The Xbox Wireless Headset is, appropriately enough, just like the Xbox Series X. It’s a high-quality peripheral that doesn’t cost an exorbitant amount of money. It’s easy to use, with simple controls and straightforward wireless protocols. It’s also, for better or worse, not nearly as impressive if you come from a PC background, and are already used to the same features, but on a bigger scale.
Still, the product isn’t called the “PC Wireless Headset.” It’s the Xbox Wireless Headset, and as a wireless headset for Xbox consoles, it’s about as good as it could be — especially considering that it packs an awful lot of features for only $100. Not only does the Xbox Wireless Headset sound very good, but its Bluetooth functionality makes it a functional everyday accessory for both work and play. The headset is comfortable to wear for hours on end, and you can even play with some equalization and mic options.
The Xbox Wireless Headset isn’t nearly as robust as something like the Razer Kaira Pro or the SteelSeries Arctis 7X — but it also costs $50 less than those headsets do, while offering similar base features. Read our full Xbox Wireless Headset review to learn why this peripheral might be one of the best gaming headsets for Xbox owners who don’t mind trading a little functionality for a lot of convenience.
Compatibility: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, mobile
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Xbox Wireless Headset review: Design
Even without knowing the peripheral’s name, one look at the Xbox Wireless Headset would tell you it's for Microsoft's latest gaming console. Its black plastic chassis sports subtle green highlights around each earcup. Beyond that, it’s a sleek, simple design, with an unadorned headband, plush foam earcups and a simple Xbox logo on the right side.
The Xbox Wireless Headset makes a very smart design choice, which I haven’t seen in a gaming headset since the LucidSound lineup. Rather than volume and game/chat mix dials, this headset incorporates those features right into the earcup exteriors. You simply rotate the right earcup panel to adjust volume, and the left earcup panel to adjust game/chat mix. If this design element sounds familiar, it's similarly used on the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2. Not only is this an intuitive way of doing things; it also means you can lean your head back against a chair or couch with no risk of your game audio accidentally blasting out your eardrums.
Otherwise, the setup is very simple. The right earcup houses a USB-C charging port; the left earcup houses a power/pairing button, as well as a flexible mic with a mute button on the back. While I usually prefer retractable or removable mics, the Xbox Wireless Headset’s mic ultimately won me over, as it’s extremely easy to tuck away out of sight between the earcup and the housing. (The standard Razer Kaira, also $100, has a mic that constantly mars your peripheral vision.)
While certain technical aspects of this setup don’t work as well as it could, the physical design is hard to criticize. Like the Xbox Series X/S, the Xbox Wireless Headset does a lot with just a few buttons.
Xbox Wireless Headset review: Comfort
Peculiarly, it's both easy and not easy to wear the Xbox Wireless Headset. It’s actually one of the more unusual headsets I’ve reviewed in that regard. While the peripheral itself can be extremely comfortable, it’s also unusually difficult to adjust. Compare and contrast to the Arctis 7X, which fits automatically each time you put it on, or the Kaira Pro, which at least offers you numbered notches on a steel headband.
By contrast, the Xbox Wireless Headset lets you adjust the size by extending the plastic headband on either side. There are no notches — and, amazingly, there’s no way to adjust the headset once it’s already on your head. This seems to be a conscious design choice, as the headband locks up once you wear it. This means you’ll never accidentally ruin your fit, but it also means that finding a fit in the first place is a tedious process, marked by a lot of trial and error. The lack of notches, numbered or otherwise, also means that if you lose your spot (or share the headset with someone else), you’re back to square one.
Those difficulties aside, however, the Xbox Wireless Headset is rather comfortable, thanks to its soft, supportive earcups and padded headband. With glasses on, the peripheral felt a little tight after a few hours of gameplay, but I never experienced any discomfort or pain. I wonder how it might feel after a marathon all-day session, but for a few hours at a time, at least, the Xbox Wireless Headset feels good to wear.
Xbox Wireless Headset review: Performance
In terms of gaming performance, I can’t think of anything that the Xbox Wireless Headset could do better. I tested the game on both an Xbox Series X and a Windows 10 PC, with a variety of games, and found that the headset could handle whatever I threw at it.
