Steelseries Arena 7 review - Chaotically good

A promotional shot of the Steelseries Arena 7 in action.

A promotional shot of the Steelseries Arena 7 in action.

I've tried multiple audio solutions for my desk setup over the decades. Ranging from complicated amplifier arrangements for some wood-effect Denons I couldn't let go, to soundbars that got lost in the mail during an RMA run, I've even had Logitech speakers that were somehow too loud on two percent, and their successors that attempted to merge ambient LED lighting into them - just as Philips tried to do with the original AmbX release that set the stage for their patented bias lightning TVs.

But no matter the purposed solution, I always ran into some kind of problem - namely the inflexibility of most audio solutions when it came to adding more than one device. Thankfully, the Steelseries Arena 7 appears to have rectified the issue, becoming a main-stay on my desk for longer than any other piece of audio equipment in recent memory.

It's taken me a very long time to fit this review into my schedule (sorry, Steelseries!), but that's accidentally afforded me the chance to offer a long-term viewpoint as opposed to the usual quick turnaround from shipping, receiving, using, and reviewing - which can then result in a skewed verdict that doesn't take durability and longevity into account.

The problem

So why haven't I replaced the Steelseries Arena 7 setup with yet another soundbar? The reason is two-fold. Reactive lighting and input mixing. Neither feature is inherently unique to the Steelseries Arena 7 speaker setup, but it manages to do both well while fixing the issues I've had with other audio solutions in the past: They don't take up a lot of space, they get very loud when I want them to, they look a little like one of those fancy 1960s egg chairs, and they have a hardware volume knob so I don't have to meddle with the janky Windows audio panel.

At first, things weren't plain sailing. The reactive lighting on the rear just wouldn't work - to the point where I began to question if I'd read the spec sheet wrong. Turns out it's just badly explained in some areas. It's there, but the feature doesn't take centre stage in the required Steelseries app. You have to dig a little deeper to find the Prism add-on inside, which then gives you proper control over what I consider to be the main feature of the stereo speaker setup.

The Steelseries Arena 7 speakers and subwoofer.
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The solution

The Steelseries Arena 7 stereo speaker setup is a solid, long-term solution for most setups. The dual-audio feature makes it a breeze to switch between your primary source and a connected pair of cans, volume control is within reach, and the reactive lighting effect - while a little limited - can be a more practical solution over sticking expensive LED strips to your monitor.

But the best feature has to be audio mixing. Rather than switching between sources and limiting yourself to just one, the Steelseries Arena 7 pipes absolutely everything through at once. It sounds like a limitation, but it's actual truer flexibility than traditional audio source switching. I hooked my phone up via the subwoofer's 3.5mm jack, my Nintendo Switch via Bluetooth, and my PC via the suggested USB. What resulted was a truly chaotic mix of YouTube, YouTube Music, and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom all coming through the stereo speaker setup at the same time.

What that means is there's little need to rummage around the back of the subwoofer to change out connections if you're running multiple devices via the same desk. Instead, you can leave them all hooked up and just tweak the volume on each to suit switching back and forth. That should also mean you can feasibly use a 3.5mm AUX switcher to hook up even more devices. You won't get crisp digital audio and all its newer bells and whistles that way, but it beats spending magnitudes more on a complicated amplifier setup.

A view of the Steelseries Arena 7 speakers and subwoofer IO.
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The answer

The bottom line is that the Steelseries Arena 7 stereo speaker setup is a feature-rich solution to most domestic gaming setups. The potential main gimmick of its ambient lighting takes a little bit of poking to enable, and it isn't as effective as more focused solutions like the Govee AI Gaming Sync Box Kit, but having it baked into something that already has a space on your desk makes it much easier to manage.

Audio is punchy, clear, and loud, it packs a lot of flexibility for new devices, but having it be built in a way where you could expand it with additional speakers rather than scrap the whole lot any pony up more for the Arena 9 would have made this a no-brainer for students anticipating moving out of their dorms and into their first adult domicile.

Steelseries Arena 7
Aside from the inability to expand the setup to become its bigger brother over time, the Steelseries Arena 7 is a solid sound solution with clear audio, a relatively small footprint for the punch, and fantastic flexibility paired with modern reactive lighting flair.
9 out of 10
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