The first hands on review of the PS5's new Pulse Explore earbuds had CNET waxing lyrical about the audio quality, but a new verdict from PC Mag has raised concerns surrounding the device's design and fit. In a 2.5/5 review, it's suggested the "big tabs that jut up from the earphones make it hard to comfortably place them in your ears". Furthermore, eartips provided in the box are supposedly so thin they can flip out into your ear during wear.
The complaints extend to the earbuds controls: "The top of both earpieces hold very thin, flat volume rockers with a tiny nub to indicate where they are, and pairing buttons opposite them on the bottom. I have several gripes about the volume rockers, which are difficult to reach, operate separately from the connected device (so they won't change the volume on your phone, as most competitors do), and have no distinct tone for when the volume is maxed out."
When playing games, PC Mag reports PS5 titles sound good but 3D Audio doesn't come through very well. While playing Marvel's Spider-Man 2, the reviewer couldn't tell what direction sound effects were coming from. "Whether following distant voices or surrounded by thugs, the soundscape doesn’t feel much deeper than a good stereo mix. Earphones tend to offer worse spatial audio directionality than headphones, even with good processing (which the PS5 certainly has), and that’s unfortunately the case with the Pulse Explore."
The outlet then concludes: "The PlayStation Pulse Explore earphones don't live up to the potential of their underlying technology mostly due to their design. They feel awkward and uncomfortable, and maintaining a consistent fit to get the most out of the planar magnetic drivers is a challenge."
We have been in contact with Sony to try and get our hands on the PS5 Pulse Explore earbuds for a Push Square review, but haven't received confirmation we'll be sent a pair at the time of writing. The earbuds release on 6th December 2023, with a newly updated PS5 Elite wireless headset following in February 2024. Now with two conflicting verdicts posted online, it's difficult to tell whether the PS5 earbuds are any good or not. You can read PC Mag's full review through the link.
What are your thoughts? Have you got a pair pre-ordered? Let us know in the comments below.