Surface Headphones Hands-On: Dial It Louder

NEW YORK - The least expected announcement at Microsoft's event today was a pair of headphones. But the Surface team is coming for Bose and other luxury headphone makers with its new pair of cans. The headphones are $349, but release dates were not announced.

In my short time with the Surface Headphones, I found them to be immensely comfortable. The ear cushions felt soft and luxurious, and the 0.6-pound headset felt light on my head. Music streaming from Spotify on a nearby Surface Pro 6 was loud and clear through the 40mm speaker, though the bass could have been slightly more distinct (I look forward to trying the headset when not in an intensely crowded room). My only big issue with the design at first glance is that it only comes in platinum color, like the Surface Pro. I wish it came in the same new black color as the Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6.

Each cup has a dial; on the right you can adjust the volume, while the left side lets you change the noise cancellation level (up to 30dB for active noise-cancellation, up to 40dB for passive). The ear cups are touch sensitive, and you can use them to invoke Cortana.

Additionally, the headset uses four beam-forming microphones for calls (Microsoft says the Surface Headphones are designed for Skype), and for invoking Cortana, though that didn't work well in the loud press room.

Microsoft is claiming up to 15 hours of battery life on the Surface Headphones. It charges over USB Type-C and uses fast-charging to get an hour of music playback after just five minutes plugged in.

And while the Surface Headphones are designed for Windows 10, it also pairs via Bluetooth with iOS, Android and macOS devices. In the box, there's an attractive gray carrying case and an audio cable for when you want to listen over a wired connection.