Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones Headphones Review

Updated Dec 24, 2018 at 11:56 am
Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones Picture
Usage Ratings - Version 1.3.1
7.1
Mixed Usage
6.7
Neutral Sound
7.7
Commute/Travel
7.1
Sports/Fitness
7.4
Office
5.5
Wireless Gaming
7.1
Wired Gaming
6.2
Phone Call
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Microsoft Surface Headphones are above-average mixed usage headset. They are comfortable for long listening sessions and have a good build quality that should last you a while. However, their sound is a little on the warmer side, which will be better suited for fans of bass and won't be ideal for vocal-centric music. On the upside, they have one of the best and most complete control schemes we’ve tested so far with two touch-sensitive cups and great dials that are easy to use. They are also noise canceling headphones that are good for commuting and the office.

Our Verdict

7.1 Mixed Usage

Above-average for mixed usage. They have an average sound quality that may be a bit warm and suitable for bass-heavy genres but not ideal for vocal-centric music. Their wireless design paired with a good ANC feature makes them a good choice for commuting and traveling if you don’t mind the slightly bulky over-ear design. They are also stable enough for sports if you don’t mind the extra sweat. They are comfortable to wear during long listening sessions at work and don’t leak too much. However, they have too much latency for watching TV and gaming, but you can use the included audio cable to get rid of it.

6.7 Neutral Sound

Average for neutral listening. They have an overemphasized bass and low-mid ranges, making mixes boomy and cluttered and won’t be ideal for vocal-centric music. Their treble is also veiled, meaning vocals and instruments lack presence and detail. However, you can customize the sound profile a bit with the 5-band EQ that’s in the Windows Cortana app, but overall they sound warm and might be better suited for fans of bass.

See our Neutral Sound recommendations
7.7 Commute/Travel

Above-average for commuting and traveling. They have a good ANC feature that reduces engine rumbles by quite a lot, but they are a bit bulky since they are over-ears. If you don’t mind their size, they are a good option for your daily commute. They are also quite comfortable for long flights, but the shallow cups might not be a good fit for everyone.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
7.1 Sports/Fitness

Decent for sports. The Microsoft Surface Headphones are fairly lightweight and stable for sports, but their over-ear design might not be the most breathable option for physical activity, and you can expect more sweating than usual while wearing them. However, their bass-heavy sound signature will get you pumped during workouts.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
7.4 Office

Good for office use. Their 13-hour battery life will last you a whole work day, and they are comfortable for long listening sessions. Their ANC feature isolates a good amount of ambient chatter and will let you focus on your tasks, without disturbing people surrounding you thanks to their good leakage performance. They also have great wireless range if you leave your desk often, and they can also connect to two devices simultaneously, which is convenient.

See our Office recommendations
5.5 Wireless Gaming

Sub-par for gaming. The Microsoft Surface are comfortable headphones, but their sound quality isn’t the best and might sound too boomy. Also, they are Bluetooth headphones that have too much latency for gaming, and their integrated mic is sub-par. However, if you use them wired, you’ll get rid of latency issues and will be able to use the better performing in-line microphone.

See our Wireless Gaming recommendations
7.1 Wired Gaming
6.2 Phone Call
  • 7.1 Mixed Usage
  • 6.7 Neutral Sound
  • 7.7 Commute/Travel
  • 7.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.4 Office
  • 5.5 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.1 Wired Gaming
  • 6.2 Phone Call
Pros
  • Comfortable design.
  • Easy-to-use and complete control scheme.
  • Amazing wireless range.
Cons
  • Subpar microphone for making calls.
  • Warm and bass-heavy sound signature.
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  3. Update 2/14/2019: We've updated the App section of the review to account for mobile support after user feedback.
  4. Update 1/9/2019: We've updated the comfort section of the review to better reflect user experience.

Check Price

Surface Headphones
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Test Results

Design
Design
Style

The Surface Headphones are good looking over-ears thanks to an all-light-grey design that stands out. They have wide cups and a sleek design without too many apparent buttons. They have a very similar cup design to the B&O H9 headphones, but with a thicker headband made out of plastic. Unfortunately, they do not come in any other color variants to suit your preferred style.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
1.0 lbs

The Microsoft Surface Headphones are very comfortable and lightweight headphones. The cups are well-padded and big enough for most ears. However, they could be a bit shallow for some. The headband is also well-padded and doesn’t apply too much pressure on the head. These should be comfortable enough for long listening sessions.

