app. Such an app would solve the problem of a missing remote, plus it would make it easier to personalise audio on the fly or flick between presets.

SteelSeries does have a workaround for this. Sort of. On PC, you can install SteelSeries GG and access tweaks via Sonar. Because there’s no USB connection between PC and speakers, though, the Arena 3 doesn’t show up in the Engine tab for straightforward updates and tweaks, and nor does it stand out as its own device in Sonar.

It doesn’t help that Sonar requires a user account just to use presets or tweak equaliser settings. Worse still, my Sonar tests didn’t really seem to impact the sound when shifting between multiple preset options. Additionally, Sonar seemingly capped the overall volume, which would only return to its full potential after exiting out of SteelSeries GG.

While this does feel like a bug, it’s the kind of thing that surely would have an easy fix if the Arena 3 speakers offered USB connectivity for firmware updates. Without that, you have to hope that SteelSeries GG is the problem and the issue can be fixed in a future software update.

Is the SteelSeries Arena 3 worth buying?

Decent audio at a price.
Steelseries Arena 3 Speakers

The SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers are tricky to wholeheartedly recommend. On one hand, there’s well-balanced plug-and-play audio out of the box with plenty of volume. On the other, it has a pricey RRP for a 2.0 configuration that’s light on connectivity options, making it a whole lot more single-purpose than I’d like. These speakers are worth considering if you can get them around $200, but there are better, more versatile options around.

How we review speakers

Our main focus with speakers is how they sound. This means we put them through the paces of everyday use, depending on what they’re designed for. If it’s TV speakers, we use them to watch a variety of content, including TV shows, movies as well as playing games.

For other speakers that aren’t designed for TV, we spend a lot of time listening to a variety of music, comparing them to whichever speakers are our typical go-to options. We like speakers that are incredibly easy to set up and just work after being connected without having to tinker with software. That said, we also look at any available companion software to test the versatility of speakers, particularly smarter options.

Connectivity is important, which is why we favour speakers that offer the user plenty of options, including wired and wireless. Basically, the more versatile a speaker in terms of its uses, the more potential uses it has, and the greater its value. Where available, we also test remotes to ensure they’re intuitive and responsive as well as other applicable features like voice control.


SteelSeries Arena 3 FAQs

No, SteelSeries is a competitor of Logitech and not owned by the latter company. Logitech does, however, own Astro.
SteelSeries has a reputation of manufacturing quality keyboards, mice and headsets. It recently branched out into the speaker space, but there are better options than the Arena 3 entry-level speakers.
For headsets, SteelSeries is among the best in the world for audio quality, particularly for the Arctis Nova Pro range. The SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers have well-balanced audio on the mids and highs but are lacking on the big-bass front.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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