PlayStation Wireless Stereo Headset [Review]

Before the TVs, before the movies, and before the video games, Sony was first a sound company. What do I mean by that? Well, if you do a little history homework, you would find that Sony started out, back in the 1950’s, as a radio company in Japan. In fact, the word “Sony” comes from a mixture of the Latin word “Sonus“, which is the root of sonic and sound, and “Sonny.” Sound has always been at the base of the company. It laid the foundation for what would become one of the leading manufacturers of electronics in the world.

Through the decades, that focus on sound never changed. Sony’s radios became very popular, their Walkmans (for us 80s children), and speakers as well. Now, today we may not think of them first as a company leading in that area anymore, but they have not lost touch. Now that Sony is a  multinational conglomerate corporation, we also have video games, software, hardware, and accessories coming from them. One of their latest releases in that area, the PlayStation Wireless Stereo Headset, continues to remind us where Sony came from.

The PlayStation Wireless Stereo Headset released on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 in North America. Sony promised crystal clear sound and voice chat from your PS3 with this new headset to the point of touting that it can even emulate 7.1 surround sound virtually. I spent quite a few hours with the device testing it out in just about every area. What were my findings? The headset offers great sound quality and comfort at a comparatively low price. There are a few flaws in the design that I felt can be improved upon if ever there are future versions of the headset but overall, it’s a great accessory for gamers who want a better gaming experience.

First thing to take note of, the headset is easy to set up, with a plug and play USB wireless transmitter, even those with limited technical knowledge can figure this one out. You can use your headset right out of the box. I found the setup to be very simple as I plugged the USB right into my PS3, pressed the power button on the headset, and I was ready to go. Immediately the headset was connected to my PS3 and sound was flowing through. On a side note: The headset can also be used in a limited way on your PC both for all audio and voice chat. The headset does NOT work on the Xbox 360.

The headset features a retractable microphone, a mixer slider (for adjusting volume of chat and game audio), power/mic muting button, virtual surround on/off button, a USB connector to charge the headset, a volume slider as well as on screen status updates (PS3 only). Through the PS3’s accessory settings menu, you are able to set up whether or not you want all of the PS3’s audio to come out through the headset or just chat audio with a simple on/off option on the screen.

My first experience with the headset was with another September 6th release from Sony, Resistance 3. Insomniac Games did an incredible job with the sound in this game. From the music to voice acting,  ambient noises, environmental sounds, and everything else around, the game is rich with sound and the new headset did a great job in transmitting it. I could hear everything in the game that I was not able to hear with traditional speakers, even my surround sound setup (which makes me think it’s time for an upgrade). Through the headset I could hear everything from footsteps on the roof of buildings, the faint hum of my shield, and even what I would call hidden music in the game that I never knew was there at first (like in multiplayer matches). I would say the headset gave me an advantage in finding the enemy through their noises while walking/running even at times before they were in my line of sight. Online matches were also great while using the headset. I could hear others clearly and they could hear me clearly as well. Needless to say, I was well pleased with the surround sound experience I garnered from using the headset with Resistance 3. The headset really amplified the experience of a horror/survival FPS such as that. The experience was very similar with all of the other games I tested it out with on the PS3.

Now, the headset isn’t only good for gaming, but it is also great for movies as well. Here’s the tricky part about the headset though, if you are playing a DVD or Blu-ray movie with it on, the surround sound is disabled. This is one small drawback to the capabilities of the headset. However, just because there is no surround sound, that doesn’t mean that the sound quality is bad. Far from it. One of the first Blu-rays I tried the headset with was TRON: Legacy, which received an Oscar nomination for sound editing. For those who have seen the film, you know that the nomination was well earned. Everything from the Daft Punk soundtrack to disc wars, and the electrifying light cycle battles were in your face with incredible sound. Coupled with my LCD display, while I was wearing the headset, I almost felt like I was back in the theater experiencing the movie all over again. While there is no surround sound with disc-based films, it does provide “high fidelity” sound. The experience was also the same for other movies that I played on the PS3.

That’s not to say all movies can not be experienced in surround sound with the headset though. I tried to make it a point to stress that this disability is present with Blu-rays and DVDs. On the other hand, if you are one of the millions of people who use Netflix (like me) or other apps on the PS3 for TV and movie viewing, or if you download videos to your PS3, the surround sound works perfectly (when present in the media of course). I can tell you this, I spent quite a few hours on Netflix alone with the headset and loved every minute of it.

