The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are a cheaper rival for the Sony WH-1000XM3

microsoft surface headphones 2
(Image credit: Microsoft)

UPDATE: The article below has been updated to include official Australian pricing for both the Surface Headphones 2 and Surface Earbuds.

Microsoft has launched two new pairs of headphones: the over-ear Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, and the true wireless Microsoft Surface Earbuds. 

The former are the follow up to the Microsoft Surface Headphones, which launched in October 2018, taking the audio world by surprise with their adept noise-cancellation, comfortable fit, and fantastic sound quality.

According to Microsoft, the new noise-cancelling headphones come with "improved sound quality and 13 levels of ambient noise control"  – and they're considerably cheaper, too.

The new headphones now come in black, as well as the gray color scheme we saw with the original Surface headphones, and will set you back $249 / AU$399.95 when they become available on May 12. That works out at around £200 although we're still waiting on official pricing in the UK.

That's a lot easier on the wallet than the original Surface Headphones, which cost ($349.99 / £329.99 / AU$499), and it could make them a compelling alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM3 – our current top noise-cancelling headphones.

microsoft surface earbuds

(Image credit: Microsoft)

As with their predecessors, the active noise cancellation is adjustable via on-ear dials – a feature we're happy to see has made the cut with the second generations cans. Microsoft says that the ANC is capable of both blocking out and amplifying human voices – something the company says will come in handy "when you are trying to work from home with roommates, kids, significants others, or pets".

Battery life has also been improved, rising from 15 hours to 20 hours, while the design of the Surface Headphones 2 has been updated to include a rotating ear cup, ear cup, made for "greater comfort when wearing [the headphones] around your neck".

'Omnisonic sound'

Microsoft also announced the launch of the Surface Earbuds, a pair of true wireless earbuds that the company says offer "an ultra-comfortable and stable fit". The new earbuds come with touch-sensitive housings, which will allow you to take calls and play/pause your music without taking out your phone. 

If you have an Android phone, you'll be able to launch Spotify with a triple-tap, while "screen-free integration with Microsoft 365 let's you catch up on emails with Play My Emails in the Outlook Mobile App for iOS or allow you to dictate in Word, Outlook or PowerPoint."

We're interested to find out how the Microsoft Surface Earbuds sound; the company says that they'll deliver what it calls "Omnisonic sound" with to 13.6mm drivers powering the buds. There's no noise-cancelling here, so they won't compete with the AirPods Pro or the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they're much cheaper than either of these true wireless earbuds at $199 / AU$319.95.

That works out at about £160 in the UK, but we'll be sure to update this article once we have official pricing when they're available to buy on May 12. 

Microsoft also announced the Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2 as well, aiming to take on the likes of Apple with its MacBooks and iPads, as well.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.