PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset: Review
Earlier this week, Sony released their newest PlayStation branded gaming headset: the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset. This is the third PlayStation branded set following the original PlayStation Wireless Headset, and the more recent, PlayStation Pulse Elite Headset. With an MSRP of $99.99, it's an enticing offer for those who are still undecided on whether or not a gaming headset would really enhance their playing experience. We were able to get our hands on a set, and after two days of usage across a variety of devices (PS Vita, PS3, PS4 iPhone, and MacBook Pro), we've got a full review for you!
Included in the box, aside from the headphones themselves, are a travel pouch, a Micro-USB cable for charging on the go, a 3.5mm audio cable, and the wireless adapter which plugs into your PS3 and/or PS4 (Note: While the wireless adapter does work with laptops and PC's, it only transmits stereo sound. Virtual 7.1 surround sound only works with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. All other devices require you to use the included 3.5mm audio cable for stereo sound). At first glance, you'll notice the headset has a subtle but stylish design, and is a little more compact when compared to the previous PlayStation branded models. However, when you actually get your hands on the headset, that's when the concerns begin to arise.
Though the headset is much lighter than the previous models, which will no doubt provide comfort during prolonged play sessions, the headset itself has a very cheap and fragile feel to it. The plastic outer shell doesn't feel like it would stand much more than a light bend, and while the ability to fold the headset for storage is convenient, you can't help but wonder how quickly those plastic hinges will wear over time. I guess concessions like these are to be expected in order to keep the price of the device south of $100.
"At first glance, you'll notice the headset has a subtle but stylish design, and is a little more compact when compared to the previous PlayStation branded models."
Like the PlayStation Pulse Elite Headset before it, the Gold Headset features a built-in chat mic, which is nice in that you don't need to worry about an extending microphone to adjust, or possibly accidentally break off in the future. The controls can be found on the outer edges of the cans themselves, and are easily accessible once you learn which is which. There is a button for volume control, a chat-volume/game-volume balance adjuster, a VSS button (used to toggle on/off the Virtual Surround Sound), a mute button, and the power switch (used only to connect to the PS3/PS4 adapter). The Micro-USB input is under the left ear can, and is used to both charge the headset, as well as connect to the PS3/PS4 when using the Headset Companion App (available as a free download on the PSN Store) to set up your custom sound mode.
Though the appearance of the PlayStation Gold Wireless headset may be deceiving in terms of the build quality, the more important issue at hand is, obviously, the actual performance of the headset. To reiterate, In order to conduct a thorough review, I used the headset on different devices, specifically: a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iPhone, and MacBook Pro. It's important to remind you again that even though the headset is compatible with the PlayStation Vita, most mobile phones and computers, you will only be getting Stereo Sound when connected to these devices. The wireless adapter will transmit 7.1 virtual surround sound works ONLY with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and stereo sound when used with laptops and PC's.
I'll start with the quality of the sound when using the 3.5mm audio cable with the devices not compatible with the wireless adapter. I listened to a wide variety of music on my iPhone (with which I normally use my Bose MIE2i mobile headset), and although the bass was slightly more noticeable, the music and lyrics often sounded much more cramped together. The PlayStation Vita fared a little bit better, as I played a few games of Velocity Ultra, TxK, and Killzone: Mercenary. They all sounded very good through stereo sound, and the bass really kicked, whether it was grooving along toVelocity Ultra's thumping soundtrack, or blasting Helghast as part of Killzone: Mercenary's explosive gameplay. Lastly, I booted up Jurassic Park on my Mac Book Pro, and even though the bass felt good during the scene where the kids are attacked by the T-Rex, the rest of the movie sounded pretty flat. It's really a shame Sony couldn't find a way to enable the wireless adapter (which is USB) to work with laptops/desktops, as the ability to watch your movies with simulated surround sound would have been welcome.
"It still creates an acceptable surround sound experience, but you can tell the tech inside the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset does not compare to other preferred headsets"
Finally, we get to the surround sound segment of this review, which is something I truly believe helps create a much more immersive gaming experience. Using a stereo headset, or just plain old TV speakers, can't compare to the audio experience that simulated surround sound offers. As I stated earlier, I had previously used the original PlayStation Wireless Headset, as well as the Pulse Elite Headset, before eventually purchasing the Astro A50's, and have been happy ever since. When firing up a game of Extinction Mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts, I began chatting with my friend in the games lobby using the built-in mic, and right away he told me I sounded muffled and distant. I tried to tweak things the best I could, but to no avail; it appears that the chat output quality isn't quite where it needs to be. When the game started, I immediately noticed that the directional range of the PlayStation Gold Headset was not nearly as accurate as the Astro's. When testing a headset's directional range, I like to use a method where I close my eyes, slowly turning my character when near some sort of fixed sound for orientation (ex: Waterfall). This allows me to see if I can pinpoint its location before opening my eyes. While I normally get a 360 degree feeling when using the Astro set, I felt like the Gold Headset was more or less North, South, East, and West...nothing in-between. You still get an idea of where sounds are coming from, but it's just not as precise. It still creates an acceptable surround sound experience, but you can tell the tech inside the PlayStation Gold Headset does not compare to other preferred headsets. Firing weapons and explosions all lacked the heavy lows that the Astro produces. While the overall experience doesn't compare to the total package offered by a higher end headset, such as the aforementioned Astro A50, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset still produces an acceptable audio performance that is still much better than playing without surround sound at all.
In closing, Sony has released another affordable option for gamers who are looking to pick up a surround sound gaming headset. If you already own one of the other PlayStation branded gaming headsets, there is no reason to pick up the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset, as it would just be a lateral move and nothing more. While the PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset may fail to go toe-to-toe with other more advanced gaming headsets, it's still a serviceable headset that gives gamers plenty of versatility, all for under $100.
- Cheap Build
- Limited Surround Sound Performance
- Sub-Par Chat Quality