Update: 09/01/2019:  The tight fit of the surface headphones does become a bit more bothersome after extended use when compared to other headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM3 and BeoPlay H9. We have adjusted the comfort score to reflect this.

9.1
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Excellent
Feedback Great
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Yes
Channel Mixing
N/A
Noise Cancelling Control Adjustable
Talk-Through
Adjustable
Additional Buttons Voice enabled controls

The Microsoft Surface Headphones have one of the best and most complete control schemes we’ve tested so far. Both ear cups are touch-sensitive and allows you to play/pause music, take/end calls, and skip tracks or go backwards. On top of that, there are dials on each cup; the left ear’s dial is for noise canceling control while the right ear’s is for volume control. You also get a physical button to mute the microphone and a power/pairing button as well. You also get a voice prompt and audio feedback for certain commands. Voice-enabled controls are also available thanks to the Cortana voice assistant (hands-free commands on PC app), or you can trigger your device’s voice assistant with a long press on one of the ear cups. The only downside of this control scheme is that there are multiple ANC levels, from “Ambient Noise Amplified” to “Maximum Noise Canceling”, but the dial doesn’t give you any feedback for levels in between those two.

6.0
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 7.0 C

Like most over-ears, the Microsoft Surface Headphones aren’t the most breathable since they trap heat under the ear cups. The seal around your ears doesn’t allow for much airflow, and you should expect to sweat more while wearing these during physical activity. This shouldn’t be a problem for casual listening sessions.

6.0
Design
Portability
L 7.6 "
W 8.0 "
H 1.8 "
Volume 109 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required N/A

These over-ears aren't very portable and have a bulky design. However, the cups swivel for the headphones to lay flat, making it easier to slide them in a bag, or to fit them inside the included traveling 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 come with a nice hard case to protect the headphones from scratches, minor water exposure, and light impacts. There is still small room for the headphones to wiggle around inside the case, but on the upside, it doesn’t add too much bulk and is easy to fit in a bag.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Surface are well-built headphones and feel solid enough to survive a couple of accidental drops. The cups are made of dense plastic, and the headband is reinforced by a thin metal frame but is still sufficiently flexible. The padding is also leather and feels well-made. Overall, they feel like durable headphones that will last you a while.

7.0
Design
Stability

The Microsoft Surface Headphones are fairly stable for over-ears and could be used for light running and sports. They have a decent clamping force that helps them to stay in place on your head and don’t move around. Also, since they are wireless, you won’t have to worry about a wire getting caught on something unless you use them with the included audio cable.

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

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

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
2.16 db
Treble Amount
-4.33 db
7.9
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.42 dB

The frequency response consistency is good. Similar to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Sony WH-1000XM3, the Microsoft Surface Headphones seem to be using their noise canceling system to check for bass consistency. Therefore, in the bass range, they perform consistently across most subjects, and our test subject with glasses only experienced a small drop in bass. In the treble range, they are also quite consistent, showing about 3dB of deviation below 10KHz.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.1
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.01 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
2.34 dB
Mid-Bass
5.44 dB
High-Bass
4.37 dB

The bass of the Surface Headphones is above-average. The LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Also, low-bass is slightly overemphasized by 2.5dB, indicating that the bass of these headphones is deep and thumpy, which should be pleasing to the fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Mid-bass is also hyped by 5dB which gives some extra emphasis to the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums. High-bass is overemphasized by 4dB, which sounds cluttered and boomy.

7.9
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.85 dB
Low-Mid
3.7 dB
Mid-Mid
0.77 dB
High-Mid
-2.69 dB

The mid-range is good. The whole range is relatively even and flat, but the 10dB tilt favoring lower frequencies will have a negative effect on the intensity and projection of vocals and lead instruments. The overemphasis in the low-mid will make it sound thick and cluttered.

