Microsoft has launched a fancy new Xbox Wireless Headset to go along with the Xbox Series X|S and it’s got a lot to be excited about. Firstly, the company is promising “exceptional sound” which is an easy claim to make, but the reality might of course be quite different. That said, Microsoft doesn’t usually half-arse hardware (original 360 red ring of death aside) so we can believe that this set will be sonically pretty excellent.
Microsoft has thrown all the features at this headset, which will retail for $99 / £95 / $AU150 and launch on the March 16.
Spatial audio will play a big part of this headset which supports Windows Sonic, DTS Headphone: X and, most exciting, Dolby Atmos. Good spatial audio has the potential to change how you react to enemies in game, or just immerse you in the environment. Anyone who’s tried Forza Horizon with Atmos will have some idea how amazing this technology can sound.
On the downside, it looks like some of those spatial features might only work on the Xbox Series X|S and One. That’s perhaps because while the headset is equipped with Bluetooth it will use a proprietary system for low-latency, high quality audio when connected to an Xbox. It would be great if there was a dongle to enable this for Windows 10 PCs, but at a push Bluetooth would do if you’re using this mostly with a console, but sometimes with a computer. The two different wireless types can be used at the same time, meaning your phone can be connected at the same time as your Xbox.
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Microsoft is also promising high-quality chat, with an impressive dual beamforming microphone to isolate speech from background noise. It will be interesting to see if this microphone is a full band model, which would open this headset up for use in podcasting and really great quality Zoom calls. A lot of gaming headsets offer competent microphones, but not amazing ones.
The headset will auto-mute when you’re not talking, which can be turned off. That’s an interesting idea, because if it’s an intelligent system it will cut out unwanted noise in a manner similar to push-to-talk, but without the need to press buttons. There is also a more traditional mute button too, if you’d rather keep it old school.
Depending on some environmental factors Microsoft says you should enjoy 15 hours of battery life at a maximum. A full charge takes three hours and 15 minutes plugged in will give you four hours of play time.
Things have certainly come a long way since the Xbox 360’s gaming headset.