SteelSeries’ Arena 3 is the entry-level 2.0 system in the brand’s ambitious Arena loudspeaker lineup. The Arena 3 retails for just $129.99, so it may seem competitively priced, especially considering the following: Razer’s Nommo V2 X Starting at $149.99 — Of course there is that is Desktop speakers are out of scope for gaming peripherals.
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Arena 3 speakers feature 4-inch full-range drivers with organic fiber cones and front-firing bass ports. These are well-built and sit on tilt-adjustable desktop stands, with easily accessible volume knobs and multi-function buttons for switching inputs.
They are wired and offer analog connectivity (PC and AUX) and Bluetooth 5.0. No USB or optical connections. Since the Arena 3 is a 2.0 system and lacks a subwoofer, the bass response is understandably overwhelming. But if you’re not looking for impressive bass response, there are plenty of his 2.0 systems with lackluster bass for well under $130.
Arena 3 design
Arena 3 is a wired two-speaker stereo system with left and right channels. The speakers are similar to the oval front left and right speakers of SteelSeries’ high-end Arena 7 and Arena 9 systems, but are larger and more avocado-shaped. Each Arena 3 speaker features a 4-inch premium organic fiber full-range driver, a front port for enhanced bass response, and sits on a tilt-adjustable desktop stand.
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The Arena 3 speakers are housed in a matte black plastic chassis with black and dark gray drivers. I wouldn’t say the chassis is fingerprint-proof (it isn’t), but it doesn’t pick up fingerprints like Razer’s Nommo V2 Pro speaker does. The SteelSeries logo is printed in black on the frame below each driver. The speakers are rather large and oddly shaped, but very well built and heavy, weighing just under 5 pounds (4.72 pounds / 2139 g) in total. The right speaker is slightly heavier at 2.44 pounds (1105g) and the left speaker is 2.28 pounds (1034g).
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Both speakers have built-in tilt-adjustable stands. The stand has a circular base that is 4.35 inches (110.6 mm) in diameter and 0.39 inches (10.1 mm) thick, and is lined with a circle of rubbery non-slip material. Each stand has a neck height of approximately 0.75 inches (19.1 mm) and allows the speakers to tilt backwards approximately 20 degrees.
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SteelSeries lists the dimensions of the Arena 3 as 7.72 x 4.97 x 4.13 inches (196.1 x 126.2 x 104.9mm), which is definitely… different. We measured each speaker in the “upright” position at approximately 8 inches (203.2 mm) high, 6 inches (152.4 mm) wide and 5 inches (127 mm) deep. When fully tilted, the speaker adds approximately 1 inch (25.4 mm) in depth and approximately 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) in height. So when fully tilted, each speaker occupies a maximum of 8.5 x 6 x 6 inches (215.9 x 152.4 x 152.4 mm).
It’s worth pointing out that the speakers aren’t placed perfectly perpendicular to the desk when standing “upright”. The speaker initially tilts upward about 5 degrees, but can be manually tilted an additional 15 degrees. The resulting 20-degree speaker tilt is nearly identical to the (non-adjustable) tilt of the Razer Nommo V2 Pro.
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All system inputs, ports and controls are on the right speaker. The base of the right speaker stand has a multi-function button and a volume knob. A single press of the multi-function button toggles the audio input. Specifically, it toggles between the speaker’s audio and the headset connected to the speaker’s rear headset port. A long press on the multi-function button puts the system into Bluetooth pairing mode.
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Below the SteelSeries logo on the right speaker is a bright indicator LED. The LED blinks blue when the system is in pairing mode and turns solid blue when successfully paired with a device. The LED lights green when connected to a wired audio source (AUX or PC) and lights orange when a headset is connected. You can turn off the indicator LEDs completely by pressing the multifunction button twice.
The back of the right speaker has a DC input for power and three 3.5mm analog input ports for headset, aux, and PC. Use the PC port to connect speakers to your PC, the Aux port to connect other devices, and the Headset port to connect a headset. Also on the back of the right channel is a 2 m (6.5 ft) wired speaker cable that plugs into the left channel. This is a much longer cable than needed between the right and left channels, but it’s nice to see that SteelSeries erred on the long side and not the short side.
