Playstation wireless headset tested: put on ... and taken to heart
Product test

Playstation wireless headset tested: put on ... and taken to heart

Martin Jud
3.4.2024
Translation: machine translated

Sony's new Pulse Elite over-ear headset is comfortable to wear from the very first moment. Its sound is just as convincing from the very first minute. What I don't like is that I can't control Bluetooth connections directly on the headphones.

After the "Pulse Explore" in-ear headset, the "Pulse Elite" over-ear headset is Sony's second product that comes with the proprietary "Playstation Link" standard in addition to Bluetooth. Both are primarily aimed at gamers. PS-Link is a lossless and almost latency-free transmission of (PS5 surround) sound via 2.4 GHz radio. The standard can be used with Playstation 5, Playstation Portal, PC and Mac.

To enjoy the link sound, all you have to do is plug the included USB adapter into the desired end device. With one exception: The handheld PS Portal, which serves as an "extension of the Playstation 5", is the only device that has integrated Link technology and does not require the dongle. Incidentally, Sony is not alone with such USB adapters - other manufacturers have also been relying on 2.4 GHz radio for a long time to offer good sound quality without delay.

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Everything works perfectly with the Elite headphones right from the start. First, I connect them to the Playstation 5 to install the latest firmware. Then I also connect them to my smartphone and play a little warm-up round of "Tiny Tina's Wonderlands" with the headphones on. While I shoot skeletons with the crossbow, I'm not only enjoying the surround sound of the game, but also the stereo soundtrack provided by my smartphone. The most ingenious thing about this product is that it can play from two sources at the same time.

Nevertheless, not everything is golden - I already knew the biggest disadvantage of these headphones from testing the Explore in-ears: Bluetooth connections cannot be controlled directly on the headset. At least I was spared the other problems I had with the in-ears. (They wouldn't fit properly at first and were also uncomfortably tight until I found a solution.)

What you get: Sony Pulse Elite at a glance

Sony supplies its latest wireless headset for gamers with a Playstation Link USB adapter, a USB cable and a charging bracket. You can screw it to the wall to store the headset when not in use and charge it at the same time. There are contacts under the headset bracket and the charging bracket has a USB-C port next to them.

In addition to the headphones, a PS-Link USB adapter, a USB cable and the charging bracket shown here are included in the packaging.
In addition to the headphones, a PS-Link USB adapter, a USB cable and the charging bracket shown here are included in the packaging.
Source: Martin Jud

If you prefer to charge directly with a USB-C plug, it has a corresponding port next to the right headphone. There is also a 3.5 mm jack connection for wired sources right next to it. However, no corresponding cable is included. There are also volume buttons and a combined power and connection button on the right. However, the volume buttons are only for Playstation Link connections.

Volume buttons, USB-C port, 3.5 mm jack port and power/connect button
Volume buttons, USB-C port, 3.5 mm jack port and power/connect button
Source: Martin Jud

On the left side you get a retractable microphone with integrated noise cancellation plus mute button.

The microphone is retractable and has a mute button.
The microphone is retractable and has a mute button.
Source: Martin Jud

Averting our gaze from the outward appearances, the headset offers the following specifications at a glance:

  • Magnetic planar drivers, which are designed to provide detailed sound with clear bass and low distortion
  • Playstation Link technology that can deliver lossless, low-latency sound from the PS5, PS Portal, PC or Mac
  • Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to your smartphone or other device (AAC codec)
  • Dual device connectivity ensures that you can play and make calls at the same time. Or you can listen to music from your smartphone in addition to the console's game sound.

The built-in battery should last for up to 20 hours. At least that's what it says on the packaging. On the Playstation homepage, however, the company states that it lasts up to 30 hours. Very confusing. In my experience, when I'm connected to two sources at the same time, it's more like 20 hours. As I didn't spend enough time with just one source connected during testing, I can't give an estimate.

If you urgently need juice, you can continue listening for around two hours after ten minutes of charging, according to the homepage. For me, ten minutes of charging is enough for around one and a half hours with two sources active at the same time.

What you don't get: Bluetooth control and smartphone app missing

Sony actually has an app for its Bluetooth headphones, in which you can adjust the sound using an equaliser, for example. However, this app does not work with the Pulse Explore

I can live with that. However, I do miss being able to control the Bluetooth device via the headset. If I want to change the volume or skip a track, I can only do this on my smartphone. The volume buttons on the headphones are only for the link connection. Features such as a transparency mode or Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) are also not included. As these are over-ears with well-fitting cushions, they are somewhat insulated from the outside even without ANC.

How good the headphones feel and how great the sound is

When you put them on, the artificial leather pads feel like silicone on the skin around your ears. This is new for me, as I'm used to a more leathery feel. Nevertheless, it's not unpleasant. On the contrary - they are neither too hard nor too soft, seal well all round and enclose the ears without pressing uncomfortably anywhere. What's more, I can wear them for hours even with glasses on without the temples getting in the way.