In Gears of War 3, Marcus Fenix’s gravely voice carried just as much weight as his frenzied gunshots. I found myself constantly turning my head to follow the eerie whispers in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The headset delivered satisfying construction sounds and gorgeous music in Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition. I felt totally immersed in the background noise of a city as I explored Kamurocho in Yakuza 3 Remastered.
The Xbox Wireless Headset excels by offering a balanced soundscape with an immediate, close quality to it. Like a lot of gaming headsets, it favors treble over bass, but not to an obnoxious degree. The peripheral handles voicework, sound effects and music with equal fidelity, and I don’t remember pining for my usual Arctis 7X at any point.
Likewise, the Xbox Wireless Headset handles music well. I listened to tracks from Flogging Molly, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Rolling Stones and G.F. Handel. While the headset is not as rich in bass as audiophiles may expect, it’s also perfectly good for everyday listening. There’s also a Music equalization option for an extra kick — although it doesn’t actually do that much.
Xbox Wireless Headset review: Features
For all that the Xbox Wireless Headset gets right, actually operating the darn thing is a pain. This is true from the moment you turn it on, thanks to a hybrid power/pairing button. Without going into excruciating detail, you press the button quickly to turn the device on or off; you press it for just a second or two longer to begin the pairing process. You can imagine just how often I turned the device off when I meant to pair it with something, or vice versa.
Furthermore, pairing itself is a bit of a struggle, at least if you intend to use the headset with more than one system. The Xbox Wireless Headset has both the Xbox wireless protocol as well as Bluetooth, both of which are exceptionally rare features in a $100 gaming headset. You can use the Xbox and Bluetooth pairings simultaneously, which means you can listen to music or make calls while you game. So far, so good.
However, once you pair the Xbox Wireless Headset with your Xbox, the console will activate every time you turn on the headset. That’s incredibly annoying if you only want to use the Bluetooth features, or if you want to sync it with another device instead.
The minor annoyances racked up the longer I used the device. The notification sounds for activation, pairing and low battery are all obnoxiously loud, and there’s no way to lower the volume. You can’t alter how long it takes for the headset to automatically power down if it’s not in use. The equalization and mic options (which you can access via the Xbox Accessories app) are sparse. Furthermore, the sound profile presets don’t make an enormous difference, as I learned when I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark in both Game and Movie modes.
Microsoft also passes an important cost onto the consumer by offering only a free trial for Dolby surround sound. If you buy an Xbox Wireless Headset, you can use Dolby All Access on the Xbox until September 2021. After that, it’s on you to pay a one-time $15 fee. A PC-centric gaming headset would never do this to you.
The battery life is also nothing special: 15 hours. This will get you through a handful of meaty gaming sessions, but competing models tend to offer at least 20, and up to 30. On the other hand, the mic is surprisingly clear and easy-to-use, considering that it never actually gets that close to your mouth. I was able to converse in both phone calls and video chats with ease, making it suitable for everyday online play.
Xbox Wireless Headset review: Verdict
While I was reviewing the Xbox Wireless Headset, I couldn’t help but compare it to the Arctis 7X and the Kaira Pro. I missed the Artcis 7X’s simplicity and versatility; I missed the Kaira Pro’s excellent fit and superlative sound quality. But then I remembered that those two headsets cost $150 apiece, while the Xbox Wireless Headset costs only $100. That I can compare the three at all speaks favorably of the Xbox Wireless Headset.
In fact, the price is perhaps the single most important factor that elevates the Xbox Wireless Headset from “pretty good” to “just on the cusp of greatness.” It’s rare to find Bluetooth functionality in a $100 gaming headset; it’s almost unheard of in a gaming headset that offers such good sound quality and simple controls.
The Xbox Wireless Headset has some very real frustrations, from its perilous pairing procedures to its limited customization options. And yet, it’s still an easy recommendation, particularly for Xbox gamers who simply don’t need — or want — to fiddle around with a lot of extra features.
If you can afford an Arctis 7X or Kaira Pro, you should go for one of those. But if you can’t, the Xbox Wireless Headset is the right peripheral at the right price.