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Best Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets
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 May 12, 2022, to include the Astro A20, expand the Notable mentions section, and to add in-line FAQs.
Why is the SteelSeries Arctis 9X 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.
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 SteelSeries Arctis 7+ Wireless is a newer gaming headset with some of the best battery life that we’ve tested at 71 hours, 42 minutes. You don’t get Xbox Wireless support with the Arctis 7+ as you do with the Arctis 9X, but you can plug it into your Xbox controller’s headphone jack and still take advantage of the Xbox’s built-in surround sound. We highly recommend the Arctis 7+ to multi-platform gamers because it works just about anywhere, is very comfortable, and is feature-packed.
The Razer Kaira Wireless brings high performance for a low budget
Razer is well-known for its gaming headsets and the Kaira Wireless from Razer 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.
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.
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.
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 as some of the best gaming earbuds available.
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.
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.
The HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless looks very similar to the Cloud Alpha but it can only connect to your console via wireless connection. While we recommend the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless to PlayStation, Switch, and PC gamers for its best-in-class battery life (327 hours) and good isolation, it won’t work with the Xbox Series X/S.
Should you buy the Astro A20 (Gen 2) for Xbox?
While most wireless Xbox headsets work exclusively with PC and Xbox, the Astro A20 (Gen 2) is unique because you can purchase a separate wireless adapter for PlayStation consoles. This extra adapter will cost you another $20 USD, but for Xbox gamers who want the option to use the headset on PlayStation, it’s a worthwhile expense. The default frequency response from the second-gen A20 headset is pretty good, though with more treble emphasis than our house curve recommends. This kind of sound can be to your benefit in game, because it makes it easier to hear delicate noises like nearby footsteps. You can cycle through three EQ profiles, but they don’t make a huge difference in sound quality and we would have preferred Astro giving gamers the option to create a custom EQ instead.
This headset is very comfortable but overall, a pretty plain pick. If you only have $120 USD to spend and game on more than just Xbox, there are better values available.
The best Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets: Notable mentions
- Beyerdynamic MMX 100: This is a wired gaming headset that includes a 1.2-meter 3.5mm cable and a 2.4-meter PC cable. It lacks bass compared to other gaming headsets but this shouldn’t be to your detriment since game audio engineers typically mix explosions and gunfire to be the loudest sounds anyway. The microphone is very good for a $100 USD headset.
- HyperX Cloud Core: This basic gaming headset plugs directly into your Xbox controller’s 3.5mm input, and there’s nothing too fancy about it. Our favorite feature: the $34 USD price.
- EPOS H3PRO Hybrid: If you’re a multi-platform gamer, the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid works everywhere and brings tons of features. It can only connect to Xbox via 3.5mm, but it sounds great, it’s comfortable, and it has ANC. Plus it supports Bluetooth and USB wireless audio to other platforms.
- 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.
- Razer Kraken X: This very cheap wired gaming headset is a great option for listeners who just want to a plug-and-play experience. Because the only way to connect is via 3.5mm TRRS plug, you can use this headset just about anywhere.
Hold up! Something’s different:
Some of our picks’ and notable mentions’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
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.
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.
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.