First Impressions: Xbox Wireless Headset

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.

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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.

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Conversation 11 comments

  • Saarek

    18 March, 2021 - 1:56 pm

    <p>Interesting review, thank you Brad.</p><p><br></p><p>Most of the reviews I’ve seen so far say how brilliant the sound is, but I’m used to quality Bowers &amp; Wilkins headphones and I was thinking of this as a secondary pair for the TV/Xbox.</p><p><br></p><p>The target market probably doesn’t care too much about sound quality, after all a load of Bass on gun shots in CoD is probably the most wanted feauture.</p><p><br></p><p>I’ll have to think about it, the price point is very keen.</p>

    • Elan Gabriel

      18 March, 2021 - 2:01 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#618845">In reply to Saarek:</a></em></blockquote><p>It's not. It's not trash, but it's not good. I don't think that I will ever use them outside of gaming at night, will never listen to music with these. Sadly, Best Buy won't take back open headphones so I'm stuck with them and will use them for a bit of gaming. I do not recommend them if you care about sound quality. Features are nice, I'll give them that. "For the price" is a diplomatic way to say that it's bad 🙂 I expected more, even "for the price".</p>

      • pusta

        22 March, 2021 - 3:29 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#618849">In reply to egab:</a></em></blockquote><p>Just curious, where do you see that BestBuy doesn't take headphones back? I looked at their return policy and didn't see anything</p>

  • b6gd

    18 March, 2021 - 2:02 pm

    <p>I have tried many wireless headsets with my Xbox, the last one was the SteelSeries Arctis 9, which was the best so far, but it went back before my return date. They all have issues. Poor battery life, connectivity issues etc. </p><p><br></p><p>The Arctis 9 was a super nice head set from a fit and performance perspective, but the battery life was 5 hours most of the time and that was even with an hour here, an hour there. It advertises 20 hours. It also had this weird but where if you did not hold the button on the ear muff, to shut it down before you shut down your Xbox, the Xbox would shut down and then the head set would restart it and then your controller would not work…..bad bug. You would have to wire up your controller to get it all back in sync.</p><p><br></p><p>In the end I switch back to my Hyper X Cloud X and all it good. It drains the battery on my controller but the Elite 2 controller has a monster battery and super nice easy to use charger.</p>

  • rubbb3rduck

    18 March, 2021 - 4:00 pm

    <p>Hi Brad, nice review, thanks.</p><p>I was wondering if I can use this on my gaming rig, which has no built in bluetooth. Can I connect the headset to the xbox wireless dongle? Can I then connect an xbox controller to the dongle as well? And can I then connect the headset to my phone too? Or is all that too much? ;)</p>

  • Elan Gabriel

    18 March, 2021 - 5:53 pm

    <blockquote><em><a href="#618860">In reply to RM:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>No, that's not what I said. I don't like to use "for the price" as an excuse. Why would I care about the headphone's price if they don't deliver ? Be it $10 or $500. I wouldn't recommend others to purchase them, I know I wouldn't do it again. If $100 is your budget, then my advise would be to go wired or save for a better product. It would be a waste of $100 to buy these, in my opinion. I was hoping for a better product, that's all.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      19 March, 2021 - 9:29 am

      Perfectly reasonable.

  • vladimir

    Premium Member
    18 March, 2021 - 8:25 pm

    <p>Did you test if the audio quality is the same on Xbox wireless and Bluetooth? I had a pair pd headphones on the Xbox wireless protocol and the sound was very disappointing. It may have to do with the compression protocol</p>

  • mikegalos

    19 March, 2021 - 11:06 am

    <p>So, short form, the Miata is not as good as my Ferrari so you might want to look elsewhere.</p>

  • richardbottiglieri

    Premium Member
    24 March, 2021 - 10:02 am

    <p>I just ordered a pair of LucidSound LS35X headphones. They use the Xbox Wireless protocol, and they connect to the console just as easily (no dongle required). Similar convenience with volume and game/chat balance controls controlled by a dial on the outside of the ear cup. They get great reviews, and they cost $125 at Amazon. Full support for Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos. The drivers are supposedly the same as their $200 sibling, the LS50X, only without the Bluetooth (which I don't need; this is strictly for Xbox) and the EQ adjustments (a nice to have, but not really necessary, TBH).</p><p><br></p><p>The way I see it is that I give up a little convenience (no USB-C, firmware updates via PC, etc.) and compatibility for a much better audio experience, for only $25 more. I'm willing to make that trade. And they are very nice looking, too.</p>

  • richardbottiglieri

    Premium Member
    25 March, 2021 - 3:09 pm

    <p>UPDATE: Had a chance to play with the LS35X devices a bit, and they don't disappoint. First, I updated the firmware to v2.5, which fixes a slew of connectivity issues that users reported. This is done with the included USB cable and a PC. Pairing with the Xbox Series S was as simple as connecting a new controller, and the headset's volume and game/chat mix controls on the ear cups are great. This thing is loud! In limited testing, the Dolby Atmos surround format sounded better to me than Windows Sonic did, but YMMV. That's another $15 to consider, but I'll probably go ahead and buy the license.</p><p><br></p><p>All in all, I couldn't be happier with these.</p>

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