I am not a big gamer. I have never owned a gaming console, and I don’t have a lot of time to play games on my computer. I did, however, get a chance to play around with my friend’s new gaming computer. It was incredible! I have never heard sound like that before. The pitch was perfect, and the bass was bold. I felt like I was in the game. The only problem was that I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. The bright colors and crisp images were so captivating that I had trouble focusing on my work.
Nobody would argue that the gaming industry has changed dramatically in the last few years. When the Xbox 360 and PS3 launched it was all about the graphics. Now, that’s not to say that graphics aren’t still a massive part of the experience, but it’s the sound design and the feel of the experience that really gets us to sit back and think about the game. And that’s what we love about it.
We’re big fans of Roccat’s gaming headsets here at Geeks Playing Games. Roccat’s gaming headsets have always been known for their brilliant design and stunning audio, and the Roccat Khan Aimo takes that to the next level. Roccat has taken the best features of their gaming-focused headsets and the Khan Pro—the Aimo’s predecessor—and added some extra style that makes the Khan Aimo stand out.
Buzz is something that typically comes from headphones, but Microsoft seems to have generated quite a bit of it with their just-released Xbox Wireless Headset. Somehow these $99 headphones have become as hot and as hard-to-come-by as the next-gen Xbox Series X|S consoles themselves. Is it worth the hype? Absolutely, if you use them right. In order to review these headphones, I used three other headsets as reference tools. The Corsair HS35, an inexpensive wired headset ($39.99), the Logitech G Pro X, a premium wireless headset ($199.99), and the Sennheiser Game Zero, a premium wired headset ($299.99). All are closed-back like the Xbox Wireless Headset. The intention is not to A/B test these peripherals, but to provide context and a set of reference points.
Design and Presentation
As has become standard practice with all of their products, Microsoft has packed this headset into an easy-to-open box that provides a nice visual presentation when opened. Inside the package are the headphones, a short USB-C charging cable, and some modest instructions. It would be nice if Microsoft included a charging brick or a longer cable for those who have their Xboxes nestled into cabinets, but that’s admittedly a very minor gripe. The design is intuitive and minimalist. Microsoft has forgone the obnoxious colors and flashy lights seen on other headsets in favor of a sleek aesthetic befitting the Xbox Series X. Rather than the usual assortment of random geometric shapes that would be more at home on an early 2000s metal album, the plastic surface is instead flat, with a slightly rough texture. The assembly is matte black, save for a thin band encircling the outer edge of each ear cup and a few unobtrusive status lights. Etched on the right-hand side is an engraved Xbox logo, and I really appreciate that the “Left” and “Right” indicators are in large, easy-to-read letters on the inside of each cup. The plastic has a quality feel to it, and the faux leather around the ear cups is soft and supple. Weighing in at just shy of 11oz., these are on the lighter side for a set of wireless headphones, which is good news. These weigh less than the Logitechs, and the exact same as the Sennheisers. Overall comfort is good, but not perfect. I have an average-sized head, and I found the compressive force to be on the tight side. As closed-back, passive noise-canceling headphones, the earcups on these are designed to surround your ears with an effective seal, and they are smaller than I would prefer, making my ears sore after about an hour of wear time. That’s not an issue with my Sennheisers or Logitechs. After a longer break-in period, the Xbox Wireless Headset did start to relax, but, pandemic permitting, if you have a large cranium, I would suggest trying these on before buying. Headphone features tend to be a secondary concern for me on any set, but my goodness: the Xbox Wireless Headset may have changed that. Each ear cup has a rotatable knob, with each side controlling a different function, with the right side rotating to adjust volume. Physical volume controls like this aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but the motion is very natural. What really blew my mind, though, was the left ear cup knob, which changes the game-chat mix. One direction increases party-chat volume relative to your games, and vice versa. Within minutes of playing games with friends, I found myself turning the chat down to hear story beats, and then up when we needed