The Arena 3 box includes a 6.5ft (2m) speaker cable to connect to your PC (or other device) and a 7ft (2.13m) power cable with a 30W power adapter . The power adapter features interchangeable plugs, allowing you to order your Arena 3 with your preferred regional plug type: US, UK, EU, South Korea, Australia, or China.
Arena 3 audio performance
The Arena 3 is a 2.0 (stereo) system with left and right channels, each with a 4 inch full range driver and a front ported bass reflex system. The speaker has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 20,000 Hz, a sensitivity of 91 dB, and a maximum SPL of 100 dB.
The Arena 3 easily fills a medium-sized room at high volumes. It sounds pretty good, as long as you don’t expect desk-shaking bass response. When connected via the 3.5 mm PC input, Arena 3 was able to achieve a maximum of 83.3 dBA (A-weighted decibels) at 50% volume. This was a maximum of 94.1 dBA measured with a handheld sound level meter at a distance of 3.3 feet (1 m). at 100% volume. Volume was slightly lower than Bluetooth, with Arena 3 reaching a maximum of 82.6dbA at 50% and a maximum of 92.1dbA at 100%.
I am using K-391 lonely world, This is a very mid-heavy track for our volume test. This was a good thing for Arena 3, as the system has a very strong midrange. The midrange is boosted overall, but the bass is especially strong to make up for the lack of bass. This doesn’t really work. The low-mids are fairly well-filled, but the actual lows are noticeably lacking. Bass drum at the beginning of Lorde royalsFor example, the first minute of Hans Zimmer is truncated where it would normally roll off. time barely exists.
The Arena 3 has no subwoofers and no ports for connecting third party subwoofers. Instead, the system relies on two small front ports (one on top of each driver) to enhance bass response. The front port location is convenient because it allows you to place the speakers next to the wall (facing the wall, most desks are probably next to the wall), but the port is too small and too close to the driver for pretty much anything. I don’t think you can do it either by way of bass enhancement. SteelSeries probably should have had a bigger rear port. Especially since Arena 3 has no RGB lighting (both Arena 7 and Arena 9 have rear-projection RGB lighting on the front left/right channels).
Not only is the Arena 3 lacking bass, it also has a bit of muted treble. The lack of detail is most noticeable on tracks like Gesaffelstein that drift in and out of the high register. Helifornia and David Guetta TitaniumBut I didn’t mind it too much. Detail was not often lost. And I much prefer subdued highs to painfully bright.
The Arena 3’s aggressive midrange isn’t ideal for listening to music, but it’s actually quite good for games (and other types of media like movies and TV shows). Voices sound especially good when the speaker’s midrange is boosted. Even at low volumes, the sound quality is warm, crisp, and clear. In-game audible cues, such as footsteps and gunshots, were also very clear. Ambient environmental noises such as chirping birds and water droplets were also present, still leaving a lot of audible detail. God of war: Ragnarok and Subnautica: Below zero.
Arena 3 features and software
Arena 3 only connects via analogue (or Bluetooth), so nothing really. directly It’s software, but it works with SteelSeries’ Sonar app, which is part of the SteelSeries GG software. Of course, all speakers and headsets (not just SteelSeries) technically work with the Sonar app, so this is not an Arena 3 (or Arena) specific feature. The Sonar app features 10-band parametric EQ and SteelSeries virtual surround sound, but of course there’s a limit to how much “surround” you can really get from a 2.0 system.
The SteelSeries Arena 3 speakers aren’t bad. Despite the heavy midrange, there’s no question that it’s able to produce well-balanced audio in no time and fill a room with music. These speakers are surprisingly loud and sound just as good even at max volume as they do at moderate levels.
But sheer volume aside, the Arena 3 lacks detail and power on both the low and high end, offering only analog connectivity in addition to Bluetooth. You can get it for $130 Creative T100sounds great and has analog, optical, and Bluetooth connectivity, but you can still spend $40 on extra portable stuff. Creative Pebble V3.