I have a confession: I’ve been using the same desktop speakers for almost 20 years. This set of inexpensive Logitech speakers has served me wonderfully since 2004. When I started testing SteelSeries’ new Arena 7 speakers, they had to overcome an almost unfair hurdle.
They impressed me enough to permanently upgrade, which is high praise given the near-archaeological significance of my Logitechs.
The Arena 7 speaker system is the mid-range option of SteelSeries’ new desktop speaker line. The Arena 3 is a simple stereo set, while the Arena 9 comes with 5.1 surround sound, a dedicated volume knob accessory and RGB LEDs on the two front speakers. The Arena 7 I tested is a bit of a hybrid of both.
The set comes with two speakers equipped with RGB LED backlighting and a hefty 6.5-inch subwoofer for the bass. You can connect the system via USB-C, optical audio, 3.5mm or even Bluetooth. This gives you a surprising number of options for desktop speakers. I’ve been using them as primary speakers on my desk for the past few weeks, but I’ve also occasionally used them to play audio directly from my phone.
This last use case is surprisingly useful. When paired via Bluetooth, the audio signal will mix with what comes through the desktop/console. For example, you don’t have to choose between playing music on your phone while you’re on the road and hearing a ping from your boss on Slack.
The speakers themselves are squat, bulging little guys, connected to the subwoofer by pretty thick cables. (On the Arena 9, the rear speakers are wireless.) On the right speaker, you’ll find a volume rocker, as well as a multifunction button that can be used to mute or pair Bluetooth devices.
As I mentioned above, my bar for desktop speakers hasn’t been set particularly high. When I need to edit videos or just get really good sound out of a movie, I pull out a pair of headphones that are technically capable of much better sound. But the desktop speakers don’t have to be the best in the world. My Logitech X-530 speakers weren’t that impressive even when they came out, but for $80 they offered impressively rich sound on a budget.