Microsoft Surface noise-cancelling headphones review: Impeccably designed, Indulgently priced

Microsoft Surface Headphones
  • Microsoft Surface Headphones
  • Microsoft Surface Headphones
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Clean sense of aesthetics
  • Fast pairing

Cons

  • Way too expensive
  • Underwhelming noise-cancelling

Bottom Line

The design and audio quality is sound but they’re certainly not good enough to justify the premium price.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 499.00 (AUD)

Should I buy the Microsoft Surface Headphones?

The Surface Headphones aren’t bad but they’re somewhat-hamstrung by Microsoft’s gutsy call to release them at such a high recommended retail price. It feels downright indulgent to consider these as a credible alternative to stuff like Boses’ pricey 700 Series noise-cancelling headphones or Sony’s equally-accomplished WH-1000M3s

The Surface Headphones are a great first effort by Microsoft but you’re paying more for the Surface branding here than any sort of superior noise-cancelling technology. 

Price when reviewed

In Australia, the Microsoft Surface Headphones are priced at $499.

Microsoft Surface Headphones full review

Price

In Australia, you can buy the Microsoft Surface headphones for an RRP of $499 through: 

Read more: Microsoft Surface 2 Windows RT tablet (preview)

Design & Build

Opting for a pearl white color palette full of whites and greys, the Surface Headphones mash together metal, plastic and fabric in a way that’s not all that dissimilar from what brands like Sony, Jabra and Bose are doing nowadays. It’s in spite of those superficial similarities that the Surface Headphones remain distinct enough to stand out among the crowd. 

To their credit, the Surface Headphones look like a set of noise-cans that only Microsoft could get away with building in 2019. Still, at the end of the day, the Surface Headphones don’t do quite enough to avoid feeling like yet another pair of headphones. 

Credit: Microsoft

Read more: Microsoft slashes Surface RT prices for Aussie schools, universities

Under the hood, the Surface Headphones come powered by a 40 mm Free Edge drivers. Out of the box, they also come with a fabric carry-case and a charging cable. In terms of buttons, Microsoft have stuffed everything onto the right earcup. 

The underside here houses a power button, a mute button, a headphone jack for wired playback when you need it and a USB Type-C port used for charging. 

When it comes to moment to moment control, the Surface Headphones rely on haptic sensors built directly into the earcups. Tap once to play. Tap again to pause. Double tap to skip. Triple tap to go back. If you’ve used any headphones with touch controls released from the last three or four years, you’ll feel right at home.

Features & Sound Quality

Read more: Microsoft planning smaller Surface tablet?

While it doesn’t quite go so far as to offer the PowerPoint integration found in Microsoft’s first set of true wireless earbuds, the Surface Headphones do have one unique hook in the form of fast and easy pairing with Windows 10 PCs via Swift Pair. 

This works similarly to the fast pairing found with Apple’s AirPods and iOS devices but isn’t quite as frictionless. Overall, it’s nice to have but it’s not a game-changer. 

Beyond this quirk, the Surface headphones are going to be a fairly straightforward plug/pair and play affair. For some, that’s going to be a pro. For others, it might be a letdown. Noise-cancelling headphones aren’t usually cheap but the Surface Headphones are more expensive than most and, to put it bluntly, the results they deliver struggle to justify that premium.

Credit: Microsoft

The soothing melodies of Cage the Elephant’s “Come a Little Closer” were appropriately melancholy and and upbeat ska riffs of Reel Big Fish’s “I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore” came across with just enough puffed-up pizazz to get me by but, compared to some of the other options, the Surface Headphones just didn’t deliver the same level of immersion or quality. 

They’re a little soft on the bass, the fidelity isn’t there and the noise-cancelling rarely seemed to achieve the feat of fully isolating my against outside sound. Sitting in an office with the Surface Headphones on my head was certainly quieter than the alternative. 

A big part of what makes modern noise cancelling headphones so cool is their consistency and the Surface Headphones fail to deliver on this critical front. Unfortunately and most of the time, the cocoon of silence created by the Surface Headphones is made of a thin membrane that’s all-too-easily pierced. 

Battery Life

With noise-cancelling enabled and over Bluetooth, The Microsoft Surface headphones last for about 15 hours of playback. Turning off stuff like voice activation will net you three or so extra hours. 

Credit: Microsoft

In line with most aspects of the Surface Headphones, this isn’t terrible but it doesn’t really compete with the big guns of the category either. With a price as high as the Surface Headphones command, that’s not good enough. 

The Bottom Line

It feels like the Surface Headphones mostly exist simply to prove that Microsoft can make a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones. The design and audio quality is sound but they’re certainly not good enough to justify the premium price. Still, they did leave me hungry for more. 

If Microsoft can make a decent pair of headphones like this on a first effort, who’s to say how much better their sophomore effort will be.

Planning to pass on the Microsoft Surface headphones and need an alternative? Check out our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones here.

Credit: Microsoft

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?