Home Article Best Xbox Series X/S Gaming Headsets for 2023. Microsoft wireless headset bluetooth
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Best Xbox Series X/S Gaming Headsets for 2023. Microsoft wireless headset bluetooth

How to Connect Wireless Headphones to Xbox One

Evan Killham is a Lifewire editor and writer who has been appearing all over the internet since 2009 helping people swap out hard drives or pin down an elusive feature on their Apple Watch.

Jessica Kormos is a writer and editor with 15 years’ experience writing articles, copy, and UX content for Tecca.com, Rosenfeld Media, and many others.

What to Know

  • Obtain a headset that uses Microsoft’s wireless protocol. The Xbox One doesn’t support Bluetooth.
  • If it comes with a wireless adapter or a base station, connect it to the Xbox One and switch on the headset.
  • To sync manually, press the sync button on the Xbox One and hold the power button on the headphones.

This article explains how to connect wireless headphones to an Xbox One.

How Do I Connect Wireless Headphones to My Xbox One?

Unfortunately, none of the several versions of the Xbox One (including the S and X models) support Bluetooth, so only headsets that use Microsoft’s wireless protocol can connect to the console.

Depending on the model of headset you buy, you’ll either use an included wireless receiver that plugs into a USB port on the hardware or connect to it directly, similarly to how you sync an Xbox One controller.

If Your Headset Has a Wireless Adapter

If your headset comes with a USB adapter, follow these steps:

If Your Headset Has a Base Station

If your headset comes with a base station, you might have to take an extra step.

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If your base station has an optical cable, attach the base station to the optical cable port on the back of the Xbox One.

How to Sync Headphones With an Xbox Manually

If your headset doesn’t have an adapter or base station, follow these steps:

These are general directions that may not apply to all models of headsets. Refer to your device’s documentation for specific instructions.

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  • Press the sync button on the left side (Xbox One) or lower-right corner (Xbox One S and Xbox One X) of the console.

Do You Need a Wireless Headset?

The main appeal of going wireless with your sound is that you won’t have cords lying all over the place, but the Xbox One’s setup means that’s not necessarily going to be an issue. A wired headset plugs directly into the controller and lets you receive both game and chat audio without running a longer cord to your TV or soundboard. The only cord involved goes between your headphones and the controller you’re already holding, which can still help with the clutter.

Experience immersive sound from these Xbox Series X/S headsets.

There are plenty of great options, but Xbox’s official entry, the Xbox Wireless Headset, is our pick for the best Xbox headset for your gaming needs. Click to jump to detailed looks at our picks for the best Xbox headsets, or check out the list below:

TL;DR – These are our picks for the Best Xbox Series X/S Headsets:

Microsoft’s latest Xbox consoles, the Series X and the Series S, deliver not only stunning, high-resolution visuals but improved spatial audio and support of the newest surround sound technologies like Dolby Atmos, Windows Sonic, and DTS Headphone: X.

To take advantage of this new technology and even get a leg up on your opponent thanks to improved sound cues, you need to grab a quality gaming headset for full immersion in the action. And you also won’t annoy your roommate or family by blasting your game through a soundbar.

There’s a mind-boggling amount of gaming headsets for the Xbox Series X/S, but not all are worth the investment, so we’ve helped narrow your search. All our picks pair perfectly with the latest Xbox consoles and some even tote Xbox Wireless for a super simple connection. Plus, we were sure to include plenty of options that connect with other devices, support the newest surround sound tech, and offer noise cancellation to make the most of your investment.

Take a look below at some of our favorite Xbox Series X/S gaming headsets. You’re bound to find the best one for you – and click here to see them in the UK.

Xbox Wireless Headset

Best Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless | Connectivity: Xbox Wireless, Bluetooth 4.2 | Surround Sound: Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone:X | Battery life: Up to 15 hours | Weight: 312g

The Xbox Wireless Headset is the official platform gaming headset, and it partners perfectly with the Xbox Series X/S, even matching the console’s design. For under 100, you get simplicity in pairing thanks to its use of the Xbox Wireless standard. An easy connection over Bluetooth or a USB-C dongle is also available for a host of other devices, and as a wireless option, it offers a 15-hour battery life to last through your longest gaming marathons.

