Official Xbox Wireless Headset review: A decent $99 option with impressive features

Does Microsoft's $99 break new ground, or feature familiar flaws?

Official Xbox Wireless Headset Review Shots
(Image: © Windows Central)

Microsoft is no stranger to building headsets. Back in the day, Microsoft would bundle its iconic mono piece headset with its Xbox 360 console, and later released some wired Xbox Stereo headphones of its own. Microsoft's Surface team now makes its own headphones too, with the Surface Earbuds and the Surface Headphones. Microsoft hadn't yet built a wireless headset for Xbox though — until now, that is.

Say hello to the official Xbox Wireless Headset from Microsoft, coming in at an impressive $99. This headset impressed me right from the announcement, given the fact it combines some rare features at this price tier. Microsoft has a mountain of competition in this space, though, which is hotter than ever thanks to the popularity of games like Fortnite.

Can Microsoft's very first wireless gaming headset make the grade on our list of best Xbox Series X and Series S headsets, or our best wireless Xbox One headsets? Take a seat, and let's find out, together.

Xbox Wireless Headset review: What I love

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Right out of the box, Microsoft provides you with plenty of reasons to love this headset. The subtle design profile is marries modernity with functionality nicely, complete with embossed Xbox branding and those classic Xbox green accents. Typically, I'm not a fan of bright colors on a headset, but considering this is, you know, official Xbox hardware, it makes sense here more than elsewhere.

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In the boxHeadphones, USB-C charging cable
Speakers40mm, neodymium
Frequency Response20Hz to 20kHz
Battery15 hours usage time
CompatibilityXbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Xbox Wireless USB dongle, Bluetooth devices
Weight11 oz (312g)

The headline act of this product is the feature set Microsoft has baked in. For $99, I think this may actually be the only solution on the entire market that bakes both Bluetooth and Xbox Wireless into a single product, particularly for dual-source mixing. Most of these types of products start at around $130 or higher, so it's nice to see Microsoft deliver some real value here in terms of features.

Bluetooth is always kind of janky, whether you're using cheap $20 earbuds or $550 Apple products, since the standard is just so susceptible to any form of interference. But at least until the tech improves, it's the best solution we have right now for multi-device connectivity. On the plus side, Microsoft's implementation really does seem to be among the best I've used in terms of interference.

I typically use Bluetooth/Xbox combo headsets for podcasting over long periods of time, so I can game while also streaming to PC via Discord. I still got occasional signal degradation from the Bluetooth while chatting on PC, but it was nowhere near as frequent as other headsets I've used that attempt this combo. And as expected, the Xbox Wireless signal by itself is rock solid.

Microsoft also offers mic monitoring with this headset, alongside a surprisingly intuitive auto-mute feature that stops your headset from sending background noise when you're not speaking. Sometimes it can take a little while to un-mute you, though, cutting off the first parts of your sentence. Microsoft's Xbox Accessories app on PC and Xbox lets you finetune both the mic monitoring volume, and the auto-mute feature, giving you the option to reduce sensitivity or turn them both off. There's also an EQ tuner for those who like to tweak, alongside some presets for different types of sound experiences.

Source: Windows Central The controls are cleverly hidden in the dials. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

As someone who tests dozens upon dozens of headsets in my constant search for the best Xbox One headset, I'm inclined to expect compromises at certain price tiers. The $99 wireless segment is generally the entry point for wireless gaming headsets, and many of them seem to compromise on build quality and construction, sacrificing action on buttons, dials, and switches for cheaper solutions, or opting for brittle, low-density plastics. Thankfully, Microsoft spared no expense in this area.

The dials on the sides of the headphones act as a volume mixer between games and voice chat, with the other controlling master volume. The smoothness of the dials, the responsiveness, and gradation between the volumes are impressive. The Xbox Wireless Headset feels superior to many far more expensive headsets I've used in this regard.

