The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless are the next generation of the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones. They look and perform almost identically to their predecessor in most ways as they've kept the same, comfortable design with super intuitive controls. However, with this update, they support Bluetooth version 5.0 and can support aptX codec. They've also improved their battery life, meaning that you can get just a bit above 16 hours of continuous playback time before you need to recharge them. Unfortunately, although their adjustable active noise cancelling is great, it performs slightly less well than the first generation. These headphones are also more prone to inconsistent bass and treble delivery.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are satisfactory for mixed use. Thanks to their great, adjustable active noise cancelling, you can choose how much sound you want to block out, which is great when you're on the move. They're also comfortable, and they've got a 16-hour battery life, so you can wear them for a full workday and not worry about having to recharge them right away. While they don't have the most neutral sound profile, you can customize how they sound using their companion app. They're also fully compatible with PC, PS4, and Xbox One if you're using their TRRS audio cable.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are passable for neutral sound. They have a bass-heavy, boomy sound with an underemphasized treble range out-of-the-box, so they aren't the most balanced headphones. You can tweak this sound profile by using their companion app's graphic EQ or presets, though. However, their bass and treble delivery can vary, especially if you wear glasses or have thick hair.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are good for commute and travel. They have great active noise cancellation that's also adjustable, so you can block out bus or plane engine noise and lower it if you need to hear boarding calls. They're also comfortable and lightweight enough to wear for long travel days, and although they're bulky, their ear cups can swivel to fit into their carrying case or in your backpack. They also have a 16-hour battery life, which should last through a commute or even some long-haul flights before they need charging again.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are decent for sports and fitness. These over-ear headphones are a little bulky, but if you're using them wirelessly, there are no cables that can get snagged while you move. They're also comfortable and fairly stable enough for a light run in the park. They've got excellent, easy-to-use controls, which is nice if you need to quickly take a call or skip tracks.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are decent for office use. They're comfortable and have a great active noise cancelling feature to help block out office noise. They leak a low amount of audio, meaning that you can turn up the volume, and your coworkers shouldn't be able to hear it. Their 16-hour battery life can also easily get you through your workday.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are Bluetooth-only headphones that aren't compatible with Xbox One or PS4. While they work with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, their disappointing microphone recording quality and high PC latency make them a less-than-ideal choice.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are satisfactory for wired gaming. Thanks to their TRRS analog cable and its in-line mic, these headphones are fully compatible with PC, PS4, and Xbox One. They have a comfortable, lightweight design that you can wear for longer gaming sessions, and you can adjust their sound using their companion app's EQ to better match your gameplay.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are mediocre for phone calls. They have an integrated mic in their ear cups and an in-line mic on their included audio cable. As we only tested the integrated microphone, this mic has a mediocre recording quality, making your voice sound thin, muffled, and lacking detail. It also has trouble separating your voice from background noise, even in moderately loud environments. That said, these headphones have great active noise cancelling, so you can hear what's being said on the other line more clearly.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are the next generation of the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones. They're almost identical both in looks and performance to their predecessor as they've kept the same comfortable design with easy-to-use controls. However, they now support Bluetooth 5.0 and use an aptX codec. They have a great, adjustable active noise cancelling feature but it isn't enough for them to stand out from the rest of the pack, especially since, at their price-point, their main competitors are the better ANC performing Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 or the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless.
Check out our recommendations for the best active noise cancelling headphones, the best wireless Bluetooth headphones, and the best office headphones.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless are the second generation of the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones and are alike in looks and performance except for two small updates. The second-gen are now on Bluetooth version 5.0 and they support the aptX codec. While both headphones have an adjustable active noise cancelling feature, the first-gen can block out slightly more noise. They're also a bit more consistent among different users or reseats. However, their battery life is slightly shorter than the second-gen's 16-hour continuous playback time.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 are better active noise cancelling headphones than the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless. The Bose can better isolate low bass sounds like bus and plane engines. They also have a more neutral, better-balanced sound profile, they're more comfortable, and they have longer-lasting battery life. However, the Microsoft have a companion app with a customizable EQ plus presets, and they have better, easy-to-use controls.