to coordinate. It is (and I do mean this literally) a game-changer. This feature alone is almost worth the price of admission for me. The Xbox Wireless Headset claims a battery life of “up-to” 16 hours. This is no exaggeration. After a full night of charging, I set the headphones to some music early in the morning and let them run all day at a moderately high volume. By midnight, I was ready to sleep, but the music was still going strong. Sound Quality The Xbox Wireless Headset sounds great… mostly. These are purpose-built gaming headphones, which typically means lots of bass, lots of boom, and lots of mediocre highs. Surround sound and directionality are a big focus, and this headset supports spatial technologies to create an effective simulation of sound in three-dimensional space. Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and DTS Headphone: X can be activated from the Xbox Audio Setting menu, though the latter two options require free app downloads. My first sound test was with Sea of Thieves. I was greeted by the sound of a cello that could have been in the room with me, and the bass had an incredible amount of texture. As I booted up and sailed, the crash of waves and the ringing of bells was rich and immersive, creating an outstanding sense of spatial awareness. Next, I downloaded the Dolby Atmos plugin and switched to Destiny 2. The extra bass added a much-appreciated feeling of weight to the shooter’s gun play. Speeding around in my sparrow introduced me to a secondary crackling sound from the engine I hadn’t noticed before, hammering home the headset’s excellent surround sound quality. My foray into the crucible had tangible benefits, too: I could clearly discern the direction of footsteps and gunshots, giving me ample opportunity to position myself in ways that seemed advantageous. Dialogue was a bit of a mixed bag. Speech was clear unless there was action happening at the same time. In those cases, bass would often overpowered dialogue, an ongoing issue I would discover (and a common one in gaming headsets; the Logitech and Corsair both do the same). Hellblade: Senuas Sacrifice is a game that specifically recommends headphones and was the final gaming test. As expected, the surround sound was a massive difference-maker. The disembodied voices floating around tormenting and guiding Senua were crystal clear, and the way the sounds invisibly moved in three-dimensional space was both haunting and striking. To give you more control over the sound quality, configuration menus allow you to adjust five bands of equalization but boosting treble resulted in harsh highs, and the lowest band you can tweak is 125 Hz, leaving the real low notes out of your control. You can still understand what is being said, but not with the same clarity of the less bass-heavy Sennheisers.
The built-in microphone is good. It does a respectable job rejecting background noise and has an adjustable auto-mute feature. There is also an easily located button for manual mute. The length of the boom is short, so it only reaches about half of the way from my cheek to my mouth; however, my teammates had no trouble understanding me. We performed several direct comparisons between the Xboxes, the Corsairs, and the Sennheisers, and in each case, the Xbox Wireless Headset was noticeably superior to the Corsair, but not as clear as the Sennheiser.
Movies were much the same as games. The headphones tracked the action well in The Killbox scene in Iron Man 2. Directions were easy to discern in the chaos, and the weight of the heavily armored suits was tangible. The sound of shell casings falling to the ground was a bit washed away, but that is my only quibble. The climactic poker showdown in Casino Royal between James Bond and villain Le Chiffre was exemplary. Every turn of a card, every fall of a chip was distinct, and Daniels Craig’s booming baritone came across perfectly. Background chatter was lively, but not distracting, and the music track blended in nicely. The Xbox Wireless Headset also works well for music, either through the console itself or after being paired via Bluetooth to another device. As with gaming, heavy bass lines benefit the most here. Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy was essentially perfect, with effortlessly driven bass forming the core beat. Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake was solid, but tended to fall apart when Timberlake hit the highest frequencies. I’ve always used Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why as a reference for stereo imagery, and as expected, these headphones performed great, drawing up a vivid soundscape.
Xbox Wireless Headset Review — The Bottom Line
- Very Good Sound Quality Overall
- Amazing Spacial Audio
- Game-Chat control!
