Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Jun 19, 2020 at 08:36 am
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless Picture
7.0
Mixed Usage
6.4
Neutral Sound
7.6
Commute/Travel
7.2
Sports/Fitness
7.3
Office
5.5
Wireless Gaming
7.1
Wired Gaming
6.2
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 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're now on Bluetooth version 5.0 and can support aptX codec. They've also improved their battery life so you can get just a bit above 16 hours of continuous playback time before you need to recharge them. On the downside, although their adjustable active noise cancelling is great, it actually performs slightly less well than the first generation. These headphones are also more prone to inconsistent bass and treble delivery.

Our Verdict

7.0 Mixed Usage

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are alright 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 work day, 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.

Pros
  • Adjustable active noise cancelling feature.
  • Comfortable, lightweight design.
  • Excellent, easy-to-use controls.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
  • Bass and treble delivery varies.
  • High wireless latency on PC and iOS.
6.4 Neutral Sound

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are adequate 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. This sound profile can be tweaked 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.

Pros
  • Comfortable, lightweight design.
  • Companion app with graphic EQ plus presets.
Cons
  • Bass-heavy sound profile.
  • Bass and treble delivery varies.
7.6 Commute/Travel

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 then 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 to be charged again.

Pros
  • Adjustable active noise cancelling feature.
  • Comfortable, lightweight design.
  • Excellent, easy-to-use controls.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
7.2 Sports/Fitness

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 too, which is nice if you need to quickly take a call or skip tracks.

Pros
  • Excellent, easy-to-use controls.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
7.3 Office

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are decent for office use. They're comfortable and they have a great active noise cancelling feature to help block out office noise. They leak a low amount of audio, so 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 work day.

Pros
  • Adjustable active noise cancelling feature.
  • Comfortable, lightweight design.
  • Decent leakage performance.
Cons
  • Bass and treble delivery varies.
5.5 Wireless Gaming

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.

7.1 Wired Gaming

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are alright 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 can be worn for longer gaming sessions, and you can adjust their sound using their companion app's EQ to better match your gameplay.

Pros
  • Comfortable, lightweight design.
  • Excellent, easy-to-use controls.
  • Companion app with graphic EQ plus presets.
Cons
  • Bass and treble delivery varies.
6.2 Phone Calls

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are mediocre for phone calls. They have both an integrated mic in their ear cups as well as an in-line mic on their included audio cable. As we only tested the integrated microphone, this mic has a mediocre recording quality, which makes your voice sound thin, muffled, and lacking detail. It also has trouble separating your voice from background noise, even in moderately loud environments. That being said, these headphones have great active noise cancelling, so you can hear what's being said on the other line more clearly.

Pros
  • Adjustable active noise cancelling feature.
  • Integrated and in-line microphone.
Cons
  • Sub-par integrated microphone.
  • 7.0 Mixed Usage
  • 6.4 Neutral Sound
  • 7.6 Commute/Travel
  • 7.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.3 Office
  • 5.5 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.1 Wired Gaming
  • 6.2 Phone Calls

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

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.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
1.0 lbs

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 a lot of pressure on your head. However, some may find the ear cups a bit shallow.

8.6
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Excellent
Feedback Great
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control Adjustable
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

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 also 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.

6.0
Design
Portability
L 7.6 "
W 8.0 "
H 1.8 "
Volume 109 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

These headphones aren't the most portable. However, the ear cups can swivel to lay flat, which is nice if you want to store them in your bag or in their included carrying case.

7.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 8.6 "
W 8.3 "
H 2.2 "
Volume 157 Cu. Inches

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.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are well-built and durable headphones. They're made of dense plastic and the headband is reinforced with a thin, metal frame. They feel sturdy enough to survive a couple of accidental drops.

7.0
Design
Stability

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are fairly stable over-ears, so 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.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
  • Carrying case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • 1/8" TRRS audio cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
2.2 db
Treble Amount
-4.29 db

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have a punchy and boomy sound that fans of EDM and hip-hop can enjoy. However, it loses some detail and clarity as it moves into higher frequencies, which can impact your favorite vocal or instrumental tracks.

6.2
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.84 dB

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.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
6.8
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.41 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
29.11 Hz
Low-Bass
-0.7 dB
Mid-Bass
5.79 dB
High-Bass
5.15 dB

The bass accuracy of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 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.

8.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.57 dB
Low-Mid
-1.71 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.33 dB
High-Mid
-2.93 dB

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, which makes lead instruments and vocals sound slightly weak and distant.

5.3
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.3 dB
Low-Treble
-6.01 dB
Mid-Treble
-3.12 dB
High-Treble
-11.6 dB

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.

6.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.3 db
Dips
1.81 db

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2's peaks and dips performance is acceptable. 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.

8.5
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.29
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.23
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.18
Weighted Phase Mismatch
7.14

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 have great 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.

4.8
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.66 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
4.12 dB
PRTF Distance
10.9 dB
Openness
2.0
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.0

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 being said, there's some pinna activation which suggests a somewhat large soundstage. The soundstage is also likely to be perceived as slightly unnatural and as if it's located inside your head rather than coming from in front of you.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No

These headphones don't have any virtual soundstage features.

7.1
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.448
WHD @ 100
0.249

The harmonic distortion performance of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 is alright. Although there are a couple of peaks in the treble range at normal listening volumes, it may not be noticeable to all listeners.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1.0.5.74
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 4.2
Codec
aptX, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Default
ANC
Maximum
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
8.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-22.76 dB
Bass
-11.7 dB
Mid
-19.28 dB
Treble
-37.87 dB

The noise isolation performance of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 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 really help to reduce more high-pitched noise such as 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.

7.4
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
37.27 dB

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 that of 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.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
Yes
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No

This microphone has both an integrated mic as well as an in-line mic on its detachable audio cable.

6.7
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
239.73 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.91 dB
HFE
3517.32 Hz
Weighted THD
20.029
Gain
40.31 dB

The recording quality of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2's integrated mic is mediocre. When using the integrated microphone, your voice sounds thin, muffled, and lacking detail.

4.2
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
4.75 dB

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 being said, although it scores 4.2, 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.

Active Features
8.7
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
16.1 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
16.1 hrs
Charge Time
1.3 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port USB-C

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 to conserve more battery life.

8.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name Surface Audio
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows Yes
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
Adjustable
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The Surface Audio app is a great companion app that offers a graphic EQ plus 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, too, but this feature isn't available right from the main page.

Connectivity
8.2
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
239 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
236 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
217 ms
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
207 ms
Android Latency
102 ms

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 Surface Headphones, they operate on Bluetooth version 5.0 and support the aptX codec. On the downside, their PC latency is quite high. When streaming YouTube videos, their iOS latency is somewhat high too, 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.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones are Bluetooth-only.

9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.1 ft
Connection 1/8" TRRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with a 1/8" TRRS cable, if you prefer a wired connection. They also have a USB-C cable for charging, but it can't be used for listening to audio.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

When connected via their TRRS cable plugged directly into a PS4 controller or PC jack, you can receive audio and microphone support.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

When connected via their TRRS cable plugged directly into the Xbox One controller jack, you can receive audio and microphone support.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 don't have a base/dock.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

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.

Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Bose 700 Headphones Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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 a companion app with a graphic EQ plus presets, they have full audio and microphone support with PS4 and Xbox One, and they have easier-to-use controls.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Wireless Price

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