Xbox is trying to up the game when it comes to low-cost, high performance gaming headsets.
The Xbox Wireless Headset has a launch price in New Zealand of $170, putting it at the lower end of the cost spectrum as a wireless unit - so what corners have been cut?
How much do they matter? How does it compare to other gaming headsets?
I've been using the Xbox Wireless Headset for the past few weeks and here are my thoughts.
My favourite thing about this headset is its beautiful, beautiful dials.
This might seem weird, but having big rotating earcups to control the volume on one side and the chat/game mix on the other is supremely satisfying.
Many gaming headsets, including some that cost a lot more than this one, have silly dials that are hard to distinguish from each other in heated gaming moments.
The simplicity and intuitiveness of these dials is really quite something - and something I hope is imitated in other products soon.
Audio quality-wise, the Xbox Wireless Headset is perfectly serviceable. It won't blow your hair back, but I found it totally fine for locating enemies in PUBG and helping my racing in Dirt 5.
- Speaker size: 40mm
- Speaker material: Paper composite diaphragm and neodymium magnet
- Speaker Impedance: 32 ohm
- Speaker Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
As this is an Xbox product, the way it works on a Series X console is fantastic. There's no dongle to pop in, it connects completely wirelessly and then registers as a first-party device, so you can fine-tune settings in the Xbox Accessories app and so forth.
The simplistic approach to the sound control dials applies to the whole headset, too - there's just one button on these cans. It powers it on or off and turns pairing on or off.
That's all you need.
There's a simple, sleek look to the unit which of course has the basic black and green Xbox colouring, so it looks cool if it's displayed near your controller.
In terms of battery life, you get a good 14 - 15 hours before having to plug it in.
This also works as a decent set of wireless headphones. They connect via Bluetooth to whatever you want to play music, movies or TV shows from and work easy as.
For big eared folk such as myself, the earcups on this headset are a bit little and as such it's not super comfy.
It's definitely comfortable enough to wear for decent gaming sessions and not get much ear strain, but if you're downgrading from a premium model with larger earcups it's something you'll notice - unless you don't have big ears.
Obviously being cheaper, some corners had to be cut with this headset and the feature I miss most is active noise-cancelling (ANC). That's something I'd definitely be looking for if spending more money and it makes sense this product doesn't offer it.
As much as I love the dial controls - and I dearly love them - they could be improved upon. Perhaps if there's a premium version of these released, the dials will have a more elegant feel, like the digital crown on the frightfully expensive Apple AirPods Max.
As they are, actually turning the dials is fine, you can just kind of feel the cheapness in the materials. A premium feel would make them even more satisfying to use.
Audio quality-wise, the Xbox Wireless Headset could also be improved upon. That's one area rival PlayStation has a big advantage in, sharing the same parent company as some of the best headphones around.
The mic tucks up under the left earcup when you don't want to use it, but it's not as comfortably out of the way as other headsets and won't auto-mute when you flip it up. It does have an auto-mute function, however.
The charging cable that comes in the box is only about 35cm long, which is unfortunately too short to recharge while you're using them.
I had a few issues with connectivity, too, where I'd get audio but not chat audio through the headset a few times. Little issues like this occur with headsets fairly often and can be patched out, which I'm very confident will be the case with these as they're a first-party Microsoft product.
All in all, the gripes one could have with the Xbox Wireless Headset are all totally reasonable for its price range and would likely be much worse in rival products with a similar cost.
For what this costs, it's an excellent headset.
I think this should especially appeal to parents of Xbox gamers getting pestered for a headset upgrade who want to keep the cost well below $200.
You're not going to get all the bells and whistles that come with a headset that costs several times more - it might not be as comfortable and doesn't offer ANC.
But it's still a great wireless headset with a refreshingly simplistic approach to how it's used, especially with volume and sound mix control.
I hope this is a sign of first-party headsets yet to come, too. If Microsoft improves upon this model, offers a more premium option and/or includes it in console packages, that will make for some super good deals.
Newshub was supplied an Xbox Wireless Headset for this review.