Xbox Wireless Headset: Two Minute Review
The Xbox Wireless Headset is a sensational option from Microsoft that every Xbox gamer should buy. Provides a flawless wireless connection backed by highly impressive audio and key quality of life features.
Normally we would expect to pay three times as much to experience this kind of sound quality, especially from a wireless headset, although there is a caveat to be aware of. To get the most out of these headphones, you’ll need to spend time adjusting the EQ in the Xbox Accessories app to dial in exactly how you want them to sound. That’s a good thing, because everyone hears sound differently and has preferences when it comes to bass, mids and highs.
We are also very happy that Microsoft has added a good microphone to the Xbox Wireless Headset. You’re likely to get a richer, slightly fuller tone from the boom mics found on competing headphones, for sure. But the Xbox Wireless Headset’s mic sounds great, with clever tech like auto-mute to eliminate background noise when you’re not speaking.
The overall design of the headset is fantastic too, with a premium feel that completely belies the cheaper price Microsoft has managed to achieve. Simply put, if you’re looking for a wireless gaming headset for your new Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console, or even if you’re a PC gamer, the Xbox Wireless Headset is as good as it gets.
Xbox wireless headset: price and release date
The Xbox Wireless Headset costs $99.99 / £89.99 / AU$149.95 and became available on March 16, 2021.
It’s competitively priced for a wireless headset and undercuts that of the SteelSeries Arctis 9x while offering the same desirable features like Bluetooth support and a top-quality microphone. Compared to that and other more expensive headsets, such as the Fnatic React Plus, it would be hard to justify other premium options.
Xbox Wireless Headset: Design
Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless Headset mirrors the design language of the Xbox Series X to an impressive degree.
The all-black design is embellished with tasteful touches like the thin green rings that surround the outside of each ear cup and the Xbox logo embossed on the right side. The insides of the earcups, which are conveniently marked with large letters ‘L’ and ‘R’, also have a faint green tint that seeps through the mesh, as the drivers are also coated in Xbox’s familiar branding colour.
By powering up the headset, by pressing the light green power button on the left side, you’ll be greeted with the familiar Xbox Series X startup sound. You’ll also get audio cues that Xbox owners will instantly recognize when you turn them off, mute the microphone, or pair the headset.
Adjusting the volume or balancing game and voice chat is nothing short of a pleasure on the Xbox Wireless Headset thanks to the rubber dials we’ve seen in another audio product from Microsoft, the Microsoft Surface Headphones. You just twist the left or right rubber earcup dial to adjust volume or chat to your liking, and it’s super easy to make incremental adjustments.
Despite being a largely plastic design, the Xbox Wireless Headset feels built to last and the materials used give it a real premium feel that belies the $100 price tag that Microsoft has somehow managed to reaches. The Xbox Wireless Headset didn’t creak during our testing, and the overall clamping force was more than fair enough to ensure a comfortable fit.
With a weight of 312 g, the headset is also light enough that you won’t feel it pressing on your head after hours of playing. You can also crank up the volume comfortably thanks to the headset’s 32 Ohm impedance, and the 20Hz – 20kHz speaker response should mean no audio detail missed that you’re used to in your favorite games.
While it won’t suit everyone, one minor quibble we have against the Xbox Wireless Headset is that the earcups can be a little too small for those with larger heads and ears. They’re not uncomfortable at all – the oval ear cushions are made of polyurethane leather and have foam padding, but we did notice that this reviewer’s particularly large ears would feel a little sensitive after a few hours.
Xbox Wireless Headset: Audio Performance
When we first put on the Xbox Wireless Headset, we were impressed and equally concerned by its bass-heavy sound signature. If you’re someone who likes nothing more than a rock-hard bass line, the Xbox Wireless Headset won’t disappoint. It delivers truly incredible bass response – and there were times when we felt like we had our ears pressed against a DJ’s subwoofer.
Seriously, these are fantastic at delivering that low-end sound that so many people crave and enjoy. There’s even a bass boost option that goes up to +12, which frankly seems downright excessive considering how low these headphones can go.