This headset doesn’t lack performance or features, offering 40mm drivers to pump out sound—with an especially booming bass—on par with other mid-range headsets and rocking support of Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone: X. The integration of the Xbox Accessories App allows you to adjust the EQ presets, making the audio customized to your ears. And though the Xbox Wireless Headset totes a mainly plastic build, it’s durable with intuitive dials for volume and game/chat mix on the earcups, as well as easy-to-find buttons for device pairing and mic mute.

Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX

Best Wireless Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless | Connectivity: Lossless 2.4GHz, Bluetooth | Surround Sound: Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, DTS Headphone: X, Superhuman Hearing (PC) | Battery life: Up to 40 hours

When you glimpse the feature-rich, quality-designed Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX, it’s easy to see why it’s our favorite Wireless Xbox headset. 2.4GHz wireless means a pain-free connection to your Xbox Series X/S, and with the flip of a switch, it connects to other gaming consoles like the PS5 or Nintendo Switch. After pairing, you’ll enjoy lag-free, uninterrupted gameplay for up to 40 hours, thanks to impressive battery life, and you get Bluetooth support for your other devices.

The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX’s are comfortable, lightweight, and durable thanks to an improved design that will leave you surprised by how great they feel even after hours of use. As for its immersive sound experience, the 50mm Nanoclear speakers deliver, relaying even the most subtle nuances in your games, including picking up on the quiet footsteps of other players. The flip-down microphone also sounds clear for easy communication with teammates, though it picks up some background noise.

PDP Airlite Pro

Best Ultra Cheap Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless | Connectivity: Low-latency wireless dongle | Surround Sound: Windows Sonic | Battery Life: Up to 16 hours | Weight: 256g

You don’t need to spend a fortune on a quality headset for your Xbox, and PDP’s Airlite Pro is proof. For under 80, you get an officially licensed Xbox headset that offers crisp highs and booming bass from 50mm drivers. Your experience is further amplified by its compatibility with Windows Sonic, delivering spatial audio for easily discernible sound cues, especially in shooters.

The Airlite Pro offers a durable yet comfortable build with ample adjustability and well-cushioned, breathable earcups to ensure a pleasant wearing experience even through marathon sessions. It’ll pair seamlessly with your console via a low-latency wireless dongle, though it lacks Bluetooth for an easy connection to other devices. As a wireless option, battery life is important, and the 16 hours it gets is nothing to rave about, but luckily charging is facilitated by a USB-C cable to make life easier.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X

Most Comfortable Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless | Connectivity: Lossless 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth | Surround Sound: 360° Spatial Audio, Microsoft Spatial Sound, Tempest 3D, | Battery Life: Up to 38 hours | Weight: 322g

With most headsets, you start to feel fatigued after a few hours of wear, but thanks to SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X’s design, you should last almost as long as its impressive 38-hour battery life. Similar to its predecessor, the Arctis 7X, this headset offers an adjustable ski-Band headband and soft, breathable fabric memory foam earcups for cool, comfortable gameplay.

The Arctis Nova 7X packs more than just all-day comfort, as your favorite games sound great thanks to the Sonar software, which allows you to tune EQ settings and take advantage of spatial audio. Communication between teammates is also sharp and precise when using the retractable, noise-cancelling microphone. Also on offer is multi-device connectivity via a 2.4GHz dongle, while Bluetooth is available for pairing a plethora of other devices, and you can even use both simultaneously.

