SteelSeries Arena 9 Surround Speakers review: Mindblowing immersive sound

My first “surround sound” speaker system experience was when I was in college. I remember the days of saving up for a decent Soundblaster audio card for my PC so I could plug in all the necessary cords direct to my computer. Wires ran all throughout my tiny apartment room so I could run the speakers to my backwall. It was classic bachelorhood. I still reminisce with fond memories of playing No One Lives Forever with surround, I am glad times have changed. Why? Companies like Steelseries put my old tech to shame. The Steelseries Arena 9 Gaming Speaker System (5.1 Surround) blow my mind compared to my rinky-dink speakers back then.

What’s in the box

It’s so tempting to just put the word “everything” in this paragraph. While the statement would be true, it wouldn’t do the speakers justice. In simple terms, there are five speakers and one sub-woofer. More specifically, as this is a 5.1 surround system, there is a front left, center, front right, rear left, and rear right speaker – then the sub. These speakers are much larger than I anticipated, and they take up a good chunk of space on my desk. Keep in mind there is a center channel speaker, so I now have three on my desk, but I happened to be using two larger bookshelf speakers before, so the new additions aren’t too overwhelming.

Additionally, Steelseries includes a control pod for easy access to controlling the volume, muting, 5.1 upmix, headset toggling, LED controls, Bluetooth pairing, audio customization, and system functions. Of course, a power cable for the front speakers, and a power adapter for the rear speakers, and a USB cable are included as well.


Obviously, there is a lot to pick out from the box and believe me when I saw the size of the box show up at my door, I was more than a little surprised. Believe me though, the goodness inside is so worth it. Considering how much is in the box you might be thinking setup sounds overwhelming. It couldn’t be simpler.

I take out one piece at a time and put it where I’m going to want it. Each speaker is conveniently labeled, so I put everything in its place before hooking up any cables. After that, it’s as easy as plug and play. The sub-woofer takes all front connectivity and is the hub that outputs to the PC as well. Therefore, the USB cable runs from the Sub to the PC which is super convenient from a cord wrangling perspective.

Again, since the sub takes the majority of the cables, (Rear speakers are wireless for the most part – more on this later) I don’t have a ton of clutter as I expected. Yes, it is still a lot of wires, but they are all running to one place and it’s on the floor under my desk. Cable maintenance really isn’t an issue which is a big win here.

As for the rear speakers, they connect easily, but I didn’t realize I was going to need a separate plug available to power them up. Though it may be a hassle, it would be sweet if there were some type of battery powered option for the rear speakers. It works out as I have an outlet behind me. Some buyers may need to keep this in mind before taking the leap here. The rear speakers need to connect to each other with a cable. This can be unsightly if you don’t have a great space for hiding the connecting cable or the power cable. If I were giving grades out – front side connectivity would get an A while rear connectivity is a C.

My PC recognizes the Arena 9 speakers immediately, and I already have the SteelSeries GG software for additional sound options.


Now, the magic happens. I boot up Apex and I’m immediately transferred into the game. It’s a beautiful feeling to feel transported into the environment and sound plays a pivotal role in achieving this. Gunshots crack and ring out over my rear left shoulder, and the sound accurately portrays this. I quickly slide behind some rocks after taking minor damage and boost my shields. I listen intently to the footsteps approaching around the rock. They get louder and louder until at last, my adversary appears from behind the rock. An intense gunfight breaks out and I’m mercilessly downed and finished. I’m terrible at this game.

Prior to having the SteelSeries Arena 9 speakers, I likely would have been slaughtered before taking cover. The sound allows me to determine exactly where my opponents lie when they make any sound. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Diablo 4 Season 4 is a wild experience as well. I get chills from the intense music and horrific sounds that alert me to the presence of demons I confront.

Each game brings its own distinct sounds, and the Arena 9 speakers do an insanely incredible job of bringing out the thunder in thunderous roars and explosions. The 6.5″ down-firing sub pumps out incredible bass while the speakers keep highs in check. All in all, the levels feel so well-balanced. I have to keep going back for more. There is no question – these are the best gaming speakers out on the market, and the quality is top notch.


SteelSeries didn’t just put out a nice set of speakers. They include a few additional features that help create a better ambiance to any gaming session. The specific feature I love the most is the RGB lighting and ambient response to what’s going on in gameplay. With Reacive PrismSync RGB active, the RGB Lighting on the back of the speakers make games come alive. The lighting reacts to what’s on the screen and sound in the game. What is better? This pairs nicely with the SteelSeries Mousepad and other RGB products offered by the company.

This feature only further immerses gamers into their world. Kudos to SteelSeries on an incredible product that takes more than just sound into consideration.


There are days where I just don’t want or need to wear a headset. With the SteelSeries Arena 9 speakers in hand, these end up being my favorite gaming days. These bad boys are truly immersive and an incredible addition to any setup. Whether gaming, listening to music, or watching a movie, the surround sound experience is truly a delight. These products are what make SteelSeries a fan favorite when it comes to all things gaming.

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