WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Simple and minimalistic, Microsoft’s Xbox One headset is ideal for those on a budget and is especially lightweight for those who hate heavy headphones.
Price: Check Price
Weight: 9 ounces
Battery Life: N/A
Compatibility: Xbox One
Drivers: 40mm neodynium
Microsoft’s design goals are obvious: Create a minimalistic headset that offers private sound experiences for players without raising the price too high. If you were vastly underwhelmed by the simple little telemarketer headset that came with your Xbox One and controller, you will probably be interested in this stereo headset.
Available in white or black, the headset gets down to business immediately. The earcups are one of the most interesting parts: they are broad over-the-ear cones that provide as much room as even the largest earcups on high-end models, but at only a fraction of the weight. The entire headset only clocks in at around 9 ounces, and it’s an odd feeling at first to have such encompassing earcups on such a lightweight headset. The headband is a basic layer of rubberized padding, and the length adjustments are based on simple push/pull ratcheting. Nothing unfamiliar, and nothing wasted.
The earcup material itself is a basic weave designed more for longevity than comfort. Like other weaves, it tends to trap dust a little too well, but the lightweight design keeps it from being uncomfortable at any point.
There are not controls on this space-saving headset. Instead, Microsoft includes an expanded plugin adapter, very similar to the in-box mic the controller uses. Plug this into your controller, and you can mute, change the volume, and alternate chat volume balance. On Xbox systems, this controller-based control option is welcome, and timesaving compared to reaching up to buttons on the headset itself.
The mic is notable for its “hidden” design when it flips seamlessly up into the headband, making accidents less likely when putting the headphones away. The mic is a little short and fully plastic, but the audio dynamics work well nonetheless: It’s not crystal clear communication, but it gets the job done and keeps the boom out of the way at the same time.
With “stereo” in the name, it’s pretty obvious what sort of sound Microsoft offers here. With those extra-large earcups and the 40mm neodynium drivers, this stereo is probably better than what you’re used to, although it’s still a far cry from surround sound. There’s very little directionality, and bass tends to be soft at lower volumes – although this improves when you crank the sound up.
Ultimately, if you don’t have any headphones, or have a cheap pair and want to upgrade, these will provide a bit of extra advantage when it comes to filtering out sounds and signals. However, they don’t offer much environmental sound, and pinpointing noise remains tricky: they’re best used when you want a slight audio advantage but are particularly interested in the privacy and simplicity that Microsoft’s headset offers.
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