Razer Kaira Pro

Best Bluetooth Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless | Connectivity: Xbox Wireless, Bluetooth 5.0 | Surround Sound: Windows Sonic | Battery Life: Up to 15 hours (with RGB lighting) | Weight: 330g

Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to pair a whole host of devices with a headset, and the Razer Kaira Pro offers solid Bluetooth 5.0 support. Therefore, in addition to its use of Xbox Wireless for a seamless connection to your Xbox Series X/S, you can easily connect to your smartphone, tablet, or gaming laptop over Bluetooth. And you can do both simultaneously, so while listening to the action of your favorite shooter through Xbox, you can also jam out to music over your phone connected with Bluetooth.

The Razer Kairo Pro comes loaded with other fun features, like RGB lighting on the earcup to amp up your playing experience, and the headset still manages to last up to 15 hours with RGB turned on. The earcups also offer controls for everything from adjusting the headset’s sound settings to switching between devices, which may be overwhelming to figure out at first. You even get two mics, a removable wired mic and one built-in.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless

Best Noise-Cancelling Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless, Wired | Connectivity: 2.4 GHz wireless, Bluetooth, 3.5mm analog | Surround Sound: 360° Spatial Audio, 3D Audio, Microsoft Spatial Sound, Dolby Atmos | Battery life: 18-22 hours (per battery) | Weight: 338g

Noise distractions are unavoidable, especially if you live with roommates or in a bustling metropolis, so grabbing a headset with powerful noise cancellation like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is vital. On offer is a hybrid noise-canceling system with four mics that adjust based on what you’re listening to and what it picks up in your environment. Improved earcups also help with sound isolation, and a simple button press activates a transparency mode to reveal what’s happening around you.

With SteelSeries latest, we see the biggest design shift since the start of the Arctis lineup with now telescoping arms on its adjustable headband to better accommodates larger head sizes. The earcups are also slimmer and sleeker, giving off less of a gaming headset vibe and more of wireless headphones look. And one of our favorite features remains intact with a few upgrades, the hot-swappable rechargeable battery system.

Audeze Maxwell

Best Audiophile Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless, Wired | Connectivity: Lossless 2.4GHz low-latency wireless, Bluetooth, USB-C, 3.5mm analog | Surround Sound: Dolby Atmos | Battery Life: Up to 80 hours | Weight: 490g

Audiophiles will rejoice when they hear the soundstage of the high-fidelity Audeze Maxwell. Everything from the in-game sound to music mix comes across clearly, while the sound cues remain easily discernable. Unlike the Audeze Penrose X that previously held this spot, the Xbox version of this headset offers Dolby Atmos support for immersive spatial audio delivered through the 90mm planar magnetic drivers with Fluxor magnet arrays and Fazor Waveguides.

As for connectivity, the Maxwell has you covered with a USB-C wired option or wireless dongle to enjoy high-res sound up to 24-bit/96kHz. While Bluetooth 5.3 lets you connect to multiple devices, even supporting the LDAC codec and the low latency LC3plus and LC3 codecs. Beyond audio greatness, this headset offers a suspension headband and contoured earpads for all-day comfort, and we mean all day for several days, with its wild 80-hour battery life.

Bang-Olufsen Beoplay Portal

Best Premium Xbox Headset

Interface: Wireless, Wired | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, Xbox Wireless, 3.5mm | Surround Sound: Dolby Atmos | Battery Life: Up to 12 hours | Weight: 282g

BO’s Beoplay Portal offers a high-end headset that looks good, sounds good, and feels good. Once you move past the cost, you can enjoy the comfortable, lightweight design that steps away from the look of traditional gaming headsets. With superb audio quality, they’re perfect for everything from listening to your favorite album or basking in the roar of Dolby Atmos enabled game audio pipped from the Xbox Series X/S.

In a world full of distractions, it’s sometimes hard to stay focused on your game, so active noise cancellation should come in handy. Another convenient feature is Xbox Wireless for seamless pairing with your console, while Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio jack are available for all your other devices. Unfortunately, you can’t use Xbox Wireless and Bluetooth simultaneously like other headsets on this list, and you’ll also find the 12-hour battery could be better.

Best Xbox Headsets FAQs

How Do You Choose an Xbox Headset?

