Why won't my Xbox 360 headset work?

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Why won't my Xbox 360 headset work?
Don't let your Xbox 360 headset defeat you. (PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The Xbox 360 headset is designed to work only with the console for the purpose of communicating with other users. It connects to the controller rather than to the Xbox 360 itself. The controller then transmits a signal on behalf of the headset in the case of a wireless controller, or through a cable in the wired controller.

The first problem many inexperienced users encounter comes from the very design of the headset, which is completely different from that of familiar PC headsets. The Xbox version doesn't transmit sound other than other gamers' voices. The music and sound of games require a separate source--such as a TV or amplifier.

Also in set-up, it could be that the console's family and sound preferences are blocking the headset. From the dashboard, go to "System Settings" > "Family Settings" > "Xbox Live Controls" > "Privacy and Friends" > "Communications." Choose the "Everyone" option. This opens up the headset voice.

To check sound preferences, hit the guide button (the Xbox logo) on the controller, go to "Settings" > "Preferences" > "Voice" and check that "Mute" isn't selected. If it is, you won't hear anyone, and they won't hear you through the headset.

In the event of echo, turn down the volume of any other sound sources in the vicinity.

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Settings

The Xbox 360 headset is designed to work only with the console for the purpose of communicating with other users. It connects to the controller rather than to the Xbox 360 itself. The controller then transmits a signal on behalf of the headset in the case of a wireless controller or through a cable in the wired controller.

The first problem many inexperienced users encounter comes from the very design of the headset, which is completely different from that of familiar PC headsets. The Xbox version doesn't transmit sound other than other gamers' voices. The music and sound of games require a separate source -- such as a TV or amplifier.

Also in setup, it could be that the console's family and sound preferences are blocking the headset. From the dashboard, go to "System Settings" "Family Settings" "Xbox Live Controls" "Privacy and Friends" "Communications." Choose the "Everyone" option. This opens up the headset voice.

To check sound preferences, hit the guide button (the Xbox logo) on the controller, go to "Settings" "Preferences" "Voice" and check that "Mute" isn't selected. If it is, you won't hear anyone, and they won't hear you through the headset.

In the event of echo, turn down the volume of any other sound sources in the vicinity.

Headset hardware

The headset also has a rather confusing mute function located on the volume knob attached to the headset wire. This rocker-style button shows a green background when pushed "up" toward the mic icon, meaning sound is going out. If people can't hear you, check for the green: if you don't see it and the button is pushed down, you're simply muted.

The volume control for the headset may also be turned all the way down using a job wheel on the side of this rocker, so play with it until you hear something. Get a friend on Xbox Live to help you with this. Simply have them talk to test the mute and volume settings. You can also leave recorded messages to yourself and play them back: hit the guide button (the Xbox logo) on the controller, then go to "Messages" "Create New" "Add Voice" "Record Message."

Malfunctions

Faults in manufacturing and workmanship are also possible -- especially around where the wire meets the headset body. Do not pull on the wire or apply any undue force to it. If there's too much "give" in that area, it's quite likely the wire isn't contacting properly. Symptoms for this include crackling noises and intermittent reception.

It's also possible the controller is acting up. Since it conducts all headset activity, problems with the former affect the latter. Make sure the controller is on, connected securely if wired and charged if wireless. Of course, ensure the headset plug is in the controller body all the way, and firmly so.

This plug going into the controller may also be corroded, bent or simply dirty. Check that it's clean and undamaged if you have any sound issues with the headset.

There's the remote possibility that your high-speed Internet connection is not carrying voice properly due to lag or bandwidth issues. However, this is becoming rarer. Simply try the headset with different titles while playing online.

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