Essential as they are in many aspects of life, wires are the worst. It’s no fun to have cables snaking around your entertainment setup, especially if you’re into gaming. They become problematic very quickly.
Unfortunately, the Bluetooth headphone revolution hasn’t quite made its way to gaming yet. You technically can use Bluetooth headphones on modern video game consoles, but every method for doing so will cost you extra money and some pairing methods are easier than others.
The good news is that it can be done. Here’s how.
Which Bluetooth headphones work with Xbox One?
Technically, the answer to that question is “none.” Whether it’s PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo, none of the current generation (or last generation, in Xbox One’s case) consoles natively support Bluetooth audio. They have Bluetooth capabilities, but they’re basically just there for wireless controller connectivity. That said, the word “technically” always leaves some space for exceptions, and that’s the case here, even if said exceptions aren’t ideal.
If you already have a pair of Bluetooth headphones that you really like, there’s no need to sink into despair just yet. There is a workaround that we’ll get to shortly. The good news (if you count spending hundreds of dollars as “good news”) is there are a bunch of wireless gaming headsets built with Microsoft’s special “Xbox Wireless” technology in mind. Microsoft has a special page on its online storefront just for Xbox-compatible headsets. Some of the most noteworthy models include:
Kingston HyperX CloudX ($160)
SteelSeries Arctis 9X ($200)
LucidSound LS35X ($180)
Corsair HS75 ($150)
I’ll also take a second to shout out Microsoft’s official solution, the aptly named Xbox Wireless Headset. It costs $100 and works with the Xbox One and the newer Xbox Series consoles. The only real issue is that, like anything else that’s related to the next-gen consoles, it can be hard to find in stores.
Most of the other options listed above cost more, but you may find them easier to snag. Of course, these things change over time, so the Xbox Wireless Headset probably won’t be rare forever.
OK, so how do I make Bluetooth headphones work with Xbox One?
This is where things get tricky. Like I said, the Xbox One doesn’t natively support Bluetooth audio. You need to either get an Xbox Wireless-compatible headset, like the ones listed above, or get creative. We’ll tell you how creative you need to get, exactly, but just know going in that it’s not a great solution and your best bet will involve dropping some cash.
If you have an Xbox Wireless-compatible headset
It will not long to explain how to connect a headset with Xbox Wireless capabilities to an Xbox One console. Simply find the pairing button on the headset (check the device manual if you can’t find it) and once it’s in pairing mode, press the pair button on the Xbox console itself. It’s the same as connecting a new controller to the console. Unless something bizarre happens, it should only take a few seconds.
If you already have Bluetooth headphones
Before you decide to connect your existing Bluetooth headphones to an Xbox One, you need to nail down a purpose. Are you trying to enjoy game audio without waking up your neighbors or being distracted by their noise that seeps through your walls? Or are you trying to chat with friends as you play Halo 3 in co-op for the 400th time?
The reason that distinction matters is that non-Xbox Wireless devices can’t really do both. It’s one or the other. We’ll start with listening to game audio first. If you’re just trying to listen to your games, a Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Xbox controller will do the trick. This one from Uberwith will run you $36, but Amazon reviews say it does its job by transmitting audio to Bluetooth headphones. They also note that it has a built-in microphone for voice chat since your headphones’ mic won’t work, but many reviews warn that the audio quality on that mic is terrible. You should probably only use it for listening, in other words.
Once you have a Bluetooth transmitter like that one, pairing it should be similar to how you’d pair your headphones to any other device. Figure out how to put your headphones in pairing mode (this varies from one pair to the next, so check the device manual) and then find the pairing button on the little transmitter you just bought. Assuming nothing goes wrong, that should do the trick. That said, I can’t promise you that there won’t be any wonky problems with this approach. The Xbox One was just not meant to work with regular Bluetooth headphones.
For voice chat, there’s a simpler, though less-than-ideal, solution. Download the Xbox app on Android or iOS, log in with your Xbox Live account, and either start or join a party with your friends by tapping the social icon on the bottom row (second to the left). Once you’re there, tap the headphones icon in the top right corner of the app for a voice chat party. All you have to do is connect your Bluetooth headphones to your smartphone and you can use them to chat with your friends. But again, you won’t hear any game audio.
It’s not great that people with Bluetooth headphones can’t just connect them to an Xbox One without spending at least a little bit of money and/or putting faith in third-party Bluetooth transmitters. That’s the reality of the situation, whether it’s because of Bluetooth latency or some other technical hurdles behind the scenes, but at least it’s possible. Here’s to hoping this isn’t a problem in six or seven years when more new consoles launch.