I was pretty late to the party when it came to using a headset for gaming. Apart from using the old Xbox chat headset on the Xbox 360 for party talk I didn’t think anything could beat a decent set of speakers. A lot of that changed though when I started playing PUBG and I realised how much it helped in play. Since then my old Plantronics Rig 500s have been a big part of my routine. As much as I love them thanks to their relatively good sound quality via the Xbox’s surround sound formats (Dolby Atmos, DTS: X and Windows Sonic), having to rely on the wired connection to my controller has often resulted in me yanking them out by accident the moment when I accidentally get hooked on something. Additionally, without a headset connector on my HOTAS I needed to rig a USB hub and extension cables just so that I could use both that and an Xbox controller for audio and chat. Even watching a movie on Xbox through a headset could be a challenge if your controller isn’t wired to the console. So it seemed long overdue for me to try out a wireless headset.
Fortunately Microsoft decided to add one to their Xbox catalogue and my family was kind enough to get me one as a gift. Taking inspiration from their Surface headphones but aimed at the gaming market they create a good first impression thanks to generous padding on the band and cups which were comfortable for me right from the start. The trick it shares with its Surface cousins are the ear cup dials which control volume on one side and audio mix on the other. They are really accessible this way but can take a little getting used to as it also doesn’t take much to accidentally tweak the dials. The audio mix feature comes in handy as you can have it connected to both your console (via the Xbox wireless protocol) and a Bluetooth device at the same time which is great for people on calls or chatting through other services. For charging there’s a short little USB-C cable bundled in the box.
In terms of quality I’m really happy with the sound output. Even on the default setting there’s a decent amount of bass which I wasn’t used to before but within the Xbox accessories app on the console you can switch to a number of different presets or even make manual adjustments via a basic equaliser. It looks like it’s more than enough for most users. The one thing that might take getting used to is the microphone which sits beside your head rather than in front of your mouth. It picks up audio well but it can sound a little different in the sound pickup. Some of my friends using their own headsets have sounded more like they’re chatting via speakerphone on their mobile rather than a microphone. I’ve thrown a few games at it already including Hades and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War and there hasn’t been anything yet that comes out worse from the switch. In fact I’ve found them to do a much better job of audio separation than I had expected with individual sound effects or instruments coming through more clearly than with my old wired headset. I did have to spend a little time trying to get the mix right for game and party chat (in chat I prefer the game volume be quieter) but once you find that sweet spot for yourself it works really well.
Seeing as this is my first wireless headset I can’t really compare them to the more established brands and products that are out there but it works well for me and I could easily see it be a good starting point before investing in more expensive options.