The quality extends to the cups, which feature generous cushioning and breathable synthetic leather, which feels pleasant across lengthy sessions. The headset is also impressively lightweight, to the point where I'd assumed there was no metal in the headband. I later discovered that there is metal reinforcing the headband, which adds a sense of confidence with regards to longevity.

Xbox Wireless Headset review: What I don't love

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Out of the gate, Microsoft impressed me with the headset's design, feature set, and price. But there are a few caveats you should be aware of if you plan to make this your go-to Xbox headset for the future.

First and foremost, this headset is wireless in the truest sense of the word. There's no 3.5mm jack to be found, meaning that once the battery is gone, you'll have to recharge it. The battery life is impressive given the headset's weight, clocking in at around 15 hours of continuous use. With that kind of battery life, the lack of a 3.5mm jack is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's worth being aware of.

Just don't expect to be blown away by the audio quality.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment I had with this headset was the general audio experience. I felt like the bass on this headset was truly overpowering, albeit admittedly impressive. On the downside, the bass cuts through everything, even with bass boost disabled. You can fine-tune this using the headset's app, but even then, the mids and highs lack a sense of definition that other headsets in this price range offer. The headset struggles the more sounds are introduced into the mix, introducing subtle distortion at higher volumes, with different frequencies snapping unnaturally from the stage as they battle for dominance with the bass.

There are cheaper 3.5mm wired headsets that are more performant in this area, with superior separation and a broader soundstage. Even with extensive tweaking, this headset's sound profile is among the muddier options in this price range, with an imbalanced audio pallet that isn't particularly amazing for gaming or media. In the heat of battle, you probably won't find yourself too hung up over the performance of different frequencies. For $99, it's more than passable, and everyone has different tastes when it comes to sound. Just don't expect to be blown away by the audio quality.

The microphone on the headset is not particularly amazing, though it's passable. The audio sample above was recorded via Bluetooth for full transparency, which may have created performance dips versus usage on Xbox Live. Either way, you likely won't be using this for content creation, but it's decent enough for gaming with friends or in meetings.

Another minor gripe I have is the microphone arm, which doesn't extend further than your cheek. Even with the mic monitoring boosted to maximum volume, the mic will be too far away from most adults' mouths to register any side-tone whatsoever, giving the feature reduced effectiveness.

Xbox Wireless Headset review: Should you buy it?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

This headset is built and designed to offer a baseline entry-level wireless experience for gamers within the Xbox and Windows ecosystem, and in that, the headset delivers. The features are without peer in this price range, and the headset construction and ergonomics are top-notch.

I have some reservations about the sound stage, which feels a bit muddy compared to many headsets I've used in this price range. If you were hoping to be blown away by the sound, you may find yourself disappointed unless you are particularly fond of aggressive bass. But it's by no means terrible and more than does the job. It's also highly configurable with high-quality software, which is more than I can say for most wireless headsets out there.

