I have to admit, I’ve been using my HyperX earbuds while gaming on the Xbox Series X a lot lately. But sitting here (also gaming) made me stop and think: Do USB speakers work on Xbox Series X?
Although the portability and space-savings of earbuds are cool, there really truly is nothing like getting encapsulated within awesome video game soundtracks through powerful external speakers.
USB speakers will only work on Xbox Series S/X if its firmware is compatible to allow sound through a powered USB port. For optical audio and 3.5mm speakers, an HDMI audio extractor is needed in order to allow sound from the HDMI port, as there are no digital optical out or 3.5mm jacks built into the Xbox Series S/X console.
So even if your USB speakers are not updated or allowed sound from the Xbox Series X, there are some workarounds that can get those gaming cans powered up again.
Let’s dive into the details.
Can Xbox Series X Use USB Audio?
According to Xbox Support, any officially licensed Xbox One or Xbox Series S/X audio accessory that connects to your console wired or wirelessly through USB will work on Xbox Series X.
Third-party USB speakers that are not officially licensed by Xbox, including some PC speakers, will most likely not allow sound from the USB port of the Xbox Series X.
A Reddit comment I recently read also seems to confirm this, as they were able to get audio directly from the USB port of the Xbox Series X only after the company, Astros Gaming (who works with Xbox), updated the firmware to allow audio from the console’s port.
This means for non-supported USB audio speakers and headsets, the only other route to get sound is to use either your speaker’s 3.5mm or optical audio connections to the Xbox Series X.
But wait! If you look behind your Xbox Series X console, you’ll see that the 3.5mm and now the optical audio output jacks are both missing.
Don’t worry, keep reading as I’ll help set you up with a workaround that will allow either of these audio connections to work with the Xbox Series X, reviving your USB speakers to return back to sound glory once again.
How Do I Connect USB Audio to Xbox Series X?
For USB audio accessories that are not officially licensed to allow sound from the USB port of the Xbox Series S/X, you’ll need to connect to the console using either the 3.5mm or optical audio out from the audio device.
The best way to get 3.5mm or optical audio from the Xbox Series X is through an HDMI audio extractor.
Sounds space-aged, but what this powered device allows you to do is bypass the HDMI (video) connection and split off the audio into 3.5mm or digital optical audio.
There are less expensive HDMI audio extractors, like this highly-rated one on Amazon, but be mindful that the audio part of the switcher only allows for 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround sound channels, and the HDMI video pass-through can only go up to 4K at 60HZ.
This one is perfectly fine if you are plugging in a stereo speaker setup to your Xbox and have a TV or monitor that can only display up to 4K at 60HZ anyways.
However, if you have an audio and/or video setup that requires more than these channels and video rate, you’ll want to upgrade to a more capable unit.
This HDMI audio extractor from Avstar is more pricey, but it allows you to have 2.0, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound channels while also passing through video at up to 4K at 120HZ with VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), which is the full performance of the Xbox Series X. Neato!
Can I Use a USB Mic and Headset on Xbox Series X?
USB mics and headsets that are officially licensed for Xbox, like some Astros and Turtle Beach units, can connect directly through either of the Xbox Series X powered USB ports and allow sound.
For non-supported USB mics and headsets, they won’t allow sound to or from the Xbox Series X USB port but they can still be used using an HDMI audio extractor (don’t forget the additional cable you’ll need!) that’s connected in series with the console.
This allows you to connect that same USB mic and/or headset to your Xbox Series X either through 3.5mm or audio optical audio connections.
You can also use a USB wireless mic and headset that may be supported for other consoles, such as the SteelSeries Arctis P family of headsets that’s intended for the PS5 and Nintendo Switch, and connect it to the 3.5mm jack of your Xbox Series X controller.
It’s a bummer that you lose the wireless capabilities going this route, but hey, you’re still able to use that precious investment in wired form!
How Do I Connect External Speakers to Xbox Series X?
Since the launch of the Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft has removed the digital optical audio output from its consoles found in previous generations.
In order to connect external speakers to your Xbox Series X, you’ll need to utilize an HDMI audio extractor (don’t forget the additional cable you’ll need!), which bypasses the HDMI video signal of the console and splits off the audio to either 3.5mm or audio optical connections.
Once you connect the external speakers (3.5mm or audio optical) to the HDMI audio extractor, you’ll be able to receive sound from the Xbox Series X while showing video on your TV or monitor display.
I agree it’s absolutely crucial to have a solid set of speakers (or headsets!) to help bring out all the awesome sounds and complete anyone’s Xbox Series X gaming setup.
But when those USB audio accessories aren’t quite supported to allow sound directly from the console, it can be an absolute bummer.
But thankfully, with some flexibility and the help of a handy adapter, we can get back to hearing our original audio through gaming once again.
Also, if you’re wondering how to get the best picture settings for Xbox Series X, check out this article where I share the top tips to getting the most out of these console gaming visuals here on Gizbuyer Guide.
Happy gaming, friends!