There are a vast number of gaming headsets available these days, and it’s important you pay attention to specific specs to ensure you’re getting the best one for you and your Xbox Series X/S.

First, connectivity is essential. When purchasing a headset, you want to consider ones that have a variety of connections, so you can make use of it on multiple devices. One standard is Xbox Wireless, which acts similar to Bluetooth, but is exclusive to Xbox. It makes pairing compatible headsets to your Xbox console quick and simple.

Another connectivity option available is a USB wireless transmitter, and with this, you can just plug in the dongle and get gaming. You can also plug into your console or controller with wired options like a traditional 3.5mm audio jack or USB. Some of our picks even offer Bluetooth, and though the Xbox Series X/S doesn’t support it, it’s still convenient for use with other devices like your smartphone or laptop.

Of course, you want a great-sounding gaming headset. There are several factors to consider for the best audio performance. Driver size is important, and 40 mm is often the standard, but bigger usually means better. The drivers are internal mechanisms that create the sound waves you hear. A larger driver allows for more air to pass through, making not only louder sounds but also more nuanced, wider frequencies.

The range of frequencies heard on a headset is their frequency response. As humans, we can hear a range from 20-20KHz, which will cover low deep sounds to high pitched screeches. Most headsets available offer close to this frequency response or even better.

Since the Xbox Series X/S offers support for some of the best spatial audio and surround sound technologies, you may want to consider a compatible headset. This type of audio places you right in the center of your game and can pick up sound directionally. With Dolby Atmos, you can even distinguish the location of a helicopter overhead or enemies lurking in the bushes. It’s truly a next-level immersive audio experience. Looking for headsets that offer Dolby Atmos, Windows Sonic, and DTS Headphone:X can amp up your gameplay and help you efficiently annihilate your competition.

Are Xbox One Headsets Compatible With Xbox Series X|S?

If you already have an Xbox One gaming headset, it should be compatible with the Xbox Series X|S already. That being said, there are some outliers that don’t work across both generations of consoles. If you want to know if your current gaming headset is compatible with the newer version of the console, you can check out this Xbox support page for the issue.

Which Xbox Headset Has the Best Sound Quality?

All of the headsets featured in our list have decent sound quality, but if you’re looking for the absolute best, you’ll want to go with high-end gaming headset. These headsets are more expensive than some of the budget options available, but they all offer excellent quality sound.

Which Headset Is Best for Xbox Series X Games?

Most compatible headsets will do just fine for most Xbox Series X/S games, but if you want something that provides richer sounds for AAA games, you’ll want to look at the more premium options on this list. These are headsets that offer things like Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic.

Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance tech and travel writer, part-time production editor, and a full-time traveler from Los Angeles, California. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles, London and the rest of the world. Follow her on Instagram @straywithRae.

Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.

How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Xbox Series X and Series S

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Here’s a complete tutorial to help you connect your Bluetooth headphones to your beloved Xbox Series X and S consoles.

Using Bluetooth headphones with your Xbox Series X and S consoles gives you freedom from wires getting in the way of your gaming.

Unfortunately, instead of Bluetooth, Xbox uses the Xbox Wireless protocol to connect with audio devices. So, you can’t directly connect your Bluetooth headphones to your console – unless they are specifically licensed for Xbox.

Luckily, a few hacks using third-party devices, such as Bluetooth dongles or even your TV, can help you connect Bluetooth headphones to Xbox Series X and Series S. Read on as we cover all of this below!

How to Connect Compatible Headphones to Xbox Series X and Series S

As mentioned earlier, Microsoft offers official licensing for manufacturers to build compatible wireless headphones for Xbox. These headphones are easier to set up because they often come with a USB adapter or direct support for Xbox Wireless.

In 2001, Microsoft launched the ‘Designed for Xbox‘ program with the release of the original Xbox. This program grants accessory manufacturers like Razer, Steelseries, and others the license to use the Xbox Wireless module in their products.

