Finding the right gaming headset can be tricky—not as tricky as tracking down an Xbox Series X/S, mind you, but there are a lot of things to think about when you’re shopping around. The console’s relative audio exclusivity means you may end up needing a dedicated Xbox Series X/S gaming headset, but if you don’t mind plugging in your headset that’s something you can definitely avoid.
Editor’s note: this post was updated on September 28, 2021 to include the JBL Quantum 50.
Ditch the cables: Best wireless Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets
What you should know about Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets
If you’re upgrading from the Xbox One, the first thing you should know is that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S have identical audio capabilities to the Xbox One. The new consoles support wireless audio connections over Xbox Wireless and the occasional USB dongle, but if a headset connects with anything other than the 3.5mm jack on the controller, it needs to be made exclusively for this console (PC compatibility is okay, though). Just like before, this means multi-console gamers may need to have separate gaming headsets: one for their Xbox, and one for everything else.
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The Xbox Series X/S doesn’t have a brand new audio processor like the Sony PlayStation 5, but it supports three different virtual surround sound options. Windows Sonic is the default spatial audio standard for all Microsoft platforms, including Windows, and it works with any stereo headset, whether you’re connected over Xbox Wireless or 3.5mm. Additionally, the Xbox Series X/S allows you to download apps for DTS Headphone: X and Dolby Atmos for Headphones, two premium spatial audio standards made by third parties. Both these standards can work with compatible headsets, but they’ll require a separate subscription if your new headset doesn’t grant access for a period of time.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X is still one of the best Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets
When the SteelSeries Arctis 9X first came out, it was one of the earliest gaming headsets to use Xbox Wireless. And when we reviewed the multiplatform version of the headset, we loved its ability to connect to your gaming platform and your Bluetooth devices simultaneously—that’s also an option with the Arctis 9X.
SteelSeries Arctis 9XFull Review
On top of the smooth wireless experience, this headset sports the same excellent chassis as other higher-end Arctis gaming headsets. Its aluminum frame is lightweight, and its ski-goggle-like suspension headband is super comfortable. The headset’s ear pads are covered in a proprietary mesh fabric that manages heat very well, too.
For around $200 USD, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X brings you almost 20 hours of battery life, great sound, and a decent mic, and it’s comfortable enough for extra-long gaming sessions. Add in the dongle-free wireless connectivity, and you get plenty of features with this Xbox Series X/S gaming headset.
The Razer Kaira Wireless brings high performance for a low budget
One of Razer’s newest gaming headsets, the Kaira Wireless is the cheaper of two Kaira gaming headsets (alongside the Kaira Pro). While the Kaira Pro brings Bluetooth support, it’s still pretty much a single platform gaming headset, especially given its poor PC compatibility. The Razer Kaira Wireless is similarly limited, but it’s also a cheaper, more focused device.
Razer Kaira WirelessFull Review
For $99 USD, you get a Xbox Series X/S gaming headset that connects using Xbox Wireless and brings more than 21 hours of battery life, accurate audio, and a great-sounding microphone. There’s not much more to it than that—the Razer Kaira Wireless is a comfortable, straightforward gaming headset. This won’t break the bank if you’re staring down the barrel of multiple headset purchases for different platforms.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7X is a great option for all-day comfort
SteelSeries’ next-gen refresh of the Arctis 7 is a real contender, whether you’re looking at the Xbox or Playstation variant. The SteelSeries Arctis 7X is a rarity among recent Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets, in that it doesn’t actually use Xbox Wireless for its connection.
SteelSeries Arctis 7XFull Review
This gaming headset uses a USB-C dongle to connect wirelessly to your console. While going back to using a dongle may not immediately seem like a positive thing, it opens up a much wider range of compatibility. This is one of the only wireless Xbox gaming headsets to come out in years to support connection to not only Xbox and PC, but also Nintendo Switch and Android smartphones (provided they have a USB-C port). The headset comes with a USB-A adapter, so it’s compatible with the Switch whether it’s docked or undocked.
Related: Best Nintendo Switch gaming headsets
On top of such wide compatibility, the SteelSeries Arctis 7X brings fantastic battery life—the identical PlayStation 5 version clocked in at over 27 hours of playback on a single charge. The headset also brings accurate audio, and a clear and loud microphone, though people with deeper voices may find they come through a little distorted.
The JBL Quantum 50 brings great gaming audio to a pair of earbuds
Whether you wear glasses or you just don’t like the heat and sweat that inevitably builds up over time, if you’re not a fan of over-ear headphones, there aren’t a lot of gaming headset options out there for you. That’s where the JBL Quantum 50 comes in.
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These 3.5mm wired gaming earbuds will work on any platform with a headphone jack, and they sound good enough to be a solid daily driver option. The Quantum 50 also features decent isolation, and a very comfortable design. Each earbud sports a rubberized disc set back from the ear tip, which nestles into the shape of your ear for a very secure fit.
The in-line microphone is pretty average, but given this is a pair of earbuds, that shouldn’t be terribly surprising. And given the Quantum 50 is only $30 USD, it’s easy to excuse things, given how good the overall package is.
Perennial mainstay the HyperX Cloud Alpha is still a contender
The HyperX Cloud Alpha has existed on more than one of our best gaming headsets lists for years, and there’s a good reason for that: it’s a fantastic, if a little basic, gaming headset. The Cloud Alpha existed years before other gaming companies understood that the best gaming headsets start with a great pair of headphones.
HyperX Cloud AlphaFull Review
This 3.5mm gaming headset is made mainly of metal, sporting the classic HyperX red and black look. Its thick ear pads are covered in leatherette, offering solid isolation. The headset’s audio is accurate pretty much across the frequency spectrum. Its microphone is a little quiet, and under-emphasizes the low end, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble over voice chat.
Basically, this is a reasonably priced headset that absolutely nails the fundamentals, and these days you don’t need much more than that.
Best Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets: Notable mentions
- Razer Kaira Pro: If the Kaira Wireless looked interested, and spending $50 USD more for Bluetooth is attractive, the Razer Kaira Pro is a solid option.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Like all of our best lists and reviews, none of our writers benefit from championing one product over another. We adhere to a strict ethics policy. If we award something, it’s because it’s a good product—simple as that. We subject each product that comes our way to a battery of tests that are appropriate for its specific category.
The gaming headset space, much like many other parts of the audio industry, is rife with exaggerated language and gimmicky features that often don’t add much of anything to your experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the flashy lights and promises of immersive audio and bass so intense it’ll rupture your eardrums (in a good way, somehow), but most of that stuff flat out doesn’t matter. That’s why we review headsets, and why we have lists like this.
When it comes down to it, we don’t just review gaming headsets because I’m passionate about good audio. Most of what I do here at SoundGuys focuses on gaming content, and that’s because I’ve been a gamer my whole life. You name it, I’ve probably played it. I know what kind of audio features are important for different kinds of games, and maybe more importantly: which ones aren’t.