By no means am I an expert when it comes to sound and audio, but I can at least provide some early (and much more basic) impressions about Microsoft's new Xbox Wireless Headset while we wait on our official Pure Xbox review.
At the time of writing, I've done about six hours of testing with this headset, so rather than try and sum it up into one big story, I'll break things down into much more consumable parts. Just one disclaimer (again) - this is by no means our official review - that's coming later this week and may not necessarily reflect what's on this page. Now, let's begin!
What is the build of it like?
Naturally, with a lot of new devices, one of the first things you want to do is see how it feels. Is it durable, does it feel nice on your hands, does it match the quality standards of said company? So, is this Microsoft headset worthy of the Xbox name in terms of its overall build? I'd say absolutely.
There are a lot of gaming headsets on the market that feel rather flimsy and have a habit of falling apart over time, and while obviously it's still early days with this one, it feels like it'll be able to take a good amount of wear and tear. The few buttons also have a nice "click" about them, and it feels relatively light - but not to the point of feeling like a cheap build.
Is it comfortable to wear?
The headset is indeed comfortable to wear for prolonged periods, with plenty of padding that makes for a snug fit. I have already worn it for hours on end, as you know, and the only time I did touch it was to change the volume or press a button. Unless you live in an extremely hot climate (like I do), I can't see you having any issues in terms of overall discomfort. Like other headsets, the left and right sides of this one can both be extended and there's plenty of movement in the headband - which as noted by the Xbox team has a strong metal band on the inside.
What does it sound like when playing games?
Honestly, the initial trailer that Xbox released for this headset wasn't making things up...you hear all sorts of sounds, and I'm hearing sounds I haven't heard before. I could hear flies (or at least something similar) buzzing about in Halo, background music in games I didn't know was there in the first place, and even individual raindrops falling in Forza Horizon 4...when my car is parked.
There are plenty of extra options to fiddle with in the settings menu, as illustrated in Xbox's latest trailer. You can adjust the equalizer and get a bass boost - which is great for games with music in them, like Forza. I even took a Ferrari for a spin down an extended tunnel, and yes, it was an exhilarating moment enhanced by the headset.
It's also worth noting how crisp and clear the sound is when you've got this headset on - so it should be enough for even the biggest audio buffs. I will admit, the only games where this headset didn't enhance the experience quite as much as I expected it to was with certain older games. And I'm talking, old, old games - titles like Fable 2 though sounded great.
How is it for competitive gaming?
For a lot of people - this is what a gaming headset is all about. Headsets can quite literally give you the edge in battle when you can hear your opponent and where they're coming from before you can actually see them.
I play a lot of Halo: The Master Chief Collection - and I mean a lot of Halo on a weekly basis - it's my go-to first-person shooter, and I would say I felt like I had a competitive advantage at certain times with this headset. I could hear footsteps well away from me, I could hear sounds - once again - that I just normally wouldn't hear with third-party headsets within the same price range.
Most of all, perhaps, was how immersive the headset makes each experience, and in online play this translates to a competitive advantage when you're not only taking in everything around you on the battlefield with your eyes, but you're also hearing shots coming at you from every direction.
In short, if you're seeking a more affordable wireless headset for competitive gaming, I would most definitely recommend this.
What about the mic?
The microphone, according to a mate, was "good" and yeah, I've listened to a recording of myself and I would agree. It's clear and when in-game you can balance the sounds it picks up from the headset itself. It was also zero fuss to get working on Xbox and PC, and there's a light on the end of the mic, which indicates when it's on.
Is the Xbox Wireless Headset easy to setup?
Yes, to get the Xbox Wireless Headset working on your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One, you'll first need to do an update for it. After that, you start a game and you're good to go. The volume dials on both sides of the headset are also just as easy to use. Of course, you might also have to charge it - but for myself, it had a good amount of battery life in it before I attached it to my XSX with the provided USB-C cable.
On the PC (or mobile), it was simply a matter of activating Bluetooth and you're good to go. I will admit, though, that both my Xbox Series X and computer seem to respond to it at the same time - so that's at least one issue I've encountered. It's probably best to consider that as a user-end problem, for now.
I also gave it a test by walking around the house, and outside of the room my Xbox Series X was located in. Admittedly, there wasn't much range. Whether or not that was wireless interference, I'm not entirely sure, but even if it's got a limited range it shouldn't really be a problem as you obviously need to be in front of a television or device to play.
What's the headset sound like when watching movies and YouTube?
Outside of games, I tested out a scene of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus and the Xbox Wireless Headset trailer on YouTube and it sounded great. There are also options within the device's menu where you can adjust it to whatever it is you're watching, playing or listening to (game, movie, music, etc). In other words, I would advise swapping over to the "movie" setting, if you are watching a movie with this headset.
Want an even better experience...
Try the Dolby Atmos 6 month trial and you'll hear even more.
How does Xbox's headset compare to the competition?
I've used a lot of gaming headsets over the years at around the same price point, and right now, I'd say Xbox's is just as good, if not better than the rest in terms of overall quality. While some headsets may offer more options and extras, they seem to often cut corners at this price point with certain aspects of their designs. With the Xbox Wireless Headset, it feels like the overall quality is balanced across all areas, and there are no real shortcomings based on my own experiences so far.
Does this headset have a bright future?
I'd say so. Provided it can tolerate the average player's daily gaming cycles and there are no major bugs or hardware faults, I can't see why more Xbox users wouldn't just go with this headset by default.
For myself, I'll be moving on from my old Logitech one and using this from now on. So if you're in the market for a new gaming headset yourself for Xbox or PC, and normally go with more affordable picks, then Xbox's wireless one is well worth a look.
Are you picking up the new Xbox Wireless Headset this week? Let us know in the comments.