Having recently graduated with a distinction from the school of Turtle Beach, this editor was not especially looking forward to another battle of wits against a pair of humble headphones. The elaborately named Ear Force PX4 peripheral garnered a glowing appraisal in the sound quality portion of our recent review, but was ultimately difficult to recommend due to the disastrous setup procedure. Fortunately, the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset – or slightly more straightforward Wireless Stereo Headset 2.0 as it’s known in Europe – is a bit of a revelation in the preparation department. That is to say that there isn’t any.
An evolution of the uber-popular Pulse range, this officially licensed accessory has been designed as a catch-all solution to your PlayStation audio needs. The box bears the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita branding, but it’s actually compatible with many more devices than that, including your favourite MP3 player, smartphone, or tablet. There is one caveat, however: the wireless portion of the peripheral will only function on a console or compatible computer, as you’ll need to employ the provided 1/8” detachable headphone jack to use it on other units. This is to be expected, though, and is not really a deal breaker.
We spent most of our time testing the unit with the Japanese giant’s latest console, but did try it on the PS3 and our ageing PC, with the setup rarely requiring more than moving the included USB dongle from one platform to the other. This ease-of-use is undeniably one of the greatest strengths of the unit, especially if you’re used to fiddling around with the dozens of cables that come with the various third-party alternatives. As a first-party product, the peripheral is also complemented by an application available on the PlayStation Store, which allows you to create custom sound profiles for the device. This all feels a bit superfluous, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.
With a £79.99/$99.99 price point, the sound quality pales in comparison to some of the more expensive options on the market, but it’s still decent. The cans lack a little punch in the low-end, but you’ll still feel the impact of explosions on the default setting. Meanwhile, the virtual surround sound functionality helps to simulate the ‘feel’ of an enormous speaker array, and even though it lacks the more precise channel separation of a pricier peripheral, it still gives you a good sense of place. We spent quite a lot of time with Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition while penning this review, and found the effect particularly pronounced while exploring more quiet environments, such as caves.
Of course, the package would be pointless if it wasn’t comfortable, but fortunately it’s lightweight and well cushioned. The build quality isn’t the best, with its flimsy plastic headband feeling particularly cheap to the touch, but the faux-leather earmuffs and sponged insides get the job done, and won’t pinch at your lugholes. You can fold the speakers inside to lower the entire product’s profile during transportation, and while this feels a bit fragile, careful players shouldn’t have too many problems with breakages. It’s just a shame that the upmarket chrome finish of the most recent Pulse has been replaced by a more gaudy blue, which fits the platform branding but doesn’t look especially aesthetically pleasing.
Still, the platform holder deserves credit for not equipping the unit with a gigantic Britney Spears-esque boom microphone. Instead, the unit’s chat functionality is tucked away inside the device itself, and works great with the PS4’s voice controls or general in-game communication. You can mute the mic at any time by pushing a button on the unit itself, and while this is a little flush to the surface of the device, it’s easily reachable while you’re wearing the unit on your head. Likewise is the Micro USB charging slot, which means that if you’ve got a long enough cable, you can charge the headset while you play, without compromising your gaming time.
The manufacturer advertises about eight hours of use on a single charge, and we got similar results in our tests. Naturally, your mileage will vary depending on factors such as volume, but we easily received about seven hours of gameplay from our first unplugged experiment, and have been consistently hitting around that number ever since. It’s perhaps worth noting that the cans don’t completely cancel out any ambient noise, so if you’re playing in a particularly busy environment, you may need to compensate for that by cranking them up. Likewise, if you’re using them near to someone sleeping, there’s a chance that they may hear some leakage.
Niggles aside, though, this is a terrific product that’s ideal if you’re looking for an affordable headset for your suite of PlayStation consoles. The ease-of-use and solid sound quality make it a perfect choice for pretty much all of your everyday audio needs, and while enthusiasts may take issue with the average low-end response, they still pack a reasonable punch. The build quality is a teensy bit cheap, and the garish blue trim will prevent you from wearing them to a hipster’s house party, but they’re comfortable, lightweight, and won’t break easily unless you force them. For the price, this is an exceptional option.
Are you planning to pick up the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset, or have you already got a set of headphones that you’re happy with? Turn up the volume in the comments section below.