The Xbox Wireless Headset is here, Microsoft’s very first authorities audio device for the Series X and Series S, and it’s wonderful. The £90/$100 headset crams in an amazing quantity of functions and quality for its reasonably cost effective price, and it might be among the only first-party headsets for any system that I’d really advise.
The standout function for me is its multipoint wireless. The XWH features Microsoft’s proprietary Xbox Wireless, permitting a cordless connection without using a dongle, however the headset likewise features Bluetooth 4.2. The cool thing is that you can utilize the headset with your Xbox and your phone all at once, making it simple to listen to music while playing video games, or chat with your mates on Discord while playing a cross-platform title. Of course, having 2 connection techniques offered likewise offers a fantastic degree of versatility – I’m utilizing it now, listening to cooled hip-hop beats in the garden while hammering on a mechanical keyboard, and later on I’ll be utilizing it to play Rocket League and Tetris Effect in the living-room.
The just concern I’ve found after a couple of days of screening is that the headset will cheerfully trigger your Xbox Series X/S each time it’s switched on; sadly I have not found a method to disable this behaviour beyond leaving your house prior to switching on the headset – barely perfect! It’s likewise worth keeping in mind that the headset does not need a dongle for its Xbox connection, which is practical however suggests that you do not have a 2.4GHz USB dongle that might be plugged into a PC or PS5 (more on that later).
Another emphasize are the controls – instead of messing about with little, hard-to-find dials or buttons all packed into a single earcup, Microsoft has actually made each ear cup into a huge volume dial. The left earcup enables you to change the mix in between your Bluetooth and Xbox Wireless sources, while the ideal earcup changes the general volume. The truth that the whole earcup is a control suggests you never ever have a hard time to find the ideal call, and you can dial up or down the volume appropriately even in a the couple of seconds of break you’ll be be granted in a heated Warzone match. Both dials have actually repaired start and end points, instead of turning easily, and the left earcup has a notch in the centre of its rotation, so you get that correct physical feedback that you’re at optimal volume or that you have actually stabilized the 2 audio sources equally, which I enjoy.
The on-ear style offers a percentage of passive sound cancellation and avoids excessive noise from dripping out, however you’ll still know the noise of traffic or your flatmates asking you what you expensive producing supper. The real sound quality is much better than I was anticipating too, with an enhanced low end that’s ideal for playing immersive single-player titles or listening to bassier categories of music. The Xbox Accessories app offers the methods to change the sound recreation, with a half-dozen presets and a custom-made EQ plus an adjustable bass increase function. (I’d advise picking the ‘Music’ profile or rejecting the bass partially for a more neutral profile in the customized EQ setting, however that’s simply me.) The bass is a little flabbier here than on higher-end headsets, however this is absolutely among the best-sounding cordless video gaming headsets I’ve checked listed below $100.
This headset might sound even much better if it supported wired 3.5mm or a higher-quality Bluetooth codec like apt-X, however this would need extra intricacy or extra license charges, respectively, so once again the abilities picked here make good sense. If you’re preparing to utilize the headset on a Windows 10 PC, I’d highly advise getting an Xbox Wireless Adapter (£20/$25) if you do not have one currently, as the 2.4GHz connection sounds better and likewise provides much lower latency; the exact same adapter likewise works to link Xbox controllers to your PC so you might currently have one.
These are stereo earphones out of package, however you have the ability to pick from three surround modes if you choose – Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos or DTS Headphone:X, all of which are offered on Xbox and Windows 10 PCs. Windows Sonic comes complimentary with the Xbox, and Dolby Atmos is offered as a free trial through the Dolby Access app up until September 31st, 2021 (otherwise it’s a £14/$15 purchase after a week-long trial). DTS Headphone:X is offered as a 14-day trial from the DTS Sound Unbound app, which ought to suffice time to inform if they deserve the $20/£17 purchase.
All 3 surround sound modes sounded excellent in my screening, using a little various outcomes depending upon the video game checked – aggravatingly, learning what video games support what formats can be struck or miss out on. Generally speaking, I discovered Dolby Atmos provided the most immersive lead to video games like Gears 5 and Warzone, however DTS Headphone:X led to a somewhat less fatiguing noise. For most competitive video games though, I tend to choose the clearness of basic stereo. The earphones offer affordable imaging in their stereo mode too, making them an excellent option for Call of Duty, Fortnite and other competitive multiplayer titles.
So that’s all reasonable and great for use while gaming, but what about going outside with this thing? Well, the Xbox Wireless Headset definitely looks like a gaming headset, with green circles on each earcup and Xbox branding on one side, but it’s light and comfortable enough that you could use it on the bus without any hardship. The clamping force here is a touch gentler than what I’m used to, so it’s less suitable for active use – say, for working out in the gym or going for a jog, as the headset can slip off easily. The headset is also robust enough that I’d feel comfortable flinging it in a bag for a train journey, but I’d feel a lot more confident doing so if the headset folded flat or came with a carrying case. Still, given the aggressive price point and the gaming focus, it’s easy to understand why these features didn’t make the cut, and the overall comfort levels are excellent.
The Xbox Wireless Headphones charge via USB-C and come with a comically short cable to accomplish this; in my testing the headset lasted for about 13 hours before needing a recharge, with combined Bluetooth and 2.4GHz Xbox Wireless use for most of this. Charging takes around three hours, so you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on battery levels and recharge overnight if you need to. The headset can be turned on or switched into pairing mode by holding down a button on the back of the left earcup.
The microphone quality is reasonable enough too, with the short-but-flexible boom arm curling around the earcup and out of sight when it’s not needed. A longer arm would likely have resulted in clearer speech, but again given the extra cost and complexity of a more advanced design that detaches or retracts into the headset, I’m not adverse to the approach Microsoft’s design team has chosen here. There’s a button on the underside of the mic that allows you to mute it quickly, which engages a small white indicator light near the tip of the mic. This will hopefully prevent those awkward moments when you realise the reason your jokes haven’t been landing with the squad is that no one has been able to actually hear them. Unfortunately for me, I can’t actually see that white light even with the mic arm tilted up, although your mileage may vary. There’s also an auto-mute function, where the mic is deactivated if it doesn’t detect you speaking, to prevent your family conversations being broadcast to your public Call of Duty lobby.
With all things considered, the Xbox Wireless Headset stands out as the best value gaming headset for Xbox, despite some strong competitors. The SteelSeries Arctis 7X provides a more comfortable “ski google” design with a better microphone and slightly better audio, plus PlayStation 5 support, but these headphones do cost more at around £160/$150 and don’t include Bluetooth. For that feature, you’ll have to go for the Arctis 9X, which is closer to £180/$200 – a steep premium. The LucidSound LS15X is more comparable in price, costing £100/$90, and uses the same rotating earcup design as the Xbox Wireless Headset. However, its earcup dials make a grinding sound during use, its sound quality is unexceptional and there’s no Bluetooth support here, making the Xbox Wireless Headset the better choice for most people.
Microsoft has done well here, and I think anyone that picks this headset up for its £90/$100 RRP will be happy with it. It’s not perfect, but it offers a deeper feature list than pricier alternatives while still delivering on the fundamentals. I’d even suggest that this headset is a little unfair for Microsoft’s peripheral partners like SteelSeries and Corsair, who are now facing much stiffer competition than we’ve previously seen from a first-party product. (That’s not to say that, for example, Sony’s Pulse 3D headset is bad, but there are certainly a greater number of great alternatives at a similar price point.) If you’re after a video gaming headset that will play well on your Xbox with the versatility to likewise work on a Windows PC or a smartphone, this is a great option.