But while that’s all well and good, having purely bass-driven headphones isn’t ideal if you’re playing competitive shooters or even more cinematic single-player experiences. Too much bass can overpower and obscure the other frequencies that are just as important, leaving you with a muffled sound that you won’t enjoy in online multiplayer games.
Fortunately, Microsoft has designed the Xbox Wireless Headset to be suitable for everyone, as you can adjust the sound to your liking. When you go to the Xbox Accessories app, you can choose from a selection of equalizers, including Game, Movie, Music, and Speech. And while neither was quite right for this reviewer, there’s also an option to tweak six EQ levels to your liking. This is where the Xbox Wireless Headset really comes into its own.
We’re used to a flatter soundstage in general, so we turned to the Xbox Accessories app to crank the bass back to a point where it could still deliver a satisfying thump, but doesn’t cannibalize every other frequency as a result. We also wanted to be able to hear voices a little more clearly. After some careful tweaking in our testing, we got a sound signature that ticked every box and sounded great no matter what we did: whether it was listening to music, playing our favorite games, or just watching videos on YouTube.
These cans also sound wonderful when using spatial audio like Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos. If you don’t own Dolby Atmos, simply plugging in the Xbox Wireless Headset gets you six months of free access, so there’s no excuse not to experiment with the wonders of spatial audio. Despite being closed headphones with great noise isolation, we were pleased with how clear and detailed the best Dolby Atmos Xbox Series X games sounded. The sound never felt too closed in, with a soundstage wide enough to provide a compelling 360-degree audio effect.
We can’t underestimate just how captivating the audio quality of these headphones is once you’ve fiddled with the EQ settings. It’s amazing to think you can get this kind of audio performance for less than $100, and Microsoft deserves a lot of credit for adding a pair of 40mm drivers that are so responsive to user changes. After all, EQs aren’t new, but we’ve often found that some headsets can’t really be adjusted to produce positive results no matter how much we play with certain levels. The Xbox Wireless Headset is extremely malleable in this regard, and it pays off immensely.
Good audio will always be subjective due to the nature of our ears, age and ability to hear certain frequencies. It’s a relief, then, that Microsoft hasn’t taken a “one sound fits all” type of sound that some manufacturers opt for and given us an incredible foundation to discover what sounds best. The Xbox Wireless Headset may be improved in the future thanks to the ability to receive updates over the air.
Xbox Wireless Headset: microphone quality and wireless connectivity
Xbox, do more
Microsoft’s wireless headset not only nails the audio quality and microphone, but also comes with a number of desirable features usually reserved for more expensive headphones. Microphone monitoring can be turned on to help you hear your own voice more clearly when communicating, although it’s not quite as loud as we’d like. You can also connect to a Bluetooth device and your Xbox: this means you can listen to your favorite podcast or chat on Discord while playing Xbox games.
The Xbox Wireless Headset microphone adopts a unique design that works admirably. Instead of opting for a detachable or retractable boom mic, the mic simply pulls down and can be tucked away when not in use. It sits a few inches off the left side of your face, but still does a great job of picking up your voice clearly thanks to Microsoft’s voice isolation technology.
A white indicator light is present when the microphone is active, so you know whether or not you are broadcasting to the world. The mute button is located on the end of the microphone housing, which is easy to find with your left thumb. Clicking it also gives you a handy audio notification, so you can be doubly sure that your microphone is off.
The microphone also has a smart auto-mute function that works surprisingly well. The microphone tries to block out persistent background noise, such as that of an air conditioner. We found the Xbox Wireless Headset on the high setting did a great job of isolating the music we were playing from our phone as soon as we stopped talking.
Thankfully, we didn’t experience any drops or disconnects when using the Xbox Wireless Headset. Battery life was also more than decent, lasting between 12 and 15 hours on a single charge in our testing. It takes three hours to fully charge the headset, but you can get four hours of power from a 30-minute charge, which is handy to say the least.