(Pocket-lint) - If you’ve never used a headset to game with, you’ve got a revolution coming – once you step into the world of high-quality game audio it can be hard to come back.
Whether you want it for single-player story-driven experiences, or to give you the edge in multiplayer deathmatches, unless you’ve got an astonishingly good home theatre setup you’re going to notice a big difference when moving to a headset.
However, many headsets don’t work with every games console, and it’s important to look into which will work best for you. We’ve exhaustively tested a wide range of headsets with our Xbox consoles, putting them through their paces and determining which you should consider for your own gaming setup.
How can I connect a headset to my Xbox?
It’s easy to forget but, when Microsoft released the Xbox One, its first controller didn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. This meant you had to use an adapter to connect a wired headset via the controller, and you might still have to if that’s the version of the controller you use.
However, more recent editions of the controller, including the newest that comes with the Xbox Series X and Series S, have that all-important jack to let you plug in more easily. Finally, you might find that some wireless controllers use a dongle to connect without cables.
Another less common way of connecting, but arguably the ideal, is through Xbox Wireless – the same standard that Xbox’s own first-party controllers use to connect to your console. This makes for the most solid connection, the easiest reconnecting, and has the added bonus of being guaranteed to work with the new consoles when they're out.
In case a step-by-step guide is useful, though, follow these steps to connect your headset:
- If your headset is wired, plug it into either the headphone jack on your Xbox controller, or the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter to get game audio.
- If it's wireless, plug in any dongles provided to your Xbox and turn on the headset to pair.
- If it uses Xbox Wireless, press the pairing button on the front of your Xbox and wait for its logo to flash on and off.
- Put your headset into pairing mode by following the manufacturer's instructions, then wait for the two devices to pair. When they have paired, you should see a headset logo to the top left of the Xbox dashboard, along with a battery indicator.
With that out of the way, let’s dive in and look at some of our favourite headsets.
Our Top Pick
SteelSeries Arctis 9X
- Extremely comfortable
- Great sound
- One-touch connection
- Pretty expensive
SteelSeries takes the top spot on our list because it nails the combination of convenience and quality that we’re looking for when it comes to a console headset. It’s a genius revision of the manufacturer’s top headset, adding in the Xbox Wireless standard to make for superb connectivity.
This means it connects directly to your console like a controller would (and that it will be able to do the same for the Xbox Series X when it releases), which makes for rock-solid connections and no perceptible lag.
Plus, the headphones are really nicely constructed and extremely comfortable to wear and, more than that, have easily the most subtle design we encountered in our testing (only Logitech's effort comes close). The microphone even stores away for when you’re playing solo.
Finally, the sound quality is superb, especially if you enable Windows Sonic or, better yet, Dolby Atmos for headphones. You’ll gain a real advantage in reaction-based multiplayer games, and be fully immersed in single-player adventures. We can’t really recommend this headset highly enough, to be honest.
Xbox headsets we also recommend
Here are four other headsets for Xbox consoles that we can recommend:
Xbox Wireless Headset
- Impressive sound
- Solid comfort
- Great value
- Somewhat mediocre microphone
Xbox recently debuted its own official headset and it's a really excellent bargain, priced very sensibly but delivering premium sound.
You get super easy connectivity to whichever Xbox you have, and full Dolby Atmos support if you've got a license.
Even without that, it sounds great and is nice and comfortable to wear. Decent battery life and a solid microphone round out the package nicely, making it a great choice.
SteelSeries Arctis 7X
- SteelSeries comfort
- Great sound
- Better price than 9X
- Still relatively expensive
SteelSeries doesn't just have the Arctis 9X, though - its most recent addition to the Xbox lineup is the slightly more affordable (although still premium) Arctis 7X, and it's a superb choice if your budget is a little lower.
The comfort is superb, and the headset is actually extremely similar to the 9X with a few slightly lighter and less solid design elements being the only real clue.
The sound, in particular, is pretty indistinguishable, and you have the same array of on-earcup controls for quick changes.
- Superb sound
- More comfortable than it looks
- A bit heavy
- Does need a dongle
The LucidSound LS50X is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's wireless with superb battery life, but it also has Bluetooth connectivity and can be paired with two devices at once and play audio from both at the same time as well.
Secondly, it sports decent drivers and faux-leather noise-blocking ear cups with a comfortable memory foam cushioning/liquid cooling gel mix that makes them a joy to wear.
Throw in some intelligent on-ear controls, two microphones (on built-in, one detachable) and a robust frame and you've got a seriously nice headset.
Corsair HS75 XB
- Really good sound
- Solid build quality
- Xbox Wireless connection
- Not the best price
Corsair's latest set of headphones are its first made specifically for the Xbox, and as such, they've got Xbox Wireless for the easiest form of connectivity.
That's paired with massively impressive sound that manages really solid bass and clear highs to make for a really well-rounded experience. It's great for competitive gaming and more relaxed games alike.
They're also comfortable to wear, and made of solid high-quality materials, so while a little pricey they're a superb choice for Xbox gamers.
Other products we considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5:
- Razer Nari Ultimate
- Logitech Pro X
- SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
- Razer Kraken X
- RIG 500 Pro HX
- JBL Quantum 600
- Corsair HS70 Bluetooth
How to choose an Xbox headset
There are almost literally countless headsets out there for most consoles now, and the Xbox range is no different. To help you narrow your options down, here are some points to consider before you make any decision.
Should you go wireless?
A big question with headsets at the moment is whether you want to be untethered by cables - all of our top picks are wireless, for a reason, but that doesn't mean you have to go with one of them. There are brilliant options like the Logitech Pro X which ditch wirelessness to get better sound quality for the price.
Given your controller likely has a 3.5mm headphone jack, you could easily go wired and have a great time. It's up to your personal taste.
Weight is all-important
How much a headset weighs might not be the most glamourous stat, but it plays a huge role in determining how comfortable it is to wear for long periods. If comfort is key for you, it'll be worth your time to compare weights so that you're not caught out if your headset ends up feeling like a chunky monkey.
How key is a microphone?
Some of us only need a headset so that we can play multiplayer games with our friends and not be left out of the voice chat channels. For others, it's all about the single-player immersion. If you're in the latter camp, then you'll probably want to ensure that you get a headset with either a retractable or removable microphone, so that you don't have something dangling in front of your face even when you're not using it.
What is Xbox Wireless?
Microsoft has made its own wireless connectivity standard for Xbox, in the form of Xbox Wireless, and it's brilliant when it's used. It means that your headset will connect to your console when it's powered on, without needing a dongle or any other accessories.
Not every headset uses it though, for a litany of reasons. So, while it's not a deal-breaker at all, it's worth paying attention to when you check out product listings.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
For Xbox gaming headsets, that means using it for an extended period of time - not just for single-player titles, but also multiplayer sessions. We assess all elements of their performance, from sound quality across different genres to microphone performance.
Equally important is how the headset feels to wear, not just at first but over longer sessions and weeks after its first use, while connectivity and ease of use are also key. If the headset can't be relied on to stay connected, or if its battery life is below the advertised levels, that'll count against it. Finally, there's the obvious question of price - a headset might sound truly godly, but if it's prohibitively expensive, we'll have taken that into account.
We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details - we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren't tested fully because the reviews are concise.
We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too - right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we've considered that didn't make the cut in each of our buyer's guides.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Conor Allison. Originally published on 14 May 2020.