Since 2013, Microsoft’s Xbox One console has been a popular choice in the market. One aspect of the console that sets it apart is its compatibility with new technologies. It performs more like a home entertainment system than a video game console since it accommodates movies, apps, and other programs.
When playing a game or watching a movie with Xbox One, however, the sound quality is limited to the capabilities of your console setup. To achieve full surround sound, you need expensive, high-quality speakers or an approved headset. Alternatively, you can hook up your Bluetooth headphones to emulate the same 360-degree immersive soundscape for a fraction of that cost.
Xbox One supports some Bluetooth devices, including controllers, speakers, and headphones. When you’re zoned into a movie or game, it can be frustrating to get tangled in wires and cords, but wireless headphones circumvent that problem.
However, trying to set up Bluetooth headphones for your Xbox One creates a series of limitations. We’ll discuss two methods for hooking them up, frequently asked questions, Bluetooth audio alternatives, and more.
Xbox Headphone Limitations
While many technologies fully support Bluetooth integration, the Xbox One does not. Instead, Microsoft markets the Xbox Wireless Headset and Xbox Stereo Headset as personalized wireless headphones options for anyone using the console. These equips cost around seventy dollars apiece, which is a frustrating price to pay for wireless compatibility.
Thankfully, there is another option. While Xbox One does not support connecting devices via Bluetooth, you can still use your favorite Bluetooth-enabled headphones.
The console’s wireless controller comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack you can use to link almost any headset. It isn’t an entirely wire-free setup, but it is better than running a long cord from your television. With the right attachments, virtually any pair of Bluetooth headphones can receive movie or game audio via the jack on your controller.
Bluetooth-Enabled Headphone Workarounds
There are two ways to enjoy your preferred pair of Bluetooth headphones with Xbox One.
Keep in mind, however, that both of these methods work best for audio-only devices. Since you cannot use these methods to equip more than one device, you cannot have both headphones and a microphone equipped. For that functionality, invest in an Xbox-compatible headset.
The first solution is analog and not wire-free. All you need to do is hook up your headphones to the Xbox One controller’s audio jack manually. Depending on your Bluetooth device, you may need a dongle or an auxiliary cable. The jack is only 3.5mm, so you will need a jack converter for larger accessories.
This method keeps your headphones tapered to the controller, so be careful of yanking or using short cords. However, this is the most cost-effective solution, since you don’t need to invest in a special headset or external hardware for the device you like provided that you don’t need any converters.
While it isn’t true cordless Bluetooth functionality, the analog method still lets you take advantage of the sound quality of your headphones with minimal latency. Using your device like this will still drain the battery, so I recommend charging it in between uses so you aren’t kept waiting.
The other method is to purchase third-party hardware called a Bluetooth transmitter. This machine plugs into the headphone jack on the Xbox One controller. After setting it up, turning on the transmitter, and pairing your Bluetooth device, you can enjoy audio from your movie or game at a limited distance like normal.
The typical price for a reliable Bluetooth transmitter is about thirty dollars on Amazon and other retail sites, but it’s still a smaller expense than an Xbox-compatible headset. On the other hand, this method gives you the freedom of movement that Bluetooth devices typically have without worrying too much about tangling cords.
Transmitters come packaged with chargers and each device’s battery life lasts for about ten hours. An unfortunate downside of this method is that you must account for the status of two separate devices, both your headphones and the transmitter. Charge them both overnight or when you aren’t using them to simplify the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions regarding Xbox One Bluetooth compatibility.
I hooked up a headset with a Bluetooth transmitter. Why can I only hear and not use the microphone?
A Bluetooth transmitter device opens one channel for an audio device via the controller’s headphone jack. A headset technically requires two channels: one for output and one for input. Since the transmitter connects to an input jack, the device will only recognize the audio components of your headset.
It’s unfortunate, but using an Xbox One-approved headset device is the only way to utilize both a microphone and headphones while playing.
I connected my headphones with a cable to the controller. Why do they keep beeping?
With the analog method, your headphones do not need to be in pairing mode. Bluetooth devices will occasionally beep to alert you that they have not yet paired. Your headphones may allow you to disable pairing mode and silence the beeping.
I bought a Bluetooth transmitter, but when I use it, the sound is spotty. Why does that happen?
Bluetooth technology transmits information in waves to other devices which act as receivers. Sometimes a cheap or faulty transmitter will send waves with gaps in between which causes the audio to lapse in and out occasionally. If you order a product that does this, consider returning it. Where available, look at warranty information before choosing a transmitter.
Unlike radio waves, Bluetooth products only pair in 1-to-1 connections, so outside interference is rarely a problem. Thus, spotty audio quality is most likely the fault of cheap technology.
Bluetooth Headphone Alternatives For Xbox One
The primary advantage of using Bluetooth technology is getting to experience full 360-degree sound without being trapped by tangling cords. Even though the Xbox One is not directly compatible with this tech, some alternatives accomplish the same result.
Surround Speakers For Your TV
A sound system that wires directly under your TV is an undisruptive solution with similar sound quality to Bluetooth headphones. Since the Xbox One is not a portable console and you do not need to move around much, stationary speakers are a great choice.
Invest In An Xbox One-Compatible Headset
The Xbox Wireless Headset and Xbox One Stereo Headset link to your controller cordlessly and offer a large range of sound as well as microphone capabilities. This is the best choice for playing cooperative or communicative games since Bluetooth tech will only allow one channel for audio.
Aside from the Microsoft brand headsets mentioned above, there are several third-party options. Arctis Prime Gaming, Razer, Turtle Beach, and Astro are some of the many brands that create compatible products.
The prices range from around $15 to $500 depending on the material, sound quality, and lifetime. You can view the entire list of Microsoft-endorsed headsets here.
While the process of hooking up Bluetooth headphones to an Xbox One isn’t straightforward, it is doable with the right technology. Doing so can help you escape high hardware costs at the expense of a little inconvenience.
If you don’t have money to spend on hardware and are out of options, consider other Bluetooth-compatible devices which might supply the game or movie in question. A PC, Smart TV, or mobile device may be a great second option worth trying.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.