If you have these headphones, here’s how you can connect them to Xbox Series X and S:

Via the wireless headphones’ USB dongle

Some Xbox-compatible gaming headphones come with a specialized 2.4 GHz USB dongle designed to work with Xbox Wireless. Unlike Bluetooth, which requires a pairing process, these headphones are built to be plug-and-play.

Here’s how to connect Xbox-compatible headphones to Xbox series S/X using the USB dongle:

  • Locate the USB port at the back of your Xbox Series X (or on the front panel for Series S).
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  • Plug the USB dongle that comes with the headphones.
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  • Turn on the wireless headphones. They should connect automatically.
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If you’re having difficulty picking the right headphones, check out our guide on choosing the best gaming headset.

Via Xbox Wireless protocol

Some wireless headphones are natively compatible with Xbox Wireless. As a result, they don’t need a USB dongle to pair with the console.

Here’s how you can connect Xbox Wireless-compatible headphones to your console:

  • Turn on both your Xbox Series S/X and your headphones.
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  • Press the power button on your headphones until the indicator light flashes.
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  • Press the pairing button on your Xbox Series S/X.
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  • Wait until the indicator light stops flashing. This suggests a successful pairing.
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If you’re looking for dongle-free headphones for Xbox, the Razer Kaira Pro, and Turtle Beach Stealth 600 are among the best choices.

How to Connect Non-Compatible Bluetooth Headphones to Xbox Series X and Series S

Not everyone can justify the expense of getting a new pair of headphones for gaming on their Xbox Series S/X, especially those who only play casually.

On the contrary, you probably already have a pair of Bluetooth headphones you use daily with your phone or laptop. If you want to use these Bluetooth headphones with your Xbox, here are several workarounds you can try:

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your headphones’ mic for the in-game chat using any of the methods below.

Via Bluetooth transmitter

The easiest way to add Bluetooth connectivity to your Xbox is by getting a third-party transmitter. To do this, you will need a 3.5mm Bluetooth transmitter.

For this, we recommend using the Uberwith Bluetooth Transmitter since it’s designed to fit the Xbox controller’s shape. However, if you don’t like Uberwith’s bulky transmitter design, you can also use the GMCell Bluetooth Transmitter which come in a smaller size.

Remember that these steps may slightly differ depending on the transmitter you use. But here’s a general guide on how to connect Bluetooth headphones to the Xbox Series S/X via a Bluetooth transmitter:

  • Plug the 3.5mm Bluetooth transmitter into your Xbox controller.
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  • Turn on the transmitter by pressing the power button for about 3 seconds or until the indicator light flashes.
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  • Turn on your Bluetooth headphones.
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  • Power on your headphones and activate pairing mode. The method may differ between headphones – consult the manual if unsure.
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  • Hold the multifunction button on the transmitter for around 5 seconds to enter pairing mode.
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  • Wait for the indicator light to stop flashing. It indicates a successful pairing process.
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By adding Bluetooth connectivity to your Xbox, you can pair virtually any Bluetooth headphones – like your Airpods, to your console.

Via Smart TV

If you’re using a Smart TV with Bluetooth audio support as the display and audio output for your Xbox Series S/X, you can skip buying a Bluetooth transmitter and use your TV’s Bluetooth connection instead.

With this method, you’ll be able to pair your Bluetooth headphones to your Smart TV instead of directly to your Xbox. The only potential drawback is that your Bluetooth headphones will be further away from the audio source, which may result in weaker signal strength or interference.

Here’s how to connect Bluetooth headphones to Xbox Series S/X via your Smart TV:

  • Turn on pairing mode on your Bluetooth headphones.
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  • Scan for Bluetooth devices on your TV, then select your headphones.
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  • Check if you’re able to receive an audio signal on your headphones.
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  • If not, go to the TV’s audio output settings and select Bluetooth.
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Via PC using the Xbox Console Companion app

Considering Xbox and Windows PC belong to the same environment, this opens up room for seamless integration.

