Xbox Wireless Headset
Gaming Headset (Wireless)
There are so many players in the gaming audio scene - specifically around headsets - that something official might easily get overlooked on the account of a “hey you, leave the audio stuff for the audio people” way of thinking. Of course this isn’t to say that something official or branded can’t be great. The recent news
and the Xbox
team were stepping into the audio ring with a new and official Xbox Wireless Headset
was met with nothing but positivity on the account of the price-point and the promised features it would bring.
$150 AUD for a wireless gaming headset that also offers up PC and mobile support thanks to Bluetooth integration, a long lasting battery, seamless pairing with an Xbox console, and surround sound bolstered by some of the biggest players in the virtual space like Dolby Atmos
and DTS Headphone:X
. On top of that a sturdy and comfortable design that carries with it the sort of look that’s in step with the latest in Xbox hardware -- the Xbox Series X
Bringing it all back to the price-point, it positions this new headset as just about sitting in a class all its own. Affordable, great sound, excellent features, great build quality, comfortable. Wireless.
At least that’s the idea.
When targeting a specific price-point there are of course trade-offs that are made. For those expecting Microsoft to simply go all out and undercut the competition with a premium audiophile-grade wireless offering for around half the price as the competition, well, that’s not the case. What you end up finding with the first official Xbox Wireless Headset is a series of trade-offs like the lack of a 3.5mm option or a packed-in wireless dongle for desktop PC connectivity. In addition to this the included USB-C cable is too short for any sort of play-and-charge action. That said a 30 minute charge offers up hours of gaming.
For those expecting Microsoft to simply go all out and undercut the competition with a premium audiophile-grade wireless offering for around half the price as the competition, well, that’s not the case.
When factoring in the price these omissions are understandable, but more so when taking into account the broader Xbox picture. With Xbox Game Pass
available (or soon to be) on Android devices the world over, having Bluetooth functionality here makes sense. And when Xbox Accessories App
settings carry over from device to device -- as does the ability to sync to both mobile and a physical Xbox Series X console at the same time -- the Xbox Wireless Headset lives up to its namesake. Something for Xbox.
Frequency response: 20 - 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ohm
Cable Length: USB-C charging 14-inches
Surround Support: Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone:X
In terms of hardware the out-of-the-box sound is the sort of bass-heavy response you find in the more affordable side of the gaming audio spectrum, which does impact the clarity and the impact of the rest of the frequency range. It’s here, even after messing about with equalisers and profiles, where the Xbox Wireless Headset features sound best described as good for the price point -- if a little flat. And in some cases, which we’ll dive into a bit later on, impressive.
Outside of the core audio response the Xbox Wireless Headset is again, all Xbox. Which, sounds a little redundant but it highlights the lack of true versatility - device wise - with Microsoft’s offering. Not that the intended use is to connect this up to a competing console, but the lack of a 3.5mm option or a dedicated PC-dongle paired with the not that great Bluetooth performance keep this as something you’d only really use with an actual Xbox console out of the box. Again, redundant -- but when connected to an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, the Xbox Wireless Headset begins to shine.
Design and Comfort
In terms of the features that we all look for in a headset, comfort is right up there -- and on that front the Xbox Wireless Headset is commendable. From the uniformly solid build quality to the comfortable polyurethane leather cups to the headband, Microsoft has gone one step further by making volume and chat-mix adjustment as easy as turning the ear cups themselves. As the ear cups are basically big volume dials.
Setup is also particularly easy and as simple as connecting up a controller for the first time. All of this comes together in a sleek and stylish look that is as minimal as the Xbox Series X console itself -- with Xbox green accents used sparingly. And, no RGB action in sight. Battery life is around 15-hours too, with around 4-hours on offer after a quick 30-minute charge. No doubt Microsoft’s design philosophy here was all about ease of use and ease of play. No fuss, just straight wireless gaming.
Problems do arise on the PC front though, as the Bluetooth codec isn’t all that great latency or quality-wise -- making the ‘sold separately’ Xbox Wireless Adaptor something of a necessity if you plan on hooking the Xbox Wireless Headset up to a desktop PC. Unfortunately this applies to the mobile side too where doubling as a pair of Bluetooth headphones isn’t a strong suit.
Tested across a range of titles on the Xbox Series X -- from Immortals Fenyx Rising
to Gears 5
to DOOM Eternal
and even the recent indie release Narita Boy
-- the Xbox Wireless Headset comes into its own when playing with surround sound enabled.
In terms of the features that we all look for in a headset, comfort is right up there -- and on that front the Xbox Wireless Headset is commendable.
As the default sound profile is unbalanced and bass-heavy, messing about with settings to find a nice mix between punchy and crisp is a must -- but once that’s sorted the end result is pretty impressive for the price-point. Virtual surround isn’t quite up to the spatial clarity you can find in premium offerings but it’s a solid effort. Chat quality is good too, and once you get in the swing of using the big dials to adjust both volume and chat mix the Xbox Wireless Adaptor begins to feel like an integral part of your Xbox setup.
And really it’s when playing DOOM Eternal where the Xbox Wireless Headset offered up the sort of immediate feedback you want in a gaming headset. A thumping and engaging soundtrack coupled with some of the best straight-up sound design you’re likely to hear. But, even here making adjustments to the EQ was required, and really, having to do that at all erodes a little bit of the plug-and-play simplicity that the Xbox Wireless Headset offers.
In the end this is a great option for those looking for a dedicated headset for Xbox console gaming -- with PC requiring a separate adaptor and mobile performance being average.