4.9
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.98 dB
Low-Treble
-6.55 dB
Mid-Treble
-2.36 dB
High-Treble
-4.44 dB

The treble response is poor. The whole range is uneven and veiled, meaning it will have a warmer sounding feel. The underemphasized low-treble range will make vocals and instruments lack detail and presence.

6.9
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.98 db
Dips
1.82 db
7.9
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.23
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.65
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.53
Weighted Phase Mismatch
4.17

The Microsoft Surface Headphones have great imaging. Their weighted group delay is 0.23, which is very good. The graph also shows that the entire group delay is below our audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video games effects) in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

5.2
Sound
Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
6.01 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
7.63 dB
PRTF Distance
16.09 dB
Openness
1.4
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.1

Their soundstage, like most other noise canceling headphones, is sub-par. The PRTF response shows a good amount of pinna activation, which suggests a relatively large size for the soundstage. However, the low accuracy of the response suggests a soundstage that may feel a bit unnatural. Also, there's not a notch in the 10KHz region, which could result in the soundstage to be perceived as located inside the head.

7.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.377
WHD @ 100
0.247
Isolation
8.6
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-25.39 dB
Bass
-15.36 dB
Mid
-21.37 dB
Treble
-39.82 dB

The active noise isolation performance is good. In the bass range, occupied by the rumble of airplane and bus engines, they achieve 15dB of isolation, which is good. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they reduce outside noise by 21dB, which is great. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds, the isolation is about 40dB, which is very good.

7.5
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
36.73 dB

They have a good leakage performance. The significant portion of their leakage is spread over the mid-range, resulting in a leakage that is fuller-sounding compared to that of in-ears and earbuds. The overall level of the leakage is relatively low though. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 37dB SPL and peaks at 50dB SPL, which is about the same as the noise floor of an average office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-line
Yes
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
N/A

The microphone of the Surface Headphones is mediocre-at-best. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic sounds relatively thin, noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. In noisy situations, it will struggle to fully separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud environments like a busy street. They also come with an in-line microphone on the included 1/8” TRRS cable that should perform better than the integrated Bluetooth one.

5.2
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
179.59 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
5.17 dB
HFE
3517.32 Hz
Weighted THD
1681.017
Gain
28.2 dB

The recording quality of the microphone is mediocre. LFE (low-frequency extension) of 180Hz suggests that speech recorded/transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) is at 3.5KHz, resulting in speech lacking detail and sounding a bit muffled, which is expected on most Bluetooth headphones microphones.

5.6
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
7.52 dB

The noise handling of the integrated microphone is sub-par. This mic achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 7.5dB in our SpNR test, indicating it is best suited for quiet environments and may struggle to fully separate speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud situations.

Active Features
8.4
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
13.2 hrs
Additional Charges
0
Total Battery Life
13.2 hrs
Charge Time
1.4 hrs
Power Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port USB-C

The Microsoft Surface Headphones have a decent 13-hour battery life that should last you for a whole day of listening. They also take less than 2 hours to charge, and you get a quick charge feature that gives you an hour of playback for only 5 minutes of charging. Also, if you take the headphones off your head, your music will automatically be paused, and ANC will be turned off, extending the battery life (up to 50 hours according to Microsoft’s specs sheet) until you put them back on and everything resumes. If you leave them in their standby mode for 20 minutes, they will automatically turn off. You can also use them when charging which can be useful at the office. If you plug them using the analog audio cable, they will turn on and activate ANC as well, but you can then turn them off to not use any battery life, meaning you can still use the headphones if the battery is dead. Another nice addition is that when powering on the headphones, the voice prompt will tell you the remaining battery life in hours of playback left.

6.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Cortana
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows Yes
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Sound N/A

The companion app of the Surface Headphones offers a few customization options on Windows thanks to a 5-band EQ and presets to enhance your listening experience. It also gives you information on your battery life, volume, and ANC levels, but you can’t control those inside the app itself and the mobile version of Cortana is very limited, which is disappointing. You can also see the names of the devices the headphones are connected to.