On that note, there’s an app on Windows called Xbox Console Companion that allows you to link your Windows PC and turn it into an extension of your Xbox.

This app lets you pair Bluetooth headphones to your PC and feed the Xbox audio through them.

But for this method to work, there are two requirements you have to meet:

  • Your PC and Xbox need to be on the same wireless network.
  • Your PC needs to have Bluetooth connectivity, whether it’s built-in or via a Bluetooth dongle.

If you’ve met the requirements above, here’s how you can pair Bluetooth headphones to your Xbox Series S/X via a Windows PC:

  • On your PC, run the Xbox Console Companion app.
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  • Sign in with the Microsoft account that you use on Xbox.
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  • Click on the Xbox Connection icon located just above the settings icon.
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  • Wait for your Xbox to show up in the devices list.
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You can manually input the console’s IP address if your Xbox doesn’t appear in the devices list. You can find your Xbox’s IP address by going to Profile System Settings General Network Settings Advanced.

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  • Click on the Connect button to start the pairing process.
  • Now, connect your headphones to your PC, and you can start using your Bluetooth headphones with your Xbox since your console and PC are linked.
  • How to Use the In-Game Chat Feature With Bluetooth Headphones

    Using non-Xbox-compatible Bluetooth headphones basically means that there’s no way for you to use the in-game chat feature—at least not directly from your Xbox.

    But if that’s what you’re after, the Xbox Mobile app can help you use your headset mic for in-game communication.

    With this method, only the in-game chat can be accessed. Your Bluetooth headphones will not pick up any of the game’s audio.

    Here’s how you can use the in-game chat feature on Xbox Series S/X with Bluetooth headphones:

    • Pair your Bluetooth headphones with your phone.
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    • Launch the Xbox mobile app and log in using the same Microsoft account you use on your Xbox.
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    • Tap on the headset icon at the top right corner of your screen to start a party chat.
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    • Click Allow on the microphone access permission prompt.
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    • You’ll be directed to the party chat screen, where you can invite your teammates to a voice chat room.
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    How to Adjust Audio Settings on the Xbox Series X and Series S

    With the workarounds above, you should now be able to use your Bluetooth headphones with your Xbox Series S/X. But in case you’re looking to adjust the audio output settings manually, here’s how you can do it on your Xbox Series S/X:

    • Press the Xbox Button on your controller.
    • Scroll to the speaker icon at the bottom right corner of the pop-up menu.
    • Adjust the output volume, chat mixer, and toggle mic monitoring until you find the sound you like.
    • Press A to confirm your settings.

    If you are having audio issues while using headphones with your Xbox, ensure to check out our complete guide on common Xbox headset issues and how to fix them.

    However, if you want to adjust more than just the volume levels, here’s what you can do instead:

    • Press the Xbox Button on your controller.
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    • Select Settings General, then go to Volume Audio Output.
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    • Under Headset Audio, select Headset Format and the setting you wish to activate.
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    You’ll have the following options:

    • Stereo uncompressed: Activate dual channel (left and right) audio output without software processing. This is the default setting.
    • Windows Sonic for Headphones: Turn on Microsoft’s in-house spatial audio processing.
    • Dolby Atmos for Headphones: Use Dolby’s virtual surround sound system. It requires a 15 per month license to activate.
    • DTS X: Activate DTS virtual surround sound. It requires you to download the DTS Sound Unbound app, which costs 20 after the free trial.

    Not sure if it’s worth investing in a paid surround sound system? Read our guide on Windows Sonic vs DTS X and Dolby Atmos to help you decide!

    Why Can’t You Connect Bluetooth Headphones Directly on the Xbox Series X and Series S

    While Bluetooth is the most popular wireless technology, it’s also known to have latency issues that can interrupt your gaming experience. That’s why, instead of Bluetooth, the Xbox consoles use a proprietary Xbox Wireless protocol with a specific radio frequency (RF) module. This protocol lets you wirelessly connect certified devices like the Microsoft Wireless Headset to Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X without the need for dongles or adapters.

    Compared to Bluetooth, Microsoft’s proprietary wireless technology has a higher 5GHz bandwidth which, in turn, reduces the latency.

    Unfortunately, the proprietary wireless protocol also limits the choices of headphones that Xbox users can use to get a hassle-free wireless audio experience.

    They either have to use Microsoft headphones or ones from licensed partners like Turtle Beach, Steelseries, and Razer, among a handful of other manufacturers.

    Be careful when choosing Xbox compatible headphones. Some headphones, like the Steelseries Arctis 9X have an Xbox and non-Xbox compatible versions. Usually, headphones for Xbox have an ‘X’ at the end of their name.

    Conclusion

    While Bluetooth headphones are still not first-hand compatible with Xbox, you can now use your preferred Bluetooth headphones with your console rather than spending extra money on Xbox-compatible headphones.

    What do you think of the Xbox Wireless proprietary protocol? Did we, by any chance, skip over other pairing methods that you know of? Let us know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев!

    Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset review

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    For all the futuristic ambitions of the Xbox One, Microsoft decided not to release a first-party wireless headset for the entirety of the console generation it belonged to, opting instead for a still decent but somewhat old-fashioned wired stereo headset.

    It’s not like Xbox gamers were short of third-party alternatives, but we did wonder when the REDMOND giant would once again make one of its own (the Xbox 360 did have a wireless headset). especially given everything it has learned from the Surface Headphones in the last few years.

    Well, it turns out the time is now (or a few months ago), following the launch of the Xbox Series X and S at the back end of 2020. New generation, new Xbox Wireless Headset (though it works just fine with the Xbox One too), and spoiler alert: for £90 you’ll struggle to find a more impressive gaming headset than this one, first-party or otherwise.

    Design: surface appeal

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    Gaming headsets are often busy-looking things decorated with lights, nobs and rarely attractive logos. Thankfully, Microsoft has decided to keep it simple with the Xbox Wireless Headset. The matte black plastic exterior is broken up only by some unmistakably Xbox green accents on each side, making it the perfect partner for the similarly un-shouty Xbox Series X.

    An Xbox logo is subtly engraved on the faceplate of the right dial, which actually looks pretty great. And if you look closely between the sizeable faux leather ear pads and the dials, you’ll see lines of little sunken holes, which don’t appear to do anything but, again, look nice.

    And let’s talk about those dials, because they’re up there with the new headset’s best features. When you first inspect the Xbox Wireless Headset you’ll notice that it’s low on buttons. That’s because Microsoft has attached a rotating dial to the side of each ear cup, which will be familiar to anyone who has used either iteration of the Surface Headphones. They work fantastically well, with the right dial allowing you to precisely adjust the volume, and the left your connected audio feeds (more on that in the next section). It’s a really intuitive system that we’re surprised hasn’t been pinched yet by Microsoft’s competitors in the general-use headphones space.

    There are two buttons on the headset, which are your mic mute and power/pairing button, but otherwise everything you can control using the headset itself is done using the dials. Unlike the Surface Headphones, though, you won’t find any touch-sensitive controls here, so there’s no way of play/pausing music or skipping a track, or taking a call on the headset.

    The Xbox Wireless Headset is more than comfortable enough, but your ears will definitely heat up under those cushions during longer gaming sessions. The steel headband doesn’t feel heavy on your head (the whole thing weighs in at a relatively lightweight 312g), and while we’d prefer it if the ear cups swivelled like those of obvious rivals from the likes of SteelSeries, we reckon the headset will still fit most head shapes. The sidearms require a bit of effort to adjust too, so they won’t do so while you’re wearing them, which is good. The bendable boom arm is also well designed, allowing you to easily flick the mic away from your face and out of the way when not in use.

    There’s only one port, which is USB-C for charging, and no headphone jack.

    Features: multi-love

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    The Xbox Wireless Headset’s other standout feature is its multipoint connection. The headset connects wirelessly and near instantly to your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One via the brand’s own wireless protocol (you simply hold the pairing button on your headset and then do the same on the console), but it’s also Bluetooth 4.2-enabled, which allows you to have a simultaneous connection with your phone or tablet.

    This makes it possible to listen to music or a podcast while you’re whizzing around in Forza Horizon 4 without losing the in-game audio feed, or chat to friends on Discord while you play. You’re able to adjust game audio and chat using the left dial, so it’s very easy to fine-tune. This is hardly a revolutionary feature, but it’s handled fantastically well here, and really impressive given the sub-£100 price tag.

    Microsoft talked up surround sound gaming a fair bit in the leadup to the Xbox Series X’s launch, so it’s no surprise that the Xbox Wireless Headset supports a trio of spatial audio standards, including its own Windows Sonic tech, Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone:X. For the latter two you’ll need an app on your console and a running subscription, but there are free trials, and we can definitely appreciate the added immersion of Dolby Atmos-supported games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Gears 5, even if the sound placement is all happening virtually.

    If you head to Xbox Accessories app on your Xbox or Windows 10 PC you’ll find a multi-mode EQ with a bass boost function, although as we’ll get to in a second, you probably won’t need it.

    The app also lets you adjust the sensitivity of an auto-mute function on the mic (you can just mute yourself with the button if you prefer), as well as the mute light’s brightness and own voice monitoring.

    One more thing to note: when paired with your Xbox and within range, the headset will turn the console on when you power it up, which can be more than a bit annoying when you’re not planning to play it. At the time of writing, we’re yet to work out whether this can be disabled.

    Performance and battery life: playing with your noise

    best, xbox, series, gaming
    best, xbox, series, gaming
    best, xbox, series, gaming

    For £90, you’d be forgiven for expecting the Xbox Wireless Headset to underwhelm on the audio front, but you might be surprised at just how much thump the 40mm drivers in this thing are packing. The low end really punches, which is great in action-heavy games, even if we find the bass a bit too thick to really enjoy music away from gaming. Switching to the ‘Music’ setting in the app seems to provide a bit more balance as you move up the frequency range.

    As mentioned previously, spatial audio is a mixed bag and you’ll need to do a bit of hopping between the supported standards to find out what works best for you, but in a game like Forza Horizon 4, virtual surround sound really does enhance the experience, as it does in shooters like Warzone, where being able to place footsteps amid all the gunfire and explosions is quite handy.

    There’s no noise-cancelling tech on board, but the headset does a pretty good job of blocking out external sounds, so it’s not a major issue. The microphone is also a pretty good performer, and it’s good that you can customise the reactiveness of the auto-mute feature.

    Battery life is rated up to 15 hours on a full charge, which seems accurate. If you do happen to spend half a day caning Halo and want to get back at it ASAP, you can get four hours of battery back with a 30-minute charge, with a full charge asking for about three hours plugged in.

    Microsoft Xbox Wireless Headset verdict

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    We’ve had to wait a while for an official wireless headset from Xbox, but it was well worth it. Great-looking, decent-sounding and rammed with features, for 90 quid the Xbox Wireless Headset is very difficult to knock.

    It’s definitely for Xbox and PC players only, and while you absolutely can use it in place of headphones for day-to-day listening, we probably wouldn’t. It’s naturally tuned for gaming and you’ll probably find yourself wishing for a multifunction button of some sort. There’s no case either, which suggests that Microsoft expects you to keep the headset in the house.

    But if you’ve just splurged a load of cash on an Xbox Series X and like the sound of keeping the accompanying headset outlay below three figures, look no further than the Xbox Wireless Headset.

    Stuff Says…

    A first-party gaming headset done right

    Simultaneous connection to Xbox and a Bluetooth device

    Spatial audio widely supported

    No playback controls on the headset

    Author

    Goltilar

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