- Strong bass overpowers mediocre highs
- Can be fatiguing to wear for prolonged periods of time
The Xbox Wireless Headset is a purpose-built gaming headset, and a damn good one at that. Heart-pounding bass meets mostly detailed and clear audio. Combined with outstanding spatial recreation, these provide an excellent gaming experience. They work well enough for movies and music, too, but in each case, the strong bass can overcome the more mediocre treble frequencies, and the limited equalization options don’t afford a lot of opportunities to try and correct for this. The design is aesthetically pleasing and feels well built. The comfort level is good, but it could be a bit better, as could the quality of the built-in microphone. The physical controls for volume and game-chat mix are amazing, though. Overall, these are excellent headphones that are well worth the $99 price tag, and worthy of being the next piece of gaming equipment you obsessively refresh webpages in order to track down and purchase.
Buzz is something that usually comes from headphones, but Microsoft seems to have created some in its just-launched Xbox Wireless Headset. Somehow, these $99 headphones are as popular and hard to find as the next-gen Xbox Series X|S consoles themselves. Is the media hype worth it? Absolutely, if you use them right. For my test of this headset, I used three other headsets as reference points. Corsair HS35, a wired budget headset ($39.99), Logitech G Pro X, a premium wireless headset ($199.99), and Sennheiser Game Zero, a premium wired headset ($299.99). These are all closed models, like the Xbox wireless headphones. The intent is not to A/B test these devices, but to provide context and a set of benchmarks.
Design and layout
As usual with all their products, Microsoft has packaged this headset in an easy-to-open box that offers a nice visual presentation once opened. Inside the box is the headphones, a short USB-C charging cable, and a modest set of instructions. It would have been nice if Microsoft had included a charging brick or a longer cable for those who keep their Xbox in the closet, but it’s certainly a minor point.
The design is intuitive and minimalistic. Microsoft has avoided the garish colors and bright lights of other headsets in favor of a sleek aesthetic that suits the Xbox Series X. Instead of the usual array of random geometric shapes that would have fit better on a metal album from the early 2000s, the plastic surface is rather flat, with a slightly rough texture. The housing is matte black, except for a thin band around the outer edge of each earpiece and some discreet status indicators. The Xbox logo is engraved on the right side, and I like that the inside of each cup has the specifications listed on the left and right in large, easy-to-read letters. The plastic feels good, and the faux leather around the earcups is soft and supple. At just under 11kg, these headphones are very light for a wireless headphone, and that’s good news. They weigh less than the Logitechs and as much as the Sennheisers. The general comfort is good, but not perfect. I have an average head and have found that the compression force is too low. As closed-back headphones with passive noise cancellation, the ear pads on these headphones are designed to effectively seal my ears, but they are smaller than I would like, so my ears hurt after an hour of wear. This is not a problem with my Sennheisers or Logitech. After a long run-in period, the Xbox Wireless Headset has really come unstuck, but if you have a big skull, I recommend trying it out before you buy it.
For me, headphone features usually play a secondary role in a set, but my goodness, the Xbox Wireless Headset may have changed that. Each earpiece has a button that controls a different function on each side, and the right side can be rotated to control the volume. These physical volume controls are not revolutionary, but the movement is very natural. But what really caught my eye was the controls on the left earpiece, which allow you to change the gamechat combination. One way to do this is to turn up the volume of the conversation at the party relative to your games, and vice versa. After a few minutes of playing with friends, I found myself turning down the sound in chat to listen to the story, and then turning up the volume when we needed to coordinate actions. This (and I mean this literally) is a game changer. For me, this feature alone is almost worth the price of admission. The Xbox wireless headset promises up to 16 hours of battery life. That’s not an exaggeration. After the headphones were fully charged overnight, I turned them on with music on first thing in the morning and let them run at a moderately high volume all day. By midnight I was ready to go to sleep, but the music didn’t stop. Sound Quality The Xbox wireless headset sounds good…. for the most part. These headphones are designed specifically for gaming, which usually means lots of bass, lots of hum, and lots of weak highs. Surround sound and directionality are a top priority, and these headphones support Spatial technology to effectively simulate sound in a three-dimensional space. Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone: X can be enabled through the Xbox audio settings menu, although the latter two options require a free app to be downloaded.