Playing music was also enjoyable through the new headset. Surround sound is available for music through just about every source. If you are a subscriber to Sony’s Music Unlimited by Qriocity, or just an iTunes junkie, or keeping it old-school with your CDs, almost all of your music can be streamed/played through your PS3 and listened to in crystal clear surround sound with the headset. Every beat and every note is transmitted with great quality. My only wish is that there were more audio/sound controls like a synthesizer on the PS3. I feel the sound is limited only by that and not the headset itself.

One of my major concerns when purchasing speakers and headsets is how well will, not only the clarity of sound translate, but the bass and treble levels as well. Although these can not be changed or tweaked on the headset or through the PS3, the bass sounds (and feels) great while not overwhelming – still maintaining a level where the treble can still come through clearly and unmuffled. While I found no problem with the bass, I am hopeful that in any future versions of the headset we will have more freedom in controlling these levels for those of us who like a little more vibration in the brain.

The range of the wireless signal is also pretty decent. I doubt you will be moving far away from your PS3 while playing a game, but if you want to move around while listening to some music or a movie/TV show, I was able to walk around my house up to about 22 feet and not have any loss of signal or sound. In my experience, once you get past that point then you will hear the sound breaking up and eventually lose your connection to the wireless adapter.

So you now know my thoughts on the headset when it comes to sound in games, films, and music. You might be wondering, with all of the hours I spent using the headset, how did it feel? and How long does the battery last? First off, the headset is incredibly comfortable. I guess you could say I have a big(ish) head, plus I wear glasses, so wearing a headset could turn out to be an uncomfortable experience, especially after hours of use. Not for this headset. I can honestly say, this is such a refreshing change from the bluetooth headset that PlayStation had first for the PS3. After just a few minutes with that bluetooth, my ear would be very sore. In addition, the hook wouldn’t work too well with my ear and glasses. However, the new stereo headset is extremely comfortable and very light weight. The adjustable headband is padded and rests gently on the top of your head while the over-sized earpads rest around your ears so nicely, even Dumbo wouldn’t have a problem. I spent hours upon hours with this headset on and it was comfortable like a natural extension of the body.

As for the battery, the headset does last a while but considerably shorter than that of the bluetooth headset. I had times where I would not charge my bluetooth for days and sometimes even weeks and the battery would still work fine for hours after use. On the other hand, this headset will last you one long gaming session – about 6-7 hours when fully charged. Fortunately, there are on screen status indicators to let you know the battery level while in use. At the same time, charging the battery fully doesn’t take too long if it is not completely drained. You can also charge it while in use through any USB connection, not just your PS3.

As you may see, I have a lot of positive things to say about the headset, however I should say, it is not all positive. There are a few design flaws that I felt could have been avoided or otherwise improved upon. As a right-handed person, it’s only natural for me to reach out with my right hand first to complete any task. Unfortunately for me, the mic, the volume controls, power button, mute button and everything else is on the left side of the headset and it is not reversible. Bad for me, good for Ned Flanders and the like. In addition to control positions as an inconvenience, another negative is that the retractable mic is not flexible at all. While the rest of the headset does feel durable and sturdy, if dropped on a hard ground surface, it does look like the mic could possibly break off. Just be careful with that one and when not in use, I suggest always sliding the mic back into its “not in use” position. In addition, the volume control sliders take a little time to get used to when trying to gauge. Sometimes you slide it too far and it turns the sound all the way off  or too loud. I would have preferred a +/- button to control the volume in an easier fashion. One last thing to mention on the negative size is the power and mute button. Although it’s “easy” to access, it feels a little awkward to press when trying to reach for a quick mute; Almost as if you are hitting yourself in the top of your head (albeit you don’t have to be that forceful). An easier to reach button lower to the mic, I feel, would have been a better option. Other than those few items, everything else on the new headset was just great.

In an area dominated by companies like Turtle Beach, Astro, and Tritton, the PlayStation Wireless Stereo Headset proves itself a worthy and affordable ($99.99 vs $125 – $300) choice for gamers who want high quality sound for their gaming and media experiences on the PS3.  I would highly recommend it.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10 


25 Responses to “PlayStation Wireless Stereo Headset [Review]”

  1. “From a guy who used to not give two hoots about sound experience in gaming, I stand before you a changed man, I would highly recommend it”

    And you give it a 7.5/10?

    • I should clarify, it was not these headsets that changed me. I have gone through several different headsets for both my Xbox 360 and PS3 (some as noted in the review like Tritton and Turtle Beach) and the PlayStation stereo headset is on par with and surpasses many of them but for a cheaper price.

