A few months after the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft is finally starting to deliver a family of hardware accessories that really completes the picture for this new console. Among them are the Xbox One Stereo Headset and a related Stereo Headset Adapter, the latter of which lets you use your existing wired headset with the console.
Note: I purchased an Xbox One Stereo Headset, but it includes the Stereo Headset Adapter bit as a separate component, so it's possible to test it in that configuration as well.
The Xbox One Stereo Headset consists of an enormous set of over-the-ear headphones with a nicely built-in microphone that I had to really look for to even see.
As standalone headphones, they actually sound fantastic, and the over-the-ear design does a great job of keeping out noise from the real world. They don't have any noise cancelling technology, but the effect is similar.
Of course, this headset wasn't meant to be used that way. So reluctantly disconnected it from my PC and turned toward the business at hand. As it turns out, you can't just plug this thing in, and it requires an Xbox Wireless Controller firmware update. A little note on the Stereo Headset Adapter explains that the printed instructions explain how. Which they do, once you find them and then find a magnifying glass so you can read the one-point type.
Sadly, the instructions are incomplete. For the controller to update, you need to make sure that the Xbox One Stereo Headset, or any other headset, is plugged into the adapter. I wasted more time figuring that out than I'm comfortable admitting.
Anyway, once you're up and running—the update process is actually pretty slow—the Xbox One Stereo Headset and the adapter both work well. The adapter itself has five buttons: A mute toggle (which is nicely lit), volume up and down and, on the left, game/chat balance buttons. There's a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset or, if you buy the adapter separately, for your headset of choice using a bundled adapter.
The Xbox One Stereo Headset sounds great. In fact, I was clearly missing out on some of the nuances of the games I tested, compared to using my normal speakers, and I may be using this headset going forward. This won't be news to those that are already using a headset, of course.
Overall, I'm more impressed than I thought I would be. And I'm going to have a tough time keeping my son away from these things.