A new Xbox Wireless Headset for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S is coming on March 16, Microsoft has announced. It costs $99.99 / £94.99 / AU$129.99 and is set to go toe to toe with Sony's PS5 Pulse 3D Wireless Headset.
The headset has been designed to take full advantage of the Xbox Series X|S suite of features, and promises to deliver "best-in-class audio and chat performance" according to Microsoft.
In a blog post on Xbox Wire, Microsoft said its audio engineering and design teams spent “countless hours” studying what makes a great audio experience for gamers, and because they’re familiar with the technology behind the Xbox Wireless protocol, the Xbox Wireless Headset can utilize unique auditory features that may not have been available to previous headset manufacturers.
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“We spent a lot of time in the audio testing chambers trying to characterize and understand how the headset reproduces audio in different room environments. It goes in your living room, game room, and dorm room and we want it to sound the best for all types of audio.” said Erik Garcia, project architect and lead. “In the same way, the team studied game-play to ensure great sounding chat, sensitive mic to prevent background noise.”
As you’d expect, the Xbox Wireless Headset supports Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone: X to deliver convincing spatial surround sound, but it also includes a clever dual beamforming microphone that focuses on speech audio versus environmental noise. Voice isolation tuning then helps the mic pick up your voice, instead of what’s going on in the background.
Interestingly, when you’re not speaking, the mic will auto-mute (which can be toggled on and off), which means you should hopefully no longer hear the the heavy breathing of that one friend in your party. To give you peace of mind, the mic also lights up so you know when the mic is muted. You can also tuck it away when it’s not in use.
Battery life is said to last around 15 hours after a three hour charge, but it varies significantly depending on the distance you’re sat from your console. Still, that’s around the average amount of playtime we’ve seen when compared to most competing wireless gaming headsets.
Of course, having a great sounding pair of headphones and a capable mic is one thing, but a gaming headset also has to be comfortable. Microsoft says that the Xbox Wireless Headset has a lightweight design, and includes ultra-soft large earcups that distribute pressure over the ears – there’s also an adjustable headband with a thick cushion.
In terms of the design, Microsoft wanted the Xbox Wireless Headset to “blend into your living room without feeling out of place or obtrusive". The headset features the same shapes and colors found on the new Xbox consoles.
“We’ve learned that gaming is a deeply social activity. Especially nowadays, given the state of the world, gaming and communicating with others is a critical need. The team took a human-centered approach to design a headset that removes the unnecessary distractions so that players can focus on the game and their friends,” said Scott Wang, the senior design researcher working on the new Xbox Wireless Headset.
Like the Microsoft Surface Headphones, the Xbox Wireless Headset lets users adjust the volume by rotating the earcup dials, as well as adjust the game/chat audio balance. The headset can also be used across multiple devices, including Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, and connect to mobile devices via Bluetooth. You can also connect your phone and Xbox at the same time.
But that’s not all. The Xbox Wireless Headset can also be fine-tuned using the Xbox Accessories app on Xbox consoles and Windows 10 devices.
You can customize the audio experience by changing the equalizer settings, adding bass boost, adjust the auto-mute sensitivity, turn on mic monitoring, and even adjust how bright the mic’s mute light is. The headset will also be updated in the future via wireless updates from your Xbox console.
The Xbox Wireless Headset is available to pre-order today (February 16) from select retailers, including the Microsoft Store, and will be available on March 16.
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