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Xbox Wireless Headset
A new generation of consoles means a new generation of official accessories. We saw it on the Sony side with the PlayStation Pulse 3D Wireless Headset, and now Microsoft is getting in on the action. The Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset has a straightforward name and simple premise: it’s a gaming headset that uses Xbox Wireless.
However, a lot of gaming headsets use Xbox Wireless—is this one somehow a better buy?
Editor’s note: This review was updated on January 6, 2022 to include additional alternative recommendations.
Who is the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset for?
- Gamers who own Xbox consoles, duh.
- People who need a headset that works wirelessly on multiple platforms.
What is the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset like?
If gaming headsets that use Xbox Wireless have any one thing in common, it’s that, on top of being easy to use with an Xbox, they’re a pain to use on other platforms like PC. In this regard, the Xbox Wireless Headset might be the best headset yet to use this connection method—for a couple reasons.
This is a wireless gaming headset built for the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. It’s a little on the heavy side for an all-plastic headset at 310g, but it’s not so heavy that it causes problems. The Xbox Wireless Headset is pretty comfortable, but it doesn’t necessarily start out that way. The ear pads are thick, and covered in soft leatherette, which makes for a decent seal, but the headband is very tight. The first time I used it, the tension gave me a slight headache after an hour or two. After a few days of consistent use, it either loosened or my head got used to it, and the discomfort went away—regardless, expect a breaking-in period if you have a slightly larger noggin.
However, getting used to using the headset doesn’t require anywhere near the same adjustment period as wearing it. If you have your Xbox Wireless dongle or Xbox turned on, the headset will automatically pair without issue. It also features a slew of onboard controls, which are very easy to get the hang of.
The circular side panels of the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset function as knobs to control game/chat balance and headphone volume, and the headset also features buttons for pairing and muting the microphone along the bottom edge of the left headphone. It’s all spaced out quite well, and the two buttons feel very different, so you’re unlikely to accidentally click the wrong one. The microphone isn’t very adjustable, but it picks up sound cleanly without any fiddling.
Additionally, if you’re playing on PC, this headset supports an app. The Xbox Accessories app is meant to help with settings for using the Xbox controller with a PC, but it also offers a limited array of features for the Xbox Wireless Headset. You can use the app to switch between EQ presets, adjust mic monitoring volume, and even check the battery level. The game/chat balance feature doesn’t work very well on PC, but this headset still offers a far better experience than other Xbox-oriented gaming headsets like the Razer Kaira Wireless and LucidSound LS50X.
How does Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset connect?
Like other Xbox Wireless devices, the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset is built primarily to connect to Xbox consoles without a dongle via the Xbox Wireless connection standard. All you have to do is pair with your console, and you’re off to the races—just like hooking up a controller. However, if you’re a PC gamer, and you’ve decided this is the headset for you, you’ll have to buy an Xbox Wireless Adapter, which runs for around $25 USD. This has been the status quo for a long time now, but it’s still ridiculous to need to spend that much more money just to let your headset work wirelessly on your computer.
However, this Xbox gaming headset is a little less hamstrung by its connection method than most, offering a few alternative options if you don’t want to pay the dongle toll. For starters, the headset supports wired audio via its USB-C port, so you can plug it into your PC to charge and continue to use it. The headset also supports Bluetooth connections, using the 4.2 firmware—it only supports the SBC codec, so you won’t high-quality audio on any platform, but it’ll do in a pinch.
How is the battery?
According to Microsoft, the Xbox Wireless Headset can last up to 15 hours on a single charge, but in our testing it far exceeds that. At a consistent output of ~75dB(SPL), this headset lasted 19 hours, 18 minutes—not nearly the longest life on the market, but nothing to sneeze at. However, this is one of the few gaming headsets that can transmit wired audio through its USB-C charging cable, so you keep playing as long as a USB slot is nearby, even if you have to give up the slot the Xbox Wireless adapter was taking on your PC.
How is gaming with the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset?
Connection foibles aside, the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset offers a pretty solid experience. Once you’ve sufficiently broken in the headset, it’s comfortable enough for long gaming sessions, though still pretty tight. The headset’s big volume knob makes adjusting your audio on the fly a cinch, which is great if you’re doing something you can’t pause.