Update: 14/02/2019: With user feedback we were able to get EQ access on the Cortana app on Android and iOS, it just takes a bit of know how to get it working if you are not in the US. To access the device (surface headphones) settings, you have to switch the language and region in the phone settings of the Cortana app to English (United States), then a quick restart of the app should show a little device icon on the lower right that you can click on to adjust the settings. Unfortunately, this gives you no additional features when compared to the Cortana device setup app on PC but at least you can change the EQ directly on your phone which warrants the slight score adjustments.

Connectivity
8.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line of Sight Range
296 ft
Default Latency
201 ms
aptX Latency
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
N/A

These headphones are Bluetooth compatible and support version 4.2. They can also connect simultaneously to 2 devices, which is useful if you often switch from your computer and phone. Unfortunately, they do not support NFC for an easier and quicker pairing with devices, but their pairing procedure is already simple.

Like most Bluetooth headphones, the Microsoft Surface Headphones have a bit too much latency to watch video content or gaming as what you will see won’t match what you will hear. They also do not support any lower latency codecs.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.1 ft
Connection 1/8" TRRS
Wired Latency
0 ms

These headphones have a 1/8” TRRS connection, meaning they will support audio and microphone when used wired on consoles and PCs. You’ll also benefit from the better in-line microphone. Also, when used with the audio cable, the ANC feature can still be on if the battery isn’t dead yet. If it is dead, you’ll still be able to listen to these headphones passively without the noise cancelation.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
Audio + Microphone
PC / PS4 Wired USB
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
N/A
USB Input
N/A
Line In
N/A
Line Out
N/A
Optical Input
N/A
RCA Input
N/A
Dock Charging
N/A
Power Supply
N/A

The Microsoft Surface Headphones do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired, check out the Astro A50.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

The Microsoft Surface Headphones are fairly versatile closed-back over-ears that bass-heavy genres fans should like. They are comfortable headphones for long listening sessions and are well-built. Their sound signature is on the warm side and might not be ideal for vocal-centric music, but they do have a 5-band EQ inside the Windows Cortana app. They also have a good ANC feature but don’t isolate as well as other premium ANC headphones below. However, what sets them apart is their easy-to-use and complete touch-sensitive control scheme with dials on each cup for volume and ANC control, which is very convenient. See our recommendations for the best wireless headphones and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

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

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are better headphones than the Microsoft Surface Headphones. They have a more neutral sounding frequency response, are one of the most comfortable headphones we’ve reviewed so far, and also have a better noise cancellation feature. However, they don’t have the satisfying and touch-sensitive control scheme of the Surface Headphones, leak more, and don’t have a companion app for additional customization options.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are better headphones than the Microsoft Surface Headphones. They are better-built headphones that have a better sound quality and ANC features. Overall, the XM3s are more versatile and more customizable thanks to the great companion app. On the other hand, the Surface Headphones have a better and more complete control scheme, and they have amazing wireless range performance that maxed out our testing facility. Being about the same price, we suggest getting the XM3 over the Surface Headphones.

Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Microsoft Surface Headphones are similar for mixed usage to the Bowers & Wilkins PX, but both take the edge in different categories. The Microsofts are more comfortable for long listening sessions, have a better control scheme, and deliver a more consistent sound quality. On the other hand, the PX are high-end headphones with a premium build quality and slightly better sound quality, but without an EQ isolate more ambient noise, especially at lower frequencies. This is useful for commuting. They also have a great 25-hour battery life.

Beats Studio 3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Microsoft Surface Headphones are better headphones for bass fans, while the Beats Studio3 Wireless have a more neutral sound quality with a not-so-veiled treble range. The Microsofts have a better and more complete control scheme that is satisfying to use. The feedback is better on the physical buttons of the Beats, but you get limited controls. Also, the Surface Headphones have better noise isolation performance but have about half of the Studio3’s battery life.

Dolby Dimension Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Microsoft Surface Headphones and Dolby Dimension perform quite similarly in most categories. The Surface Headphones have one of the most complete control schemes we’ve reviewed so far and their ANC feature is better than the Dimension’s, which makes them a better option for commuting. On the other hand, the Dolby Dimension have head tracking and virtualization features to enhance your listening experience, but don’t have an EQ like the Surface Headphones have. The Surface Headphones also have great wireless range and can also be used wired, even if the battery is dead.

+ Show more

Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones Price

Surface Headphones
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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