I suspect this will be a very popular headset regardless, owing to its features above everything. It is an intuitive product, meeting the needs of today's Xbox gamers, who shift their experiences to different devices. In that, Microsoft delivers some much-needed competition in the wireless headset space, where Bluetooth options typically sit with more expensive products. Truth be told, this is arguably among the best value Xbox wireless headsets out there right now when you consider everything you're getting for $99.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Did Microsoft improve headband padding from Surface Headphones 2? The top of my head hurt from using SH2, so I'm wondering if the Xbox headset is better in this regard.
  • Hard to tell without ripping it apart, which I am kinda tempted to do. I tried to feel for the steel reinforcements through the cushion. It does feel like there's a gap at the top of the band, similar to the flaw blamed for the Surface headphones snapping. However, these also have a large strut that runs across the entire underside, so I'm wondering if that is enough to offset that issue. It's hard to tell without a time machine sadly, whether or not it will survive long term. I would hope so. Since I expect these headphones to be popular, I'll make them my primary headset for the foreseeable and see if any problems arise over time that I couldn't determine in the week I've had with them.
  • Thank you for your answer, Jez! At least, it would be more acceptable in a $99 headset rather than $249 one. And do you think Xbox Wireless headset is okay for MS Teams? I mean through BT connection on Windows laptop or Android phone.
  • No 3.5. No Bueno.
  • Gah. Kinda expected this. Look fine, but all the bells and whistles are pointless if they don't sound great. Guess I'll stick with my Ls35x a bit longer (assuming the side brackets don't crack any further)
  • You don't know what sounds great until you try them yourself. The top audiophiles in the world will tell you the same thing.
  • I prefer the sound on the LS35X personally, but everyone has different tastes when it comes to audio. I use the LS50X at the mo which has the same audio profile as the 35X.
  • IGN thought the sound was good. It's very subjective. They agreed it was bassy for sure, but since I love Bass I may have to get these. Atmos for 99 bucks sound pretty tempting too
  • Hmm mine didn't have an Atmos code in them. Yeah it is subjective, I tend to favor crispness and separation of details over bass power. You may feel differently. It's all good.
  • For my taste it's too much if I can't hear other things. So I am concerned based on your experience. Not having these yet I can only convey what I understood from IGN re Atmos. I am no expert so I may have misread or misunderstood
  • Looking elsewhere ther appears to be a code good until September for Atmos. Didn't realize it was 15 dollars to unlock
  • I LOVE the original Xbox One over-the-ear headset. It sounds great, feels great, looks great. I just want to upgrade to slightly better sound, and wireless. Plus I LOVE the way these look. I can’t stand the way most gamer gear looks with its 2000’s colors and flashiness. Any clue how they compare in sound to the original Xbox One headphones?
  • $99 headphones. Expect $99 sound.
  • Mine ships tomorrow!!!
  • are the ear cups replaceable ?
  • As far as sound stage: These were promoted with Windows Surround support. Are you able to tell by footsteps where another player is in a game like Call of Duty? I had a higher end pair of 5.1 medusa's back in the day for my PC. Would love to have that positional awareness again on Xbox. It was great to shoot through a wall to get someone just by audio positioning.
  • Can I use these with my Windows 10 Surface Pro tablet during the day and then bounce down to my Xbox Series X at night and use them there too? If so, would it be a seamless transition or would I have to re-setup or re-pair them every time?
  • Most likely re-pair it but it'll connect to your Xbox over the Xbox Wireless protocol (like controllers do) and over Bluetooth to your Surface. But I'm guessing it'll be a matter of switch between Xbox Wireless mode and Bluetooth
  • All headsets with xbox wireless have a caveat: Xbox is designed to turn on whenever a paired Xbox wireless device is turned on and it also turns off all paired xbox wireless devices when the console turns off. It creates all sorts of problems if you plan on using it in a same room with your console.
  • Hi Jez, can you do a test watching a movie with them? I've just purchased Gen 1 Surface Headphones and sometimes uses them to watch movies on my laptop from the Microsoft Store. I'd be interested in how the Xbox headphones sound using them to watch movies on my Xbox Series X from the Microsoft Store.
  • Is it better or worse than the lucidsound ls35x?
  • Does wired audio work over USB-C? It's mentioned on the product page, but I couldn't find many details about it. > Windows 10 use requires Bluetooth 4.2+, Xbox Wireless adapter or compatible USB-C cable. Specifically: what cables actually work (C-to-C?), does this work simultaneously with Xbox/BT audio (mixing), and does it work on other devices that support audio over USB-C, like a phone or Nintendo Switch? Bit disappointed to see the audio quality isn't the greatest, but I got some MS Account funds to use out, so this headset might be worth it, if it can do Xbox+BT+wired.
  • Damn, out of stock already.
  • I've been reading all the reviews and it looks like Microsoft has a real winner on its hands here. Unfortunately, I'm going to wait for a while. I had a pair of those aforementioned Xbox stereo headphones and I loved them. The build quality was good and it perfectly mixed game sound and in-game chat. Until one day, they just stopped working. I only had them for less than a year. I didn't drop them, get them wet, etc. They just stopped working. So I'm just going to wait and make sure that these headphones are more durable.