Steve Fenton

Microsoft Modern Wireless Headset unboxing

This month I joined Octopus Deploy, and one of the things that everyone takes very seriously is quality online conversations. It makes sense that everyone should have a good experience during meetings in a remote-first company.

I have been using a Sennheiser wired headset for the past two years, but this makes it difficult to move around my office when I’m catching up on company updates or attending one of the many virtual meet-ups that happen these days; like the 20 Years of .NET celebration this week. With all this in mind, I wanted to get a high-quality wireless headset that I could use for meetings and audio/video.

After the usual agonising research, I bought the Modern Wireless Headset from Microsoft. This purchase was made with my own money, so this isn’t a sponsored post or promotion, but I am a Microsoft MVP for Developer Technologies.

Microsoft Modern Wireless Headset
Microsoft Accessories App

Microsoft Modern Wireless Headset and Surface Ergonomic Keyboard

Neat features

There are a couple of elegant features that I’m pretty excited to share.

The first is a feature I did find on a couple of headsets, but perhaps not so refined. The mic flips up when you aren’t using it and when you do this, it mutes. You get a subtle but unmistakable mute tone when you do this, and a different unmute tone when you flip it back down. That’s one less keyboard shortcut to remember on calls. It only does this when the microphone is in use, so you don’t get tones if you flip the mic up or down at any other time. You can also hit a button on the headset to mute the mic, at which point the little light indicator on the mic comes into play as you can see from the corner of your eye that you are muted (if you can see your own video, you can also see it subtly glowing there too).

The second neat feature is that the right-hand headphone incorporates a large circular volume control, so you can adjust the volume with a quick turn of the dial.

When you switch on the headset, there is also a nice announcement that tells you how many hours of battery you have remaining. This means you don’t need to worry about forgetting to charge the headset or about running out of juice mid-call. They pack enough power for 50 hours of music or 30 hours of calls (presumably the microphone and beamforming noise-reduction features need a bit of extra power for calls). It takes about two to three hours to get a full charge.

Installation

The headset supports Bluetooth and comes with a tiny USB dongle that you can just plug in for a hassle-free setup. If you use the Bluetooth option, there’s a dedicated pairing button (rather than an arcane combination of long-presses).

Audio quality

The audio quality is great in call and when listening to music. There’s good clarity throughout the tonal ranges, as tested using The Dead Love’s ‘Summer’. Everything is crisp and clean, with enough punch to make listening to music a joy.

On calls, the speaker comes through loud and clear, especially when it’s someone from the community team, as they all use incredible condenser microphones that make them sound like radio DJs or voice-over artists.

Comfort

These are on-ear headphones, which is my personal preference. I find in-ear headphones uncomfortable, and over-ear headphones squash my ears onto my glasses. A good on-ear headphone has a good fit to make the sound clear without putting too much pressure on your ears. These do the job perfectly; reasonably light at 136 grams given the solid build quality.

The padded headphones make them all-day wearable, and the headband has soft padding along the underside, so there is no plastic against your head.

Value for money

These are mid-weight for a headset. There are many options around the £50 mark, and the premium options are typically £170 to £250. At under £100, these are excellent value for money. The audio and mic quality definitely perform above that price range, and the quality of materials and construction certainly has a premium feel. There’s no spongy foam like you’d find on a budget headset here.

Summary

This is a serious piece of kit at a competitive price. A fussy version of me would have wanted a bit of alloy to match my Surface Book and ergonomic keyboard, but they look sleek and stylish in all black. You can get cheaper headsets, but not with the quality of sound and attention to design details that this headset has.

Written by Steve Fenton on