After about a month of waiting since the announcement date, the new Xbox wireless headset is in my dirty little paws, and here are the first impressions. On paper, the headset looks fantastic and checks all the right boxes for gamers but diving a bit deeper shows that there is more to the story.
If you want an overview of the headset, check out this post as it does a better job covering all the features. But what you get with the peripheral is a wireless headset that connects to your new Xbox without a dongle, USB-C for charging, retractable mic, multi-device connectivity, and some software features that let you customize the sound profile.
It’s really important to keep in mind that this is a $99 headset, and not $199 or even $299, because the short version of this post is that for the price, this is a great headset with lots of features and good audio. But it is not a great headset with great audio – and there is a difference.
The primary reason I bought this headset is because of the USB-C charging and that it doesn’t need a dongle. My current headset, the RIG 800LX requires a dongle and USB-micro to charge, but everything else about it is fine.
As with most Microsoft peripherals today, the box is well designed and easy to open. The headset is presented in a clean and attractive design – the materials also feel good with the earcups being soft and the headband having a generous amount of padding.
Connecting it to my console was quick and painless, a process Microsoft deserves some credit for; connecting it to my phone was not too difficult either but the Xbox pairing is an easier process. And adjusting audio volume is even easier as the outside of the earcups spin to increase/decrease the volume or mix game chat/game music.
There are two issues with this headset that, as of right now, are a deal-breaker for me but one of them is likely not for you.
First, there is an issue with the mic not picking up my voice as you would expect when chatting in-game. You can adjust the mic monitoring settings but others are having challenges as well; I am confident this can be addressed via software.
The other issue is that the sound quality is average, at best. Now, this is highly subjective – if you are coming from using TV speakers or cheap earbuds/headset, you will likely think the audio is fantastic.
But if you are coming from a premium headset, like the 800LX or anything that has higher-end audio, you will be disappointed with the soundstage. The sound profile is muddy, even after enabling Dolby Atmos and changing the EQ settings – tones are anything but crisp and clean.
And that’s why I wrote about its important to keep in mind that this is a $99 headset. For the price, the headset is a good value – something many gamers will be happy using as long as this is an upgrade in your current speaker setup. But if you are trying to use this headset to replace a premium headset, you will likely be disappointed.
Audio issue aside, comfort is good, the top headband has enough padding to keep things feeling comfortable after a couple of hours and the physical audio controls are fantastic. Being able to spin the earcups to adjust volume or game/voice mix is lovely and is likely a best-in-class feature for any headset at any price point. The light on the mic makes it easy to know if you are chatting or screaming into the void and the massive letters in the ear cups will make sure you never put in on backward.
You can even take the earcups off for easy cleaning or potentially replacing them if needed. Microsoft put a lot of thought into the physical design of the headset and it clearly shows.
The takeaway here is that for many, this will be a good headset and that’s the target market. But if you have experience with higher-end headphones, you may want to look elsewhere.