I'm also happy with the rubberised headband, which automatically adjusts to the size of my head when I put them on. This saves me having to manually adjust the headphones to my skull. I forget that I'm wearing headphones a few minutes after putting them on because they fit so well - and of course because of the gaming world and its sound. However, when I jump up from the sofa cheering, I realise that the headphones are not made for sports or headbanging. They sit a little too loosely for that - the band bounces slightly and makes a muffled, annoying noise. I can also hear this when climbing stairs.

The rubberised band under the headband automatically adjusts to your head when you put them on.
The rubberised band under the headband automatically adjusts to your head when you put them on.
Source: Martin Jud

When I listen to music, I usually sit or lie on the sofa. If I close my eyes and concentrate on the sound, the sound of the Pulse Elite is very close to that of the Pulse Explore in-ears. It sounds powerful, detailed and balanced - and there's no lack of bass either. However, I perceive the first and second violins, cellos, double basses, flutes, oboes, bassoons ... the horn, trombones, trumpets and any percussion with Pulse Elite a little more differentiated. Well, I don't actually listen to classical music most of the time. But synthesisers, vocals, basslines and the like are also convincing across the board. Crashing guitar riffs and hard basses too.

Although the sound is only stereo, I already feel like I'm right in the middle of it all.

Delay-free surround sound enjoyment

I installed Plex on my PS5 to enjoy series and films with surround sound. The Playstation headphones perform just as well as my somewhat outdated Sony MDR-HW700DS 9.1 wireless surround headphones. When I tested these in 2018, I spoke of an eargasm. And yes, this also applies to the Pulse Elite - although the sound is slightly different here.

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When I use the Pulse Elite for gaming, I not only enjoy surround sound, but also low latency thanks to link technology. I don't notice any delay between picture and sound, even in games with short response times. Here, the 2.4 GHz radio is clearly superior to Bluetooth in terms of data throughput. And as far as surround sound is concerned, it not only provides a better atmosphere, but also ensures that I recognise opponents more quickly in games. Especially those approaching from a direction outside the field of vision. They give themselves and their direction away through footstep noises, panting or something even creepier.

In the Playstation 5
In the Playstation 5

Another advantage of Playstation Link over Bluetooth is the sound customisation options. On the one hand, you can activate surround sound in the PS5 settings under "Sound > 3D audio for headphones" and customise it to your hearing with profiles. On the other hand, there is now also an equaliser, which you can find in the sound settings of the Control Centre. A nice touch - even with just a few bands, it's a win.

If you want to enjoy 3D sound with a PC, you can do the same there - and with all other headphones: you use software such as Dolby Access, which conjures up virtual surround sound for your ears.

How ingenious the simultaneous connection with two devices is

In addition to the sound, the best thing about the Pulse Elite headset for me is that I can be connected to it via Playstation Link as well as Bluetooth. And at the same time. I use this especially for games that I'm not playing for the first time. I set the music volume to 0 in the game options and replace it with whatever sound I'm in the mood for.

Apart from that, it's also practical to be able to make phone calls while playing. The microphone quality is better than with the Pulse Explore in-ears. There, I criticised the fact that the bass was a little weak. With Pulse Elite, my voice sounds roughly the same to the other person as it does in real life. Another practical feature of the microphone is that it can be extended to the desired position in front of the mouth and filters out ambient noise relatively well.

In a nutshell

Highly recommended for gamers

If you are looking for a headset for (almost) delay-free gaming surround sound, the Sony Pulse Elite is the perfect choice. Not only do they sound great, they also fit comfortably and enclose the ear without pinching. The fact that they can be connected via cable or Bluetooth in addition to the new Playstation Link standard (for PS5, PS Portal, PC and Mac) is a big plus. The function that convinces me the most is that I can be connected with PS-Link and Bluetooth at the same time.

If you can do without Bluetooth control on the headphones, active noise cancellation and a smartphone app, I can absolutely recommend the headset. However, only use it when lying down, sitting or walking, as the headband will also move slightly when you move quickly. As a result, you will hear a muffled, disturbing noise when jumping up, climbing stairs or running. Of course, due to the lack of splash protection, it is not suitable for sports-like or even athletic activities - only for e-sports.

Pro

  • Lossless (PS5 surround) sound with low latency thanks to USB dongle. Bluetooth also included.
  • Can simultaneously play sound from your smartphone and PS5/PS Portal or PC/Mac.
  • Provide a powerful, balanced and differentiated sound with sufficient bass.
  • Sound image can be refined with PS5 equaliser.
  • Microphone recording quality is good, the microphone can be extended and retracted.
  • Good wearing comfort, soft pads provide a good seal and are also suitable for spectacle wearers.

Contra

  • Have no noise cancelling, no transparency mode and no smartphone app.
  • Bluetooth device cannot be operated with the headphones.
  • Not for headbangers, as jerky movements move the headband slightly and this can be heard.
Header image: Martin Jud

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I find my muse in everything. When I don’t, I draw inspiration from daydreaming. After all, if you dream, you don’t sleep through life.


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