Microsoft made waves last year, not all of it good when it officially announced the Xbox One. DRM and the always-on Kinect camera aside, one of the lesser knocks against the new console was the fact that it could not support third party gaming headsets out of the box. Lack of third party headset support wouldn’t have been a big issue if it weren’t for the Playstation 4’s ability to support headsets without adapters. Well, the wait is finally over and the Stereo Headset Adapter has been let loose upon the waiting gaming community. Was it worth the wait? Is it a waste of money? Will it make you breakfast in the morning? I’ll do my best to head off any questions that you may have.
1. stereo headset adapter
2. adapter wire (2.5mm to 3.5mm)
3. micro USB cable (for updating)
4. some papers
Keep in mind that a new update released a few days ago for the Xbox One requires an update to the controller as well. Hit this link to find out how. Once you’ve squared that away you’re pretty much good to go. The adapter has a pair of buttons that may initially confuse you. To the left of the cluster of buttons, you’ll find the voice and game focus buttons. If you wish to make sure that your teammates’ voices come through clearly over the ambient game sounds and music, just hold down the voice focus button until you reach the desired level. Use the game focus button to achieve the opposite effect. The larger center button is the mic mute and the last pair of buttons located to the right make up the master volume control.
If you don’t want to use an awesome gaming headset, you can always opt to stick with the OEM headset that came with your Xbox One. Just plug in the 2.5 to 3.5mm adapter cable to the stereo adapter and off you go! For my review, I employed my Roccat Vire earbuds. I played a number of multiplayer co-op arena battles in Ryse: Son of Rome with my good friend Double-Jump and tested the adapter out the best I could. Performance was fine. There was really nothing to write home about other than the fact that it worked flawlessly. I have to admit though that the game and voice focus buttons did really come in handy. When my gladiator started spouting stuff to pump up the crowd, D-J’s (oh a new nickname!) voice was getting drowned out. A few quick presses of the voice focus button fixed that issue right up.
The stereo headset adapter can be purchased for $24.99 MSRP from your favorite retailers currently. I’ve heard some grumblings about getting gouged by some opportunistic resellers that took advantage of a shortage at the time of launch but that seems to have petered out. So, is it worth the price? The adapter certainly doesn’t bring anything closely resembling killer features to the table but it does allow you to take any stereo headset and use it for gaming. Any 3.5mm headset that features three rings on the prong (CTIA plug standard) will work. I do feel that the adapter’s feature set should have been included with the controller at launch. I hate to bring this up again but Playstation was able to do this with their Dualshock 4 controllers without having to jack up the price. So if you take the whole Playstation argument out of the equation, then yes, it’s worth the $25+ pricetag since it expands functionality and adds to your overall gaming experience.