The Bose 700 Headphones Wireless are slightly better headphones for commuting than the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless. The Bose are slightly more comfortable, they can isolate more noise, and they have a better-balanced sound profile. They also have a great performing integrated microphone, and their battery life lasts longer too. However, the Microsoft have full audio and microphone support with PS4 and Xbox One, and they have easier-to-use controls.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better noise cancelling headphones than the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless. The Sony isolate way more noise across the entire range, their sound profile is more neutral as well as better balanced, and they also have a virtual soundstage feature with room ambiance presets and longer battery life. However, the Microsoft have multi-device pairing up to two devices, they have easier-to-use controls, and they can also be used wired on the PS4 and Xbox One with full audio and microphone support.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 look virtually identical to their predecessor, the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones. They've got an entirely light gray look with wide ear cups and a simple headband design. The only new thing with their style is that now you can rotate the ear cups 180° so that the ear cups can lay flat on a table. They also come in matte black if you want something that doesn't stand out.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are lightweight over-ear headphones that should be comfortable enough for long listening sessions. The ear cups are well-padded and made from a silicone-like material that doesn't put much pressure on your head. However, some may find the ear cups a bit shallow.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have excellent controls that are easy and intuitive to use. Just like their predecessor, they have a touch-sensitive surface on both ear cups that uses a series of taps to control call and music commands. There's an infinity dial on each cup; the left dial adjusts the amount of noise cancelling, while the right controls volume. There's also a default voice prompt for the noise cancelling controls. The headphones beep when you reach the min/max of each dial control.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 come with an identical hard case as the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones. It's covered in a nylon-like material to help to protect your headphones from scratches, minor water exposure, and the occasional drop. There's a bit of room inside the case, so your headphones might move around a bit. However, the case isn't too bulky, and you should be able to store it in a bag or backpack.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are fairly stable over-ears, meaning that you can wear them during a jog in the park. They have a decent clamping force, which helps to keep them from moving around too much on your head. They're also wireless, so there are no cables that could get snagged on something unless you're using them with their included audio cable.
The frequency response is mediocre. The bass delivery can slightly vary if the ear cups are not flush to your head, especially if you wear glasses or have thick hair. There are more inconsistencies in the treble range, though, as they seem sensitive to positioning and placement.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2's bass accuracy is alright. While they're a little lacking in thump and rumble, the rest of the response is overemphasized, which results in a punchy, boomy bass.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have great mid accuracy. While it may look a little wavy, the response is fairly neutral and balanced. There's a little bit of underemphasis in the high-mid, though, making lead instruments and vocals sound slightly weak and distant.
The treble accuracy is disappointing. The response is underemphasized across the entire range, resulting in a dark and veiled treble, which can hurt the comprehensibility of lead instruments and vocals. It can also make sibilants like S and T sounds dull and lispy.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2's peaks and dips performance is okay. There are several big peaks and dips. The large peak throughout the bass range creates a boomy bass that clutters or muddies some sounds in the low-mids. This is also evident in the low treble dip, as a boomy bass can hurt the comprehension of vocals and lead instruments. There's another peak in the mid-treble, which can make sibilants sharp and piercing.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have excellent stereo imaging. Except for the tiniest peak in the mid-bass, which may not even be noticeable to all users, the entire group delay response falls below the audibility threshold, resulting in a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit are exceptionally matched, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects and instruments (like voices and footsteps) in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have a poor passive soundstage. As these headphones have a closed-back design, they won't produce as open or spacious of a soundstage as open-back headphones. That said, there's some pinna activation which suggests a somewhat large soundstage. The soundstage is likely to be perceived as slightly unnatural and as if it's located inside your head rather than coming from in front of you.
These headphones don't have any virtual soundstage features.
These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2's noise isolation performance is great. At their maximum ANC setting, they help to block out some low noises like the rumble of bus and plane engines. They do a better job of cutting down chatter, though, and they help to reduce more high-pitched noise like the hum of A/C units. However, if you need a little less noise isolation, you can adjust their settings with the dial on their left ear cup.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have decent leakage performance. Since the bulk of their leakage is in the mid-range, it sounds fuller-sounding compared to in-ears and earbuds. The overall leakage is still somewhat low, though, and if you're listening to your music at a high volume in a moderately noisy space, those around you shouldn't be able to hear it.
This microphone has both an integrated mic as well as an in-line mic on its detachable audio cable.
As these Bluetooth headphones use an adaptive integrated microphone, their noise handling score indicates a lower performance than you can achieve in real-world use. That said, it still does a sub-par job of separating your voice from background noise. Even in our audio clips, the mic still struggles to capture voices, including in moderately loud environments.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have an excellent battery performance. Unfortunately, while they're advertised as lasting up to 20 hours with their ANC on, our pair lasted just over 16 hours. However, these headphones are quick to charge, and they also have an auto-off timer, which helps conserve more battery life.
The Surface Audio app is a great companion app that offers a graphic EQ and presets, which is nice if you prefer a less bass-heavy sound. You can also see your battery life as well as watch a tutorial on how to use the headphones. You can adjust your ANC levels directly from the app, but this feature isn't available right from the main page.
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have great Bluetooth connectivity. They can simultaneously pair with up to two devices at a time, and unlike the first generation of the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones, they operate on Bluetooth version 5.0 and support the aptX codec. On the downside, their PC latency is high. When streaming YouTube videos, their iOS latency is somewhat high, although Android seems to be a lot less. However, some apps and devices seem to compensate for this differently, so your real-world usage will likely vary.
These headphones are Bluetooth-only.
When connected via their TRRS cable plugged directly into a PS4 controller or PC jack, you can receive audio and microphone support.
When connected via their TRRS cable plugged directly into the Xbox One controller jack, you can receive audio and microphone support.