The wireless headset market is a tricky one for consumers, with so many options available, and many of them not necessarily working seamlessly with your console of choice. I’ve had headsets that require a USB dongle to be plugged in, others that work on console but require you to update their firmware via PC and cable, and other strange frustrations that make navigating the field tricky, at best. The Xbox Wireless Headset was revealed last month, and as a first-party solution to make all of your audio dreams come true, it promises a fancy, lightweight design that also boasts best-in-class audio performance.
After spending some time with the Xbox Wireless Headset, I’m incredibly pleased to say that these claims are true; in fact, for the reasonable price of $149.95 AUD, this very well could be the perfect headset for anybody that uses Xbox Series X|S as their primary gaming console.
The first thing that you’ll notice once unboxing the Xbox Wireless Headset is the premium look and feel of the gear itself. The Xbox logo on the side, the lightweight design and the soft large earcups made of polyurethane leather feel great, and thankfully that premium feeling translates when you place the headset on your head. The adjustable headband has a thick cushion, and feels comfortable on my larger-than-normal sized head. So if you’re in the same boat as me, don’t fear as this is still a comfy piece of gear, even after long sessions. The earcups are also very soft on the ears; while other headsets literally forced me to take a break after a few hours, the Xbox Wireless Headset never gave me that urge. My giant head could wear this all night. While other headsets I’ve tried only lasted for a few months before cracking under the pressure, the feeling of this one is that it will actually stand the test of time.
Sound comes through loudly and with great clarity, as well. I was able to clearly hear the footsteps of an opponent coming around the corner in Call of Duty: Cold War, and the pumping soundtrack and roar of the engines in Forza Horizon 4 have never sounded as good in my ears before. The headset supports spatial sound technologies including Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone:X for realism and audio precision that makes for a really immersive gaming experience overall. I was impressed with just how loud you can pump the volume, and the bass sounds punchy and deep. You can adjust any of this quite easily using the Xbox Accessories app to fine-tune the audio controls, including equalizer settings and bass boost; this all being accessible on the console means you can set up the headset however you like, or make adjustments based on the game you’re playing if you’re a real audiophile. Overall, audio quality is of course one of the most important factors when it comes to investing in a new headset, and I found it was extremely high quality in every game I tested, and even in the party chat.
On Major Nelson’s podcast over the weekend, it was also revealed that those who purchase the Xbox Wireless Headset will will get a six month trial of Dolby Atmos for Headphones, instead of having to pay the fee to access the audio codec. This six month trial will give you the chance to check it out before you decide to make the purchase, and is easily accessible via your Xbox or Windows 10 PC.
The one area that the Xbox Wireless Headset might vary in terms of its user preference is the microphone itself. While the audio quality on my side was fantastic across the board, my squad noted that the sound of this microphone was coming through as slightly muffled, almost as if I was wearing a mask (I’m COVID-safe, but don’t tend to wear the mask while gaming in my own home, just to be clear). They said that after a bit of time getting used to my “new sound” it wasn’t that bad, actually, but they had a pretty big reaction when I shifted from my wired official Xbox headset to this wireless alternative. Something to bear in mind, for sure, but I didn’t get the chance to test what it sounded like on the receiving end personally. Noise-cancelling is also quite effective. There were times when somebody was trying to talk to me while sitting next to me, and I genuinely couldn’t hear them. Good to know that you can block out noise like this so you can focus on getting those kills or truly enjoy that epic fantasy soundtrack without distraction.
The buttons and general functionality make sense: the power/pair button is green and just on the back of the headset behind the left earcup, but the mute button sits slightly behind the microphone on the left side as well. Once you get used to where it is, it becomes more of a muscle reflex, but if you’re looking for the ability to quickly mute yourself, it’s not necessarily the easiest location. Luckily, there is the ability to use auto-mute, which automatically mutes the microphone to reduce the amount of background ambient noise that comes through, only picking up when you’re actually speaking. This worked pretty well in my testing, and as someone who has a lot of activity in the background at times with my partner and dogs, this is a handy feature to say the least. You can adjust the sensitivity in the settings as well, and I like the light indicator that turns on when the mic is active, so that you know when your voice is being picked up. It’s a small touch, but seeing that light out of the corner of your eye certainly helps. The game/chat audio balance dial is on the left earcup, while the volume dial is on the right earcup, and I found this to be a slick and stylish solution that I prefer to simply pressing small buttons that sometimes can be finicky to find during intense gameplay moments.
Included is a 14-inch USB-C charging cable. The marketing and packaging suggests that “It only takes 30 minutes of charging for up to 4 hours of battery life, with only 3 hours of charging to reach up to 15 hours of battery life.” My anecdotal feedback after a few days of use is that this is pretty much accurate. I spent a few long sessions playing Xbox both with my squad in online multiplayer games but also during solo play to test out the capabilities, and it took around 15 hours before needing to be charged up again. It’s worth noting that you can charge your headset at the same time that you use it, which is helpful for people like me who tend to ignore the “low battery” warnings much like the “low petrol” light that comes on in my car.
Lastly, the absolute ease in which the headset connects to everything is a blessing, and it can’t be overstated how low-fuss it is. Holding down the sync button for a few seconds connected it to my Xbox Series X straight away, and allowed me to jump right into the EQ settings and adjust the microphone settings too. The same sync button on the headset allows it to show up on other devices; I tried this on my mobile phone and my laptop, and found it to be just as easy as any other Bluetooth device. I also tested it with the Xbox Wireless Controller dongle on PC and that was even easier. You can even pair multiple devices at once, if you want to take a phone call or join a work meeting while you’re doing some cheeky gaming. For what it’s worth, the audio across these other devices was just as high quality as it was on my Xbox Series X, making this a diverse option for all situations and devices.
Coming in at $149.95 AUD (RRP), the Xbox Wireless Headset brings premium design and feels incredibly high quality compared with other headsets that come in at the same price range. With the additional bonus that the headset works completely seamlessly with the Xbox family, it’s a really solid choice that comes highly recommended from this Xbox fan.