When I travel, I like to spend the bulk of my time with my headphones on, doing pretty much nothing. The three-hour train trip to Seattle is lovely as a silent movie, accompanied by my own personal music. I stare out the window, occasionally play something on my Nintendo Switch, read something, or—if the Wi-Fi works— grind through my weekly bounties in Destiny 2. I’m in my own little world, and I love it.
In the past, this has meant using wired headphones with a headphone-jack-to-USB-C dongle so they connect to my Google Pixel 2. It’s a long series of plug in, unplug, plug in, unplug, plug in—all while wrestling with the wire to find a comfy place for it to lay without getting in my way. I’ve tried my luck with Bluetooth earbuds, but they don’t work with the Switch, and the constant pairing is way less convenient than my plug-unplug dance.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless offers a clever way to solve all of these problems. It’s a wireless gaming headset that doubles as a pair of great headphones, but it doesn’t connect via Bluetooth. Instead, it has a tiny, itty bitty wireless USB C dongle that connects to my phone and Switch with a 2.4 GHz wireless signal.
Yes, I said it uses a dongle, and historically dongles are not fun and tend to get lost, but hear me out: It’s a really good dongle. It’s wirelessly compatible with Android phones, the iPad Pro, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, PS4, and Mac. On top of that, it works with Xbox if you plug in the 3.5mm cord that comes with it.
It isn’t compatible with the iPhone’s Lightning port (which is also on most iPads), but the Arctis 1 is a near-universal gaming headset—a damn good one.
It’s the 21st century. You’d think making a pair of headphones that feel comfy and sound stellar would be a solved problem, but it isn’t. Everyone’s ears and head are different, and we all listen to different kinds of audio in different situations. It’s still tricky to find the right pair, but the Arctis 1 threads that audio needle.
The USB-C dongle is a little black rectangle, wider than it is long, so doesn’t protrude too much from whichever device you plug it into. Just plug it in, press the power button on the headphones, and you’re done. That’s the whole setup. Want to switch from your phone to your Switch? Just unplug the dongle and plug it into the new device. It works just like a 3.5mm headphone jack.
It can be a pain to keep track of the little dongle, since there’s nowhere to store it on the headset itself. You may want to keep it on you, though. The Arctis 1 is a great set of wireless headphones too.
Whether you’re chasing down the worm god Zol for the thousandth time, or just relaxing and listening to music, the soundstage is broad and expansive—just lean back and close your eyes. It’s like listening to your favorite artist giving you a private concert at an outdoor amphitheater.