I have a confession: I’ve been using the same desktop speakers for nearly 20 years. This set of budget Logitech speakers have, miraculously, served me well since 2004. When I started testing SteelSeries’ new Arena 7 speakers, they had an almost unfair hurdle to clear.
They impressed me enough to consider permanently upgrading, which is high praise, considering the near-archeological significance of my Logitechs.
The Arena 7 speaker system is the middle 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 control 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 backlights and a substantial 6.5-inch subwoofer for the low end. You can connect the system via USB-C, optical audio, 3.5 mm, or even Bluetooth. This gives you a surprisingly wide range of options for desktop speakers. I’ve used them as the 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 latter use case is surprisingly convenient. When paired via Bluetooth, the audio signal will mix with whatever is coming through the desktop/console. So, for example, you don’t have to choose between playing music via your phone while you’re up and about and hearing a ping from your boss on Slack.
The speakers themselves are squat, bulgy little guys, connected to the subwoofer by decently thick cables. (On the Arena 9, the rear speakers are wireless.) On the right speaker, you’ll find a volume knob, as well as a multi-function button that can be used for muting or pairing Bluetooth devices.
As I mentioned above, my bar for desktop speakers has not been particularly high. When I need to edit videos or just want to get really good sound from a movie, I’ll pull out a set of headphones that are technically capable of much better sound. But the desktop speakers don’t need 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.