Microsoft Xbox One Stereo Headset Review — A decent v-shaped value
I’m a little late on this one. Microsoft first launched their official Xbox One headset in 2014, for $79.
But now it’s only $59! It includes the little stereo headset adapter that allows you to change your headphone volume and mute your mic on Xbox One without digging through the menus.
For the price…it’s totally okay. Especially if you think you’ll get some use out of the adapter. And when paired with the new Surround modes on Xbox One, the unremarkable sound quality shines a little brighter.
The Xbox One Stereo Headset(tm) has a slightly wonky V-shaped response. It’s pretty obviously tuned to have a “gaming headset” sort of sound. The mid bass is boosted and thumpy. The midrange is a little bit scooped out. The upper mids are boosted a bit…which helps with footsteps, but means that vocals have a slightly nasal and “cupped hands” sound to them. Highs are present and clear without being fatiguing.
If it weren’t for all the weird bumps in the midrange, this would be an exceptional-sounding headset. It sounds very nice in the low-end and decently pleasant in the highs…but the mids pull it down. Once your brain adjusts to it you won’t be unhappy, and it competes quite well for its price. It’s similar to the HyperX Cloud Stinger, which is probably its most direct competition in the marketplace right now.
Soundstage is nice, relaxed and open, thanks to the use of cloth ear cups.
I don’t hate the sound of these, but you’ll notice the scooped out mids at first listen. They’re good for a gaming headset in this price range, but don’t compete with “regular” headphones in the $70 range. The HyperX Cloud Core would give you much better, more balanced sound.
I’ll have more thoughts on this in an upcoming article, but this headset acquits itself quite well with the new Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic headphone surround modes on Xbox One/Windows 10. I have to imagine they tested the tuning with this headset during the development of those pieces of software. So if you’re planning to use the new sound modes, this is a great cheap choice.
The comfort here is shockingly great! They don’t look like they’d be comfy. The ear pad openings are a little small, the foam is a bit wimpy, and the headband looks underpadded.
In practice, this all somehow works out. The headset is nice and light, but it stays in place thanks to a decently-solid clamping force. The ear cups are mounted at the bottom of the headband pieces, so that makes them a bit tigher than you might think.
The headband pad is a piece of squishy rubber, Beats-style. It’s just soft enough to get the job done. I have to readjust it every now and then, but it never irritates me to the point of pain. The ear pads hug my ears thanks to their small holes, but the cloth helps keep them from getting too warm.
It all adds up to a generally pleasant wearing experience. They don’t disappear on your head, but they don’t irritate too much either. I wish the headband was a little bit squishier, but other than that I have no complaints. Impressive, for what they cost. They compete well with the Stinger in this regard.
Unfortunately, the cloth ear cups mean that isolation is only about average for the category. They don’t leak too badly, which is good because they’re quite sensitive and can get loud without much juice. But they don’t block the outside world quite as well as the Stinger or other headsets with leatherette ear pads. However, if you don’t like your ears heating up, you might be okay with the trade-off. They’re still isolating enough to be usable in loud environments, but you’ll notice outside noises a little more than with other headsets. I was expecting the cloth ear pads to provide almost no isolation, so I was pleasantly surprised by their average performance here.
Can I get a little reductive?
The build quality is “meh.”
Everything is plastic. The headband seems decently thick. The pieces holding the ear cups are made of glossy plastic that attracts every smudge you can imagine. The ear pads are just nice enough to not feel cheap. The gimbals holding the ear cups onto the headband have an impressive range of motion, and don’t feel like they’ll snap immediately. The cord is flat, and okay at preventing tangles.
The one neat part about the design is the way the mic folds up into the side of the headband. It’s completely invisible when folded up, meaning you could wear these as normal headphones. Well, as long as you don’t mind a slight bit of the “Old Telephone on My Head” look.
I have to wear them almost fully extended, but I’ve got one extra click of adjustment. I have a pretty big head. So that’s a good sign that they’ll probably fit you.
I don’t love the build of these, but I don’t hate it either. I like the way the mic flips down. They look way less silly in public than the comparably-priced Stinger, so if you need your headset to do double-duty as regular headphones, then this is a better choice.
The included microphone is strictly okay, and I wish it extended a little closer to the side of my mouth. The big bonus here is the Xbox headset adapter, which allows volume and mic control without opening the menus on the console. Considering they sell this adapter separately for $25, this package is a solid value.
There’s a white version of this bundle that I believe is a Gamestop exclusive.
For the price, this is a totally okay thing. I needed a headset adapter because I was tired of opening the Xbox One menus to change the volume, and I figured I might as well get the headset bundle now that it’s only $59. And I’m not disappointed. The sound is a little too v-shaped for my personal tastes, but they don’t sound bad at all for the price. You could do a lot worse in this space, so if you need a good basic headset and plan on using the new surround modes on Xbox or in Windows 10, give this one a look. You can do much better for a little bit more money…but this is a great entry-level product.