My first sound test was withSea of Thieves. I was greeted by the sound of a cello that could have been in the room with me, and the bass had incredible texture. While loading and sailing, the sound of the waves and the ringing of the bells were intense and exhilarating, creating an excellent sense of spatial awareness. I then loaded the Dolby Atmos plugin and switched to Destiny 2. The addition of the bass gave the shooter’s playing a coveted heavy feel. On a quick ride with my Sparrow, I heard a secondary engine roar that I hadn’t noticed before, underscoring the headset’s excellent surround sound quality. My trip to the melting pot also had tangible benefits: I could clearly see the direction of the footsteps and shots, which gave me an advantageous position. The dialogue was a bit ambiguous. The speech was understandable if there was no action at the time. In these cases, the low frequencies often overlapped with the dialogue, and I experienced this problem all the time (this is common with gaming headsets; Logitech and Corsair do the same). Hellblade : Senua’s Sacrifice is a game that specifically recommends headsets, and this was the final playtest. As expected, the surround sound was the deciding factor. The voices floating around, tormenting and guiding Senua are crystal clear, and the way the sounds move invisibly through three-dimensional space is both haunting and terrifying. To give you more control over sound quality, you can set five EQ bands in the setup menu, but the treble boost results in harsh highs, and the lowest band you can set is at 125 Hz, putting real bass sounds out of your control. You can still hear what’s being said, but not with the clarity of the less bass-heavy Sennheisers.
The built-in microphone is good. It suppresses background noise very well and has an adjustable auto-mute function. There is also an easily accessible manual mute button. The length of the pole is short, so it only reaches halfway between my cheek and my mouth; but my teammates had no trouble understanding me. We compared the Xbox, Corsair and Sennheiser, and in all cases the Xbox wireless headset was noticeably better than the Corsair, but not as clear as the Sennheiser.
The movies were very similar to the games. The helmet followed the action of the kill box scene inIron Man 2 well. circawas easy to see in the chaos, and the weight of the heavily armored suits was palpable. The sound of the pods hitting the ground was a little weak, but that’s my only complaint. The poker fight in Casino Royale between James Bond and the villain Le Chiffre is an example. You can clearly hear every card turned over, every chip dropped, and Daniels Craig’s whispering baritone is excellent. The background conversations were lively but not distracting, and the music track matched the action well. The Xbox Wireless Headset also lets you listen to music either through the console itself or after pairing via Bluetooth with another device. As with the games, the heavy bass lines prevail here. Bad Guy by Billy Eilish was essentially perfect, with a slightly controlled bass line shaping the main beat. Justin Timberlake’sCan’t Stop the Feeling was solid, but tended to fall apart when Timberlake switched to the higher frequencies. I’ve always used Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why as a reference for stereo playback, and as expected, these headphones did an excellent job of creating a vibrant soundscape.
Xbox Wireless HeadphoneTest –Results
- Very good overall sound quality
- Amazingly spacious sound
- Manage your game chat!
- Strong bass overcomes medium treble
- Can be tiring if you wear it for a long time.
The Xbox Wireless Headset is a specially designed gaming headset, and a very good one at that. The percussive bass is associated with a detailed and clear sound. Combined with an excellent spatial image, they provide an exceptional gaming experience. They’re also very good for movies and music, but in each case the powerful bass can overpower the more mediocre treble, and the limited EQ options don’t leave much room to fix that. The design is aesthetically pleasing and appears to be well executed. The wearing comfort is good, but could have been slightly better, as is the quality of the integrated microphone. The physical volume and mix controls on the game chat are excellent. Overall, these are excellent headphones that are well worth their $99 price tag, and deserve to be the next piece of gaming equipment you obsessively search and buy on websites.
|Director||Composite paper, 40 mm with neodymium magnets|
|Type||Round file, closed|
|Frequency range||20 Hz – 20 000 Hz|
|Connection type||Bluetooth version 4.2 (A2Dp, HFP, HSP)|
|Battery life||Until 4 p.m.|
The sound quality is outstanding and the sound is crystal clear, just as I had hoped it would be. The sound is loud and clear, even at full volume. The bass is strong and the treble is very good. The volume controls are easy to use, making it possible to quickly change the volume while listening to music or playing a game.. Read more about movies with best sound design reddit and let us know what you think.
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