How to Fix It When an Xbox One Controller Won't Recognize the Headset

Friends can't hear you on Xbox Live? Let's get your headset working

When an Xbox One controller is not recognizing a headset, it usually manifests in the following ways:

  • Other players can't hear you and you can't hear other players.
  • The volume up option in the Xbox One settings may be grayed out.
  • You may appear muted in game chat.

These problems can occur when you first plug in an Xbox One headset, or when the headset is in use, but you'll usually notice the issue when you attempt to start a voice chat rather than during use.

A girl frustrated that her Xbox One controller won't recognize her headset.
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Causes of Xbox One Controllers Not Recognizing Headsets

Contributing factors that can cause an Xbox One controller to not recognize your headset include problems with the controller hardware and firmware, physical defects in the headset itself, incorrect settings, and even issues with the Xbox One console.

How to Fix Your Xbox One Controller to Recognize Your Headset

If your Xbox One controller refuses to recognize your headset, you should be able to get it working again by using the following troubleshooting tips. Attempt each fix, in order, and check to see if your headset works after each step.

Before you proceed, make sure your controller is actually connected to your Xbox One. If it isn't, check out our guide to fixing an Xbox One controller that won't connect, as that may also fix your headset issue.

  1. Make sure your headset is firmly plugged into your controller. If the headset isn't plugged in all the way, or it isn't seated properly, it won't make a good enough connection and your controller won't recognize it. Try unplugging it, then plugging it back in.

  2. Make sure the headset isn't muted. Your headset has a mute function that may make it seem like the headset isn't recognized by your controller. Look for a mute button on the left side of the connector that's plugged into the expansion port on your controller, or an in-line mute switch if you have a 3.5mm chat headset.

  3. Increase the headset audio. If the headset audio is turned all the way down, you won't be able to hear anyone. Try increasing the audio using the buttons on the connector that's plugged into your controller's expansion port, or the in-line volume wheel if you have a 3.5mm chat headset.

    You can also adjust volume settings on your Xbox One. Navigate to Settings > Device & accessories, select your controller, then adjust the audio settings.

    If the volume option is grayed out, that indicates a problem with either your headset or controller.

  4. Use the Xbox One Skype app to test your headset. This will confirm the problem is on your end, rather than a problem with Xbox party chat or your friends' hardware.

    To perform this test, make sure you're signed in to Xbox Live, and launch the Skype app. Select People > Skype Test Call > Voice Call, then speak into the mic when indicated and wait to see if your voice is played back. If you don't hear your voice, then your controller really isn't recognizing your headset.

  5. Try a different controller. If you have more than one controller, sync another Xbox One controller and plug in your headset. If it works, then there's a problem with the first controller. It may need a firmware update, or the headphone jack could be damaged.

    If your controller won't turn on, and you don't have another controller to test, check out our guide to fixing an Xbox One controller that won't turn on.

  6. Try a different headset. If you plug in a different headset, and it works, then you know there's a problem with the original headset. These headsets have no software or firmware component, so the most likely failure is a broken wire or a bad mute switch.

  7. Examine and clean your controller and headset. Unplug your headset, and examine the headset, cord, and plug for any signs of damage. If the cord is frayed, or the plug is bent, the headset may need to be repaired. If it's just dirty, clean it with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

    With the headset unplugged, look in the headset connector on your Xbox One controller. If you see any debris, attempt to remove them with canned air, or clean the port with a cotton swab dipped lightly in rubbing alcohol.

    Do not allow any liquid to drip inside of the port or controller.

  8. Check your privacy and online safety settings. If your privacy settings are too strict, you won't be able to chat in Xbox party chat or games. To check your settings, press the guide button on the Xbox One controller, then navigate to Settings > Account > Privacy & online safety > View details & customize > Communicate with voice and text > everybody.

    Using the "everybody" setting will allow you to communicate with both friends and strangers on Xbox Live. Select Friends Only to avoid talking to strangers.

    Child profiles can't access this setting. To change this setting for a child, log in using the associated parent profile.

  9. Update your controller firmware. At one point, Microsoft released a firmware update that prevented some headsets from working. If you have that version of the firmware, you'll have to update it.

  10. Try new batteries in your controller. Dead or low batteries can prevent an Xbox One headset from working properly. To rule out this problem, try replacing the batteries with brand new batteries or freshly charged batteries.

  11. Re-associate your controller with your profile. This simple fix will help if your controller has become disassociated with your gamertag profile for some reason. Press the Guide button on the Xbox One controller, then select Home. Select your gamerpic in the upper left corner, find your profile, then select Choose this person to associate your profile with that controller.

  12. Power cycle your Xbox One console. If your controller still won't recognize your headset, you can try power cycling your console and controllers.

    Press and hold the Xbox One's power button on the front of the console until the LED goes off, then wait for the controllers to power down or remove the batteries to shut them off immediately.

    After a few minutes, press the power button on your Xbox One again. You should see the boot up animation on your TV, which indicates the console was successfully power cycled.

  13. If your Xbox One controller still doesn't recognize your headset, then either the controller or the headset will need to be repaired or replaced.

Try to borrow a controller or headset if you didn't already do so during this troubleshooting process, as that will help you narrow down which one is bad. You may also want to check out our guide to Xbox One mic problems.