More and more people seem willing to spoil themselves with a really good headset for their console. Many alternatives are very expensive though, and it's a jungle to know what to choose from (although we have several reviews here at Gamereactor), and a popular option for those playing for the PlayStation is Sony's own Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset. An option that gives you the most you need for a reasonable amount of money.
For Microsoft, it's taken a long time to develop an equivalent, because that's exactly what you get to call the Xbox Wireless Headset, but now it's finally here. And what you get for £89.99 must be considered quite impressive in terms of both sound and features. Its solid build quality sits well on the head and has several smart solutions where two things in particular stand out.
One concerns the game's auto-mute, which causes the microphone to turn off completely when you're not talking. This means that you will never again annoy others by eating chips, breathing heavily or having barking dogs in the background. The people I've played with think that sometimes the start of conversation can be cut off, but it's never unclear and works surprisingly well - but can of course be turned off for those who want the microphone active all the time. The microphone is also LED encoded and lights up white to indicate that it is active, and has a cleverly placed mute button that you can easily access, with a signal indicating that the microphone is off. The sound quality is also excellent and background noise is neatly filtered out.
The other thing I've really learned to like about the Xbox Wireless Headset is the incredibly intuitive system for controlling the sound that Microsoft brought over from its Surface headsets. You adjust voice chat and game volume by simply turning the rubberised dials that are the earcups. They are basically large controls that allows you to really meticulously get the settings you want even when things get heated in the games, whereas many of the other headsets we have tested have small and fiddly controls you can easily confuse. Other headsets I've tested have made me look for controls and buttons and have taken a few days to get used to, but here everything has really worked like a charm from the start.
But let's start from scratch with design and comfort. The Xbox Wireless Headset looks entirely in line with Microsoft's more stylish design that they've invested in in recent years. Although green is not exactly a discrete color, the two green rings that are ultimately on the cups are very stylish. With a weight of 312g, it's very light and still provides 12-15 hours of use on a three-hour charge (30 minutes of fast charging gives you four hours). I have a fairly normal-sized skull and ears, and had to enlarge the Xbox Wireless Headset quite a bit to make it sit comfortably. However, I think anyone who has a bigger head and/or ears than me will find it to be borderline tight.
Connecting the headset couldn't be smoother and is done with USB-C or a simple press on the sync-buttons. No external box is needed, which is now standard for headsets primarily designed for Xbox Series S/X. A small victory perhaps, but being able to free up a USB port and avoid having black plastic scrap around your console is no disadvantage no matter how you look at it. In addition, there is also full Bluetooth support (version 4.2, SBC codec), which is not uncommon on more expensive headsets, but it still deserves to be mentioned that you can connect it to your smartphone to listen to music or take calls while playing.
The standard sound out of the box on the Xbox Wireless Headset is quite bass-heavy. Now that is nice in many games of course, and the headset really delivers on low frequencies, but I still think this was still a tad too much. Fortunately, it can of course be changed with the Xbox Accessories app, where you will find several pre-programmed settings, and of course can also adapt to your liking and taste with an equalizer.
After a little tinkering, I found the sound that suits me, and have to say that I am impressed. It also includes six months of Dolby Atmos, which I recommend downloading because it adds an incredible amount of space to the audio image. The fact that Microsoft offers such a good 40 millimeter speaker element is impressive, and with 32 ohms impedance, it's possible to be quite generous with the volume. It should be said that I have definitely tested gaming headsets that perform better in sound terms, but then they have also cost significantly more. In this price range, what you get is actually phenomenal.
There are two negatives with the Xbox Wireless Headset. One is the lack of active noise reduction. While the cups are very sound-dampening, I guess it was simply something Microsoft opted out of to bring down the price tag. I also think mic-monitoring should have been stronger. Now it's so quiet, it kind of loses its meaning. Hopefully, however, the latter is something that can be fixed with a software update.
The Xbox Wireless Headset is easy to recommend for Xbox players who want to expand their gaming experience with better sound and get a lot of features that are usually reserved for more expensive stuff. It's frankly a lot you will get for your hard earned money, and this is perhaps also the headset's biggest advantage along with how incredibly easy to use it is.
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