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Microsoft Surface Headphones 2: what we want to see


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Microsoft Surface Headphones 2: what we want to see

microsoft surface headphones

(Image credit: Microsoft)


The Microsoft Surface Headphones took us all by surprise when they launched in October 2018 – and even more surprising was just how adept the noise-cancelling headphones were. After all, Microsoft isn’t exactly a big name in the world of personal audio. 


Nearly two years later, and we’re starting to hear whispers of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, the successor to the company’s wireless over-ears – and a recent Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) listing has all but confirmed these rumors, as well as suggesting a few cool features that could make the new headphones really stand out from the crowd. 


While we’re waiting for official confirmation from Microsoft, we’ve taken a look at all the specs we’re expecting from the new Surface headphones, as well as a few features we’re hoping to see.

Cut to the chase

  • What are they? Microsoft’s next wireless noise-cancelling headphones
  • When will they be released? TBC, but we think at some point in 2020
  • How much will they cost? Likely similar to the originals ($349.99 / £329.99 / AU$499)

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 release date

Pretty much everything we know about the rumored Surface Headphones 2 comes from the Bluetooth SIG listing that was spotted by 91 Mobiles on April 30. While this can’t be taken as confirmation that headphones will be released soon, technical registrations are an indication that a product is on the way. 

So when could the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 be released? Microsoft does have its virtual Build developers conference coming up on May 19 during which it could unveil other Surface products (and might finally release the Surface Buds) – that’s as good a time as any for these headphones to make their debut.


We'll keep you posted in case more information leaks ahead of time, but otherwise expect to tune in on May 19 to see what Microsoft has cooked up for 2020 and beyond.


Otherwise – and probably more likely – we could see the new headphones unveiled in October, just like their predecessors at Microsoft’s annual Surface event.


Can't wait that long? Check out the best deals we've found on the original Microsoft Surface Headphones below:


What we know so far


According to the specs described in the listing, the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 will come with Bluetooth 5.0 – a step up from the Bluetooth 4.2 their predecessors supported. This should allow for longer pairing distances, more reliable wireless connectivity, and more efficient power usage.



That increased efficiency could be behind a purported increase in battery life; according to the SIG listing, the new headphones could last up to 20 hours per charge. That’s a significant improvement upon the original Microsoft Surface Headphones’ 15-hours battery life.



As well as support for a more recent Bluetooth standard, the new Surface Headphones 2 will apparently work with Qualcomm’s aptX HD audio codec, which allows for Hi-Res Audio streaming over a wireless network – something we imagine audiophiles will be pleased to know. 



Another feature described in the listing is “IMU sensors for better head detection / tracking”. IMUs (Inertial Measurement Units) can be used to measure the orientation of your head and better simulate the way you’d hear live music.



Like their predecessors, the new Surface Headphones will apparently sport “dial buttons [to] adjust the levels of Noise cancellation [sic] to three settings, and tap hold of the dial will launch VA without ever taking out your phone.” 



‘VA’ likely refers to a voice assistant – though whether this will be Cortana remains to be seen. As Microsoft’s voice assistant is losing its smart home skills and becoming more of a productivity tool (compared to say, Google Assistant or Alexa), it’s not clear how useful Cortana would be in a pair of headphones. 



We loved the use of dial controls on the original Microsoft Surface headphones, so we’re pleased to see them making a return; compared to headphones that can only be controlled via touch-sensitive housings, they offered a level of tactility to proceedings.


Microsoft Surface Headphone

The 2018 Microsoft Surface Headphones. (Image credit: Microsoft)

What we want to see

It’s important to note that, while SIG listings can give us an idea of what the new Surface Headphones 2 might be like, it’s far from an official confirmation from Microsoft.


Still, that hasn’t stopped us from dreaming up a wishlist of all the features and improvements we’d like to see when they are released; even though the original Microsoft Surface Headphones were pretty impressive, with a warm sound and comfy fit, to begin with, the world of wireless headphones has advanced in the two years since their launch. 



Improved audio quality and noise cancellation



It goes without saying that we’d expect a step up in audio quality for the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2. That’s not to say that the originals didn’t sound good – we were actually very pleasantly surprised by their warm, almost analogue-sounding tone. However, a little more clarity and detail wouldn’t go amiss, as would some improvement to their noise-cancelling tech. Perhaps Microsoft could take a leaf out of Bose’s book by applying noise cancellation to users’ voices on phone calls as well as upgrading the tech so that environmental sound is suppressed even further.



Voice assistant agnosticism 



Cortana has never measured up to the likes of Google Assistant and Alexa, and now that Microsoft is stripping back its voice assistant’s functionality, it makes sense that the new Surface Headphones 2 would support one of these superior assistants.  



Inbuilt tracking



You can find your Apple Airpods or AirPods Pro with your iPhone or Mac, and the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless come with built-in Tile tracking – we’d love to see this with the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, whether that comes about as a partnership with Tile or a new technology developed by Microsoft itself.


microsoft surface headphones

The original Microsoft Surface Headphones are very, very gray. (Image credit: TechRadar)

More premium materials


While many people may appreciate the very functional look of the original Surface Headphones, they were undeniably plastic-y. If the Surface Headphones 2 cost the same as their predecessors, we’d like to see them make use of more premium-feeling materials, while retaining their generously padded earcups and lightweight feel. 


A sleeker design



Compared to our top-rated noise-cancelling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3, the original Surface Headphones look quite bulky – we’d love to see them upgraded with a slicker design, perhaps eschewing visible hinges for a more streamlined look. A few more color options wouldn’t go amiss either. The original headphones are overwhelminly gray, which really won’t appeal to everyone – perhaps Microsoft should take a leaf from Beats’ book by launching the new headphones in a range of bright colors.



Source: Microsoft Surface Headphones 2: what we want to see (TechRadar)

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