The headset handles the mix of orchestral music and hectic in-game sound of Final Fantasy XIV on PC without any issue, and everything comes through similarly clearly playing a shooter like Apex Legends. The headset doesn’t offer much in the way of bells and whistles, but it supports Windows Sonic surround sound, which as well here as anywhere else.
How does the Xbox Wireless Headset sound?
The Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset offers pretty average audio for a gaming headset, with largely accurate high range sound and dramatically boosted bass and mid-range audio. The increased mid-range output means nobody’s voice will struggle to come through, but you may that high-range sounds are occasionally pretty hard to hear in bass-heavy moments.
In the King Crimson classic 21st Century Schizoid Man, the bass guitar and saxophone that plays when the song shifts into a faster tempo almost completely drowns out the guitar, which isn’t exactly a background instrument. In songs with less prominent low-end sound, you shouldn’t have as much issue though.
In game, frequency responses like this make the rumble of explosions and gunfire considerably louder than they otherwise would be. The higher, more piercing elements in those sounds should still come through clearly though. This increased mid-range response should ensure dialogue or players over voice chat don’t get totally lost amid the din of battle. Basically, you shouldn’t have any issues most of the time, but you might find it a little hard to differentiate between sounds when things get really hectic.
This headset offers isolation pretty much average isolation for a gaming headset. It’s not incredible, but it also probably doesn’t really need to be. Attenuation like this should help with the whirr of a fridge or an upstairs neighbor’s heavy footfalls, but not much more than that.
How is the microphone?
The Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset actually features a decently accurate microphone for a gaming headset. It still de-emphasizes bass range sound, but not nearly as much as most gaming headset microphones. You shouldn’t have any trouble coming through loud and clear over a call, regardless of how deep your voice is. Listen for yourself:
How does the microphone sound to you?
You may also like: A guide to microphone etiquette
Should you buy the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset?
If you’re just gaming on an Xbox, you might like the Xbox Wireless Headset. If you need something for more than one platform, keep looking.
The Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset is a good gaming headset. Its microphone is solid, it’s well-built, and it’s easy to use. The added bass emphasis is a little much, but still not outside the norm for a gaming headset. It still looks like a gaming headset, but avoids a lot of the gaudier design elements typical of the product category, which means with won’t stick out in a work Zoom call. Additionally, with the integration of the Xbox Accessories App, this is also the best multi-platform gaming headset that uses an Xbox Wireless connection—especially since you can use a USB-C cord instead of the Xbox Wireless dongle.
What should you get instead?
However, being the best Xbox Wireless gaming headset to work on other platforms isn’t exactly a high bar compared to all the headsets that don’t use that connection standard. There are plenty of wired and wireless headsets that work on Xbox and other platforms without an issue—you just need to be okay with plugging in a cord or a dongle. The Xbox variant of the SteelSeries Arctis 7P, the Arctis 7X, brings a USB-C dongle that works pretty much everywhere, including PC, mobile, and Nintendo Switch. The Razer Thresher Ultimate also has a non-Xbox Wireless version, which works a little more smoothly on PC.
On the wired side, pretty much anything that uses 3.5mm will work well across platforms. Headsets like the Razer BlackShark V2 and HyperX Cloud Alpha work everywhere (including Xbox Series X/S) and are better in almost every way—you won’t even need to recharge these ones.
Additionally, while the Xbox Wireless Headset is one of the best multi-platform gaming headsets to use Xbox Wireless, it’s not exactly the best single-platform headset to use Xbox Wireless. The Razer Kaira Pro and SteelSeries Arctis 9 (there’s a specific Xbox version) both offer better audio, microphone, battery life, and Bluetooth experiences, and they’re both very comfortable. The HyperX CloudX Stinger Core also checks most of those boxes (minus the Bluetooth)—plus it’s under $100 USD. Of course, these headsets also require an Xbox Wireless dongle to work wireless on PC, which isn’t great.
If you’re set on the official audio source for your gaming platform, this will do the job just fine—it’s a better gaming headset than the PlayStation 5’s Pulse 3D headset, for whatever that’s worth. However, outside of that example, the Xbox Wireless Headset struggles to keep up with most of the great options out there.
Frequently asked questions
Much like a lot of new-generation gaming gear, the Xbox Wireless Headset has been on sale for a little while, but it sells out very quickly. Unfortunately, SoundGuys doesn’t have any control over availability or insight into when it may come back in stock.