How to set up a headset on Windows 10


A headset or headphone with a microphone is necessary for communication, especially when working from home and getting time-sensitive work done without disruption. Headsets are also quite useful among gamers, as they have to be always aware of enemy footsteps and give callouts to their teammates.

There’s plenty of decent pair of headphones on the market for you to buy. However, you won’t be utilizing it to its fullest if you don’t know how to set it up with your Windows 10 PC properly. This guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Setting up your headset in Windows 10

To get your headset working with Windows 10, you will have to start by plugging it into your PC first. Newer headsets use mostly three types of connections, which are commonly found across all Windows-powered desktops and laptops. Here are the following options:

  • 3.5mm jack: The 3.5 mm port is the most common audio port you will find on your PC and mobile devices. Generally, entry-level headsets use the standard, with its cable being split at the end between two separate 3.5mm jacks of different colors, one for the microphone (pink) and the other for the audio out (green).
  • USB: Some gaming headsets are powered by USB, offering multi-channel surround sound, granular software-based audio controls, and enough power for the built-in RGB to light up. Of course, you won’t ever run out of empty USB ports on your PC.
  • Bluetooth / 2.4 GHz: Wireless headsets use either Bluetooth or a dedicated USB receiver (2.4 GHz) for audio transmission over a cable-free connection.
    Most Windows laptops come with Bluetooth built-in, so there’s nothing you have to worry about. However, you might need a USB-powered Bluetooth receiver for your desktop.

Based on the motherboard and case you have chosen to use for your desktop PC, there should be 3.5mm audio out, microphone, and USB ports on or near the front panel. However, front panel audio usually tends to be mediocre because of poor shielding.

Thus, you should always avoid them unless your headset cable is too short to be connected to the rear motherboard ports. It’s the best option if you wish to get the most out of your headset.

Changing system audio output in Windows 10

After you connect your headset to the PC, Windows 10 should automatically identify it as a new audio device. But, you might have to make some manual changes to set your headset as the default audio output device.

  1. First, click the speaker icon in the taskbar. It will bring up a menu that should show your currently selected audio device and a volume control slider.
  2. Now click the audio device to expand the available options.
  3. After that, select your newly connected headset in the list.

If you have a headset with 3.5mm jacks, it might show up as Speakers or Headphones in the options. The same problem doesn’t occur on USB-powered headsets. You can later rename your audio device to make it simpler for yourself to identity them.

To test whether the system audio is coming from the selected headset, play some music or video on your Windows PC or follow the steps below.

  1. Hover over the speaker icon in the taskbar and right-click it, then select Open Sound settings in the pop-up menu.
  2. Next, click the Sound Control Panel option under the Related Settings row.
  3. Under the Playback tab, find your headphones in the list and double-click it to open the Properties menu. The selected audio device should have a green tick next to the icon.
  4. Now go to the Advanced tab and click the Test button. A chime sound should playback through the left and right audio channels of your headset.

While you are in the Properties menu, you can rename your 3.5mm or USB headset from the General tab. Make sure to hit OK or Apply to save the changes.

You can also right-click the headset in the Playback tab and set it as your default audio or communication device. Otherwise, you might have to individually change the audio output and microphone input settings for each app.

Changing recording settings in Windows 10

Now that you can play audio through your headset, you also need to make sure to set up the microphone as the default recording device in Windows 10. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the Sound Control Panel from the taskbar again and visit the Recording tab.
  2. Select the microphone from the list and click the Set Default button below.
  3. Now double-click the default microphone to open the Properties menu.
  4. Rename the entry from the General tab according to your preference, then click Apply.
  5. Go to the Levels tab and adjust the microphone input volume level accordingly.

You can test your headset’s microphone using Windows 10’s Voice Recorder app. If your headset has a hardware mic mute button, make sure that it’s unclicked before testing it. From the settings of voice communication apps like Discord, you can also make fine adjustments to your microphone sensitivity and enable noise suppression.

Fix headset issues on Windows 10

Some of you might face issues with getting audio output from your headset on Windows 10. Here are a few fixes:

  • In case your headset doesn’t work on the first go, restarting your PC might solve the issue.
  • While Windows 10 comes with its default audio driver, consider installing the motherboard’s audio driver for full compatibility with different audio devices. You will find it on your mobo’s online support page.
  • Ensure that the headset’s 3.5mm jacks are connected to the same color of ports on the motherboard or front panel. It’s usually green for audio output and pink for microphone input.
  • If you still can’t get audio from your headset speakers, select a different audio format from its Properties menu in the Sound Control Panel.
  • In case your microphone doesn’t work, check if it’s selected as the input device in the app or game. Also, make sure that the mute button on your headset is unclicked.

If none of the fixes work above, try connecting the headset to a different PC or laptop to test if it works. Else, you might have to send it for RMA (only when it’s under warranty) or buy a new headset.


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