      In addition, as someone who used to DJ, plays and loves music, and the arts – It’s not that I didn’t care about sound in games, I just didn’t appreciate the full potential and effect that sounds in video games could have before this current generation came along with these high quality headsets.

      To avoid further confusion, I took that part out. Just for you ;)

      The device is not perfect and I am looking forward to any upgrades if they come in the future.

      8.5/10 is not a bad score. That is above average. 1.5 points from a perfect score. Honestly.

      But thanks for reading and thanks for your feedback! :D

  2. you ranted on about the headphones but did not talk about bass quality:/

    it is apparent that the headphone is crystal clear, but I doubt it doesn’t provide good bass quality.

    • Thank you for pointing that out. Evidently I transferred the wrong version of the review. I did speak about the bass in the final review. I’ll update that now. But here’s a hint: It does provide good bass and treble quality at a balanced level.

  3. You did a wonderful job with this review, its very in-depth and a very good read. However, i think that you were a bit too harsh with the review score. I honestly think this device doesn’t deserve anything less than a 8.5, hence, you took off too much. Although, everything is on the left like you said i still don’t think that justifies the 7.5 that you gave it. Quite honestly speaking a 7.5 nowadays is your typical average product that isn’t too good on quality. This headset in my book is a Godsend to my PS3 it makes the my games alot more immersive.

    • Thanks for the input! Upon further consideration, and discussion with others on the GxC staff, the score has been changed to 8.5.

      While I stand by the thought that 7.5 is not average or just okay, but a really good score, because a lot of higher quality games and accessories have been released in recent times, gaming scores have been higher making that seem to be “average” as you point out.

      To avoid that confusion we bumped up the score a point. Thanks again for reading and your input!

  4. I have a sennheiser HDR 170s wireless headphones I currently use with my PS3, TV and laptop. Are these Playstation headset you reviewed better or as good?
    I want to get a new pair you see but haven’t seen much info apart from the official Playstation blog.

    • While I have been through various headsets – I couldn’t honestly give you an answer to that because I have not tried the Wireless Sennheiser HDR 170s. One thing is for sure, the official PlayStation headset is cheaper. If I find someone that can compare the two, I’ll surely give you an update.

  5. Another question: I use my current wireless headset via my HDTV via component so that way I can listen to my tv and ps3 but from the looks of things this headset is only connected via USB so is it only used on PS3 and PC?

    Thanx Simply G

    • Yes, so far it has only been able to work with the PS3 and PC/Mac. All audio will ONLY come out of those respective devices that it is connected to via the USB.

  6. Seriously?!
    I’m just gonna stick to the ones I have then. Thanx for the fast replies though mate. Really appreciate.

  7. I’ve been reading a lot of review on this head set, and you are the only one to point out that surround sound does work with netflix and downloaded movies.

    The fact that it didnt work with blu rays and dvds was the one turn off I had for this product. Now that I know it works in those formats, I am definitely getting this asap.

    Thank you for your review!

    • No problem. I should point out though that while 7.1 virtual surround sound is available for many of the games and the headset is quite capable of using it, for apps like Netflix and so on, it may be a different output such as 5.1.

  8. Have you been experiencing occasional static or synthesized interruptions while watching movies or playing online (mostly watching movies). I don’t know if I should exchange it or if its something I have to get use to. Many people have posted on forums to having experienced this and I’ve been told that any wireless device might be causing the disturbance. Here’s my setup and compare it to yours and let me know if its too much. I have my PS3, my laptop, and my printer that are each on wifi and on about 12 hours a day. They are in my room. There is a 360 that is also using wifi in the living room (outside my room) that is on about 4 hours a day. Thats it for the whole house. My internet is also 100mbps download and everything runs off 2.5GHZ. So in a nutshell, good internet, 4 wifi devices and 3 of which are in my room including the PS3. Should this be causing interferences with my headset? Also, I’ve experienced this even when my laptop and 360 was off and its only occasional but often enough to be annoying. If anyone can help, please write back because the sound quality and comfort of this headset is awesome and I don’t want to return it.

    • After a couple of weeks of using the headset I have noticed some interruptions; not so much static but more synthesized (as you mentioned) almost scratching/high pitch interruptions for brief moments. I have quite a few wireless signals going through the room where the setup is, similar to what you described. A lot of times these can cause the interruptions with different devices but I’m not too sure if that is the cause here.

      I may contact Sony about it and find out. If I hear back from them I’ll post an update.

  9. awesome post…gave me the correct idea of the head set,,thanks a lot..

Sound Off!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: