It’s clear that the Xbox Wireless Headset hasn't been rushed to market, even if it feels that the console it’s designed for was. Where the Xbox Series X and S launched without any exclusive content and before
, Microsoft’s set of next-gen headphones seem ready for worldwide release.
That's not to say that Xbox's new headphones are perfect, even for their mid-range price range. However, unlike the world’s recent launches for big hardware, there’s not a sense that you're better off waiting for fixes or alternatives.
Design - Score 8.5
It's apt to say that the Xbox Wireless Headset follows in the same design trends that Microsoft has been using for close to a decade on their gaming console. It's black and green – the Xbox colours. Much like with the
, Microsoft isn't trying to stand out with their new headphones. It's an item that blends into the environment just like the next-gen console; it's even the same matte plastic.
Just like Xbox's designs for their new generation, it's a functional piece of kit as well. There's not much extravagance: in fact, the headset is packed into the same style of eco-friendly cardboard box that an Xbox controller is sold in. The USB charging cable is chucked underneath. This is
Xbox headset, and you'll know it.
That's not to say there isn't personality in the Xbox Wireless Headset. In fact, it’s a surprisingly spryly piece of kit. Booting up the headset results in the familiar Xbox chimes emitting from the speakers, bouncily hopping as the device’s wireless chip seeks a convective home. It’s almost Nintendo-like.
For the £89 asking price, you'll also be hard-pressed to find a headset built as well as these. While not as comfortable as Premium Xbox headphones with more than double the asking price, Microsoft has designed a rather snug headset. The extremely fake leather headband cushion and ear cups don't feel premium, but they do comfortably rest along the head without causing any pain over hours of use. The retractable headband is also surprisingly sturdy to the point where it’s hard to change levels while being worn.
Sound - Score 8
Xbox hasn't marketed the Xbox Wireless Headset on fantastic sound, and that's for a reason. With that said, Xbox’s new headphones do sound pretty damn good for the price. Punchy video game sound effects – like explosions in
– blast through the drivers without drowning out other sound profiles. It's remarkably balanced for a brand that strives on bombastic action, but it does still lean slightly heavier towards bass as expected.
As expected following the release of Sony's similarly priced
, the Xbox Wireless Headset does support 3D audio. With support for Dolby Atmos, Windows Sonic and DTS Headphones:X, there’s a whole new soundscape to experience in a limited number of supported titles.
Essentially, these are better than average headphones that are a fantastic deal for the price. Music, gaming and video calls are all well represented in the soundscape and other budget headphones are going to have to try a helluva lot harder to match the quality on display here.
Adversely, Microsoft hasn’t prioritised sound input anywhere near as much as sound output. Whereas output is clear, input is far crunchier. Despite a lot of marketing materials praising the microphone’s auto-mute functionalities, it doesn't fare very well in even slightly noisy environments. If there's construction in the background, it's still best to mute.
Functionality - Score 7.5
Like most Xbox headphones these days, the Xbox Wireless Headset isn't just an Xbox headset. It's true that you can pair the headphones to an Xbox console much the same way you pair a controller, but to keep some semblance of versatility, the headphones also feature Bluetooth connectivity. With this, you can easily pair the headphones to a Bluetooth device of your choice to use both the headphones and microphone. For added benefit, you can sync to your Xbox and a Bluetooth device simultaneously and mix audio channels with the turn of an ear cup.
It is slightly unfortunate that the new headset doesn't support aux output, especially considering the fact that Xbox controllers have aux input. Battery life on the headset is fantastic at around 20 hours, but when that battery inevitably kicks the bucket years into the future, it would have been nice to have an aux port to fall back on.
- Fantastic value for money.
- Perfectly suits the Xbox Series X design language.
- Sounds great for its price range.
- Isn't limited to just the Xbox console.
- 3D audio support in a budget headset is great.
- Underwhelming microphone.
- No Aux port.
- Some parts of the headphones feel cheap.
As it stands, Microsoft has crafted a remarkably balanced headset that will dominate its price range for Xbox gamers. Without a doubt, this is the definitive Xbox headset. While it would be nice to see Microsoft’s audio engineers go wild on a premium Elite version the caters to audiophiles, the set of cans they've already provided will serve gamers nicely for years to come.
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