Microsoft’s $99 Xbox Wireless Headset isn’t perfect, but it’s an Xbox gaming headset and my best attempt to become an everyday set of wireless headphones that I’ve yet to try. It is compatible with the Xbox wireless protocol, making it easy to pair with your Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S console. It is also compatible with Bluetooth (version 4.2, SBC codec), and even better, it can connect via both protocols at the same time. So, you can answer a call or have the audio from any app mix the sound coming from your phone, tablet, or PC with the sound coming from your Xbox console.
This is far from the first gaming headset to do this, or even performs well. Microsoft’s newest headset is particularly impressive for the number of products that are suitable for $99. Its design fits logically into the company’s headphone lineup. Next to the Series X, you’ll see areas with glossy green details around the earcup dials covered in matte black plastic. The tiny hole in the recess between the faux leather earpads and the dial seems to be there for cosmetic reasons, but it looks fantastic nonetheless.
Crucially, it’s comfortable even if my head size barely pushes the size limit. Two hands are required to adjust the secondary weapon. You don’t have to worry about resizing just by moving it. It would be nice if this model had a bungee-style headband and rotating ear cups like most SteelSeries headsets, but the lack of these features wasn’t the same as a comfort issue here.
In addition to the headset’s appearance, it functions similarly to Surface Headphones, with a rotating dial on the outside of each ear cup to adjust the audio elements. Unlike the company’s premium headphones, there’s no active noise canceling here (which I’m complaining about, but it’s $99), but passive noise cancellation is better than the average for this price. The left dial acts as a chat and game audio mixer, allowing you to tweak your playmates a bit during conversation-heavy cutscenes and vice versa. I am grateful that Microsoft puts it all over the center. The other dial has a volume control. Twist to increase or decrease. It’s nice and simple. You don’t need a button.
The right ear cup has a USB-C port for charging. Microsoft includes a USB-C to USB Type-A cable for charging, but if you connect it to your Windows 10 computer with its own USB-C to USB-C cable, you get all of the same headset features. This is not the case when connected to a non-functional MacBook Pro via a wired connection to the headset. You can still connect to your macOS device and use the headset via Bluetooth.
There are only two buttons on the headset. One is a button to manually mute the bendable microphone (when the microphone is hot, the LED on the inside of the boom mic lights up when the microphone is hot) and another button that acts as an all-in-one. One pairing and power button, both on the left ear cup. Most gaming headsets have to be used over and over for days to fully learn the layout of each button, but this is pretty straightforward. If it served as a multifunctional button to control my device via bluetooth, I would have chosen one more button, but Microsoft has limited the headset to two buttons. There is no way to independently control your phone other than adjusting the volume.
The sound performance of this headset is better than expected. When I listened to Spotify during testing, the music sounded good enough to stick to this headset instead of automatically reaching my Sony 1000XM3. Those who are good at superb sound quality will find it confusing as the sound can sometimes be dull and the sound stage is not as wide as you would find on a more expensive set of headphones. But these are $99 and mean games first. And I am happy with the price.
Jump into the game and boot immediately Doom (2016) In series X. The soundtrack and various hellish sound effects had the right amount of crunch and punch, and while I was playing, I was putting my head on the music. It sounded the way it was originally intended, but the same nitpick that applies to the music applies here. When a lot happens in the mid and high frequencies, the sound can be unclear if you listen carefully. I haven’t noticed that much. Yakuza: like a dragonE.g. This headset can work with Dolby Atmos (Microsoft offers its buyers a trial version of Dolby Atmos and lasts until the end of September) and the DTS:X paid app available for Xbox and PC to enhance the sound. However, for the purposes of this review I have only tested out-of-the-box experiences.
The battery life and range rivals other gaming headsets I’ve tested at this price point. Microsoft asks for 15 hours per charge, and I used both non-replaceable batteries during testing and it lasted that much. I was able to wander around my studio apartment about 25 feet from my Xbox without experiencing dropouts. It started to block when the signal had to go through several walls, but this can be expected. When it comes to charging speed, Microsoft says it can be used for 4 hours on a 30-minute charge, or it can be fully charged in 3 hours. If you’re curious, you can use the Xbox Wireless Headset while charging, but obviously it takes longer to charge.
To understand how this headset handles the connection, first connect the Xbox Wireless Headset to your PC using Microsoft’s USB Wireless Adapter (not included with this headset, but work on the same Xbox wireless protocol as the console) to make music and video calls. Can do it. To pair the headset, you need to press and hold the pairing button for 4 seconds and do the same for the wireless adapter. I had to go through the same process to use it on the Xbox Series X. Unfortunately, the headset couldn’t handle juggling between two previously paired devices using the Xbox wireless protocol, so when moving between PC and Xbox, they had to re-pair manually. I don’t want to overdo this, though. Microsoft’s pairing process for Xbox accessories is very simple. Connecting to a PC via Bluetooth doesn’t matter at all when connecting to a PC (as most people would expect) because the headset can connect to both at the same time.
Anyone who is likely to rely heavily on the ability of simultaneous wireless connectivity would love that this headset automatically lowers the audio streaming of the Xbox Wireless Protocol device when a call comes in so users can hear it. You can only adjust the volume of the Bluetooth device using its own controls, not the headset itself. Cranking the volume with the dial increases the sound on both connected devices.
The level of customization this headset allows is also impressive for the price. You can adjust the equalizer (movies, music, games, bass and voice are presets or you can make your own) and boost the bass through the Xbox Accessories app for Windows 10 or Xbox. It also has an automatic mute function that allows you to mute the noise generated around you. There are three levels (low, medium, high), and Microsoft says that with each step up, it will increase how actively the microphone mutes what is not the user’s voice. During a video call, it seemed to work as intended, even if it wasn’t better than I expected. The other person said that my speech was uninterrupted. It’s something that can happen with these features, and it’s said that what’s happening in the background isn’t noticeable. Of course, the effectiveness of this automatic mute feature may vary depending on your home situation. If you’re skeptical, just hit the mute button to avoid embarrassment.
Two other small but cool features in the Xbox Accessories app allow you to adjust the brightness of the mute light so you can easily see it in your surroundings. You can also customize the level of microphone monitoring or the amount of external sound supplied through the microphone.
So far, the $150 Razer Kaira Pro has been an Xbox-only headset that I told people to buy because it’s comfortable, and it supports Bluetooth in addition to the Xbox wireless protocol. Microsoft’s new Xbox wireless headset is far ahead of this model in terms of design, ease of use, and functionality, all of which comes in a cheaper package.
If you compare it with Sony for how well Microsoft designed a headset to match the latest consoles-it will be inevitable-this surpasses the Pulse 3D even at the same price. Sony’s model is comfortable and looks equally nice next to the console, with a 3.5mm headphone jack and 3D audio support on the court. However, it is difficult to compete with the Bluetooth support and button light design built into Microsoft models. It would have been nice if a USB dongle was included to support more devices like the Nintendo Switch. However, by design, it cannot be connected to other game consoles. Microsoft keeps this in the family. Still, family members are treated as well.
Photo from Cameron Faulkner / The Verge
Fix: The Xbox Wireless Headset can be used for 4 hours on a 30-minute charge. This review erroneously explained that a 15 minute charge gives you 3 hours of use. Sorry for this error.